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Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  7,254 ratings  ·  394 reviews
The international bestseller on the extent to which personal freedom has been eroded by government regulations and agencies while personal prosperity has been undermined by government spending and economic controls. New Foreword by the Authors; Index.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 26th 1990 by Mariner Books (first published 1980)
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David Dort
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Written in 1979, one of the libertarian economist(s) Friedmans' most accessible works, the clear-written and thought-provoking work does not require the reader to agree with Mr. Friedman's assertions to enjoy it. Rather, it requires the reader to ferociously wrack their brain for a counter argument or alternative solution to their assertions that governmental controls over economic freedoms (by regulation, price and wage controls, nationalization of industries, printing money, adding programs, b ...more
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book, and it confirmed some of my fears that I am really a libertarian at heart.

The basic premise is that people should be free to make their own choices whenever possible, and that government's role is to protect us from each other, and not to protect us from ourselves.

The Friedmans argue from a pragmatic standpoint more than from a philosophical standpoint. Generally, government does a poor job with what it touches. We have this idea in our head that government is a sort
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beyond my ability to encompass all this book contains. First published in 1979 and within vast stores of data, information and prediction for paths of freedom, money, inflation, employment levels, workers' protections etc. - as elemental now in 2018 and more true than ever.

Freedom is highly tied not to just the monetary outcomes but also to individuals having autonomy over their own choices and directions (not only in the work sense or buying sense either). The more control from above and the mo
Jun 01, 2009 rated it liked it
It can be disconcerting to find that you have finished a book but can't really explain what it was about much. That is how I feel about Free to Choose. Yes, this is an economics book, so I can say that it is about economics. I can tell you that the main point here seemed to be that the free market is good, but America is (was, it was written in 1980) at a turning point and will soon have to make a decision about which economic policy it should adopt. I actually read the whole book, cover to cove ...more
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow! It took me a month to read this book!!! I suppose it does take longer to read a book for learning and (not) enjoyment reasons. Funny thing is, I actually enjoyed reading this book too! There are even occasional bits of humor that sneak up on you. (This is illustrated by a reference to Cognac during an explanation on historical forms of currency). Literally, every page of this book had a quote you’d want to slap on Facebook. It was that good. There were things I’d thought about for a long ti ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-vegas, audio
A bit dry but an absolute necessity for understanding Libertarian thought and recommendations. A little out of date as well, though a lot of the concepts have been either been seriously considered on a national level or are still being discussed today. While I don't agree with everything the Friedman's posit, I do understand how their belief in the market model leads them to believe in the power of the "rational" individual (if such a thing exists) over the ever growing behemoth that is the nati ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
This book was assigned for Capitalism, Democracy, Socialism taught at Loyola University Chicago during the first semester of 1981/82 by David Schweickart. It infuriated me at the time, appearing to be an intellectually dishonest apologetic for the existing class divisions in the United States. I was more impressed by the author during a subsequent reading of his Capitalism and Freedom.
Patrick Peterson
Very good book, but not great. Excellent companion to the TV series of the same name that exposed Milton and free market ideas (mostly) to many, many people.

I read this shortly after the TV series came out in 1980.

Read Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard to compare and contrast the Chicagoan/monetarist/positivist Friedman vs. the Austrian/more consistently free market ideas.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: important
While some of his arguments could be stronger, this book is important because there aren't enough books that make those arguments—that free markets and capitalism have value.

Many people look at equality and fairness as one of two things: as an outcome, or as a process. Both equality of outcome and equality of process cannot be simultaneously achieved. That is an unrealizable and utopian vision. Equality of outcome and equality of process are in fact mutually exclusive—something few people reali
May 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Common sense. This book makes a clear, rational case for the free market. Friedman dedicates a chapter to each of the major issues facing our country, including education, energy, taxes, and the environmental movement (the book was written in 1979 but the arguments on both sides of the issues still resonate today). Similar to Thomas Sowell, Ayn Rand, or Thomas Dilorenzo, Friedman champions the individual over the group, arguing that when people have the opportunity to choose for themselves, soci ...more
Alvaro Berrios
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Although this book was written in 1979, it is still one of the best books anyone can read and the information is still completely relevant to what is going on today in our country. If you hate big government you will love it as it will support many of your beliefs. If you love big government you should read it regardless because many of your pre-held ideas can be dispelled as what is often blamed on the free market is, in reality, the fault of misleading big government policies.

The inefficiencie
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really a good book, which gives the insight of economy, free market, trade unions, education, bureaucracy, policies etc.,

Also gives us the idea why we require above subjects into consideration.
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Free to Choose posits the efficacy of subduing government intervention in a free enterprise market economy by rendering theoretical remedies that would alleviate government failures through more competition and personal freedom; ultimately, it would eliminate gratuitous taxes.
Freidman addresses some of the most problematic issues facing our nation that are unfortunately still prevalent today such as inflation, bad school systems, Social Security, economic equity, and consumer and worker protecti
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Even though I am not completely convinced that Mr. Friedman is correct in all of his assertions, I must give this book four stars as work of literature.

First the positives: Milton Friedman once again proves his skill with words and logic in this brilliantly articulated book. It is hard to read through his arguments and not become all but convinced that he is correct in almost every subject. He carefully lays out the often unforeseen chains of events that follow from particular actions of individ
I bought this book back in the "good old days" when you could purchase a hardcover book for less than ten dollars. Due to the inflationary policies that Milton Friedman warns about, and that he provides a cure for, a comparable book today carries a price tag more than double the price of the book I purchased. It was a good investment.
In the book, Milton Friedman and his wife discuss the principles of the Free Market. It is this discussion, based on the foundation laid earlier in Capitalism and
Derek Neighbors
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The say, "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." Friedman's 1980 work is able to do just that. Milton won the Noble Memorial Prize in Economics in 1978. Free to Choose highlights free market economics and the forces that destroy them. So much good and relevant data in here that it is hard to believe it was written almost 40 years ago.

The part that rings true is that almost every instance of "free market" being cited as the reason for some decline (think great depression, m
Alex Timberman
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
I love the way Milton Friedman argues. He stakes his position and charmingly disposes of opposing views. You can get a sense of his intellect and charm by watching some of his debates on YouTube. This book goes over several issues like welfare, minimum wage, and education where he prescribes the correct policy based on free-market fundamentals – hence the title of the book “Free to Choose.” Some of the issues seem outdated and I would not be surprised to know that even many main stream economist ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, economics, politics
Great book. Lays out a dozen basic macroeconomic truths with data and examples and reasoning so that even the non-economist can understand. Although written in 1980, the chapters on minimum wage, growth of government, and bureaucracy remain dead on.

The book covers much of the same material as Capitalism and Freedom, but here it is better written, more sharply defined, and brought down a notch or two in terms of technical detail, making it easier for the non-economist to enjoy.

My only criticism o
Tom Stamper
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a seminal work on free market economics that you will be surprised to hear examples and stories that you already know in other literature. Friedman's example of how many strangers it takes to make a pencil and how no one person can make it on his own is a classic. His proposal of the negative income tax is also the basis of much later study and theory. If the only thing you took from this book is the government's role in inflation it would be worth your time too. If you had to put a ...more
Emily O.
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This book taught me quite a bit about economics and how the free market is capable of "working things out" better than any other system. There were some things I disagreed with, but for the most part, I agreed with this book and enjoyed reading it. It was eye-opening, the explanations were comprehensive, and the data was sufficient to convince me. This book embraces the values of freedom and the right to pursue our own destiny that America holds so dear, all the while showing that those values f ...more
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, economics
As an incredible communicator, Friedman does a masterful job at not only explaining how free markets work best for the economy, but also provides the critical link in describing how the free market system is the most moral and caring system of all. Choices belong to the individual and should not be usurped by government officials proclaiming to act in the public interest, and Friedman gives example after example of why this is the case.
Jan 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: theory
Well written bit of social theory/propaganda written by a great economist, but a shitty social thinker. Then again, I despise the man's social theories, and I despise this book more than almost any other.
Jul 12, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: essay
You can't write a good essay when you are simply wrong about everything. I expected it before to read it and it was even worse than what I expected. Annoying.
Navid Asmari Saadabad
This one is quite similar to his other famous book: Capitalism and Freedom. The main idea behind both of these books is the effectiveness of free market in preventing the concentration of political power. Even the arrangement of the chapters are quite similar in both books. But there are several topics that are not discussed in Capitalism and Freedom, and I think these very topics make the book an outstanding rationalization of free market.
One of their most interesting arguments is the complexi
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
So far really getting a lot out of this book. It is very clear and opens up a lot of arguments I have not read.

For example, I thought the images of the government as umpire vs. parent on page 5 was a good debate. I would lean toward umpire, but have to think that the deregulation and problems in the financial industries, drug industries and for profit schools and prisons are an example where the umpire is failing to call foul.

Then in chapter one we jump into the concept of central command/comm
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very effective conveyance of the meaning of free market economics and its value to the consumer. The opening quote is from Justice Louis Brandeis' opinion in Olmstead v. United States: "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but wi ...more
Krishna Kumar
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is one of the most well-written and impassioned argument for laissez faire. The Friedmans demonstrate how government interference can create inefficiencies in the market that can be exploited by special interest groups. They discuss how government spending, however well-meaning, can degenerate into huge bureaucracies that fail to achieve their objectives, but keep requiring huge budgets.

The basic problem with a book like “Free to Choose” is that it turns into a propaganda book which ex
Stanley Arthur
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is arguably viewed as the best work of the two legendary free market economists from the University of Chicago "Chicago School" of economic theory, Milton and Rose Friedman. The so called "freshwater" approach to economics has been contrasted with the "saltwater" views of Stanford, Harvard and MIT.
Ok, so it was written and published in 1980. But the free market approach to managing the economy is even more relevant today as we watch the failed Keynesian experiment being carried out in both
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(Milton, the great economist, passed away recently at the age of 94.) Published around 1980, so some references are dated. "Equality of opportunity", within reason, but not guaranteed "equality of outcome". I love his quote from Adam Smith: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities ...more
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fervent believer of Adam Smith's ideologies, Milton Friedman portrayed a compelling argument, from both a economic/moral standpoint for free enterprise. Furthermore, he breaks down his argument to show how intervention has negatively impacted different aspects of the economy and society.

However, the picture that he painted, in my opinion, is far too perfect. I do not believe that the free markets are perfect. It MAY be the best solution as of yet, but definitely far from perfect. Perhaps ther
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Milton Friedman was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. He made major contributions to the fields of economics and statistics. In 1976, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy. He was an advocate of economic freed ...more

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“When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and better working conditions through the free market, when they get raises by firm competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody's expense. They can only come from higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. The whole pie is bigger - there's more for the worker, but there's also more for the employer, the investor, the consumer, and even the tax collector.

That's the way the free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people. That's the secret of the enormous improvements in the conditions of the working person over the past two centuries.”
“For example, the supporters of tariffs treat it as self-evident that the creation of jobs is a desirable end, in and of itself, regardless of what the persons employed do. That is clearly wrong. If all we want are jobs, we can create any number--for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs--jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume.” 33 likes
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