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 what is wrong with the welfare state?
The welfare state is an attempt to “do good” with someone else’s money. The aim may be worthy, but the means are faulty. The problem is that you do not spend someone else’s money as carefully as your own. More to the point, it’s impossible to “do good” with someone else’s money without first taking it away from someone else. That implies coercion—the use of bad means to corrupt the good ends of the welfare state. Welfare programs implicitly encourage competition for government funds and create unfortunate divisions and antagonisms in our society that erode individual freedom. We must find other means—voluntary cooperation and private giving, for example — to achieve our objective.
In this episode, Milton Friedman poses the question, “Why it is that the noble objectives which have animated the growth of the welfare state have produced results that disappoint almost everybody- regardless of whether they were initially in favor or initially opposed to the various measures; and finally, ask ourselves what if anything is the alternative to it and what can we do about it?”
Find out where he thinks the problems of this noble intention truly lie in the podcast above, Milton Friedman Speaks – “What is Wrong with the Welfare State?”. It was originally recorded back in 1978.