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He is unfailingly enlightening, independent, courageous, penetrating, and above all, stimulating. It is a rare professor who greatly alters the thinking of his professional colleagues. It's an even rarer one who helps transform the world. Friedman has done both. In his classic book, Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman presents his view of the proper role of competitive capitalism - the organization of the bulk of economic activity through private enterprise operating in a free market - as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.
He also outlines the role that government should play in a society dedicated to freedom and relying primarily on the market to organize economic activity. Friedman begins with a discussion of the principles of a truly liberal society. He then applies those principles to a range of pressing problems, including monetary policy, discrimination, education, income distribution, welfare, and poverty. The result is a book that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and has become increasingly influential in recent years as more and more governments have moved from highly planned economies to embrace free market economics.
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Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention milton friedman free market government intervention great depression political freedom capitalism and freedom good book easy to read economics politics role of government read this book interest in economics freedom was friedman ideas economic state libertarian school socialism chapter.
Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. And anyone of average intelligence can understand it. Jun 09, Daniel rated it did not like it Recommends it for: I read this book as part of a class on Political Thought. I had food poisoning at the time that this book was assigned, but I would have been puking even if I hadn't had those undercooked pancakes that day.
This book is so full of ruling class whitewash that it is truly difficult to read. The text, essentialized, was as follows: Capitalism offers rich people choices.
These choices can be redefined as freedom. Therefore Capitalism offers freedom.
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Left out is what to do if you don't have the luxury I read this book as part of a class on Political Thought. Left out is what to do if you don't have the luxury of being able to buy choices.
Left out is how these choices in fact necessitate others' oppression and their lack of freedom. Left out is any semblence of understanding of what it is to work for those choices to be available to some. Actually, let me rephrase: Friedman mentions these points specifically on several occaisions. He then explains that it is not anyone's business how to answer these questions, all policy is to be made between stock holders and companies itself, no matter who else is affected.
When Milton Friedman died, I gave everyone I knew a high-five.
View 2 comments. Dec 06, Christopher rated it it was ok Shelves: The best way to describe Milton Friedman's manifesto is that while it has a laudable goal, the spreading of economic freedom to all, the means by which he would achieve them would ultimately do the opposite and leave people in continual poverty. His first chapter on how important economic freedom is is very good, but all of his arguments employ either strongman arguments that can't be reasonably argued against or straw man arguments that are too easy to knock down.
Not only that, but his chapter The best way to describe Milton Friedman's manifesto is that while it has a laudable goal, the spreading of economic freedom to all, the means by which he would achieve them would ultimately do the opposite and leave people in continual poverty.
Not only that, but his chapter on how anti-discrimination laws in the workplace would be unnecessary if the free market were allowed to do its work is an appalling argument. Thank God that most of these arguments are falling out of favor due to the current economic hardships and the incompetence of the current administration. In summation, read chapter 1 and skip everything else. Apr 25, Suman added it.
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Reading this book is like looking at a mirror into your own beliefs: Fault lies totally with MF, who does not offer enough evidence to support his worldview, which is to limit government and expand free market in order to maximize 19th-century liberalism where everyone is free such that one person's freedom doesn't impinge upon another's. The lack of concrete evidence completely d Reading this book is like looking at a mirror into your own beliefs: The lack of concrete evidence completely distressed me, especially for a book intended for a lay audience.
I'm not expecting a mathematical proof although that would be nice , but I am expecting some sort of empirical evidence if I am to believe, as MF argues at one point, that we need to abolish licensing of physicians in the US. To be fair, there are one or maybe two chapters that are well-argued. The one that sticks out in my mind is on education, in which Friedman argues IMO quite successfully, that government should not administer education, but offer vouchers for "approved" schools n. Then there is also the point that people tend to spend less on housing and basic needs in capitalist countries than in non-capitalist ones.
And there is the prescient argument that unless the government repeals deductions for corporate charitable giving, we will be led down a slippery slope to a time - now - when corporations are treated as individuals which runs counter to 19th-century liberal ideals.
Unfortunately, good arguments are few and far between. Ad hominem attacks, such as calling the president a "country banker", replace what could have been great definitions of an exchange or a market, which is important since these ideas are central to Milton Friedman's philosophy.
College freshman-style philosophical logic replaces measures readers can look at to evaluate both Friedman's and extant economic systems. And a very weak ethical argument on the ethics of income inequality basically Milton Friedman claims he can't think of a good one replaces what should be an attempt at a strong converse to capitalism: Any way.
I don't need an answer, but at least a good attempt. I am startled at how little I learned in this book compared to "Thinking Fast and Slow", written by another Nobel-Prize winning economist, Daniel Kahneman although intellectually he is a psychologist.
That book, while also dense, is replete with facts, studies, and definitions, and changed how I viewed the world. Dear economists, We are reading your book because we want to learn something. We are willing to struggle in order to understand your point of view, so please don't insult our intelligence by giving us no data or methodology so we can think for ourselves and evaluate your argument.
When writing for a "lay" audience, please don't write a pamphlet, write a book. Best, Suman View all 4 comments. Dec 31, Eamon rated it did not like it Shelves: An important book to read for any student of economics - this is the basis of most American economic policy - but it's WRONG and I think Adam Smith would roll in his grave to hear how people like Friedman are using his theories to make their friends richer while the masses struggle.
Apr 14, C. Scott rated it did not like it. Inequality is one of the most pressing issues facing the US today. My primary question as I read this book for the firs Inequality is one of the most pressing issues facing the US today. My primary question as I read this book for the first time: Was Friedman explicit in his goal of helping the rich concentrate and consolidate more power and wealth for themselves?
The answer is no, unfortunately he did not identify this as the ultimate goal of his philosophy. That would have made my job too easy. Consider his support for a flat tax, his hatred for Social Security or public housing, or his passionate support for school vouchers — all supported by the reactionary rich to this day.
The rich feel the same way about these things because they stand to profit by them. There is one innovation that keeps Friedman relevant to this day: Economic freedom essentially means the ability to participate in the economy — to freely and fairly produce or trade or consume any good or service without coercion.
Sounds good, right? What is a problem is economic freedom is not the same as political freedom — freedom of speech, freedom to vote, and so on. In a publicly traded company every shareholder gets one vote for every share of stock they own. With one dollar one vote the billionaire gets put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, to support the candidate of their choice.
We are all free to influence elections by spending however much money we want buying campaign ads and funding political action committees.
Contrast this to the political ideal of one person one vote, every citizen gets a single vote. In that case we are all equal on Election Day.
My vote has the same value as yours and so on. But Friedman recognizes no such distinction. The power of his argument lies in blurring these differences. By equating economic freedom with political freedom any move to infringe upon the marketplace becomes an attack on liberty itself.
By wrapping the interests of those with money in the flag and declaring any challenge to laissez faire economics a challenge to freedom Friedman forged a powerful tool for the rich to use against the rest of us. Trade barriers to protect American workers? That is an attack on freedom.
Social Security benefits for old people? By forcing people to save for retirement you take their freedom. This moral philosophy is the lodestone upon which the entire neoliberal economic outlook is based. Because taking money or imposing regulations is tantamount to taking freedom, low taxation, deregulation, and privatization become a way to preserve freedom. His ideas build off Friedrich Hayek and others who argue that any government intervention into the economy is the road to serfdom.
This logical slippery slope says that any intervention made for the social benefit of a nation by a government is a step towards totalitarianism — and the elimination of political freedom. Friedman argues that the government has no role in society beyond acting as an impartial umpire that stands to the side so the magic of the market can do its work.
The market always does a better job. Self-interest always provides the best social outcome. The individual is superior to the collective. However this idea of pitting the individual against the collective is fundamentally undemocratic. In democratic government the people are the sovereign and majority rules. The public is supposed to have a say determining what is best for the society.
To say that individual freedom is more important than the will of the public is anti-democratic. Wealth and power go hand in hand. Articulating a philosophy that puts economic liberty - the power of wealth - in equal standing with political freedom is so wrong. I read this after Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose as a text ancillary to those assigned for Dave Schweickart's course entitled "Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy" and found it less offensive and more thought provoking than that later text.
Personally, I share Friedman's libertarianism in the sense of favoring the freedom of everyone to do as they please so long as their so doing does not restrict the freedom of others. This is a political, not an ethical, claim amounting to the belief th I read this after Milton and Rose Friedman's Free to Choose as a text ancillary to those assigned for Dave Schweickart's course entitled "Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy" and found it less offensive and more thought provoking than that later text.
This is a political, not an ethical, claim amounting to the belief that governments should no more interfere with individual liberty than with individual religious preferences. Ethically, there are a whole lot of restrictions on behavior which I advocate and try to practice. I do not share Friedman's sanguine attitude towards supposed rights of ownership. Some of my concern here is political, some ethical. Politically, a representative system such as ours is radically distorted by the fact that marketing, which costs money, counts more than votes, which don't, in elections.
Clearly, this is a matter for law if the principle of free and fair elections is to be maintained.
Fortieth Anniversary Edition
Similarly, other distorting externalities arising from significant differences between incomes and assets would require control. One of these, of course, is the matter of inheritance. Friedman seems to regard individual human organisms as the agents, not families or clans or nations, so it would seem to follow that inheritance should be heavily taxed.
Beyond such political considerations, I have strong ethical objections to two things Friedman advocates: By "alienated ownership" I mean the legal fictions which allow persons to own properties they don't use and products they don't produce.
By "alienated labor" I mean the legal fictions which allow the products of an individual's labor to be owned by others who had nothing to do with its production.
Friedman, as I recall after these many years, deals with this by advocating unions--an interesting, ostensible concession to the real world from one normally prone to utopian idealism. This raises the matter, assuming fundamental values are agreed upon, of how to get from the real to the ideal world wherein such values are instantiated.
Is this a proper role for government, or is it more properly a matter for moral exhortation? View all 5 comments. Jan 04, Paul, rated it really liked it. Whatever you think about Reagan, Friedman is man of no small insight, both into economics and into politics. Some of the rationales for his economic policies sound like they came straight out of the political discussions of The Federalist Papers. Friedman, like Hamilton and Madison before him, realized that any power given to the government would expand over time if unchecked.
Because small, focused groups always overcome large, unfocused groups in the long run. That is the reason interest groups wield so much influence. And Friedman really does demonstrate something I've been saying for a long time: So, by and large, Friedman is an advocate of using government to enforce contracts, punish criminals, wage war, and prevent monopolies or collusion. The free market can handle everything else. In most ways, he is right. What Friedman did not foresee is how vast some of the forces, especially speculators, could become.
So now we find ourselves in a period where speculators can fundamentally distort the functioning of the market according to supply and demand just like the government can. Friedman also assumed that every individual was a rational actor, or at least acted like one. In that case, I believe that he entirely underestimated the role of cultural influences, crowd effects, etc.
All in all, great book. I really enjoyed reading it. Many of the situations described in the book have not changed in the last 50 years: Social Security, education, medicine.
We aren't making much progress. The idea I wish we would interject into our current situation: Let every dollar of profit be attributed to shareholders, and let them pay taxes on all profit instead of using corporations to shelter income and encourage ridiculous amounts of growth. Also, a flat i. Feb 08, Jason Furman rated it it was amazing Shelves: I last read Capitalism and Freedom as a teenager.
Rereading it I was surprised about how contemporary and undated it is, even if the lectures it is based on were delivered more than 60 years ago. The lack of being dated is partly because much of the world has not changed e.
He argues: The problem of government, her argues, is compounded by the lack of a mechanism to correct problems—it is hard to move cities, even harder to move states, and harder still to move countries—as compared to the market where you can simply stop buying the offending product.
Friedman makes two sets of positive claims. The first is quite broad: His two arguments for this proposition are: But sixty years of data have proven very unkind to it absent that limiting case. The National Health Service in the UK, for example, may be a good or a bad idea but by moving some fraction of the way to nationalization it has not exactly impeded freedom and liberty.
The Scandanavian countries have much larger governments but also do not display systematically less freedom. There are arguments for and against larger state involvement in the economy but to say it is The Road to Serfdom as Friedman, drawing on Friedrich Hayek, argues is not helpful. He argues this is true of countercyclical macroeconomic it introduces instability and worsens the business cycle , anti-monopoly legislation it can entrench monopolies , progressive taxation in some ways it increases income inequality, housing projects it destroys the housing supply , and the minimum wage it increases unemployment and makes the poor worse off.
No doubt some of these are right, like housing projects where the emphasis of policy has appropriately shifted towards housing vouchers and reducing barriers that complain housing supply—ideas that are along the lines of what Friedman is arguing. What I find suspicious is that that contrary to the rigorous, hard-headed thinking Friedman claims to espouse much of this reads more like wishful thinking. This is the type of too-good-to-be-true wishful thinking that he would rightfully decry in other circumstances.
And it means he avoids some of the tough tradeoffs one would have to consider about whether one prioritizes liberalism as a philosophy or outcomes because they will not both line up. Specifically, he argues that public policies are not done randomly or by wise policy mandarins but instead systematically shaped by self-interested parties.
These policies can persist because they have a small number of highly visible winners and many invisible losers. He would argue the minimum wage has this feature, being pushed by labor unions to help their members, creating a bunch of visible winners receiving higher wages, and many more people without jobs who may not even realize it was because of the higher minimum wage.
I am not endorsing his view, just describing it—the evidence since his book has, at the very least, cast substantial doubt on this particular argument. All of that said, anyone who cares about public policy should think very hard about the imperfections of government, the distortions of rent seekers and regulatory capture, the role of incentives, and unintended consequences.
How Friedman's policies started Shock Doctrine Economics. Oct 12, Clinton rated it it was amazing Shelves: Capitalism and Freedom examines the ultimate pursuit of freedom and liberty through the absence of government interference in the market and politics. Although government is warranted in the market yet limited, the market will always prevail in the most efficient use of resources.
In a free society, there is a fine line between economic and political freedom. The role of government should be only limited to law and order, enforcing property rights, and maintaining the monetary system. Friedman is Capitalism and Freedom examines the ultimate pursuit of freedom and liberty through the absence of government interference in the market and politics.
Friedman is a staunch proponent of eliminating monopolies from government education, occupational licensure, business and labor unions.
The tax structure must intake an extensive reform from a current graduated tax rate to a much more universal flat tax rate. Overall, the book is excellent in logical and rational statements of criticizing government intervention, and Friedman clearly explains the view of the libertarianism, and it is the people who are responsible of preserving freedom and liberty and stray away from tyranny and repression.
Jan 22, John rated it it was ok. A man with an enomorous intellect and education, yet little regard for human beings. He had a vision of a lasseiz faire society that he was only able to see attempted in places like Chile, Argentina etc.
Probably the most influential economist save Smith or Keynes. In my opinion a very unfortunate fact. Oct 15, Igor rated it really liked it Shelves: If you're looking for a dry and cerebral argument for why markets tend to be a social good, and in most case the option which gives choice, encourages enterprise, is the preferable one -- then this book, though dated, is still relevant and worth taking a look into.
Someone who hasn't studied economics at all probably should seek different primers before delving deep into Friedman's zany free market world. That being said, Friedman delivers a solid utilitarian argument for limited government and f If you're looking for a dry and cerebral argument for why markets tend to be a social good, and in most case the option which gives choice, encourages enterprise, is the preferable one -- then this book, though dated, is still relevant and worth taking a look into.
That being said, Friedman delivers a solid utilitarian argument for limited government and free enterprise. Without much talking about the ethical differences in doing things by voluntary economic means vs. He does this by looking at all the major government initiatives goals to raise living standards for a group or to combat discrimination over the last century, and showing many metrics for their failures. On the other hand, he takes a look at how markets were able to successfully address things like discrimination, poverty, social welfare, etc.
In reading this book, I came away with feeling that having a mixed economy, by that I mean a mix of capitalism and government intervention, lends itself to corrupting almost every forwarded initiative. Powerful economic interests either promote their own economically destructive measures destructive to society such as legal monopolies, legal barriers to entry, subsidies, etc -- but profitable to the interests and pervert any kind of initiative the government otherwise put forward.
Playing the blame game of is it the special interests of the corruptible bureaucrats who are to blame is not productive. Curbing the effect of economic influence over political action, or somehow making bureaucrats incorruptible seems futile to me - though I laud the efforts of campaign finance reformers who have been able to diagnose one of the symptoms of a state not acting in our best interests.
Ultimately, I think that the only way to combat this misuse of power is to eliminate the concentration of power in the state.
In summary, a great read for anyone economically inclined with a good attention span. Mar 11, Tom rated it really liked it. This is a brilliant book with a cold, cold heart. I read it this spring for a course on politics taught by Noam Chomsky and Marvin Waterstone at the University of Arizona. They used it to establish the neoliberal argument for the way the world works, or should work. Friedman, who taught at the University of Chicago and won the Nobel Prize for Economics, was an idealist, an advocate for free-market purity This is a brilliant book with a cold, cold heart.
Friedman, who taught at the University of Chicago and won the Nobel Prize for Economics, was an idealist, an advocate for free-market purity. And in the best of all possible worlds, he is absolutely right. Capitalism spurs and ensures freedom. As transactional capitalists, individuals prosper, and society does, too. The role of government, then, is limited: Vestiges of it still remain in the Republican Party. If only we lived in such a pure state, one without externalities such as pollution and climate change, without white-collar crooks and scam artists, without monopolies and transnational corporations, without the disabled or the disadvantaged.
Freidman offers up solutions for these issues but not in a way that convinces me they can work in the real world. Witness Chile after the coup. The economy surged, with the nation's wealth concentrating among the elite, until it nearly collapsed, causing extensive deprivation and suffering for the majority. The unhappy dictator removed the Chicago Boys almost as expeditiously as he eliminated Salvador Allende.
Apr 19, Patrick Peterson rated it really liked it.
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Good, very good, but not great. Several important errors. Read Ludwig von Mises by comparison. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. Aug 13, John rated it it was amazing Shelves: Audiobook 7 hours this for yourself before even considering what I think is the atrocious half read Atlas Shrugged or condemning Milton and the Chicago school. Most Republicans are only cafeteria Friedmanists at best, which is a truly horrible mix.
I'd like to think that I've mentally progressed since I first read most of this formative work for a class sophomore year in college so it was nice to find that it held up so well. That class was taught by my fav professor who would have then and Audiobook 7 hours this for yourself before even considering what I think is the atrocious half read Atlas Shrugged or condemning Milton and the Chicago school. That class was taught by my fav professor who would have then and ended up being an Obama voter when the time came.
The Road to Serfdom is in the hole so it will be interesting to finally compare the two. May 15, Carlos rated it really liked it. Friedman presents a simple, indeed often simplistic, argument in favor of an economic system characterized by the nearly unfettered operation of the free market coupled with a minimalist state apparatus.
Though the book represented a radical position at the time it was written, many of Friedman's positions seem uncontroversial and common sensical today.
It is a testament to Friedman's influence that this is so. In the forty or so years since Capitalism and Freedom first appeared, Friedman's thou Friedman presents a simple, indeed often simplistic, argument in favor of an economic system characterized by the nearly unfettered operation of the free market coupled with a minimalist state apparatus. In the forty or so years since Capitalism and Freedom first appeared, Friedman's thought has played a role in mainstream politics' drift in a direction far more congenial to his laissez faire beliefs than the New Deal Progressivism that still prevailed in the s.
Although many of the specific arguments in the book deserve criticism, the most appalling is the argument against anti-discrimination laws. Friedman devotes a chapter to this topic and he begins it with an emphatic profession of his personal belief that racial discrimination is wrong. Nevertheless, Friedman grits his teeth and launches into a defense of the bigots right to remain a bigot.
The defense follows from Friedman's foundational belief in individual rights and one gets the feeling that Friedman wishes he could break with his principles on just this one occasion but is far too stubborn and far too much of a committed ideologue to permit himself the indulgence. Because, for Friedman, individuals are free to do basically anything they want to do with the limited exception that they may not positively interfere with the freedom of other individuals, there is no justification for government to coerce bigots into associating with racial minorities and thus no justification for anti-discrimination in employment laws.
Friedman believes that market forces can remedy the problem of racial discrimination in employment because bigoted employers will incur higher costs since they may be unable to hire the most productive employees if those employees happen to be racial minorities. Their bigotry makes them inefficient and their inefficiency will force them out of a competitive market. Unfortunately, Friedman went a step beyond and argued that there is no principled distinction between the government's power to prohibit discrimination and the government's power to mandate discrimination and thus there is no principled difference between the Civil Rights Act of on the one hand and the Nuremberg Laws and the Black Codes on the other hand.
Friedman is correct that both types of laws presuppose the power of government to infringe on the freedom of individuals to structure their dealings with racial minorities according to their own beliefs, but by conflating the two types of laws he creates a noxious false equivalency between laws that infringe on individual freedom in the service of greater overall freedom and laws that infringe on individual freedom in the service of greater oppression. The Civil Rights Act deprives individual employers of the freedom to make employment decisions on the basis of race, but it does so to increase the overall amount of freedom in American society in general by extending equality of opportunity to millions of racial minorities who would otherwise be relegated to permanent second class citizenship.
The Nuremberg Laws and the Black Codes on the contrary deprived individuals of the freedom to treat racial minorities as they saw fit in order to take away even the possibility of freedom for racial minorities. The two things could not be more different and Friedman's failure to recognize that is perhaps the greatest failing of Capitalism and Freedom.
Dec 27, Hamidur rated it it was ok Shelves: My comment about "state tyranny" of the USSR replacing private tyranny has also changed in favor of the Soviet Union and I'm ashamed for quoting Bakunin. Nonetheless, the criticisms of Friedman's arguments still remain valid. Below is the original review. The first is defined as socialism and the second as capitalism. It's then shown that the latter allows us to have more freedom than a centralized economy.
It's easy to show that the free market affords us more "freedom" when the only other alternative is state socialism. But state socialism is not the only alternative. Many socialists don't even consider centralized, state controlled economy as socialism.
Classically, socialism is defined as the workers controlling the means of production. This is in contrast to capitalism where private individuals own the means of production for private gain profit and the others must work for him or another owner to access the means of life. In the USSR or the type of "socialist" society Friedman is describing, the tyranny of private individuals over the workers is simply replaced by the tyranny of the state apparatus.
I'm here reminded of Bakunin's saying that "when the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called 'the People's Stick. I'm not advocating against personal possessions but advocating against the private ownership of factories, offices, land, etc. Henceforth when I refer to private property, it will be in reference to the means of production and not in reference to possessions.
With the semantic quibbling out of the way, let's look at the arguments. I have to admit that I had to review some of the arguments against private property before I started this book. But it wasn't needed. Friedman doesn't provide any justifications for private property and assumes that we take it for granted.
There is also no discussion about how private property offers us more freedom or restricts it. This is problematic. Private ownership of the means of production is at the heart of capitalism. If I were to convince someone that feudalism provided us with the most freedom among other economic systems, I'd first have to justify why the basis of feudalism is justified. Otherwise, my arguments will only be accepted by those already in favor of feudalism.
This is the same case with this book: Friedman sets up state socialism and free market capitalism as opponents, easily knocks over state socialism, then proceeds to explain how we can maximize freedom in a capitalist society.
This leads to him devoting a couple of chapters on monetary and trade policies, which in my opinion would have been much more interesting to read if they were rather devoted to explaining in detail what it is about capitalism that affords us more freedom.
All the arguments made, therefore, are just suggestions as to how we can achieve more freedom in a capitalist society. This also leaves other questions later in the book. In one of the chapters, we are presented with a hypothetical scenario in which four Robinson Crusoes find themselves marooned in four separate islands.
By chance, one of them ends up on a large and fruitful island while the others are on tiny and barren land. After some time, they make contact. It would be great, of course, if the Crusoe of the larger island referred to as Adam from now on invited the others to come and share the wealth of the larger island with him.
But what if he doesn't? Would the other three be justified in compelling him to share the wealth of the island? Some might say yes.
But Friedman then presents another thought-experiment. It would be great if he shares it with the others but would the others be justified in compelling him to share the money? Most would say no. Then by what logic can we justify the three Crusoes compelling Adam to share the wealth of the large island? Friedman uses this in relation to inheritance. This is a convincing argument and appears to be logical—at least on the surface. But consider this: What dictates that only he is allowed to enjoy the wealth of the island?
What, really, makes the island his and his only and gives him the right to dictate whether others are allowed to enter and enjoy the island? The answer is capitalist property rights. It's no law of the universe that the person who happens to end up on a piece of land gets to claim the land for himself. If others want to utilize the land to produce the necessities of life, well, too bad—they've got to pay rent or tribute to the owner of the land.
Property rights as they exist today are products of a specific period in history; they weren't always this way and they haven't always existed. Primitive tribal communities, for example, owned land as a community and people were allowed to work the land and produce what they needed but individuals didn't have absolute ownership over the land and therefore could not charge others for using the land that didn't belong to him.
If capitalist property right is ignored, then Adam is only entitled to use the land to produce the necessities of life but he doesn't own the land itself. His "ownership" extends as long as he uses the land. The three other Crusoes are then justified in appropriating the unused land we are told, after all, that the island is large enough and could supposedly support all four men in case Adam was generous enough to invite the others.
Adam is only entitled to the whole of the land only within the framework of the property rights that exist in the current society. And working within the framework of these property rights would sentence the other three Crusoes to live in poverty on the three islands or work for the other Crusoe while paying him rent or a portion of their yield. It would allow Adam to enjoy the wealth of the big island for the mere accident that he landed there first. This kind of social relations that are produced seem to me to be anything other than freedom.
Let's look at another passage: Individuals co-operate with others because they can in this way satisfy their own wants more effectively. One of those wants of many people is not to starve to death or be homeless. For someone who has nothing else but his skills and labor, he is bound to sell his labor to those who own the means of production the capitalist class.
In fact, this is true of the vast majority of the population: This is much different than working in order to directly consume the goods, without any intermediary step of producing goods for someone else in order to receive a wage.
Why must the vast majority of the workers toil every day to access the means of life while a tiny minority has dictatorial claim over those means of production? The majority are at the mercy of the minority, and as with the island example, this seems to be a case of anything but freedom.
There are other things that I took issue with but writing about them here would make this lengthy review even lengthier.
For an extended critique of capitalist property rights and how they produce tyrannical social relations among people rather than freedom as Friedman claims, please refer to this link:
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