Dr. Friedman's Diagnosis
Unless you're a regular viewer of C-SPAN, you probably missed its broadcast of a May 6 session of the House Republican Conference featuring economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. Too bad. The meeting made for two of the best hours of business programming I've seen in 15 years. It also made for two of the most expensive hours, judging by the cost of the video: each copy goes for $70 ($35 per hour) with the stipulation that it be used for private showings only. Here are some highlights:
"You have unemployment because the government prevents people from being employed: the minimum-wage law, the fringe benefits that are required,...all the burdens that are placed on an employer....It's a very bad idea. It's always been a mystery to me why it should be thought that people are better off unemployed at $3 an hour than employed at $2 an hour."
"One of the things that's fascinating and baffling and disturbing is that we do things in our collective capacity that we would never dream of doing in our individual capacity....Suppose you had a teenage daughter. Would you tell her, 'If you have a baby, we'll set you up in a separate apartment, and you can live by yourself without having to go to work'? No parent would ever say that to a daughter. And yet collectively we tell people essentially the same thing. And we provide a tremendous incentive for exactly what I'm describing."
"In 1929 total government spending in the U.S. was about 11% or 12% [of national income], and two-thirds of that was state and local. Federal government expenditures were about 3% or 4% of national income. Today total government spending is 43% of national income, and two-thirds of that is federal. I believe one of the great sources of the deterioration in the social aspects of our life is the shift of emphasis and responsibility from the state to the federal government."
To order the video, send a check or money order for $70 to C-SPAN Viewer Services Department, 400 North Capitol St., NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20001, or phone 202-626-7963. Ask for Tape #35224. Allow six to eight weeks for delivery.* * *