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Feb 8, 2009

Friedman On Greed

Milton Friedman On Greed
02/0/09 - PowerLineBlog by John Hinderaker

The late economist Milton Friedman in a video snippet. He responds to a talk show question: how can you support Capitalism, which is based on personal greed, when there is so much poverty in the world?

[edited excerpt]
Donahue: When you see around the globe the mal-distribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in undeveloped countries ... when you see the greed and the concentration of power, do you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed is a good idea?

Friedman: The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the auto industry that way.

The only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you're talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.

If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it's exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. The record of history is absolutely crystal clear: that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.

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