Milton Friedman discussing Friedrich Hayek’s the Road To Serfdom back in 1994. As relevant again today as ever.
Part 2 is perhaps the more interesting of the two, especially around the 12 minute mark on. Friedman points out that experience may be more important than the influences of books or television; and how people have seen the failures in the former Soviet Union and the successes in Asia and the Pacific where unfettered economies succeeded. Arguably the internet and the 24 hour news cycle has become even more important, because it shortens the memory and lessens experience, but as he mentions, it’s a sophisticated question not easily answered.
Some important quotes:
If an experiment in private enterprise is unsuccessful people lose money and they have to close it down. If an experiment in government is unsuccessful, it’s always expanded.
Particularly relevant to the health care debate:
The founders of our country believed in individual freedom, believed in leaving people be, letting them be alone to do… whatever they wanted to do. But our government has been increasingly departing from those Constitutional principles. You know there’s a provision in the Constitution that congress shall not interfere with interstate commerce. That provision had some meaning at one time. But it has no meaning now at all. Our courts have ruled that anything you can think of is interstate commerce and so the government exercises extensive control over things that it has no business interfering with.
Around the 17 minute mark, Friedman begins dissecting the Federal Reserve.
At the 19 minute mark, Friedman discusses the collapse of the nation under debt. His belief was that the changes in public perception were going to allow the people to halt the expansion of government.
In response to why socialists would be happier about the history of the last 50 years (before 1994, though it works the same today) at the 21 minute mark:
Because the story they tell is a very simple story – easy to sell. If there’s something bad, it must be an evil person who’s done it. If you want something done, you’ve got to do it – you’ve got to have government step in and do it.
The story Hayek and I want to tell is a much more sophisticated and complicated story. That somehow or other there exists this subtle system in which without any individual trying to control it there is a system in which people in seeking to promote their own interests will also promote the well being of the country – Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Now that’s a very sophisticated story. It’s hard to understand how you can get a complex interrelated system without anybody controlling it. Moreover the benefits from government tend to be concentrated. The costs tend to be dispersed. To each farmer the subsidy he gets from the government means a great deal. To each of a much larger number of consumers it costs very little. And consequently those who feed at the trough of government tend to be politically much more powerful than those who provided the wherewithal.
Eloquently stated and encapsulating the relationship between people and government very succintly.
Afterwards he breaks down what parties mean what – bringing up liberalism as classical liberalism, and states he’s libertarian in philosophy, though not party. He mentions Hillarycare in passing as incredibly socialist. The EIC that he mentions at the end he supported as a replacement for all welfare programs with the EIC, a “negative income tax”, that helps to establish a baseline income. He ended up fighting against it, because as we all know, the EIC just became another welfare program, not a replacement for the patchwork of welfare that was already in place.
Well worth watching.
And as a reminder:
No, the other Hayek.