Capitalism and Freedom, Paperback Book
2.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


It is a rare professor who greatly alters the thinking of his professional colleagues.

It's an even rarer one who helps transform the world.

Friedman has done both." - Stephen Chapman, Chicago Tribune How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom?

In his classic book, Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman presents his view of the proper role of competitive capitalism - the organization of the bulk of economic activity through private enterprise operating in a free market - as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.

He also outlines the role that government should play in a society dedicated to freedom and relying primarily on the market to organize economic activity.

Friedman begins with a discussion of the principles of a truly liberal society.

He then applies those principles to a range of pressing problems, including monetary policy, discrimination, education, income distribution, welfare, and poverty. The result is a book that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and has become increasingly influential in recent years as more and more governments have moved from highly planned economies to embrace free market economics.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 210 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Economic theory & philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780226264219

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Milton Friedman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist associated with the "Chicago School" of free-market theorists. But it's not so simple to just peg Friedman as this man of the right. For one, he refuses to call himself a conservative. He points out that classically, it was defenders of the market that called themselves liberals--that the root word of liberal is "free" and it's hardly appropriate for a defender of dynamism over the status quo to call himself conservative. He and his wife Rose were responsible for a very popular PBS series "Free to Choose" which became a bestselling book. Although as he says in his introduction, <i>Capitalism and Freedom</i> is also "directed at the general public" it is "more philosophical and abstract." It is very readable--some parts are dry, and a bit difficult, but nothing that makes you reach for an unabridged dictionary or that isn't comprehensible with a little work. This was first published in 1962. So this is over 50 years old. Outdated? Irrelevant? No, I found it scarily topical. Scary, because you would think its lessons would have long been learned. Granted, in me Friedman had a friendly audience who is sympathetic to free market arguments and solutions, I'm not sure his arguments would be as persuasive to those hostile to capitalism. But you can't say you can't see the implications, the relevance, to his taking on Keynesian economics and it's so-called multiplier effect and the argument government spending can act as a "balance wheel" on the economy. (*cough* "Stimulus" *cough*). Or the wasteful distortions of the economy caused by the tax evasion and tax avoidance of soak the rich taxing schemes and the case for a flat tax. Or the reasons why a commodity monetary standard such as gold is unfeasible but why the Federal Reserve is problematical. Why medical licensing may have prevented innovations in how to deliver medicine still relevant to the debate today. The argument for school vouchers and <i>against</i> minimum wage if you want to help the poor. And so on.If anything this is all the more timely and relevant. In his 2002 preface Friedman points out that federal, state, and local government spending took up 26 percent of the national income in 1956, the year he gave the lectures on which this book was based. That was then. From what I just goggled, it's was at 61 percent in 2009. God knows where it stands now in 2012 after our spending binges. So yes, still very much worth reading. Some of the examples are dated (for instance, the United States now allows people to buy gold) but the principles are not.

Review by

Milton Friedman died in 2006, and his teachings live on. The economist as demagogue, preaching all will be subordinate to the Market, all-powerful, all-knowing. It giveth and taketh away.<br/><br/>I admit freely for the purposes of bias that I lean to the left. But I recognize that the market is a powerful force for innovation, for growth and change. I am willing to recognize that at times, the market can be too constrictive, and that there are times where we must carefully examine the situation and determine which policies are best. Milton Friedman, despite his efforts here, is an intelligent man, and recognizes the subtleties of economics.<br/><br/>However, this book discards all subtlety and offers only one solution to all problems. Deregulation, lowering taxes, lowering them again, cutting out social aid networks, and doing so again. Deregulation of public education, leading to fundamentalist and revisionist curricula, and poor performing charter schools. Removal of all worker's rights, making them relatively powerless against corporations. He even goes so far as to suggest the removal of medical licensing to alleviate a doctor shortage, and let the market act, leaving bodies in its wake.<br/><br/>Speaking of bodies, the name of Milton Friedman is still widely reviled in Latin America, most notably due to his advice to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, which adopted many of his policies as a national experiment. Dictatorship and bloodbaths aside, the economic gains from those years are fragmentary at best - Chile's privatized pension system was in a state of disrepair. <br/><br/>And what of his belief that unions or minimum wages were not necessary for all to share in the growth that free markets provide? The past thirty years have been an extended counter-example to him, with corporations achieving record profits after the recession, and the wages of the lower and middle classes barely rising to make pace with inflation. Perhaps now the pendulum of history and policy will swing another way.

Review by

I like Milton Friedman. This book is very dull however, maybe because I've already heard all the arguments.