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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