Professor Milton Friedman: Equality and Freedom


Source:David Whitehead– “”The great Milton Friedman on equality and freedom”

“Milton Friedman – Equality and Freedom”

Milton Friedman - Equality and Freedom

Source:Basic Economics– Professor Milton Friedman, giving a lecture in 1978.

From Basic Economics

Socialists like Senator Bernie Sanders and company, argue that it’s somehow wrong that we have people who make a lot of money, while we have some people who make very little money and in some cases don’t make any money at all, that having a wealth gap ( which is also called income inequality ) is somehow unfair.

That it’s somehow unfair for an associate lawyer ( let’s say ) at a law firm to make 250,000 dollars a year ( depending on where they work ) while a janitor at a school makes 25,000 dollars a year and perhaps has a second job just to pay his bills. Even though the lawyer not only has a law degree and spent at least years in college and law school to get that law degree and did well in college and law school and now has the skills and education to be a successful lawyer.

While the janitor might just have a high school diploma and maybe he doesn’t even have that. And only has enough skills and knowledge to do menial tasks ( let’s say ) where a professional education isn’t required. Like doing janitorial work or driving cabs or whatever the non-college educated job might be. Even though being just an average lawyer or a good one is a lot harder that being a good janitor, because there’s a lot more you need to know about the law than you do in keeping your place of business clean for people to be there.

Professor Milton Friedman, went the opposite route and argued that it’s a good thing when the lawyer or businessperson or entertainer or whoever the successful person in life might be who makes a lot of money is a good thing, because they earned their money based on their skills, knowledge, and production.

That the reason why business people make a lot more money than let’s say service industry workers, is because the college educated workforce has a lot more skills and knowledge and that there’s a lot more work involved in what they do. Compared with service industry workers who in a lot of cases aren’t even blue-collar workers, but do jobs where you might not even need a high schools diploma to be successful at.

My point about so-called income inequality or what I call the wealth and skills gap has always been that the problem with the American economy and American capitalism has never been that we have too many rich people or that we even allow for people to have wealth and even a lot of money, but that we don’t have enough rich people and upper middle class people. But instead have too many poor people.

If we didn’t have 1-5 Americans living in poverty in America, would anyone even on the Left be talking about what they call income inequality? If we had 1-10 Americans or 1-20 Americans who fall below the Federal poverty level, would poverty be an issue for anyone in this country who isn’t poor themselves or donates to or works for charities? I doubt it would be because poverty wouldn’t be visible at all for most of the country.

If you want less poverty or even a lot less poverty in this country, you do that encouraging people to be successful. You do that by encouraging and empowering as many Americans who want to be successful in this country to be successful. To get the education and skills that they need to make it in America and have the economic freedom that middle and upper income Americans have.

You don’t do that by heavily taxing the wealthy simply to take care of the poor. Or giving people middle incomes to people for choosing not to work and telling Americans that they don’t need to work hard, get good skills, and be productive in order to live well in this country.


About Ederik Schneider

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