Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (1962)

Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was an economist and Nobel laureate who continues to greatly influence economic theory and policy. In his lifetime, he lead a very successful campaign against the preeminent Keynesian school of economics, which, like John Dewey and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, envisioned a large role for the government in society. As an advisor to President Ronald Reagan as well as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, Friedman advocated for minimal government intervention, believing that free market (laissez-faire) capitalism was the best and only way to maximize human liberty.

The 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom is Friedman’s magnum opus, laying out his theoretical interpretation of liberalism as best achieved through free market economics, and advocating a set of policies including a volunteer military, abolition of medical licenses, a negative income tax and school choice. While reading it, think about what aspects of Dewey’s and FDR’s visions for liberalism Friedman is critiquing, and the extent to which his vision for human liberty is closer to John Locke’s.