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It is written very clearly; you need not have an economics background to understand it. The arguments are clear and eloquent. Friedman demonstrates why the free market works best for the economy but more importantly, he demonstrates why the free market preserves individual dignity. Beyond mere economics, the free market is the most moral system. In so many areas, if you really think about it, choices are the business of the individual, not the government. When the government overtaxes us, it is not only bad for the economy, it is bad morally. Overtaxation enables the government to make certain choices and removes that decisionmaking from the individual. I think school choice is an example of this.
My son's teacher assigned him to read this book. Happily, he will be exposed to the lucid arguments for few governmental controls and greater choice among individuals. I highly recommend this book which had so great an impact on my life.
Friedman explains how and why markets work, why minimum wage statutes hurt instead of help unskilled labor (they price entry level or "training positions" out of the market) and why the Great Depression happened (protectionist tariffs like Smoot-Hawley devastating trade between nations was the primary reason).
Like Hayek and von Mises before him, Friedman explodes the Keynesian mythology that government spending is actually good for the economy. Moreover, this book is written for the layman. You don't need a PhD in economics or a Nobel Prize (both of which Professor Friedman has) to understand this work. It is clear, concise and cogently written.
If you want to understand why the market is ineluctable, this is a must read...and if you get the chance, I highly recommend the companion video series - some of the best work done on explaining why the free market works and planned/controlled economies fail.
It as timely today (despite the dated references) because the free market still works (it always will) and command/controlled economies always fail...this book tells why.
As a not quite totally liberal or Libertarian (as modern socialist democrats (Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Diane Feinstien, etc.) and moderate Republicans (Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee, James Jeffords, etc.) have co-opted the liberal and moderate monikers), Friedman puts forth arguments against government intervention is many areas, but does demonstrate where government can be helpful, in limited ways, to address various market failures. The book addresses areas such as free markets, price and wage controls (which are currently causing electricity shortages in California), equality and justice, education (Friedman has been urging parental choice in public schooling since the 1950s), consumer protection, worker protection and inflation. The book presents each issue by examining how we got to the current state, what is wrong with the current policy and how he believes the policy should be changed. In various instances, he suggest both his preferred change and a watered down version (pragmatic version) that might actually be enacted in our current political morass.
A quick note to readers. One reviewer suggested that the book plagiarizes the work of Lord John Maynard Keynes. This could not be further from the truth. Friedman is a monetarist more in the vain derived from classical economics as presented by Adam Smith and used as a basis by the American Founders, especially Thomas Jefferson. The failed policies of the newer Keynesian economics (demand side economics) are at the heart of what Friedman is railing against: Government control. Also Monetarist are distinguished from the supply side theories of Robert Mundel and Art Laffer. In fact, the only Keynes quote I can recall from the book was used to demonstrated that even someone as wrong as Keynes knew that monetary inflation (printing too much money) was one of the worst mistakes a government can make. "There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."
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