By Diana Erbio – “Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us.” That was the challenge Milton Friedman posed to Phil Donahue in response to Donahue’s question to him about whether he ever had doubts about capitalism due to its “greediness” factor.
Milton Friedman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976, explained in that 1979 interview and throughout his long career how free market capitalism, although not perfect, had lifted more people from poverty than any other system. Friedman also recognized and spoke out about the necessity of personal responsibility. He warned that government could not and would not bear responsibility. Individuals bear responsibility.
People engaging in free market capitalism do have ethical responsibilities, and kindness should have an important role. George W. Bush campaigned under the banner of “compassionate conservatism”; however, I believe adding “compassionate” gave credence to the false narrative that conservatism is somehow not compassionate. How is individual freedom not compassionate? How is the natural born right to pursue one’s happiness not compassionate? What is compassionate about government bureaucratic agencies making choices for the individual? Milton Friedman correctly pointed out to Phil Donahue that greed also existed in other systems like communism and socialism. Greed is based in human nature, not inherent to any particular economic system. That is why the outcome of economic systems must be measured by the results, not the intentions. After all, isn’t the road to hell said to be paved with good intentions?
The free market system, coupled with the insistence that all players adhere to the same rules, has proven to have had the best economic outcomes for societies that followed that path. Social scientist, Alexis de Tocqueville noted that in 1830’s America, if something needed to be done, the Americans simply did it. They did not wait for the government to attend to it. He wrote this observation of centralized government, “It excels in preventing, not doing.”
Today it seems that too many Americans expect that their problems be solved by some faceless bureaucracy. They look for answers in yet another unaccountable government agency. We must once again realize that we are the solution.
We must cultivate both persistence and moral values in the next generation. We must teach by example to never give up, and put forth the truth that Milton Friedman spoke to Phil Donahue, which was that angelic leaders will not magically appear and organize a problem-free Utopia for all to live in. We must encourage tomorrow’s adults to look to themselves for solutions to societal problems, and pass on the idea that we are the better angels we are looking for.
Author’s Note: I am proud to announce that my book, “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World”, is available in paperback and e-book format at Amazon! The book is based on my mother’s move to America from Switzerland in 1949. Readers of all ages can join 13-year-old Rosalie on this journey to a new world and will identify with the young teen’s struggle to fit in. Rosalie’s never give up attitude is an inspiration to all of us, no matter the challenges that confront us in life.
My book is also available at the Conservative Children’s Books website www.conservativechildrensbooks.com where many other children’s books that strive to instill values and rekindle the patriotic spirit in young Americans can be purchased.