VIDEO: Milton Friedman's response to Phil Donahue's "Capitalism & Greed" question rings true today

In the 1970's talk show host Phil Donahue had Nobel Prize winning Economist Milton Friedman on his program. Among other things, Donahue questioned Friedman about the "Greed" that is rewarded under Capitalism. Friedman, who is known for being an amazing speaker, and a strong proponent of the free market, had an answer that applies as much today as it did over 40 years ago.



Capitalism might reward greed, but Friedman brought up an amazing point. All systems of government and economics will reward greed in one way or another. The question is: Which system allows ordinary people to rise up and provide a better life for themselves and the people in their society? As Friedman stated, "The record of history is absolutely crystal clear...there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by free enterprise system."







Donahue:

Here's my question. When you see around the globe the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have nots, when you when you see the greed and the concentration of power with it, aren't you ever- did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed is a good idea to run on?



Friedman:

Well, first of all, tell me, is there some society you know that doesn't run on greed?


You think russia doesn't run on greed? You think china doesn't run on green?


What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy. It's only the other fellow who's greedy this- the world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.


The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from from, a bureaucrat.. Henry ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way.



In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you're talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade


If you want to know where the masses are worse than worse off- worst off- it's exactly from the kinds of societies that depart from that, so that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear... That there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by free enterprise system.


Donahue:

It seems to reward not virtue as much as ability to manipulate the system.


Friedman:

And what does reward virtue? You think the communist commissars reward virtue? You think a hitler rewards virtue?


You think, excuse me, if you'll pardon me, do you think american presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?


Is it really true that political self interest is nobler somehow than economic self interests? You know, I think you're taking a lot of things for granted.


Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us.. Well, I don't even trust you to do that, let alone myself

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