Friday, October 05, 2007

"Capitalism and Freedom" Unmasked

The Smirking Chimp, Oct 4 2007

An era ended November 16, 2006 when economist Milton Friedman died. A torrent of eulogies followed. The Wall Street Journal mourned his loss with the same tribute he credulously used when Ronald Reagan died saying "few people in human history have contributed more to the achievement of human freedom." Economist and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers called him a hero and "The Great Liberator" in a New York Times op-ed; the UK Financial Times called him "the last of the great economists;" Terence Corcoran, editor of Canada's National Post, mourned the "free markets" loss of "their last lion;" and Business Week magazine noted the "Death of a Giant" and praised his doctrine that "the best thing government can do is supply the economy with the money it needs and stand aside."

Rarely had so much praise been given anyone so undeserving in light of the human wreckage his legacy left strewn everywhere. He believed government's sole function is "to protect our freedom both from (outside) enemies....and from our fellow-citizens." It's to "preserve law and order (as well as) enforce private contracts, (safeguard private property and) foster competitive markets." Everything else in public hands is socialism that for free-wheeling market fundamentalists like Friedman is blasphemy. He said markets work best unfettered of rules, regulations, onerous taxes, trade barriers, "entrenched interests" and human interference, and the best government is practically none at all as anything it can do private business does better. Democracy and a government of, by and for the people? Forget it.

He preached public wealth should be in private hands, accumulation of profits unrestrained, corporate taxes abolished, and social services curtailed or ended. He believed "economic freedom is an end to itself....and an indispensable means toward (achieving) political freedom." He thought state laws requiring certain occupations be licensed (like doctors) a restriction of freedom. He opposed foreign aid, subsidies, import quotas and tariffs as well as drug laws he called a subsidy to organized crime (which it is as well as to CIA and money laundering international banks earning billions from it) and added "we have no right to use prevent (someone) from committing suicide....drinking alcohol or taking drugs," while saying nothing about major banks and CIA partnering for profit with drug lords.

He favored a constitutional amendment requiring Congress balance the budget because deficits "encourage political irresponsibility." He claimed taxes were onerous and was "in favor of cutting (them) under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever possible...." and make corporations entirely exempt from them. He opposed the minimum wage, supported a flat tax favoring the rich, and believed everyone should have to buy his or her own medical insurance like any other product or service. Can't afford it? Too bad. Get sick? Let the market heal you....

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