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190 of 223 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC ECONOMICS, FRIEDMAN'S BEST
Milton Friedman is one fo the strongest proponents of freedom in society as the only way towards development (a concept later expanded by Amartya Sen). This book is not an economics textbook, since he does not spend much time on the basic concepts of economics such as price theory. He assumes a bit of knowledge and uses it to make the case for many different economic...
Published on August 13, 2004 by Denis Benchimol Minev

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98 of 126 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, but Consider his Better Books
I liked his other books more. "Capitalism and Freedom" has many of the downfalls of dry, boring academic writing. Also, Friedman makes rigidly-ideological attacks without support which, in retrospect, are clearly distorted and embarrassing, hurting the authority of his ideas. Instead, Milton Friedman's best book for general readers is Free to Choose: A Personal Statement...
Published on April 5, 2007 by Todd Carlsen


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190 of 223 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC ECONOMICS, FRIEDMAN'S BEST, August 13, 2004
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Milton Friedman is one fo the strongest proponents of freedom in society as the only way towards development (a concept later expanded by Amartya Sen). This book is not an economics textbook, since he does not spend much time on the basic concepts of economics such as price theory. He assumes a bit of knowledge and uses it to make the case for many different economic ideas ranging from macroeconomics (monetarism) to microeconomics (school vouchers).

For a book that was written in the 60s, it is amazing how current his ideas remain. It is perhaps the most important book on the libertarian philosophy, focusing on preventing the accumulation of power by any individual or group of individuals in society.

Overall, it is a great read for someone familiar with economics and social sciences, it will definitely expand your horizons of thought. However, if you are looking for an introduction to interesting eocnomic ideas, I would suggest you read Free to Choose, which Friedman wrote a dozen years later to reach a more general audience.
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253 of 302 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and informative, November 18, 2000
This review is from: Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) (Paperback)
Milton Friedman, far from just paraphrasing Keynes, has given a grand refutation of Keynesian economics as well as argued persuasively for the free-market.
"Capitalism and Freedom" dispels the myths about capitalism that have become so prevalent in our society: that the free-market caused the depression (it was actually a tyrannical Federal Reserve), that socialism can be democratic, and others. Milton's prose is clear and the book is good for those who haven't majored in economics. He gives an unwavering defense of personal freedom and individual autonomy from a minimalist government perspective.
This book is an important contribution to public discourse and although written about 40 years ago, still has relevance today.
Friedman discusses public education, roads, minimum wage laws (which he calls, "the most anti-black law on the statute books," and rightfully so as you'll see if you read this book), as well as the how so-called "progressive" tax system and welfare actually hurt the poor.
Friedman's other great contribution is "Free to Choose," which was written about 20 years ago and expounds on the ideas in "Capitalism and Freedom" in a bit more depth. But this is a good, short, concise book to start with that'll get you asking questions.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good defense of the free market, September 24, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) (Paperback)
This book quite concisely demonstrates Milton Friedman's gift as an economist. It, however, also depicts his inferiority to Hazlitt in terms of writing ability. While many of his essays and points are very interesting and precise, the book is VERY dry. One should not let the small size fool them when purchasing this book, it takes quite a commitment and interest in the subject to make it through the book. That said, Friedman elucidates just what capitalism is and should be. He does believe in some government, however, he argues (and quite successfully) that it should be as limited and nonactivist as possible. I certainly recommend this for anyone interested in just why Milton Friedman (and other laissez-faire capitalists) thinks the way he does. Henry Hazlitt's, "Economics in One Lesson" is a less difficult read and is also better constructed. I would recommend that as prerequisite for tackling this book.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important foundation text - should be studied and considered, July 6, 2004
This review is from: Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) (Paperback)
This is a foundation text that should be widely read and studied. Whether you agree with Friedman or not is not the point. These are ideas you need to actually consider and wrestle with. If you end up disagreeing with him and can state why, you will be the stronger for it. It is not enough to rail against them emotionally or call them lies. They are not lies; they are ideas and arguments that ask for debate. Personally, I have always been a fan of Friedman and am ever grateful that he stood against the tide of the postwar political movements with these powerful arguments for freedom.
People often caricature Friedman to their own discredit. His arguments here are not simply that government is bad, but that using government is often a poor way to get at a desirable social end. He certainly does not need me to speak for him, but if you think he is for huge corporations and letting the poor without help to fend for themselves, you misunderstand him and should read this work carefully. Big corporations, he argues several places in this book, are the result of taxation schemes that encourage the retention and reinvestment of earnings that would otherwise have gone to the shareholders to reinvest as they see fit - in other enterprises, consumption, or charity (as well as in taxes). This is only one example among many of popular prejudices against Friedman that do him real injustice.
The book is only a couple of hundred pages, is not hard to read, but does pay off the most dividends if you take your time reading it and consider what he has to say rather than jumping to conclusions without wrestling with your own thoughts (whether you agree with the author or not). It was written in 1962, so some of the context of the book will require some understanding on the part of the reader. It was a very different time than today. However, the arguments remain solid and strong to the benefit of anyone who will spend time thinking about why they agree or disagree with this Nobel Laureate.
Oh, and he uses the word LIBERAL for his philosophy and explains the word in it classic sense rather than in the modern US re-definition of the word.
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58 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Single Book on Economics available, March 20, 2000
By A Customer
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This review is from: Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) (Paperback)
No other book anywhere is more important for the student of economics. Compared to other books on economics, it is very concise and well written. You will gain more insight per minute of time expended than from almost any other text.
The book is timeless because the principles Professor Friedman explains are bedrock foundations of the Capitalist economic system. In almost all universities you are taught a system of thought that inevitably leads to an emphasis and reliance upon Government and the State, basically, socialism as a solution to our economic problems. Professor Friedman clearly spells out better solutions in which markets can solve our problems more efficiently than Government and Socialism. More important, Friedman shows that only Capitalism is consistent with the concepts of Liberty that motivated the Founding Fathers of the United States, principles that led to the drafting of the Constitution. The book Captialism and Freedom has stood the test of time, and still represents the single best source to obtain an understanding of economic markets and how they work, without jargon or mathematics. Instead, Friedman goes directly to the essence of market economics, and liberty, in a simple and straightforward manner. This book will show you how you can use the economic system to make yourself an independent person, capable of taking advantage of the liberty that free markets promote.
This book will help you understand why the institutions of Government, such as the public schools, the Post Office, and the Federal Reserve Board, inevitably become inefficient and problematic compared to private enterprise solutions. At present, Professor Friedman heads up a foundation which promotes free enterprise within the public school system, referred to as School Choice and Vouchers. The intellectual foundations for this suggested improvement in our public schools were laid in Captialism and Freedom. Finally, Professor Friedman spells out the intellectual foundation for the results of his study of the history of monetary policy and the inevitable problems of the Federal Reserve Board. The problems of the Federal Reserve that were discussed in Professor Friedman's Monetary History of the United States are problems that are inherent in government enterprise, issues that are discussed in Capitalism and Freedom.
This book is a must read for any serious student of Politics or Economics. Also, because the book is written in a simple and straightforward manner, any lay person without training in economics will gain fundamental insight into the structure of the Capitalist system and the inevitable problems of Socialism.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Liberalism at its best, June 24, 2006
By 
Steve (Monterey, CA) - See all my reviews
An all-time favorite of mine, Capitalism & Freedom creates a framework of classic liberalism and argues forcefully in favor of free-markets and decentralization over the expansion of government involvement in economic and social affairs. Friedman builds his argument from the ground up by identifying coercion as the State's distinguishing feature over all other societal organizations. From the (classic) liberal's perspective, this aspect shapes the relationship between citizen and government, and strictly limits the appropriateness of State involvement in society, particularly with regard to well-intentioned programs and policy.

Friedman uses this foundation to build a case for limited government in economic matters, citing in particular the consequences of monetary and fiscal policy abuse. In an exceptionally apt comparison, Friedman argues that the same rationale that limits government interference with free speech should likewise apply to government interference in the economy: namely, that constraints be applied to monetary and fiscal policy to limit the potential for government to do harm in its pursuit of doing good. Friedman gives numerous examples in which government officials, exercising carte-blanche economic authority, have further aggravated economic crises by applying a case-by-case standardh to different economic scenarios.

Having clearly laid out his political philosophy, Friedman builds his case for free-markets, detailing control measures intrinsic of a laissez-faire economy. From floating exchange rates to voucher-funded schooling, union contracts to charity, Friedman argues that the free-market harnesses the productive potential of millions of individuals and corporations, reconciling their preferences in a competitive process far more efficiently than any collective body. Throughout the book, Friedman debunks popular myths, disputes misunderstandings, and challenges the conventional wisdom prevalent among intellectuals and social elites of his day and ours.

The book's only drawback is its age and somewhat antiquated writing style that would certainly make it difficult for some readers to fully understand (particularly those who are victims of public school "education"). Friedman references several examples that would have been more easily recognized in the 1960s, but will not be immediately familiar to younger readers. Still, this brilliant work presents the core principles of laissez-faire capitalism and classic liberalism in a relatively clear manner, and is a must-read for anyone studying the dynamics of free-markets and free societies.
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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply a great read., March 2, 2010
I bought this book because I understood that Milton Friedman was a leader in (classical) liberal (meaning libertarian) economic thinking. Now I see why. Pure genius. This book appears to be written to the general public, although I must say that if are a complete stranger to economics certain parts of this book may confound you. I am a beginning student of economics, and only 2 paragraphs were out of my grasp. It's true, some of this book was a little dry, but those sections were short. The scope of the book is surprisingly wide for it's size (202 pages in this edition)-yet it's level of detail is satisfying.

Friedman's arguments were compelling and well constructed.

If you are a progressive, (modern) liberal, socialist, statist, marxist (or whatever else) and want to know what free-trade libertarians believe-this is to book for you.

If you are an economic conservative or a libertarian (as I am) and you want to read a great book that will make you smile-this is the book for you.

Overall a fantastic book.
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73 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, brief articulation of Friedman's beliefs, July 16, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) (Paperback)
Friedman's critics and fellow travelers in the libertarian fold rightfully viewed Capitalism and Freedom as a landmark book in 1962. The author brilliantly, if albeit briefly, articulated his theories of human behavior, which stood in contrast to the prevailing Keynesian ideology. The book has stood the test of time, and has become a classic part of libertarian literature. Like Marx's Das Kapital, the book has become a common point of reference for review in many college courses for members of the Left and the Right.
Some quick notes. The book was not written as an exhaustive economics treatise that purported to evaluate every single possible component of economics. Friedman did not present every single ideological permutation's view of price supports for farm products, as an example. Anyone looking for Every Possible Libertarian Opinion on a Given Economic Question, much less the contrasting viewpoints of Marxists/Neo-Keynesians/Flat Earth Society proponents, will need to look elsewhere (Keynesian Paul Samuelson's classic work, "Economics", is recommended for as a starting point). Friedman's reputation in the economics profession was not earned from this book, but his other works, especially his "Monetary History of the United States".
As for Paul Krugman's criticisms of Milton Friedman, the potential reader should heed the old axiom, "consider the source". Krugman is a brilliant economist, who after being exposed for decades to a mass of information on the failings of government meddling in the economy, persistently recommends a watered down version of the same failed policies that didn't work in the past. Interestingly enough, he belongs to that peculiar breed of economist who stridently defends "free" trade between nations, but somehow believes that individual entrepreneurs in a national economy require "guidance" from Big Brother (regulate, baby, regulate).
Krugman, like many economists of all political preferences, carefully chooses data that conforms to his preconceived opinions (monetarism under Thatcher and the early Volker years in the US), while excluding any information that might challenge his assumptions. Krugman fails to mention that in 1979, with 21% interest rates and 13.5% CPI in the US, his fellow Keynesians were recommending as a "cure" an increase in inflationary spending, higher marginal tax rates, and increased spending by the government. Some cure. Which is exactly why so many people anxiously embraced the monetarist creed at the time. Equally bogus is his claim that Volker's altered policies in the mid-1980s were a reversion to Keynesian monetary doctrine. Krugman's analysis of supply-side economics, which Friedman never supported, contains many of the same "ignore the facts" approach.
Final note. Many of the same economists who criticize Friedman for his lack of intellectual rigor slam Robert Lucas, another University of Chicago Nobel Prize Winner, for being too rigorous and dependent on advanced mathematical models that don't reflect the "real world".
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifty years old and still truly refreshing, August 8, 2004
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This review is from: Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) (Paperback)
Five decades on, Friedmans thoughts of the functioning of the economic and political life, are still mind-blowing. Written in a clear and powerful language, the points are well made after logical discussions of some important issues facing all societies.

The main theme in the book is the close link between democracy and capitalism, or political freedom and economic freedom. Without the latter the former is very difficult. The Hollywood blacklist threatened the freedom of many film workers. However, the movie companies desires to make money gave them incentives to hire the blacklisted writers, producers and actors, and the workers got to work because of capitalism. Conversely, Winston Churchill never got to speak against Hitler on the government owned BBC between 1933 and the outbreak of WWII.

Throughout the book, Friedmans belief in the individual and his abilities to take care of himself stands as a lighthouse. However, because man is imperfect, and cares mostly of himself and the closest ones, often disregarding others, power should be dispersed as much as possible. Those two propositions are the bedrock of the conservative ideology (Friedman calls it liberal, furious that the left has stolen the term), and of this book and its attacks on ICC (a regulating body turning into a lobby organization), Social Security (why is the government monopolizing saving), counter-cyclical economic policy (impossible), corporate social responsibility (not a corporate issue), the Medical Association (modern guild restricting the education of doctors) and a range of other organizations and institutions.

In general, I think Friedman is giving to little weight on neighborhood effects, or public goods as it is called now. Nor is the fact that most human beings are irrational shortsighted, and therefore better off forced to save for later, touched upon. At last, information problems make several markets, among them education, far from perfect. Still, its one of my best reads of the year.
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98 of 126 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, but Consider his Better Books, April 5, 2007
I liked his other books more. "Capitalism and Freedom" has many of the downfalls of dry, boring academic writing. Also, Friedman makes rigidly-ideological attacks without support which, in retrospect, are clearly distorted and embarrassing, hurting the authority of his ideas. Instead, Milton Friedman's best book for general readers is Free to Choose: A Personal Statement. I recommend that book instead. He wrote that book later in his career and, mercifully, gets straight to his message and is easier to read.

Readers interested in free markets should read the outstanding introduction to economics called Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised), which is easy to read for general readers. Also consider the masterpiece economic history of the United States and capitalism called Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power

For a contrary view from Friedman (but still based on economics), read Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, which shows that actual business history shows that government investments in the economy and protections have been needed to create abundant wealth.
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Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books)
Capitalism and Freedom (Phoenix Books) by Rose Friedman (Paperback - September 15, 1982)
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