Mark D.'s Reviews > Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
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's review
Aug 02, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: owned, economics

This was a re-read; it's been nearly 20 years since I first read this book. It's interesting to look back over the 30 years since the book was originally written and see where Friedman's guesses about how certain things might happen came true and where they didn't. By and large, Friedman was eerily prophetic about the dangers of improper meddling in the economy.

Some of Friedman's critics like to claim that he believed that the free market could do no wrong. This is a horrid mischaracterization of Friedman's views. He actually admits several times in this book that free markets are not perfect, and there are definitely areas in which a free market solution will not be optimal and so require some degree of government intervention.

It's not so much that the free market can do no wrong, as it is that the alternatives that have been tried throughout history have consistently failed to achieve the results they were intended to have. Multiple examples from world history demonstrate that of all the economic strategies that have been applied, the ones which resulted in the greatest success and prosperity were those which interfered least with the operation of a free market.

This is in part because, unlike centralized control, a free market system has built-in feedback mechanisms that help correct problems. Yes, problems can occur under a free market. But left to its own devices, with only minimal interference in a few key spots, a free market can recover from temporary downturns much more readily than can any centrally controlled solution.

All in all, this book is a must read for anyone who is curious about the economic principles behind the libertarian movement. It might even change your mind.

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