The book, “Free to Choose: A Personal Statement,” tells the functionality of the free market and shows the ways in which these problems can be solved, unlike other approaches. This book also discusses issues such as Federal Reserve’s powers were being misused during the Great Depression and the deterioration of personal freedoms, government spending and economic controls.
In “Free to Choose: A Personal Statement,” Friedman expressed themselves as advocates for laissez faire, or free government. Their focus were in subject matters such as the government taxing gas and tobacco, public school systems and its government regulation, and the Federal Reserve limiting the supply of money before and during the Great Depression. When it came to welfare, the Friedmans suggested that these practices of welfare are making “wards of the states” as opposed to “self-reliant individuals,” and that a negative income tax would be an alternative that is not as harmful.
This book covers ten chapters of these issues. These chapters are: The Power of the Market, The Tyranny of Control, Anatomy of Crisis, From Cradle to Grave, Created Equal, What’s Wrong With Our Schools?, Who Protects the Consumers?, Who Protects the Worker?, How To Cure Inflation, and How to Stay Free.
In chapter one, “The Power of the Market,” the Friedmans discuss how the freedom of America and the prosperity is the combination of the idea of human freedom in the American Declaration of Independence with the economic liberty idea. They also talk about the immigrants coming from various parts of the world to freely seek out their own objectives in which makes the United States what it is in the present time.
Chapter two, “The Tyranny of Control,” it speaks of the control of the government planning and selective control of the economy. According to Friedman, this reduced the creative productivity and consumer choice. “Approved” or “authorized” takes the place of good, better, and the best. This chapter also demonstrates how “established” these industries of various methods when looking for government protection or subsidization in an attempt to cease or reduce production improvements which keep control.
The third chapter of the book, “Anatomy of Crisis,” it discusses the failure of capitalism during the Great Depression, such as the stock market crash, the misfortune of the Bank of the United States, personal savings being lost. Friedman elaborates that the cause of the Great Depression was the lack of attention of failure of the government policy and action, but over the years the government expands.
In chapter four, “From Cradle to Grave,” Friedman talk about the welfare system. This system comes from the intention to do well with other people’s money. According to the Friedmans, this approach will always be set for failure because no other individual will spend someone else’s money with caution as their own money. This system is driven by supply. Consumers that are using the money are made to collect it and to make sure that the people getting the money for legitimate purposes. As a result, intentions to do well in certain situation are corrupted by bad purposes.
“Created Equal,” chapter five talks about being created equal. As it was explained by Friedman, being created equal does not mean that every single person will or should have the same type of talents or income. It meant equal opportunity to better the individual and the right to reap the benefits from a personal standpoint, such as gaining and being consistent with freedom. One of the requirements for equality is force, such as taking something from an individual to give to someone else is wrong. In fact, freedom is destroyed and removes the opportunity for making new wealth.
In chapter six, “What’s Wrong With Our Schools?” Friedman discusses the parents’ choice and their responsibility in their children’s education is the tradition of the United States and along with a free society, it is consistent. In addition to educating children, because of the centralized control of the government, it has corrupted the freedom and had a negative impact of education quality. In his statement, Friedman states that the poor people help pay for the education of the future rich people. As a result, Friedman suggests using education vouchers to put an end to these problems.
Chapter seven, “Who Protects the Consumers?” In the case of protecting the consumers, there are many government agencies that will protect the consumers. However, they limit freedom, reduce the creation of benefits, and become the agents for these industries, or groups that the purpose is to regulate. Friedman said how the apparent choice of the marketplace, the competition of various business suppliers, is the best protection of consumer interests.
“Who Protects the Worker?” chapter eight, Friedman is discussing the issue with unions. These unions have the tendency to protect some workers, usually their members, but generally at the other workers’ expense. The government is supposed to protect the employees and these special groups of workers at the employers’ expenses. This reduces freedom for both the unions and the government. This explains how the employers’ competition for the workers’ talent lead to the highest wages and the best working conditions.
“How to Cure Inflation” chapter nine simply talks about inflation. Inflation comes from the amount of printed money or coined money increases faster that the new goods and services being created. Money is referred to as a “token.” For example, if more money is made more than new wealth, then it takes more money to purchase the same goods. Friedman discusses why these politicians admire inflation, and why are the wages and prices control is not a problem-solving solution.
In chapter ten, “How to Stay Free,” it refers to the democracies. In recent years, democracies have been viewed as favorable. During history, it was very skeptical that if a democracy was always self-destructive when citizens insist on government actions that bankrupted their nations, whether physically and/or morally. According to Friedman, the United States avoided this end result and to this day we continued with this outcome.
Friedman, Milton and Rose D. Freeman. Free to Choose: A Personal Statement,
Harcourt Publisher, 1980 (297 pages), Reprint 1990.