Friedman on Capitalism and Freedom Essay
Milton Friedman succinctly explores the relationship between political freedom and capitalist economy, more so in regards to whether indeed freedom is related to capitalism. One thing that comes to the attention of any reader of Milton’s piece is whether capitalism paves ways of freedom. In his mind, Milton believes that a country that ratifies political freedom automatically promotes economic freedom.
The government has a role in developing the country’s economy through different means such as taxation, minimum wage and the provision of essential services to the general public.
His book inspires the thought to reduce the government’s involvement in economic matters. He argues that the involvement of the government in economic affairs leads to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small group of people. It would limit the abilities of the less affluent to access economic opportunities, which makes the market unstable for business.
According to Friedman, it is fluid to believe that equal distribution of wealth in the society is the measure of freedom but rather wants the political freedom to be measured by the degree in which people access opportunities equally. He believes that it is only possible to attain that when the participation of the government in economic affairs is limited. For instance, when the government is given the full mandate of providing housing to its citizens, people would have limited options to do otherwise, which implies lack of freedom than its presence.
The more involvement of the government in determining taxes imposed on goods makes them expensive for the low earners, hence giving wider opportunities to the few affluent. In this milieu, political freedom implies economic freedom. An individual is only free when he or he can make economic choices without any hindrance whatsoever.
However, it is important to note that Friedman’s thought can be dangerous on the other end. Even though there is a need for economic freedom to achieve political freedom, having the government out of it totally is dangerous for the security and growth of the society. Despite the efforts of the government to establish a minimum wage in the united states to elevate the status of the African-blacks, the rate of unemployment has remained high in the country. The level of insecurity in the world is greatly attributed to the high rate of unemployment among the youths who are radicalized to engage in unhealthy practices.
Also, taking the government out of the equation would brace division, which would greatly paralyze unity in the society. It is even more hazardous to support Friedman’s argument that people should be allowed to attain freedom, then decide on what to do with it. The existence of law is to control the affairs of the public, which can go overboard when not checked. Any behavior that is not universally checked creates an opportunity for recalcitrance. Therefore, even though his argument opens the eyes of the government to empower its citizens to become economically dependent, the thought of unchecked freedom would threaten its peace.
Even though Friedman was an economist, his argument is on moral standards, not an economic argument. He defines liberty, which he ties to economic freedom associated with free markets where a seller is not dictated by the way he or she sells his products. Friedman identifies two types of freedom, which include personal, civil and political. However, he spends a greater part of his time delving into personal freedom and states that politics is bad since it limits the less affluent. However, it does not imply that the money an individual has can expose him or her to freedom. He thinks that rich people access a greater amount of freedom than the poor people.
The argument seems to give more attention to the degree of spending power. However, the notion of freedom is an elaborate subject that cannot only be confined to wealth alone. Being free is to dwell in a more secure environment, which can only be done by the government. Therefore, the exclusion of the government in the establishment of economic policies would be a risky affair, since even when people have the needed power to save, other needs would prevail, which would make them boisterous.
In conclusion, Friedman’s thoughts make sense in the need to empower people to have sufficient access to opportunities, more so the less affluent. It makes a greater sense to note that when the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few individuals, they dominate the society an make it a harsh environment for the less affluent. However, the thought to have the government out of it would be harmful.
People need to be guided by the rule of law, and to perfect this, there should be a body that observes when the laws are adhered to. The government must set economic policies that guide people on the way they manage their economic affairs. Therefore, in the pursuit of economic freedom, the government is needed at the center to guide its practices and affairs.