Who Are We Helping?
Another loss with the passing of Milton Friedman is missing his “right to the heart of the matter” answers on social-economic issues in interviews. He spoke to Bill Steigerwald back in March of 2001 where he said the following on public education:
Friedman: Why should government run the schools of the country? There's no more reason for government to run the schools then there is for government to produce the automobile. And the schools are low quality on the average, just as automobiles would be of low quality if government produced them.
Q: You could probably talk for the rest of the day about what is wrong with public education. But what is most wrong about it today and how will choice fix that?
Friedman: Well, there's no doubt what's most wrong about public education, and that is that it's a monopoly. The customer has no say. Schools are financed by the government but they're actually run by the teachers unions and education bureaucracy. And the schools pick the students, the students don't pick the schools, in general. What you need is competition.
Q: I'm sure you're familiar with the home-school movement, which has arisen over the last 10 years as form of competition to schools.
Friedman: It is. And the fact that it is a form of competition shows how bad our schools are. Can you think of any other sophisticated product in which the home-made product is superior to the factory-made product?
No doubt certain someones are very nervous about competition proving Friedman’s comments were accurate.
And on social security, consider this:
I don't understand why the government should tell me how much money I should save for the future, but not tell me how much of my money I can spend for food. And I believe that the current Social Security system is in certain ways fundamentally unjust. Take the most obvious example, in the current hysteria about AIDS: Here's a young man, a man of 35 or 40 who has AIDS and is told that he has got five or 10 years to live at the most. And the government comes along and says, "You've got to put aside 13 percent or something like that of your income to save for your old age." That seems to me to be cruel and unjust.
That was in 2001. Today, government is moving towards dictating the foods we may eat. Of course, it is to assist us in living healthier lives. And if it just saves one person's life...