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Why Government Is the Problem (Essays in Public Policy) Paperback – February 1, 1993
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About the Author
Milton Friedman, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science, was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1977 to 2006. He passed away on Nov. 16, 2006. He was also the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1946 to 1976, and a member of the research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1937 to 1981.
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"We all complain about highway congestion. That is interesting for a different reason. The private automobile industry is able to produce all the automobiles anybody wants to drive, but the government is apparently not able to produce a comparably adequate highway system, a clear contrast." (p.95)
He then offers his elaborations to the points he made in the previous portion of his essay. The following piece is a section of another favored segment of this essay:
"With the best intentions in the world, they can try to persuade the people who hold the purse strings to finance the enterprise on a larger scale, to dig deeper into the pockets of the taxpayers to keep the enterprise going. That illustrates a general rule: If a private enterprise is a failure, it closes down—unless it can get a government subsidy to keep it going; if a government enterprise fails, it is expanded. I challenge you to find exceptions. The general rule is that government undertakes an activity that seems desirable at the time. Once the activity begins, whether it proves desirable or not, people in both the government and the private sector acquire a vested interest in it. If the initial reason for undertaking the activity disappears, they have a strong incentive to find another justification for its continued existence." (p. 151-156)
He offers some light humor to entertain readers as well--it's not all serious and monotone. A great read.
Certainly there are details that I disagree with Friedman on, but if you want to get a quick handle on fiscal conservatism, "Why Government is the Problem" is highly recommended.
For Libertarians, it reinforces their beliefs in limited government. And for Republicans and Democrats, it serves as a useful warning, to apply government only where it is needed most- and leave government out everywhere else.
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In order for the federal government to pay for "social programs," it must first rob those who work at the point of a tax collector's...Read more