Becker Friedman Institute
for Research in Economics
The University of Chicago

Research. Insights. Impact. Advancing the Legacy of Chicago Economics.

Milton Friedman in His Own Words

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

“I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.”

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.”

“Education spending will be most effective if it relies on parental choice & private initiative – the building blocks of success throughout our society.”

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.”

“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”

“Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

“The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the "rule of the game" and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.”

“With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves.”

“We economists don't know much, but we do know how to create a shortage. If you want to create a shortage of tomatoes, for example, just pass a law that retailers can't sell tomatoes for more than two cents per pound. Instantly you'll have a tomato shortage. It's the same with oil or gas.”

“I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it's only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater.”

“The true test of any scholar's work is not what his contemporaries say, but what happens to his work in the next 25 or 50 years. And the thing that I will really be proud of is if some of the work I have done is is still cited in the text books long after I am gone.”

“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”

“History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”

“The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.”

“Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.”

“Inflation is caused by too much money chasing after too few goods.”