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Milton vs Phil (It Wasn’t Really That Close)

2010/10/27

Populism is alive and well these days.  You can’t visit the comments section of an article without reading the term “fat cats” or “Wall Street greed.”  Reasonable sounding, “centrist” politicians and pundits of every sort agree that this terrible greed must be reigned in.  Must be quelled.

In this brief clip, a ridiculously young Phil Donahue interviews one of the (agree with him or not) most influential economists ever:  Milton Friedman.  Always the professor, Milton has a few things to teach him.  And us.

Milton makes the correct argument on capitalism and greed.  It’s not that capitalistic society is Utopian and perfect.  No, capitalism is the least worst system by which to organize economies.  Every outcome isn’t ideal.  The real question is have we really considered the alternative?

If you have the time, the whole show is absolutely fascinating to watch.  Pay special attention to the frighteningly casual references to ~10% inflation, and the subject of auto company bailouts.  Talk about history repeating itself.  Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.  Enjoy.

Random Milton Friedman Trivia:

Friedman helped to invent the payroll tax withholding system.  I’m not sure whether to praise or vilify him for that little contribution, which affects millions upon millions of us every payday.  That single innovation made the imposition of taxes virtually invisible to the average Joe and Josephine.

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