Introduction to Capitalism and Freedom
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman is a book that, in addition to The Wealth of Nations and Atlas Shrugged, should be considered the premier defense of and explanation for capitalism. In it, Friedman describes why capitalism works, why government intervention in the economy doesn’t work, and what deregulatory policies could be used to fix systematic problems in the current economy. Anyone begging for a government bailout or fix to the economy should read it. It shows why unleashing the free market works far better than government intervention.
Those are all lessons that, sadly, Americans need to relearn. For too long, we have been too used to being able to just hop on the public dole whenever work gets too tiring. Even worse, Americans have, for some reason, begun to accept the idea that government intervention in the economy is a good thing. It’s not. Americans shouldn’t accept that premise, especially the young conservatives and college conservatives that are getting ready to start their careers and should want the maximum possible amount of economic opportunity.
If you want to learn how to defend your livelihood and the idea that prosperity is created by capitalism, then Capitalism and Freedom is the book for you. In it, as you’ll see in this young conservative’s review of Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman defends capitalism by pointing out its virtues and describing how the free market solves our problems.
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Summary of Capitalism and Freedom:
Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman is about the role of competitive capitalism, which Friedman defines as “the organization of the bulk of economic activity through private enterprise operating in a free market, in creating in sustaining a system of economic and political freedom. And Friedman shows that link brilliantly through pointing out how centralization, government power, and government action in the economy all create problems and lead to a loss of freedom.
Friedman explains his competitive capitalism thesis of Capitalism and Freedom in the abstract and practical. The first two chapters are an abstract defense of the idea that competitive capitalism leads to freedom. The later chapters get more into the details of economic systems and describe how government policies have failed and what free-market solutions they should be replaced with.
It is an excellent, concise depiction of why capitalism will solve our problems if only we let it. The free market, Adam Smith’s invisible hand from The Wealth of Nations, is the best solution to any problem because it is not directed by some central, supposedly all-knowing but in reality very mentally limited bureaucrat. Instead, it’s guided by every market participant. That’s the root of capitalism and it’s the root of Capitalism and Freedom.
And lest you think that Capitalism and Freedom is just some vague, partisan depiction of why capitalism is great, know that it’s not. Friedman instead goes from issue to issue discussing why the free market works and should be relied upon. He discusses why free markets and free people go hand in hand, the role of government, how money and trade should be treated by a free people, fiscal policy, how capitalism and discrimination/ racism relate to one another, government’s role in education, licensure, welfare, and many other issues. So, if you read it, you’ll get a well-rounded and supported perspective of how capitalism fixes issues if the free market is allowed to work.
Analysis of Capitalism and Freedom
I think that what makes Capitalism and Freedom so powerful and effective is Friedman’s use of a diverse set of examples from all corners of the economy and eras of history, and his ability to cite other authors, especially Adam Smith.
The “practical” chapters of Friedman’s book cover every issue with the economy, many of which I have written about before. The problem with farming subsidies. Why corporate virtue signaling through donations or social justice signaling is problematic and harmful to shareholders. The coming retirement crisis caused by a misunderstanding of what Social Security is and its gross mismanagement by the government. The difference between capitalism and corporatism and how government regulations are leading to a destructive, corporatist economy.
He uses those examples and frequent quotations from The Wealth of Nations to prove his point that capitalism leads to freedom and government intervention leads to misery and servitude. And, in my opinion, that is very effective. Who wants to be a serf of some DC bureaucrat when you could instead be a rich and productive capitalist?
The answer, of course, is that no one does. All real Americans want to make their own fortune and rise from nothing to fame. That’s what made America a booming country known for commerce and prosperity. Unlike the government-dependent Europeans, we Americans actually wanted to make money and rise beyond our starting spot in life.
That used to be universally understood. Even those that wanted to live the simple life were capitalists that wanted to make money, albeit less of it. Unfortunately, mainly because of FDR and LBJ, Americans have gotten too used to welfare policies and the “social safety net.” Now, fewer and fewer people want to work, much less go out on a limb and work for themselves.
I think that’s because of a lack of knowledge. Whether the modern Americans that hate capitalism are socialists or just plain lazy (although I would like to go on record stating that I think socialists are generally lazy too), I think they are that way because they are uninformed about capitalism. They don’t get the great things brought by it because they’re so used to the lies spread by the fake news media about the evils of capitalism. As if the occasional bad action by the Gilded Age monopolists is somehow as bad or worse than the many brutalities perpetrated by the communist bureaucrats in The Gulag Archipelago.
The truth, of course, is that capitalism and freedom are far better than any possible solution brought about by socialism. The free market is undoubtedly and irrefutably better than a central politburo. The Big Tech companies that act like they’re masters of the universe and above the law might use their search algorithms and censorship to hide that truth from you. But it’s true nonetheless.
The reason for that truth is that consent is always better than force. And, as said by Ben Shapiro in his excellent quote on capitalism and voluntary exchange, capitalism is premised entirely on consent and voluntary actions. Socialism, on the other hand, as you can see by looking at the history of any socialist state, is based on the idea that force and coercion are acceptable ways to solve problems and effect change.
But, as I said, while young conservatives might generally understand that truth, young socialists certainly don’t. I think they don’t because of their evil teachers and professors, as I’ve described in my posts on Robin Hood and speech codes on college campuses. But, whatever the reason, those young socialists need to be educated on the truth about socialism and the truth about capitalism.
Having them read a book like Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman is the best way to educate them on the topic of why capitalism is the more moral system and should, therefore, be the one that they support. Only if we do that will we turn Millenials away from socialism and towards the bright light of capitalism.
Capitalism and Freedom is a book that every American, and especially every conservative college student, should read. It is a profound yet easy to read and quite effective way to understand why capitalism is a virtuous system and why it leads to freedom.
With socialism rising around us due to AOC and her ilk, conservative Americans and conservative college students need effective ways to push back against the socialist narrative and defend our property rights, which are protected under capitalism but not under socialism.
Capitalism and Freedom is one of the best tools for that. It gives you the evidence needed to show that free markets and free people go hand in hand. Also, Friedman uses examples from history to show how capitalism can help the poor and why the capitalist system of consent and competition is far better than any system created by government regulation. So, in short, it will give you every tool and detail you need to refute and defeat the socialist menace that is currently threatening our economy and freedom.
By: Gen Z Conservative
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