Celebrating Milton Friedman and Free To Choose

40 years ago, the U.S was in an economic recession, an Asian country was beginning to dominate world manufacturing, and the era of big government and socialism surely looked like it would emerge as the winner through the Soviet Union.

In less than 10 years, we beat back the tide and ushered in a new era of freedom and prosperity based on good old U.S. capitalism. Thank you, Milton Friedman.

Today we launch a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the original Free To Choose – a television series that literally changed the world. This program remains one of the most profound and accessible conduits to the ideas of personal and economic freedom and serves as a touchstone to anyone seeking to recreate the recipe for peace and prosperity.

Our nonprofit organization, Free To Choose® Network, was born of this series. Bob Chitester created the concept for the original project with Milton Friedman, and our team has since spent decades telling stories that emphasize these basic principles for the benefit of a free society.

Now, more than ever, we could use a great communicator to re-introduce a new generation to these ideas. Why not use the best that ever was? Milton Friedman himself. I’m inviting you to follow us online over the next 10 weeks while we release clips, animated shorts, behind the scenes stories, and some new twists that will answer the age-old question, “What would Milton Say?”

It will be all Milton and it’s our pleasure to share and celebrate his timeless ideas.

Watch, ENJOY, and please share – especially with the next generation.

Rob Chatfield
President & CEO

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THE ROB REPORT: Without a Story, It’s Just a Fact by Rob Chatfield

A study published in 2011 by the Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies shows 46% of European countries do not collect data based on origin of race. 

In 2018, France removed the word race from its Constitution. 

These are interesting, but largely forgettable facts. Logic, reason, and facts by themselves do not stoke human emotion. Facts need context and need to strike a chord to become memorable.  Facts – when presented as stories – can become instantly memorable.

Can you imagine changing the FOUNDING article of the U.S. Constitution? Yet that’s exactly what France did when it took the mantra that France “shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion” and threw race out of the equation in 2018.

This was done by unanimous vote!  From the far left to the far right and every faction in between, the French decided race is an outdated, meaningless, social construct.  Understand there are 577 members in the French National Assembly, representing 9 different political parties whose last unanimous vote required large grocery stores to donate unsold, edible food to charity after learning the grocers previously poured bleach on this food to prevent scavenging.

Race was first introduced to the French Constitution in 1946 as a direct response to racist theories expounded by the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (better known to most as Nazi Germany). Over 500,000 French citizens were killed during the largest race-based atrocity in modern history and they’ve determined race no longer matters. What does that say about the United States?

I added context to facts and may have piqued your interest, but these facts are missing a vital ingredient to make them memorable:  THE STORY.

Our brains are hard-wired to receive facts in the form of a story. Storytelling creates empathy and helps humanity better understand issues. All cultures throughout all times of humanity use some version of storytelling to teach universal truths. So, this tale is not yet complete…

Eli Steele was born profoundly deaf into a mixed-race family. He married a woman who came from yet another culture. Eli was bullied throughout his youth for being different, and when he learns that he must declare a race for his first-born child – or leave that decision to a committee of “experts” – Eli decides to take a stand. 

Learn the story of Eli Steele in Outside the Box, this month’s featured project. You will never see racial identity or identity politics the same way again. If you agree, please include a link to this video in your own social media feed so we can finally dispel the notion that tribes matter more than individuals. You can find the link to the full video on www.izzit.org.

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A More or Less Perfect Union – COMING IN 2019!

There’s never been a better time to talk about the Constitution of the United States of America. From college campuses to our borders to Washington, DC, today, our Constitution is under assault on all fronts. Many of us aren’t embracing the rights we have; free speech is endangered and, through action or inaction, challenges face all three branches of government. In Fall 2019, Free To Choose Media will release A More or Less Perfect Union to public television stations nationwide. The documentary is an extraordinary three-part series, hosted by Judge Douglas Ginsburg – a national authority on the Constitution, with 30 …

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Johan & Rob’s Excellent Adventure

Johan Norberg and Rob Chatfield hit the ground running when they arrived in Washington, DC for a five-city publicity tour for Sweden: Lessons for America? – A Personal Exploration by Johan Norberg.  Starting in our nation’s capital, Norberg was first interviewed by Kat Murti, senior digital outreach manager at Cato Institute. She has her own following and conducted a Facebook Live interview with Johan that covered many topics, including other documentaries he has hosted with FTCM. The duo then ran downstairs for a screening and discussion of the documentary, moderated by Ian Vasquez, Director, Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity …

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THE ROB REPORT: The Sphere of Influence by Rob Chatfield

How to Travel with a Salmon.  Out of thousands of tightly-packed titles on the shelves of a used book store in Prince Edward Island, what made this slender paperback jump out at my teenage daughter? A further dive shows how this simple act serves as a microcosm of what we strive for with our non-profit organization. It was not by accident that I took my daughter to a bookstore on vacation.  We must first connect the teen audience to an arena where they can find serendipity.  Exposing teens to “winning ideas” is where we excel and how we will win …

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From the Founder: Time & Timelessness by Bob Chitester

Time. With on-the-half-hour and -hour scheduling of broadcast and cable TV channels. With the demands of meeting deadlines over the twelve months needed to complete a TV documentary. With the decreasing attention span of viewers (inversely related to age) calling for shorter and more memorable videos. Our lives at izzit.org and Free To Choose Network are driven by “time.”

I’ve asked Tara Schupp, our chief operating officer, to put together an article for the next newsletter that will give you a sense of how we manage time in bringing together the inputs necessary to create TV documentaries and education modules. The same systems approach is also used in building our expanding distribution network.

There are two other aspects of “time” that, although intangible, are the foundation from which we start the creative process. First, a video of any length should be as “evergreen” as possible. The stories told may “age” in terms of fashion or technology, but the ideas conveyed should be universal in application. Second, to introduce a new idea or suggest changing an established doctrine is a long-term process.

Milton Friedman challenged my focus on television. “Bob, anyone who can be persuaded by an hour TV program, can be dissuaded by another TV program the next night.” I countered that the series would help sell the book, which chapter by chapter followed the themes of the series, and it has sold tens of millions worldwide. As producers we place enormous value on productions that are evergreen, that like Free To Choose can be effectively communicating basic principles decades after their release.

Milton also came to see how, properly crafted, a video can surprise viewers with a new way to think about ideas they believe they understand or have previously rejected. Johan Norberg does this every week with his Dead Wrong vlog. We also do a weekly blog, drawing on the hundreds of hours of videos in our archives. These online products build brands and celebrity by “visiting” viewers every week in a format consistent with shortened attention spans.

The individual also requires time to shape a world view, and even more time to adapt or change that perspective. One of my favorite quotes is from a “hippie” book, The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson: “No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.”

Ferguson, like many, was blinded to reality by a powerful image of a peace-and-love utopia. Yet in this quote, she points to Jonathan Haidt’s recent research that supports our contention that appeals to emotion must be the starting point for increasing understanding and acceptance of a world based on the winning ideas of freedom. That—and acceptance of the timelessness of the effort—should pay dividends if we are wise, patient and persistent.

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Milton’s Legacy Lives On….

In 2015 the L.E. Phillips Family Foundation sponsored and named a puppy for The Seeing Eye® dog organization. That puppy has grown tremendously in the last 2 years, not only in size but also in responsibility. Rightfully named, Milton! We are pleased to share that Milton has passed his rigorous training and graduated. Milton is now working in Kansas helping others see what they cannot, just like the iconic Milton Friedman he was named after.

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The latest release from Free To Choose Network is coming to your area soon!

What can a man with a plain name who lived over 200 years ago tell us about life today? Who was The Real Adam Smith? And why should we care?

In this two-hour, two-part documentary, FTCM Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explores Adam Smith’s life, his ideas about morality and economics, and how the concepts he discussed in his books and lectures are still relevant today.


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