Review of Free to Choose

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The book, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton and Rose Friedman is one which embodies, not only the personal views of one of history’s most influential economic authorities, but also provides a practical guide for understanding economics, as a whole. In the work, Friedman and his wife advocate laissez faire or “let do” economics, which advocates the idea that markets function most efficiently when free from government control and taxation. The book was also made into a popular television mini-series for PBS in 1980, each of the ten chapters being covered by an individual episode. Throughout the work, the Friedmans cite examples throughout history and the world to support the assertion that free markets promote economic progress and that attempts to control markets inhibit it.

Chapter one introduces the reader to the idea of free trade. Dr. Friedman cites examples from his experience in Hong Kong, the United States, and Scotland to support this view. He claims that in order for markets to truly be considered free, they must be completely devoid of government interference in an individual’s privileges to trade goods and services with whomever they want, buy as them cheap as possible, and sell them at the highest price possible. He points out, citing, the essay I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read, that even a product as simple as a pencil requires the cooperation of thousands of people, largely unknown to each other. This cooperation is not made possible by governments, but by individual and economic freedom, which is tightly linked to promoting economic progress, in turn reinforcing individual freedoms.

The next Chapter focuses on the fact that markets with less government control tend to develop more rapidly than those with centralized planning and control. Citing examples from Japan, India and the United States, Friedman, points out that, even though these policies may intend to help, they actually retard growth by limiting necessary competition....
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