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 part of 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.


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