T Nation

Free Enterprise

Milton Friedman:

“The two chief enemies of the free society or free enterprise are intellectuals on the one hand and businessmen on the other, for opposite
reasons. Every intellectual believes in freedom for himself, but he’s opposed to freedom for others. … He thinks…there ought to be a central planning board that will establish social priorities. … The businessmen are
just the opposite…every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself that’s a different question. He’s always the special case. He ought to get special privileges from the government, a tariff, this, that, and the other thing…”

Looks a bit dated…

A free economy can only exist in a regulated society… such that rules can be defined and enforced (by a fair government).

Does everyone want an advantage for their own self or company, of course, but if government corruption can be avoided, they won’t get it.

To be clear, governance itself is an act of intellectualism, generally defined by another act of intellectualism, known as a constitution.

Modern freedom is inherently bounded by intellectual creations which are crafted expressly to define the boundaries within which freedom can flourish.

Is there a perfect structure, a perfect set of boundaries?

[quote]vroom wrote:
Looks a bit dated…

A free economy can only exist in a regulated society… such that rules can be defined and enforced (by a fair government).

Does everyone want an advantage for their own self or company, of course, but if government corruption can be avoided, they won’t get it.[/quote]

That’s the kicker of course. The more power the government has to influence things - particularly economic activity - the less likely government corruption can be avoided.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
vroom wrote:
Looks a bit dated…

A free economy can only exist in a regulated society… such that rules can be defined and enforced (by a fair government).

Does everyone want an advantage for their own self or company, of course, but if government corruption can be avoided, they won’t get it.

That’s the kicker of course. The more power the government has to influence things - particularly economic activity - the less likely government corruption can be avoided. [/quote]

And the less power government has, the more likely underhanded buisness practices will be used without notice.

Isn’t it nice that we can try and find a happy medium?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
That’s the kicker of course. The more power the government has to influence things - particularly economic activity - the less likely government corruption can be avoided. [/quote]

Yep.

As you probably recall, I’m pretty strongly in favor of changes to reduce corrupting influences from political funding and lobbying practices.

I think Friedman’s statement about intellectuals needs to be qualified. I assume he is referring to left-wing intellectuals with some grounding in Marx.

What are/were the arguments for central planning? Was it just some idea about a benevolent state, etc? No, Marx correctly observed what he called the anarchy of production under capitalism.
It goes like this: you have a number of producers (for simplification let’s say they sell shoes) who put their goods out on the market. There are only so many people who need shoes and so some of the shoes will not be sold, workers laid off, etc. In addition, if workers are laid off, then they will have no spending power and so this will further add to the crisis because now there would be fewer people to buy the goods the producers are creating. Of course, some of the producers will do well and will invest capital in better technology and lay off more workers and while it may help them in the short run, it further increases the crisis.

It was thought that central planning could do away with the anarchy of the marketplace by having “rational” planned productivity.

Of course, this scheme was first hatched in the 19th century, the hight of mechanistic rationalism. Chaos/complexity theory did not exist yet and nobody thought about the impossibility of being able for a central body to plan every detail of the economy. Of course, when the Soviet Union was born, there was a finally a chance to put the plan into place…Then the problems with central planning became evident.

I post this because a lot of criticism of marxist central planning have this idea of it being based on idealism. It was not. It was based on trying to fit the economy into a rational paradigm (the existing paradigm of that age), when in fact the market is chaotic.