Has Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" aged well?

LOL. No the book has not aged well, except in two areas. Here’s a quick breakdown of why:

1. Friedman’s monetarism is absolutely his most influential contribution to what has remained an effective toolbox for government economic influence at the macro level. That section of the book has aged very well.

2. A guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax) is still a popular idea among some reformers — though usually on the radical Left — but it’s not Friedman’s original idea and is usually lost amid his other points. So I’d say that although the idea persists, Friedman’s contribution hasn’t aged well.

3. Plenty of far-right-leaning folks still carry a torch for school vouchers and resistance to government oversight of education, but the jury is still out on whether this will do anything but improve educational choice for rich people, and decrease economic opportunity and mobility for everyone else.

4. Everything else in the book (that is, the majority of his criticisms and proposals) are now viewed as utter bunk by anyone serious about economics or cognizant of recent history. Many of Friedman’s ideas ideas have been tried — all around the globe — and they have failed utterly. This doesn’t stop neoliberals from quoting Friedman, of course, so in that sense the book has “aged well” as a propagandizing tool for Milton Friedman worshipers, market fundamentalists, proponents of laissez faire economics, right-libertarians and other fervent ideologues. In the real world, however, Friedman’s ideas have been soundly discredited. So in the sense of respect from policy makers and economists, only the blindly and irrationally loyal still hold Friedman’s ideas in any regard.

My 2 cents.

Did Milton Friedman really help the Chilean economy to prosper?

This is one of the funniest bits of propaganda the neoliberals, anarcho-capitalists and other market fundamentalists will throw around. It is almost ENTIRELY FALSE. In fact, the only reason anyone believes a “Chilean Miracle” happened at all is because…well…Milton Friedman boasted that it did. Utter hogwash though. Here’s what the consequences of 7 years of Friedman’s policies (recommended by him personally, and by his Chicago Boys to Pinochet) actually were:

1. Unemployment first increased to 14%…then to 20%.

2. Sub-poverty population increased from 20% to 40%.

3. Real wages fell by 20%.

4. National output initially fell by 15% and then only ever leveled out (never got above pre 1970 levels)

5. Per capita GDP grew only 1.5%/year, as compared to several times that nearly everywhere else in Latin America.

6. Well-paying, working-class jobs evaporated (i.e. income disparity increased across population due to a “hole in the middle”)

7. Inflation reduced from 500% to 10% (really the only good thing that happened, economically, as a consequence of neoliberal policies)

8. A handful of folks got rich.

And of course all of these metrics reversed or improved once the neoliberal policies under Pinochet were abandoned….

So basically, Friedman’s “miracle” was to devastate most of the Chilean population.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the atrocities of the Pinochet regime - but really, if Milton Friedman was such a “champion” of individual liberty, why didn’t he loudly and soundly criticize Pinochet’s murderous oppression of the Chilean people…? Utter hypocrisy. Even more bizarrely, even as Friedman would insist Chicago School reforms helped the country economically (despite all evidence to the contrary), he would also take credit for Chile’s transition back to democracy, insisting that Chicago School policies were what led to that event. But this is astounding and delusional, really, since that transition was a consequence of pressures from the rest of the military leaders, who continued (yes, even after the referendum) to insulate their power from civilian control. In other words…they just wanted to get rid of Pinochet!

The video below is one of the funniest (or saddest, depending on how you feel about mental illness) snapshots of how Friedman would later try to distance himself from Pinochet while simultaneously taking credit for imaginary “miracles.” Watching it closely we can witness how Friedman’s ego delights in his delusions:


My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Did-Milton-Friedman-really-help-the-Chilean-economy-to-prosper

Why do the top 1% of people in the world have half of the world's wealth?

Setting the statistical details of your question aside, and focusing on the underlying observation of extraordinary wealth inequality, I believe there are a combination of factors. Here are the most significant ones (in no particular order):

1. Capitalism. It is the nature of capitalism to concentrate wealth by rewarding owner-shareholders while exploiting worker-consumers and capturing everyone and everything else (i.e. environments, governments, technologies, etc.) that can be placed in service to profit.

2. Consumer Mindset and Addiction. This is a bit more subtle, but essentially imagine a world where everyone is convinced (individually, socially, culturally) that happiness, well-being and success are all externally consumed, and that the self-actualization principle with the highest efficacy is conspicuous consumption. Further, imagine that the products and services being offered are habit forming in nature, so that the pressures to consume create a snowball effect, thereby infantilizing the public and making people perpetually dependent. Why perpetually? Well because those products and services don’t actually deliver happiness, well-being or success…so the cycle continues.

3. Cronyism and Clientism. Through regulatory capture, revolving door self-empowerment, corruption of democratic institutions (corporate personhood, SuperPACs, the Hastert rule, gerrymandering, etc.), authoring legislation (A.L.E.C., etc.), quid-pro-quo political dealings and so forth so that the wealthy maintain de facto control over any government that is supposed to counter their overreach…thus expanding plutocratic wealth and power.

4. Financialization and Speculation. A nasty runaway train that often involves socialization of risk, extensive leveraging, and huge amounts of debt…all in order to enrich the captains of banking and industry who are already wealthy enough to play such high stakes games.

5. Monopoly. Consolidation of production, assets and influence in every industry - and often across multiple sectors - that concentrates economic controls and wealth production in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

6. Clever Propaganda. I think Milton Friedman was the first to really champion neoliberal delusions for the common person, persuading them that government, taxes and “socialist” policies would sabotage their well-being and the American success story, and that all challenges could be solved by a “free” market. It was of course a fabricated narrative without any basis in fact, but it has sold well. So now we have everyone from the Tea Party to Trump supporters voting against their own best interests, and blindly throwing their energy into this perpetual hoodwink.

7. The Spectacle. This is a complex idea that I elaborate on in the link provided, but essentially think of an elaborate, self-perpetuating engine of panem et circenses, executed via mass media and mass consumption, that anesthetizes the masses into complacency. Just enough affluence and entertainment to make them forget that their votes don’t really count for much, their “freedom” is becoming much more limited, and their real wages have been stagnant or declining since 1968.

I explore many of these topics and more on this website: Level 7

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-the-top-1-of-people-in-the-world-have-half-of-the-worlds-wealth)

Why do people say that neoliberalism has made capital flight easier?

It’s simple really. Neoliberal agendas have created the following circumstances in developing countries (as an openly expressed matter of neoliberal policy):

1. Increasing capital movement within a global environment, and thus increasing opportunities for capital flight (out of a developing country).

2. Privatization of public resources and economic liberalization in general - frequently transferring ownership to foreign corporations, as well as reducing controls and oversight of industry, thus enabling additional avenues of capital flight.

3. Excessive concentrations of wealth - especially in a few very large corporations or opportunistic individuals, which in turn makes it fairly easy for large chunks of capital to exit a given country.

4. Economic instability - ultimately, the greater the economic liberalization, the greater the tendency for extreme boom-and-bust cycles; during a localized bust, all the capital that has been accumulated by the wealthiest elite is going to look for safer, more lucrative opportunities…usually outside of the country.

As an example, if you look at how the IMF and World Bank have manipulated developing countries, the structural adjustment policies (which are all-too-often transparently neoliberal in nature) engineer the perfect environment for capital flight. It’s a travesty.

The neoliberal promise has always been: let free markets make you rich! Well, those unfettered markets actually only benefit the folks who started out with the largest chunks of capital - or who quickly obtain it, often illicitly - at the expense of everyone and everything else.

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-say-that-neoliberalism-has-made-capital-flight-easier/answer/T-Collins-Logan)

In what ways and by how much is Neoliberalism hurting America and its citizens?

Thanks for the A2A Nicholas. Here is my take:

Neoliberalism is doing tremendous damage in the U.S.A., and has been for quite a while. Probably the most transparent illustration of this was escalation of the neoliberal agenda during the G.W.Bush administration at the hands of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld et al. Here are some of the highly destructive fruits of that effort:

1. Disabling the EPA’s enforcement of environmental law for eight years (via direct executive order and more indirect hogtying of administrative processes) allowed runaway corporate pollution and untold environmental damage from business activities.

2. Weakening of NIOSH oversight across all industries resulted in a runaway increase of risk to worker health and safety - and consequent death, illness and disability of countless workers as regulations went unenforced.

3. Opening up of BLM lands to unchecked exploitation by industry resulted in horrific destruction and misuse of these public resources, with very little benefit to U.S. taxpayers (who collectively own those resources).

4. Initiating a war on false pretenses resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people - including thousands of U.S. military personnel; war profiteering of U.S. companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers; creation of ISIS (under very similar circumstances through which Al-Qaeda was formed); destabilization of Middle East and radicalization of its populations; strengthening of the position and influence of enemy states (Iran); undermining of U.S. standing among allied governments and populace.

5. Increased financialization of U.S. economy (and encouragement of speculative risks using public funds) while loosening the regulatory reigns (SEC oversight, etc.), resulting in the most precipitous economic crash since 1929.
6. Orchestrating propaganda that encouraged some 50% of the U.S. electorate to vote against its own interests (i.e. cutting of federal spending in their geographic regions, increased income inequality, increased poverty, decreased economic mobility, decreased jobs, stagnant wages, decreased buying power, etc.).

7. As a classic consequence of crony capitalism, the largest jump in government spending (to 33% of GDP, with most of the increase benefitting big business and wealthy shareholders) since WWII.

8. The radical erosion of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment and establishment of invasive, coercive, unjust, punitive and ideologically extreme expansions of a Police State.

9. The dismantling and distortion of U.S. democratic institutions, civilian protections and environmental protections through a targeted appointment of activist neoliberal judiciary that baldly favors corporate enrichment at the expense of everyone and everything else (Citizens United is just the tip of the iceberg).

10. The subsidizing of below-subsistance wage workers (Walmart) with taxpayer-funded welfare programs, once again enriching corporations at the expense of everyone else.

11. A general weakening of all capacities of government to serve its citizens, apparently with the deliberate aim of undermining the confidence those citizens have in their government and increase their willingness to vote for candidates who promise lower taxes and alternative “free market” solutions that enrich owner-shareholders.

To fully appreciate just how bad things can get under neoliberal ideology, read about Milton Friedman’s influence on other governments around the globe (a decent source for this is Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine) and the “structural adjustment” policies of the IMF and World Bank in developing countries. For more on all the fun stuff that happened under G.W.Bush, focus on pro-corporate SCOTUS rulings, expansion of A.L.E.C. legislative influence, the revolving door of government, regulatory capture, clientism, campaign finance corruption and the explosion of SuperPACs, corporate welfare, war profiteering, Red State government spending, origins of ISIS, coal mining safety violations, timber industry expansions into BLM, coopting of Tea Party by Koch brothers, impact of Patriot Act and Homeland Security on U.S. civil liberties, environmental destruction and exploitation, wealth disparity, FEMA failures (due to incompetent appointments), the USPS retirement prefunding fiasco of 2006, etc. It’s really rather incredible how much damage was done, and why upcoming presidential and congressional elections are much more important than naysayers from all corners of the political spectrum would have us believe.

I also have copious references for anything you might have questions about. Also, Noam Chomsky has some good lectures on YouTube about the deleterious course of neoliberalism in the U.S. You might also be interested in this post: T Collins Logan's answer to How is it that in the US the idea of Libertarianism become conflated or gobbled up by anarcho-capitalism and laissez-faire capitalism? (https://www.quora.com/How-is-it-that-in-the-US-the-idea-of-Libertarianism-become-conflated-or-gobbled-up-by-anarcho-capitalism-and-laissez-faire-capitalism/answer/T-Collins-Logan)

My 2 cents.

What are the pros and cons of neoliberalism?

Thanks for the A2A Johnathan. Here’s my take….


1. The largest corporations continue to accumulate wealth via exploitation of cheap labor and resources in the developing world - the results of globalization and “free trade.”

2. The largest corporations continue to accumulate wealth through coopting or weakening of democratic institutions - via crony capitalism, clientism, regulatory capture, populist neoliberal propaganda (via the Heritage Foundation and other such think tanks), ALEC and other pro-corporate legislative manipulation and groupthink, etc.

3. The largest corporations continue to accumulate wealth through war profiteering and nation building whenever those opportunities can be created (go Halliburton!).

4. The largest banks and corporations continue to accumulate wealth through “structural adjustment programs” that decimate developing economies (Go IMF and World Bank!).

5. The largest banks continue to accumulate wealth through the increasing financialization of every economy.

6. A vast swath of the voting public around the globe doesn’t have to think for themselves, but can rely on the neoliberal programming delivered by mass media to consistently vote against their own best interests.

7. People who want to support the neoliberal agenda have access to excellent fake science to counter glaringly obvious negative externalities (re: consumer health, worker safety, climate change, species extinction, collapsing ecosystems, resource depletion, etc.) or the inevitable economic train wreck intrinsic to growth-dependent capitalism.


1. Those glaringly obvious negative externalities of an ascendent corporatocracy’s agenda are real…and getting worse…and the inevitable economic train wreck intrinsic to growth-dependent capitalism has already hinted at its impending arrival.

2. Exploitation, war profiteering, structural adjustments, wealth disparity, etc. lead to resentment, alienation, desperation, and quite often rebellion, societal disintegration and terrorism among growing populations in the developing world.

3. The consumer-electorate is becoming increasingly stupefied by their infantilized dependency, and thus are increasingly unable to recognize the hoodwinking spectacle that prevents them from seeing the destructive arc of neoliberal agendas, and medicates them from caring about that destruction even when, for a fleeting instant, they see through the carefully orchestrated deceptions.

4. Pretty much all of the “pros” listed above are a “con” when viewed from the perspective of anyone but wealthy shareholders.

All-in-all, I would say that neoliberalism is the single greatest threat to civil society that has ever existed on our planet, mainly because of the scale of its assault on human dignity, the superagency of its most callous primary actors on the world stage, and the enormous and irreversible damage it has already accomplished.

My 2 cents.

(see https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-neoliberalism)