“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Milton Frieidman - 1975 - What Would He Think Today?


  1. At 7 minutes Friedman gets into Social Security.

  2. At 11 minutes Friedman talks about taking from one group and giving to another.

  3. At 13 minutes he talks about government impact on housing.

  4. At 14:45 He talks about how the unnecessary depression was exasperated by the government.

  5. At 15:30 he talks about governmental paternalism.

  6. At 24 minutes Friedman discusses where we are heading. We should have listened. At 26 minutes he talks about the virtue of government waste. I urge you, when you have the time to listen to this wisdom from 1975, Friedman thought we had less than a fifty percent chance of avoiding that which we presently face.

    I honestly fear that it is too late, the chances now are under 20%. Rufus is correct.

  7. I'm sorry, I was enamored of the man when I was a young man. Now, I just think of Gordon Gekko when he speaks.

    Sophistic. Solipsistic. Blather.

    5th Century BC Greece - Wonderful example of a "Free Society" (unless you were one of the Slaves, of course.)

    Another "Brief, and Shining" Moment. 19th Century America (uh, well, except for that first 60 years of Slavery, of course. And, then, for the rest of the century we had Recessions, Depression, and the KKK - but, hey, he never said it was perfect.)

    Actually, Uncle Miltie was, almost completely, full of shit.

    Funny thing about anyone who references "The Road to Serfdom;" They usually end up espousing a policy that isn't much more than 8th Century Feudalism.

    Uncle Miltie was likeable, and well-spoken, but had the Economic Intellectualism of an average Cow College Sophmore.

  8. I've never read anything that made me think Miltie had a clue as to what caused the Great Depression. His complete package seems to be: "The Fed Raised Rates Too High When They Shouldn't Have."

    Well, that will certainly bring on a minor recession, but not a Great Depression.

    Keynes answer was Work Projects, and that Did help, and given another 5 years we would have started digging our way out pretty seriously. Well, maybe 10.

    They were both "elitists," and did not understand that the heartland of the country was in serious trouble Before (in fact, leading to) The Crash.

    I thought the interviewer was the "Intellectual." He understood, that groups of people had Always "collectivised" to solve problems that were insoluble on an individual scale.

  9. What chance would we have had against the Kraut, and Tojo at the same time if we hadn't had a strong Collective.

    How would we have faced down the Soviet Union if we were just a disparate group of states going willy, nilly about our own selfish interests?

    Why do we not have to worry about Any Nation-State attacking us?

    Why do we have the Highest Standard of Living of any Major Nation in the History of the world? And, no, Lichstenstein is Not a "Major" nation.

    Why is our culture emulated, and copied all over the world? Because we're a bunch of "slaves" to the state? Or, because we're incredibly free?

    In fairness, he had a couple of good ideas. Floating Interest Rates was, actually, one of the greatest ideas of all time, and school vouchers.

    Other than that, as Rat would say, his puddin' didn't turn out so well. (made for great, late-night beer sessions in the dorm, though.)

  10. You all do know that Milton Friedman opposed the Civil Rights Act, right?

  11. He was a man of the times. Roosevelt, friend of the common man never did anything about civil rights. The first was Harry Truman.

  12. Milton Friedman, of course, opposed the FDA.

  13. Unkie Friedman was, basically, a libertarian, laissez-faire Loon.

    His connection to reality, in his later years, at least, was tenuous at best.

  14. Norway killing suspect may get 21 years in, harsh.

  15. Much of the Republican strategy for resisting any tax rises on the wealthy and on corporations (including resisting closing tax loopholes such as those used by GE to avoid paying any tax) rests on the proposition that business is the "job creator." This appears to be accepted uncritically by many. However, maybe we should look more closely at this assertion.

    We read of foreclosures everywhere and conclude that banks are not too interested in refinancing home owners. We read of Wall Street and national financial holding companies sitting on pools of money and handsomely rewarding their CEOs while small businesses beg in vain for investment loans. We are told that small business is a prime job creator and this appears true, especially with start-ups and entry-level employment. Yet small business (less than $250,000) is already shielded from any tax hike proposals currently being considered.

    Nonetheless, the plight of small business has become a screen behind which multi-billion dollar corporations hide when it is proposed that they pay a share toward deficit reduction.

    Moreover, the layoffs in public service, including education, promises a worsening of the unemployment rates. It would appear that, by chopping investment in order to immediately attack the deficit while shielding the rich, we have taken our eye off Job One--job creation.

    The Republican mantra is that, if the rich pay little or no taxes, the benefit will somehow trickle down to those below in the form of hiring. Trickle down or supply side economics had its origins with Herbert Hoover and later Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Historically, it has had a poor record at job creation. Moreover, from Reagan on, wages began to stagnate so that the middle class became more vulnerable to economic downturns, as in 2008.

    As we are primarily a consumer driven economy, it makes sense to conclude that business is not hiring because their customers are not buying as much and need to pay more attention to the demand side and the job creation that fuels the whole economy from the bottom up. Republicans are saying that it makes no sense to raise taxes in a recession. But does it make better sense to cut budgets, lay people off and add to the jobless rolls in a recession? Paying for a deficit by laying off middle class workers while cutting taxes on the rich is perverse.

    Bond prices are the lowest in decades, so borrowing is probably the cheapest source of investment capital. With Wall Street seemingly on strike, the federal government is the only game in town to prime the pump in the only way a consumer economy can be re-started--job creation. If we turn our backs on job creation in the midst of a crash effort to eliminate the deficit by cutting alone, we have sacrificed our future. Hence, a balanced approach to the deficit, with sensible cuts, sensible revenue enhancement and room for investment, is the only sane strategy.

  16. A very sensible post, Dr. David. Don't be a stranger.

  17. One witness told KOMO News that the fight started when one man bad-mouthed another car owner's paint job, but police have not confirmed that.

    Jeez, these guys make the Rednecks look good. :)

    You be careful out there, you here.

  18. Dr. Dave that is about as sensible an assessment on the problem as I have read anywhere. Of course with that in mind it will be ignored.