The Advantage Small Government (in the epicenter of a Global Financial Crisis)?

Milton Friedman is a canonized saint (Nobel Prize) of modern economics, continuing a line laissez-faire, market-driven economy first started by Adam Smith. And culturally, America revered Friedman as a freedom fighter against the Soviet totalitarian expansions during the Cold War. Friedman’s theory favors minimum government (Libertarian), especially minimum, government intervention on national markets. Trusting solely on the active, free-market forces, all exchange of goods will (in theory) be taken care of by individual understanding of supply-and-demand.

However, if individual initiatives lag behind in filling the role left by the government — and what is needed for a healthy society to function, then the theoretical “shock therapy” (instead of the more harmonic “invisible hand” of Adam Smith’s days) will forcefully propel or strain “free” individuals into action — and thereby freedom prevails! No one in the Feds today take Friedman seriously.

Now, however, ‘great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom’, we can critically examine Friedman’s theories without committing treason. By invoking upon 2 broad principles embodied by our Constitution, Friedman set constraints on government intervention. Government’s place should only be limited to ensuring justice and fairness in the market place. Then, the market will empower individuals and distribute wealth and power homogenously throughout society. This theoretical, egalitarian distribution will prevent corruption and abuse of power and provide checks-and-balances on itself as a “true democracy.”

Friedman has faith that the vitality and the health of the national economy can be taken care of by voluntary co-operations and private enterprises; therefore he condemns central concentration of power — even if it’s used to regulate, provide utility and service for the masses — another word doing good. He’s argument was that even though government may enable us at times to accomplish jointly what we would find it more difficult or expensive in disperse, but once government bureaucracy is provided with this power, it will not be given back. And this power can be abused easily by the next generation of leaders.

Thus Friedman distrusts any concentration of power and want to distribute all economic and government activities to the local level. He believes that unfettered capitalism provides us with the means to this “freedom” and check-and-balance.

Friedman’s believes the empowerment of individuals both politically and economically (despite of inefficiencies and drawbacks in its inherent nature) is essential to democracy and freedom. He believes the existential forces of individuals and free market forces on the individuals are enough to motivate this “collection of individuals” to “freely” choose to do good, maintain a healthy society, and assemble to accomplish collective deeds and needs. No specialized class is needed to govern the masses. Power to the people!

Author: Charles L. Wang

I lived a good life - a hard one, but I sleep peacefully at night knowing that I have made a difference in someone's life... Oh by the way, I'm from China: Downtown, China... Read my full bio.

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