To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Free To Choose, we are sharing some of Milton Friedman’s most compelling talks. In this original recording from 1978, the question asked is, “Is capitalism humane?” According to Milton Friedman, the question is irrelevant. Capitalism per se is not humane or inhumane; nor is socialism. If we compare the two in terms of results, it is clear that only capitalism fosters equality and works toward social justice. The one is based on the principle of voluntary cooperation and free exchange, the other on force of position and power. In a free economy, it is hard to do good. You either have to use your own hard-earned money to do it or work hard to persuade others to your cause. But by the same token, it is difficult to do harm because by preventing a concentration of power, capitalism prevents people from committing sustained, serious harm. Is capitalism humane or inhumane? It is neither. But it tends to give free rein to the human values of human beings.
In this program, Milton states, “The argument used to be about strictly the form of economic organization: should we have government control of production and distribution, or should we have a market control? And the argument used to be made in terms of the supposedly greater efficiency of centralized government and of centralized control. Nobody makes that argument anymore…But the interesting thing is that nonetheless, there is widespread opposition to capitalism as a system of organization and there is widespread support for some vague system labeled socialism.”
Hear what else he has to say on this question in the podcast above, Milton Friedman Speaks – “Is Capitalism Humane?” It was originally recorded back in 1978.