I'd like to promote lots of things. I'd like to promote elimination of drug prohibition. I'd like to promote parental choice in education through vouchers. Those are two things I think are very urgent and important. They're both more important than the harm which Social Security will do.
The important issue is not how much inequality there is but how much opportunity there is for individuals to get out of the bottom classes and into the top. If there is enough movement upward, people will accept the efficiency of the markets. If you have opportunity, there is a great tolerance for inequality. That has been the saving grace of the American system.
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Doing good with other people's money has two basic flaws. In the first place, you never spend anybody else's money as carefully as you spend your own. So a large fraction of that money is inevitably wasted. In the second place, and equally important, you cannot do good with other people's money unless you first get the money away from them. So that force - sending a policeman to take the money from somebody's pocket - is fundamentally at the basis of the philosophy of the welfare state.
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You could not possibly maintain the current level of government taxation without the taxes being hidden, and they are hidden in two very different ways. They are hidden through withholding, but they are also hidden by being imposed on business, supposedly on business, when really, of course, business can't pay taxes, only people can pay taxes.
Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output. ... A steady rate of monetary growth at a moderate level can provide a framework under which a country can have little inflation and much growth. It will not produce perfect stability; it will not produce heaven on earth; but it can make an important contribution to a stable economic society.
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You will find that hardly a soul who will say that it was a bad thing. Almost everybody will say it was a good thing. 'But what about today? Do you think we should have free immigration?' 'Oh, no,' they'll say, 'We couldn't possibly have free immigration today. Why, that would flood us with immigrants from India, and God knows where. We'd be driven down to a bare subsistence level.'
Because it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both. If you have a welfare state, if you have a state in which every resident is promises a certain minimal level of income, or a minimum level of subsistence, regardless of whether he works or not, produces it or not. Then it really is an impossible thing.
But on the other hand, if you come under circumstances where each person is entitled to a pro-rata share of the pot, to take an extreme example, or even to a low level of the pie, than the effect of that situation is that free immigration, would mean a reduction of everybody to the same, uniform level. Of course, I'm exaggerating, it wouldn't go quite that far, but it would go in that direction. And it is that perception, that leads people to adopt what at first seems like inconsistent values.
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If instead of looking at income, you look at levels of consumption, if anything that's become more equal. The fraction of families that have a dishwasher, that have a sewing machine, that have a television set. In respect to consumption, it's very hard to avoid the view that people have been getting more equal rather than more unequal.
We measure poverty by what I believe is a very, very crude concept. We actually measure poverty by trying to get some kind of an estimate of the minimum expenditures on food that are required to maintain health, multiplying that number by three, and saying that's the level of poverty. And it's a very crude, inaccurate arrangement.
Our emphasis here is based not only on the growing seriousness of drug-related crimes, but also on the belief that relieving our police and our courts from having to fight losing battles against drugs will enable their energies and facilities to be devoted more fully to combatting other forms of crime. We would thus strike a double blow: reduce crime activity directly, and at the same time increase the efficacy of law enforcement and crime prevention.
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China has seen a great deal of economic progress. It's certainly rather of a miracle. The growing role of the market in the economy will force China to open up its political system over time and to move toward a more democratic society. So taken as a whole, the one real failure in this whole business has been Russia.
Germany has a very able and productive workforce. It has high-quality products that are valued all over the world. It has every opportunity to be a productive, growing state. It just has to give its entrepreneurs a chance. It has to let them make money, hire and fire, and act like entrepreneurs.
Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.
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The great virtue of free enterprise is that it forces existing businesses to meet the test of the market continuously, to produce products that meet consumer demands at lowest cost, or else be driven from the market. It is a profit-and-loss system. Naturally, existing businesses generally prefer to keep out competitors in other ways. That is why the business community, despite its rhetoric, has so often been a major enemy of truly free enterprise.
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The stock market crashed in October 1929. But that was not the cause of what caused the Great Depression. It was, in my opinion, a very minor element of it. What happened was that from 1929 to 1933 you had a major contraction which, in my opinion, was caused primarily by the failure of the Federal Reserve System, to follow the course of action for which it was set up. It was set up to prevent exactly what happened from 1929 to 1933. But instead of preventing it, they facilitated it.
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Italy may well be the main problem. It has benefited most from the euro by having been able to get the euro interest rate instead of what otherwise would have been its own. That would be much higher because Italy has been accumulating so much debt. In the past, Italy has inflated away its debt. The virtue of the euro is that Italy can't do it alone. A tight ECB policy wouldn't permit that to happen again.
Speeches by businessmen on social responsibility...may gain them kudos in the short run. But it helps to strengthen the already too prevalent view that the pursuit of profits is wicked.... There is one and only one social responsibility of business-to...engage in open and free competition without deception or fraud.
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Economists may not know much. But we know one thing very well: how to produce surpluses and shortages. Do you want a surplus? Have the government legislate a minimum price that is above the price that would otherwise prevail. That is what we have done at one time or another to produce surpluses of wheat, of sugar, of butter, of many other commodities. Do you want a shortage? Have the government legislate a maximum price that is below the price that would otherwise prevail.
It is my view that what is important is cutting government spending, however spending is financed. A so-called deficit is a disguised and hidden form of taxation. The real burden on the public is what government spends (and mandates others to spend). As I have said repeatedly, I would rather have government spend one trillion dollars with a deficit of a half a trillion than have government spend two trillion dollars with no deficit.
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And what does reward virtue? You think the communist commissar rewards virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virtue? You think, excuse me, if you'll pardon me, American presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?
If, for example, existing government intervention is minor, we shall attach a smaller weight to the negative effect of additional government intervention. This is an important reason why many earlier liberals, like Henry Simons, writing at a time when government was small by today's standards, were willing to have government undertake activities that today's liberals would not accept now that government has become so overgrown.
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I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.
Viewed as a means to the end of political freedom, economic arrangements are important because of their effect on the concentration or dispersion of power. The kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, competitive capitalism, also promotes political freedom because it separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to offset the other
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I cannot disagree with you that having something like 500 economists is extremely unhealthy. As you say, it is not conducive to independent, objective research. You and I know there has been censorship of the material published. Equally important, the location of the economists in the Federal Reserve has had a significant influence on the kind of research they do, biasing that research toward noncontroversial technical papers on method as opposed to substantive papers on policy and results
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Now here's somebody who wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette. If he's caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper? I think it's absolutely disgraceful that our government, supposed to be our government, should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail. That's the issue to me. The economic issue comes in only for explaining why it has those effects. But the economic reasons are not the reasons
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The ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission] illustrates what might be called the natural history of government intervention. A real or fancied evil leads to demands to do something about it. A political coalition forms consisting of sincere, high-minded reformers and equally sincere interested parties. The incompatible objectives of the members of the coalition (e.g., low prices to consumers and high prices to producers) are glossed over by fine rhetoric about 'the public interest, ' 'fair competition, ' and the like. The coalition succeeds in getting Congress (or a state legislature) to pass a law. The preamble to the law pays lip service to the rhetoric and the body of the law grants power to government officials to 'do something.' The high-minded reformers experience a glow of triumph and turn their attention to new causes. The interested parties go to work to make sure that the power is used for their benefit. They generally succeed. Success breeds its problems, which are met by broadening the scope of intervention. Bureaucracy takes its toll so that even the initial special interests no longer benefit. In the end the effects are precisely the opposite of the objectives of the reformers and generally do not even achieve the objectives of the special interests. Yet the activity is so firmly established and so many vested interests are connected with it that repeal of the initial legislation is nearly inconceivable. Instead, new government legislation is called for to cope with the problems produced by the earlier legislation and a new cycle begins.
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We economists don't know much, but we do know how to create a shortage. If you want to create a shortage of tomatoes, for example, just pass a law that retailers can't sell tomatoes for more than two cents per pound. Instantly you'll have a tomato shortage. It's the same with oil or gas.
I have been enormously impressed by the role that pure chance plays in determining our life history. I was reminded of some famous lines of Robert Frost: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both I took the one less travled by, And that has made all the difference. As I recalled my own experience and development, I was impressed by the series of lucky accidents that determined the road I traveled. > From "Lives of the Laureates" pg.67
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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.
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This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes "on suspicion" can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.
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Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn't run on greed? You think Russia doesn't run on greed? You think China doesn't run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it's only the other fellow who's greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you're talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it's exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.
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The proper role of government is exactly what John Stuart Mill said in the middle of the nineteenth century in On Liberty. The proper role of government is to prevent other people from harming an individual. Government, he said, never has any right to interfere with an individual for that individual's own good.
You had a flood of immigrants, millions of them, coming to this country. What brought them here? It was the hope for a better life for them and their children. And, in the main, they succeeded. It is hard to find any century in history, in which so large a number of people experience so great an improvement in the conditions of their life, in the opportunities open to them, as in the period of the 19th and early 20th century.
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All of the progress that the US has made over the last couple of centuries has come from unemployment. It has come from figuring out how to produce more goods with fewer workers, thereby releasing labor to be more productive in other areas. It has never come about through permanent unemployment, but temporary unemployment, in the process of shifting people from one area to another.
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There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana. $7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven't even included the harm to young people. It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.
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Significant changes in the growth rate of money supply, even small ones, impact the financial markets first. Then, they impact changes in the real economy, usually in six to nine months, but in a range of three to 18 months. Usually in about two years in the US, they correlate with changes in the rate of inflation or deflation." "The leads are long and variable, though the more inflation a society has experienced, history shows, the shorter the time lead will be between a change in money supply growth and the subsequent change in inflation.
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If a country is an attractive place for foreigners to invest their funds, then that country will have a relatively high exchange rate. If it's an unattractive place, it will have a relatively low exchange rate. Those are the fundamentals that determine the exchange rate in a floating exchange rate system.
One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions, rather than their results. We all know a famous road that is paved with good intentions. The people who go around talking about their 'soft heart,'-I admire them for the softness of their heart, but very often it extends to their head as well.
Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated "" a system of checks and balances.
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If you look at the balance sheet, the US is heavily in debt. If you look at the income account - the amount of interest the US pays abroad - it is almost exactly equal to the amount of interest that it receives from abroad. American assets held abroad are earning a higher rate of return than foreign assets held here.
It is taken for granted that workers should receive their pay partly in kind, in the form of medical care provided by the employer. How come? Why single out medical care? Surely food is no less essential to life than medical care. Why is it not at least as logical for workers to be required to buy their food at the company store as to be required to buy their medical care at the company store?
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