Free to Choose: A Personal Statement

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The international bestseller on the extent to which personal freedom has been eroded by government regulations and agencies while personal prosperity has been undermined by government spending and economic controls. New Foreword by the Authors; Index.

Customer Reviews:

  • The most important economics book of the 20th century
    Freedman is the best economist of the 20th century, and this book is the most important book of the last 100 years. It is impossible to exaggerate the influence this book has had (it kick-started the free market revolution under Reagan and Thatcher). I re-read it often. I wish all college students read this book, we would have to hear a lot less rubbish, if they did. ...more info
  • Thank You Milton
    The absolute best thing about this economics book is that it is easy to read. If you ever wanted to know the conservative (or classic liberal) point of view on the topics of the day (social security, welfare, minimum wage, etc.), but did not feel like trudging through "The Wealth of Nations", this is the book for you. Whether you agree or disagree with the arguments, they are proposed in easily accessible language.

    I think that the most important chapter is the one which gave the history of bank runs and the creation of the Federal Reserve. I knew about what the Fed did/did not do up until the crash, but did not know about all of the prior bank runs. If you do not know this history, learn about it here or from other sources because it will change the way you view the Fed and their ability to manipulate the economy.

    This book is dated so be forewarned. However, the overall approach of synthesizing policy, thesis and antithesis is a fantastic. For those without any background in this area, it will be an "Atlas Shrugged" kind of reading....more info
  • Good, informative book
    This book taught me and showed me a lot of stuff that I didn't know. It also covered some stuff that I did know, and parts of the book took me forever to get through. All in all it's a great book on free market economics and freedom in general. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants more liberty in their life....more info
  • A must read for everyone
    I read this first in high school, again in college, and I pick it up every now and again to review. This book opened my eyes to how the world works (to steal a phrase from Jude Wanniski). Everyone, no matter your political bent, should read this book from the master. During a recent car trip, I gave it to my 8th grade son, and he said "How come everyone doesn't read this? It makes so much sense!" Well said!...more info
  • The most life changing book I have ever read
    As an assignment in his high school honors English class, my son recently asked me to name a book that had an impact on my life. My answer was "Free to Choose" by Milton & Rose Friedman. I grew up with fairly liberal views in a Democrat household. More than anything else, reading this book in the early 1980s changed my perceptions of reality. This book is most responsible for changing me into a conservative. Although I took four economics courses in college (and got high grades in each) and was a political science major, my views were never substantially budged until I read this great book.

    It is written very clearly; you need not have an economics background to understand it. The arguments are clear and eloquent. Friedman demonstrates why the free market works best for the economy but more importantly, he demonstrates why the free market preserves individual dignity. Beyond mere economics, the free market is the most moral system. In so many areas, if you really think about it, choices are the business of the individual, not the government. When the government overtaxes us, it is not only bad for the economy, it is bad morally. Overtaxation enables the government to make certain choices and removes that decisionmaking from the individual. I think school choice is an example of this.

    My son's teacher assigned him to read this book. Happily, he will be exposed to the lucid arguments for few governmental controls and greater choice among individuals. I highly recommend this book which had so great an impact on my life....more info

  • user-friendly economic theory
    Though commonly believed to be a more practical exposition of the subject treated in Capitalism and Freedom, this book has merits of its own. The first five chapters, I believe, make the point of how is it that the market works (and, like it or not, it works), how is it that things ended up being the way they are, and what is the (clear) argument for the cause of freedom. From then on the book gains momentum and the Friedmans further develop their "personal statement". A "must" in the shelf of the liberal (the true liberal, that is), the dogmatic socialist who likes a good fight, and the politically undecided (if he does not mind to change his status). FB...more info
  • The best way for an economy to work
    I have never particularly loved Economics as a subject. Therefore I found it difficult to be tremendously excited by this book. But the arguments made in it , concerning the wisdom of basing our economic life primarily on decisions of individuals, and not on government regulation do make sense to me. Also the whole tone of the work which is a gently persuasive one rather than one which harshly and angrily casts into the lower world all opposition, appealed to me.
    Finally. It is clear that in providing opportunity to its citizens to realize their own potential and pursue their own happiness, the economies of the West, and most especially of the United States have done far better than those of the East including that of the now defunct Soviet Union.
    It is important to note however that this system today is not simply a laissez - faire one which allows for an endless war of all upon all, but is modified by social welfare measures. ...more info
  • Excellent but dated
    The ideas expressed are excellent and still applicable, but
    the examples feel dated, mostly written at the end of the 70's.

    An update would be good....more info

  • Economic Freedom
    ?Economic freedom is an essential requisite for political freedom?. That quote from Milton and Rose Friedman is the essential reason why ?Free To Choose? should be required reading for all Americans in high school! This book makes a powerful and persuasive argument in favor of a free market economy. Written in a very lucid style ?Free To Choose? makes the usually dry subject of economics easily understandable and a pleasure to read. The ?Power Of The Market? chapter shows how free markets work and why they are essential for human freedom. ?Tyranny Of Control? chapter explains why trade restrictions and subsidies backfire. The ?Freedom And Prosperity? chapter examines what the dramatic experience in Eastern Europe reveals about bureaucrats and markets. The ?Created Equal? chapter shows how markets promote justice. Simply said, this book tackles economic issues that are as timely today as they were when the Friedman?s wrote about them in 1979.

    As a retired Army officer and student of political philosophy, I found ?Free To Choose? a great book for anyone who wants to understand basic economic theory.
    ...more info
  • Good introduction to the ideas of the free market
    Note: This book deserves a little less than 5 stars, but since there aren't such levels of fine-tuning, I am giving it 5 stars.

    Milton Friedman's FREE TO CHOOSE: A PERSONAL STATEMENT is the ultimate layman's synthesis of the ideas of economics developed at the University of Chicago in the past century. This system has had profound implications on our current model of the free market, as Friedman is just one of many in a line of Nobel-prize winning economists to come from that school.

    All the classical ideas of micro- and macroeconomics are presented in an accessible and effective fashion in this book. If you don't understand why the free market works, or are hesitant to undertake a more rigorous approach in learning about capitalism, FREE TO CHOOSE is definitely for you. Friedman assumes very little previous knowledge about economics. His arguments depend only on an ability and willingness to think rationally about economics and everyday decision-making processes.

    However, this rational approach is also a downfall to FREE TO CHOOSE. Chicago-style economists love to use purely rational appeals in their writing, and Milton Friedman is no different. Some of his empirical evidence is unconvincing; as such, a few of his policy statements go against more current, empirically developed economic theories. His shoddy treatment of externalities and failures in the market (he dismisses some of them without sufficient cause) would make it seem that unfettered capitalism is a perfect system when it is not. Especially for those of you who don't have the tools to judge the validity of economic theories, be forewarned about this aspect of FREE TO CHOOSE.

    Overall, an excellently written, widely accessible book that is definitely worth purchasing if you are unfamiliar with the ideas of capitalism. If you have a solid understanding of economics, then none of the ideas will be new (and you will probably notice some of the same problems I did)....more info

  • Excellent but dated
    The ideas expressed are excellent and still aplicable, but
    the examples feel dated, mostly written at the end of the 70's.

    An update would be good....more info

  • Economic Common Sense
    With "Free to Choose", Milton Friedman has achieved an easy to understand and common sense guide to understanding economics. Mr. Friedman answers questions such as: What is price and how does price convey information in a free vs. socialist market? What are the implications of legislation artificially controlling price? What drives commodity prices such as oil? How do economic and political freedoms coincide? What alternatives are there to a better public education? What should be the role of government in a free society? Mr. Friedman provides lucid answers and alternatives to issues that are commonly attacked by an appeal to the emotions of the masses. To really understand the concepts, this book must be studied. Taking time to understand Mr. Friedman's concepts can help clear many misconceptions and confusion about the economy as well as our day-to-day lives. The knowledge gained from this book is invaluable and may forever change the way you think. ...more info
  • Vital Link of Political And Economic Freedom in Vivid Detail
    The book is exceptionally easy to read relative to all others in the field of economicsy a great case study of how to write an easy to read book on a complex but vital subject. Designed to take a lifeys work and make it approachable to the average reader. As one of the leading Nobel prize winning economists of all time, this is required reading for any one intending to understand American society, its exceptionally powerful economy and some of its flaws. His exposition of how USA developed a vastly superior standard of living for the average and poorer citizen is very important to those that care about sustaining our prosperity in the long term.

    An important theme of the book is to understand why economic freedom can precede personal freedom in oppressive nations like China but then they have such grave difficulty controlling the populations desires for growing freedoms. He details how the first essential requirements in letting in rapid economic progress to a previously repressive society is the rule of law, respect for contracts and the free movement of capital.

    The book helps you understand why The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith ranks with the US constitution as a vital document of human progress. The book helps you understand how the invisible hand of the market place finds the better long term answers compared to the government. It does so faster and cheaper with an order of magnitude of greater personal freedom.

    One of the most powerful themes of the book is how the foul up of the US government in the 20th century created the illusion that the free market system was broken and the government had to intervene. In reality the governmentyParticularly the Federal Reserve was what was broken. As Milton Friedman explains, it was not a government conspiracy but worse yet profound ineptness in the governmentys understanding its own culpability. He helps us understand how the great depression muddled peoples thinking. It launched the political momentum in search of collective shared dreams of help from the government that has turned into night mares after horror stories.

    As with his other books, more on how the Federal Reserve was the leading cause of the global depression of the 1930ys. Read carefully, the section on the 1907 to the Korean War focusing on how the Fed blatantly denies it culpability and Milton Friedman nails them on it. It may help you understand how in recent times the Federal Reserve pumped to much money into the economy and how excess credit leaked out into the stock market causing the bubble and then the correction of 2001. As the markets were so recklessly pumped up by the Federal Reserve one can not expect the excesses to be suddenly behind us. To understand the years ahead this book will help. Then read the Federal Reserves current pretentious statement on how the stock market correction makes their job more difficult. They fail to recognize that the dream of juicing up the economy and tolerating 2 to 3 percent inflation per year in consumer prices was completely ignoring the inflation they were causing in the stock market. The greatest disdain should be saved for the congressional committees that were to provide an oversight function but did more for inflaming the passion for hyper growth. Congress wasted a magic opportunity in not addressing inflation and the reckless stock market stimulation in the vain hopes that unemployment could driven down to unprecedented lows. Why would anyone believe any new commitment to controlling inflation on the part of the Federal Reserve. This means decades of high interest rates that allow investors in government bonds a full recovery of inflation and a real return to boot. Interest rates would now be sharply lower were it not for this blunder.

    Case after case of how government intervention has hurt the average citizen and the total economy. The book has an aggressively stated case for abandoning public schools to save the intercity the disadvantaged in general and change the focus of all school. Schools focus mostly on advancing the mediocre student. The idea of letting some schools focus on the bright kids would be incredibly exciting and vital to national creativity. Parents get involved in privates schools doing part of the work at schools and this is every bit as true in poor neighborhoods. What parent has not been pushed aside by rules and regulations in public schools or been turned off from lending a helping hand by the politicized environment that has been created. The day is coming when the minority races will develop large numbers scholars and it will be from private schools with very active parents. The public schools may well disintegrate and be sold off to parents that took their children to private schools in disgust. The schools are not much good for other purposes one way or the other parents are taking back the schools. Left to the free markets it wonyt take long. A little bit of voucher activity could make it accelerate with awesome speed. It may yet be Milton Friedmanys greatest contribution to society....more info

  • Free to Choose by Dr. Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman
    The authors, Dr. Freidman and wife Rose, marvelled that the free market price system marries buyers and sellers without central
    direction. This is done by transmitting only the important information consumers must know without the burden of government interference or excessive record-keeping. In the USA, the major
    productive resource is personal productive capacity which is
    human capacity. This human capital takes the form of compensation to employees in the form of wages, salaries and supplements.

    The authors believe that common ownership will not provide the requisite incentives to maintain and improve property on an ongoing basis. For this reason,many structures in the old Soviet Union require extensive repair within a year or so of being built.

    The book points to Hong Kong as the modern exemplar of the free market devoid of excessive government control. Accordingly, free trade (by the authors) should be offered everywhere. The book discusses the advent of growing underemployment and unemployment in the welfare states. In education, the authors prefer a voucher system to preserve freedom of choice in the inner city schools. The current mayor of NYC is attempting to provide free choice by opening a series of competitive "small schools" with admission by formal examination or prior scholastic excellence.

    At the Agency level, the authors have called for deregulation to
    simplify business operations and recordkeeping. The remaining
    question involves the mechanism for doing this without losing
    total control. Too much free market has created some problems
    with Enron and other corporate entities. Clearly, exclusive
    self-monitoring does not operate to make every corporation
    do the right thing by the stockholders and the general public.
    The current challenge is how to have less Agency oversight
    without endangering the public's need for consumer protection
    on an ongoing basis. In addition, some readers seem to be
    looking for a perfect economic system or philosophy. In
    implementation, such a business utopia does not exist. There
    will be imperfections in every system due to the nature of
    human beings and behavior.

    The work draws heavily upon Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
    which combined the best of political freedoms with the individual
    right to pursue the extensive collaboration necessary to exchange
    food, clothing, services and housing voluntarily. Even in the
    old Soviet Union-Gosplan , voluntary cooperation was needed to resolve intractable central planning problems and rigidities, according to the authors.

    In the People's Republic of China, the neighborhood work leagues have slowly absorbed some of the free-market organizational superstructures. When H. Ross Perot visited China,
    he noted brand new factories and facilities on a 30-mile
    industrial highway . The challenge for the People's Republic is
    to incorporate the western management organizational designs and
    theories without losing the rigid governmental superstructure.
    These two goals are at considerable odds. Ultimately, Chinese
    consumers will come to demand greater freedoms, as more information becomes available from the World-Wide-Web and
    cultural exchanges with Western universities, global professional
    organizations, customers and consulting think-tanks.

    Overall, the work is a classic. The contents are tempered by
    the consumer's need for protection against corporate greed
    and the stockholders' interest in enforcing accountability
    from management and the Board of Directors. In addition,
    consumers need the environmental protection against the
    excesses of industrial pollution. The authors provide a service
    in calling for the abolition of unnecessary regulations which
    interfere with the operational throughput of business transactions. No-one is saying that all regulation should be

    Some reviewers have criticized Dr. Friedman's call for a freer
    market in the implementation of business systems. These criticisms should be placed in a practical context. The author
    is not calling for a total abolition of the quasi-governmental
    structures of the Federal Reserve and other governmental agencies. He is calling for a more meaningful regulation.
    Clearly, the reviewers' criticisms must be counterbalanced
    against the excesses of Goshplan and the large unemployment or
    underemployment in some socialist systems.

    On the other hand, capitalism needs rigorous oversight by the private and public sector to forestall the conditions which brought about the Great Depression, sweat shops, child labor exploitation and fiduciary malfeasance in the investment community. The private sector cannot monitor itself exclusively due to client opinion-shopping and the non-cooperation of some managements with internal auditing. There is still a need for an independent Board of Directors with a powerful and independent audit oversight function. The existence of government agencies will complement this effort by the private sector. Recently,
    the Securities Exchange Commission has strengthened controls
    in favor of protecting investors.

    The Quasi-Reorganization in Bankruptcy provides an independent
    mechanism for a company to start over . In this situation,
    the retained earnings is dated- usually for a period of a decade.
    In addition, there is a fair financial disclosure of the
    events which precipitated the bankrupt condition. During the
    period of a re-start, the company can examine both profitable
    and unprofitable operations. This dispassionate self-analysis
    should lead to the company emphasizing strength areas and
    shedding the less profitable ventures.

    The volume should be read by a wide constituency of business
    people and academic researchers-everywhere. Clearly, Dr.Friedman
    has produced a considerable scholarship even after winning the
    Nobel Prize in Economics. A strength of the presentation is that
    it is understandable to the average American consumer. The overall gist of the book is that the free market is color-blind
    in the conduct of economic transactions across the USA and the
    world. Since the free market is color-blind, it is a good
    forum for conducting business transactions....more info
  • Ahistorical Non sense
    I have the 1980 edition. Introduction Page 3 - "(The U.S.) started with a clean slate...and an empty continent to conquer." I guess Milton forgot about the Natives already living here.

    Further down the page - "it took 19 out of 20 wokers to feed the (population)." Cross out 'workers' and put in slaves and indentured servants.

    Freidman's America is simply for the well to do. Many more examples of his ahistorical method can be gleened by close reading of his text....more info

  • Should be Required Reading for Every Thoughtful Person
    I've read a handful of books that have changed how I think about the world. This book is at the top of that small stack....more info
    In this book, Dr Friedman makes the case why freedom, in the economic and social sense, is the best policy. Reading this book is a life changing experience for anyone who has not had much exposure to economics; Dr Friedman, alas, is arguably the top economist of our time.

    The book offers not only a critique of developments in education, trade policy, workers rights, drug policy, among other economic and social issues, but he also offers solutions. He readily recognizes the difficulties of implementing his solutions (political mainly), but nonetheless he is searching for the best non-utopian alternative.

    Dr Friedman will also demystify the image that economists are wholly consumed by growth and GDP. He is guided by the rule that each person knows best what they want and should be free to pursue it, within limits (of hurting others, etc.).

    This is an easy to read book, a great intro to social issues or a great alternative view of the world. I hardly think it can be construed as liberal or conservative, these labels cannot encompass the true spirit of freedom as developed in the book. If I had to classify it, this book is about the rational improvement of society by letting each one pursue their own goals (again, a maxim espoused by the founding fathers and long forgotten). Overall, anyone interested in social issues should read this book; it may not convince you, but it will make you think....more info

  • Freedom to choose among consumer goods
    As time goes by, I have less and less respect for anything Milton Friedman has to say.

    We must all remember that Enron was not a "failure". It was instead the desired Republican result of Friedman's "Structured Finance" - what others would call Organized Crime-style bust-outs and other scams.

    And, as such, it was a "catastrophic success" - retirement funds were extorted from Enron's own employere and outrageously manipulated energy prices were extorted from hard-working Americans. And all that cash was shoveled into the pockets of the already rich - the very definition of a "free market" success.

    And we should all remember that the freedom to choose among consumer goods is NOT something the Founders considered important enough to enshrine in the Bill of Rights.

    It is also important to note, as does Barry Schwartz, in his "The Paradox of Choice", that "constantly being asked to make choices, even about the simplest things, forces us to 'invest time, energy, and no small amount of self-doubt, and dread.' There comes a point, he contends, at which choice becomes debilitating rather than liberating. Did I make the right choice? Can I ever make the right choice?" We normally assume in America that more options ("easy fit" or "relaxed fit"?) will make us happier, but Schwartz shows the opposite is true, arguing that having all these choices actually goes so far as to erode our psychological well-being.

    Many of Friedman's "suggestions for reform" are GOP platform line-items that serve the hidden agenda of gutting America's national security interests. This is especially true of his "school voucher" program that will deprive America the Nation of millions of intelligent citizens of the Republic who are qualified to vote based on an understanding of national issues that goes beyond the superficial jingoism doled out at "voucher schools", which are, in reality, nothing more than the segregation academies of the Massive Resisters.

    So, as globalization (i.e. transnational corporatism) subsumes democracy, it becomes clear that Friedman is more of an apologist for profiteers and criminals than a major economic thinker....more info
  • A Clear and Reasoned Defense of Liberty
    "Free to Choose" (1980) is a great companion to Friedman's ten hour video presentation by the same name that appeared on PBS in the early eighties to rave reviews and some of the highest ratings in PBS history. The video series was extremely well done and taken right from this book.

    Friedman explains how and why markets work, why minimum wage statutes hurt instead of help unskilled labor (they price entry level or "training positions" out of the market) and why the Great Depression happened (protectionist tariffs like Smoot-Hawley devastating trade between nations was the primary reason).

    Like Hayek and von Mises before him, Friedman explodes the Keynesian mythology that government spending is actually good for the economy. Moreover, this book is written for the layman. You don't need a PhD in economics or a Nobel Prize (both of which Professor Friedman has) to understand this work. It is clear, concise and cogently written.

    If you want to understand why the market is ineluctable, this is a must read...and if you get the chance, I highly recommend the companion video series - some of the best work done on explaining why the free market works and planned/controlled economies fail.

    It as timely today (despite the dated references) because the free market still works (it always will) and command/controlled economies always fail...this book tells why....more info

  • A classic, but approach with caution
    Without disagreeing with the previous reviewer, let me just note a few problems with this work. Friedman approaches every issue from the perspective that government is everywhere and always the cause of problems, not the solution. While I sympathize with this perspective, he takes it a bit too far in some cases.

    For example, Friedman doesn't believe in the Food and Drug Administration. He considers it an unwarranted intrusion in the market, arguing that instead people will avoid buying products that may be unsafe or unsanitary. However, he ignores the fundamental problem that most individuals do not have all information available to them at all times (for more on that, read anything by another libertarian, F.A. Hayek). It's impossible to expect every person to know about every brand or every drug and its relative safety. The pre-FDA America wasn't a pleasant one for people working in the food and drug industries, or for consumers.

    In other words, sometimes government regulation can lead to a public good. Even conservatives like myself have to acknowledge that....more info
  • Friedman's best, political philosophy's best
    This is the one book that explains libertarian political and economic philosophy more clearly and more persuasively than any other book in print. Although it is more than twenty years old, it is still highly current and could have been published yesterday.

    Part of Friedman's brilliance is his ability to explain intricate economic concepts to general readers without "dumbing down" the substance. Friedman ran a column in Newsweek from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s, and many of the ideas discussed in those columns are contained in Free to Choose. The result is a well-polished, highly readable exposition of the merits of free markets, small government, rules-based monetary policy, and other topics such as the welfare state, education, government regulation, and trade unions.

    If your intent is to read only one book by Milton Friedman, Free to Choose should be the one. But after you finish, you're likely to want to read Capitalism and Freedom as well. Arguably, Capitalism and Freedom is slightly more theoretical and reads a bit more dated, while Free to Choose is more practical and still very current. My personal preference would be to read them in chronological order of publication (i.e. Capitalism and Freedom first), but you can really read them either way.
    ...more info
  • Economics for the non-economist
    I purchased this book as an adjunct for a course I was taking. Though I am not focused on economics career-wise, I found this book took the subject and expanded it to areas that made me realize how interconnected the basic tenets of economics are in our every day life. It was a very interesting read and still would have been even if I was not taking an economics class....more info
  • A brilliant vision of free markets, as relevant as ever
    Following on from his earlier classic, Capitalism and Freedom, Nobel-prizing winning economist and champion of free markets, Milton Friedman (with Rose Friedman) wrote this brilliant popular yet profound book on real economics. In a time when people are more prone to point the finger at corporations and plead the government to "fix things", Friedman's superb explication of the benefits of truly free markets (which does not include political bribes from Enron) deserves a revisit. Friedman takes on many mistaken ideas about free markets and the need for regulation. Advocates of intervention typically compare an imperfect free market (often a market only partly free but distorted by little-known interventions) to a perfect governmental solution. However, regulators are human too, and lack the disciplining forces of the market. Friedman's penetrating yet immensely readable analysis of a range of issues related to free markets and regulations remains as timely and relevant as ever....more info
    for any kid graduation from a public high school in America today,...more info
  • Discredited by who?
    "The use of quantity of money as a target has not been a success. I'm not sure that I would as of today push it as hard as I once did."
    Milton Friedman, Financial Times (UK) June 2003
    There you are, the ideas of this book have been repudiated by the man himself. What more evidence do you need to show they are wrong?...more info
  • educational
    I often think of this book in the context of Nancy Reagan's simplistic 'Just Say No' campaign of the '80s. While her campaign to inculcate in children the idea that drug abuse was something best to be avoided was admirable, the implicit message she conveyed was that the discussion about drugs was as simple as saying 'no.' Now, an economist would aver that, in fact, the argument is not so simple as that because, in addition to consideration of the deleterious effects of drug abuse that play into the equation, one must also do a cost-benefit analysis of the effect of drug criminilization on society, etc., etc., etc.

    At least, this is what Friedman would argue, and, to my mind, it is a stunning way in which to view our world through the dispassionate lens of economic analysis. My father recommended this book to me several years ago, having read it while he was in graduate school. Friedman (to whom neither my father nor I are related) argues, in effect, that the most important things a society can provide for its citizens is the freedom to choose--free capital markets, free choice in education, free to use drugs if you so choose, etc....more info

  • Wonderfully clear statement of how market economies work
    This is a book I have recommended to people for many years and still urge people to read. I urge you to read it. Especially now when there are many forces rising who dream that if only the good hearted could let government fix things for us all the evils in the world would be done away. This is an ignorance that failed during the last century and has simply bought a new suit and is trying to take the stage again.

    If you want to see more clearly the kinds of things we will be facing if we go that route again this book is an excellent primer. The authors show us the unintended consequences of government action. Most helpfully, they help expose the mischaracterizations of the arguments for market economies and free trade.

    The sad thing is that the present generation has not lived under the government foolishness of the New Deal through the seventies and so the siren song of the socialists (now once again hiding behind the noun Progressive) is appealing. It would be so simple if there were just one bad guy (and given today's politics it is always a guy or Margaret Thatcher) whom we could denounce and ring in Paradise.

    It isn't that simple.

    But it helps to have a foundation on which to build a good intellectual framework. The work of Milton Friedman is a great place to start. This book is a nice introduction to his work. His wife Rose is such a nice writer and herself a good thinker and explainer that this book is a delight to read. Really, this is fun stuff. Really......more info

  • Understand Reaganomics
    This book was written about the same time that Ronald Reagan began his years in the Oval Office. Milton Friedman's economic views influenced Reagan's policies and helped turn around the nation's economy in the 1980s.

    It is very interesting to read this now -- a quarter of a century later. At times Friedman sounds like a prophet, predicting accurately the results of economic policy. At other times it feels as if this book was written yesterday. Ideas that are hot political issues today (like school vouchers) were discussed in much the same manner in 1980.

    This is a classic book and a "must read" for those that want to understand the power of free markets and capitalism....more info
  • Changed my outlook
    I was a Democrat before I read this book. I now lean Libertarian. This book cannot but change at least some of your views on public policy.
    Having said that, Friedman and the Libertarian party overestimate the wisdom and knowledge of the public. There is no shortage of stupid people out there who need the state to tell them what they can or cannot do. Freedom is great but is subordinate to personal well-being....more info
  • Fun
    I used to read this book when I was little. I didn't know what it meant, but my dad had told me that it was a very good book, so I read parts[or as jacob would say] of it to enhance my smartness[or as jacob would say, ya know]....more info
  • Free to choose: A personal statement
    This book is sooooo cool, it provides me with all the information i need for a course I am doing at school. I would like to encourage anybody to read this book as it is sooo good....more info
  • Revolution
    This book revolutionized my thoughts and opinions regarding the role of government in our daily lives. Anyone who questions the importance or relevance of a free society, economically and socially will be changed by this book. And anyone who already agrees with Milton Friedman's thoughts on these subjects will also benefit from this book.

    A must read for anyone interested in capitalism, free markets, government policy or freedom....more info
  • Excellent-A must read
    An absolutely wonderful book. It should be required reading in all schools. If you're looking for something to upset the socialists and communists in your life, give them this book....more info
  • Excellent, What a Breath of Fresh Air
    If only I and Trotsky had this book back in 1917, what a world of difference it could have made. I realize now after reading Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Larry Elder's book The Ten Things You Can't Say In America that I was wrong. In that communistic and socialistic systems only contriubute to make the public poorer and worse off. Now if only we could convince all the Democrats and other Socialists of the their folly....more info
  • Great ideas!
    This book is a SPLENDID introduction that has helped countless start thinking about why so many common policies are misguided and not in the public interest. His ideas do not go far enough, however. This is probably the result of a wise move that led more to people becoming interested in freedom than would be the case if he were to promote radical privatization all the way (in the form of moving towards anarchy), however more extreme ideas have made this book less revolutionary over time. I find this book to be as important as the works of Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard for allowing people to gradually start thinking independently about markets and their superiority in all realms over the State. The new, even more radical free market ideals might not have been read if Friedman didn't first open the gates and destroy an internal wall in the public's thought along with the aid his ideas gave to the demolition of the more visible Berlin Wall. May Friedman enjoy peace in the rest of his years in knowing that the world is better off for his ideas....more info
  • If Only this Book Was Adopted by Congress -- In Full
    Milton Friedman is a Noble-prize winning economist and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush. Miltion Friedman poses an interesting question: what are the things we are most unsatisfied with as services or products? Most Americans are very unsatisfied with the post office and schools, for instance. And there's a reason: the post office is a government-run monopoly, which means there is no incentive for improvements, more effeciency, or even happy customers. You have to use the service, and as a result, your happiness is irrelevant to the bureacrats, mostly the postal trade union, who just want job security.

    The same is true for public schools. Most parents hate their local public school. Milton Friedman talks about how schools in the beginning of our nation were nearly universal, yet most parents paid for the schooling. He asks a really good question: why are taxpayers required to spend tax dollars for everyone's education, when it is only about 5-9% of the population that would not be able to afford to educate their child. Why not ask that most parents pay for their child's education (after all, that will result in market-incentives, such as the desire for competition) and just subsidize the education for children who would not otherwise be able to attend due to the cost. As an alternative, Friedman endorses vouchers, which will allow parents to dictate which schools will succeed and fail. Most schools--public included--will have a huge incentive to improve their programs because they will be in competition with other schools.

    One theory that comes up over and over again with Friedman is the notion of incentives. If there are no incentives, something will not be done. Thus, we need to have incentives in education to improve teacher quality. We need to have a negative income tax to create incentives for the poor to work rather than receive welfare payments. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in economic policies, those of a libertarian persuasion, and anyone who wants America to be stronger and mightier in economic, political, and social terms....more info

  • A must-read classic on free market economics
    This book is why Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize. Even written 20 years ago, this book is the clearest explanation I have seen on free market economics, the workings of the Federal Reserve, the real cause of the Great Depression and 20% inflation in 1979.

    Would greatly recommend it to those interested in free market, libertarian ideas and economics....more info

  • Republicanism
    The Nobel Prize winner's book is superb. He exlains economics in a truly refreshing way. Using Adam Smith's foundation Friedman builds on the importance of truly free, unihibited, unrestrained trade. When this is accomplished great things happen. Great book....=)...more info
  • Surprisingly Current and Definitely On Point!
    Being Nobel winning economist, I was not sure what to expect from this "personal statement". What a pleasant surprise and enjoyable read. The book represents the Friedman's take on the government policies of the day (1979). Not knowing that the book was written over 20 years ago a reader would swear it just rolled off the press. The fact that the problems addressed by this book are still the problems we are (or more importantly are not truly) debating today only bolsters the arguments that current government policy is failing.

    As a not quite totally liberal or Libertarian (as modern socialist democrats (Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Diane Feinstien, etc.) and moderate Republicans (Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee, James Jeffords, etc.) have co-opted the liberal and moderate monikers), Friedman puts forth arguments against government intervention is many areas, but does demonstrate where government can be helpful, in limited ways, to address various market failures. The book addresses areas such as free markets, price and wage controls (which are currently causing electricity shortages in California), equality and justice, education (Friedman has been urging parental choice in public schooling since the 1950s), consumer protection, worker protection and inflation. The book presents each issue by examining how we got to the current state, what is wrong with the current policy and how he believes the policy should be changed. In various instances, he suggest both his preferred change and a watered down version (pragmatic version) that might actually be enacted in our current political morass.

    A quick note to readers. One reviewer suggested that the book plagiarizes the work of Lord John Maynard Keynes. This could not be further from the truth. Friedman is a monetarist more in the vain derived from classical economics as presented by Adam Smith and used as a basis by the American Founders, especially Thomas Jefferson. The failed policies of the newer Keynesian economics (demand side economics) are at the heart of what Friedman is railing against: Government control. Also Monetarist are distinguished from the supply side theories of Robert Mundel and Art Laffer. In fact, the only Keynes quote I can recall from the book was used to demonstrated that even someone as wrong as Keynes knew that monetary inflation (printing too much money) was one of the worst mistakes a government can make. "There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."...more info

  • A Classic Work
    Milton Friedman clearly defines his ideology in this classic work. He provides plenty of evidence of the problems he's trying to correct. Any good book of this nature takes the time to do more than criticize the competition though. Milton lays out proposed solutions every step of the way along with detailed support for why they will work. Probably the most impressive aspect is the amount of compromise found within his proposals. He may write at length about abolishing mandatory schooling and public schools in general but his solution (voucher programs) allows for public funding and could be used within a mandatory schooling environment (for one example).

    As with any ideological book, you'll find plenty of 1-star reviews from people who disagree. It's a shame there's no way to rank down the conclusions while providing the due credit that this Nobel-prize winning economist deserves. Love or hate the ideas, they're well presented....more info
  • Mandatory reading for the liberal thinker!
    If you wonder why we pay absurdly high taxes in the US, if you're tired of politicians bickering about budgets and programs, if you feel at a loss about for whom you should vote, then read this book! This book will put an end to the confusion about what is right for our country, economy, and most importantly, what is best for YOU as a free-thinking, independent individual. The Friedmans do a wonderful job of explaining the problems eating away at a great nation through plain, accessible English. Meanwhile, they provide realistic, attainable, and pragmatic solutions to various difficult issues ranging from public education to worker's rights. If you consider yourself a compassionate, open-minded, liberal thinker, read this book!...more info
  • Free to choose
    A pretty decent book and a good read. While I do not agree with all of the topics in the book,(some are a little out of date) there are some very interesting topics, I especially like the piece about the illusion of free third level education and what the authors purpose instead. Overall I see the book as an attack on central government and the vast amounts of money they consume in promoting so called good ideas....more info


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