Milton Friedman died last November at the age of 94 and I thought it timely to remember him. In my opinion, he may have been the 20th century’s best economic activist for true liberty. His 1962 masterpiece Capitalism and Freedom is unrivaled for its vision and his balls. (I apologize. I just couldn’t think of a better way to express what I wanted to say)
Anyway in an interview in 1995, Friedman said these words and ever since I supported George McGovern in 1972 when I was in college (That’s why I don’t try to predict elections), my political journey has been traveling from that left of center position down a progressively libertarian path with some side trips of course. Anyone who knows me also knows I am not an apologist for any politician except maybe Kinky Friedman and Pat Paulsen. (Tribute to Smothers Brothers Fans)
“I am a Republican with a capital “R” and a libertarian with a small “l.” I have a party membership as a Republican, not because they have any principles, but because that’s the way I am the most useful and have most influence. My philosophy is clearly libertarian.
There are many varieties of libertarians. There’s a zero-government libertarian, an anarchist. There’s limited-government libertarianism. They share a lot in terms of their fundamental values. If you trace them to their ultimate roots, they are different. It doesn’t matter in practice, because we both want to work in the same direction.
I would like to be a zero-government libertarian [but] I don’t think it’s a feasible social structure. I look over history, and outside of perhaps Iceland, where else can you find any historical examples of that kind of a system developing?”
You see I am a practical man, too like Milt. Many talk about freedom. Few understand it. Most can’t even recite the Bill of Rights. Basic civics. Just like many of those who wanted to “display” the Ten Commandments, but couldn’t even tell you what they were.
I’ve got this big book my mama-in-law bought me called Visual History of the World which I keep at my side and it confirms that it took thousands of years for humans to even attempt to have a free society and once they did, they immediately began to allow it to erode away all in the name of safety and the creative ways that government has learned to tax and wage wars. Still happening today.
But that’s not surprising either for Friedman also said, “There’s a great deal of basis for believing that a free society is fundamentally unstable—we may regret this but we’ve got to face up to the facts.…I think it’s the utmost of naiveté to suppose that a free society is somehow the natural order of things.”
It is the most natural thing in the world to want to have someone to take care of us and in doing so have them tell us what to do. That is one side of the human balance scale.
But there also resides within us a Godly seed we have named free will that says it is not only acceptable to want things but noble to pursue them in the marketplace of not only goods and services but of ideas. Friedman was positioned on that side of the scale.
By embracing Friedman and the likes of Adam Smith, I have not avoided trying to understand John Maynard Keynes and the mixed economy, which we have, and theoretically the state and the private sector both play an equally important role.
By listening I learn and by learning I approach understanding which leads to love. When you love you aren’t pissed off all the time. My position leads me to believe that I could have a cigar with Bill Clinton and an iced tea with Bush. I respect them both but I would have no problem telling either of them what I thought and expecting them to respect my views.
My material life and my spiritual life allow for lots of love at my table.
Love is the true wealth of nations.
Slightly Unstable human in the Grace of a stable God,