Milton Friedman

Originally posted at on October 28, 2011

I understand why people like Milton’s economic theories. He appeals to me also. Here’s one of his quotes:

“There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.” –Milton Friedman

The only problem with looking at things the way Milton does is that his theories don’t work every time. For example, I can testify that I am very careful about choosing a gift for a friend, and I’m as careful with my money whether buying for myself or someone else. I would rather buy something I know the person would use or like than buy a cheap gift just because it’s cheap. Oh, and if I’m spending someone else’s money, I am bound to be frugal. That’s just me; I don’t know about you.

The other theory that doesn’t always prove out is: a properly-run government is very concerned about how much things cost, otherwise it wouldn’t have budgets. And it should be very concerned about what it buys because the public is watching. Unfortunately, when the budget is a mystery (as in military spending), the public who should be in an outcry over the cost of things which blow up, don’t even know how many of what items we are “buying” with OUR money.

It’s just one example. Why don’t you post your own criticisms of secretive ways in which our government spends money with little or no oversight, so we can fix these problems?

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