It seems really unlikely that whatever they have to pay because of farm subsidies or whatever compensates for that.
But Friedman also makes the stronger point that when government programs fail, it’s the poor who are most affected and who have the fewest other options.
It makes the book somehow fresher than one that starts from the perspective of “Okay, you’ve heard all of these arguments before, so let me preach to the choir and see what happens.” But sometimes the book is dated in ways less innocuous than ten-dollar doctor visits.
For example, in Chapter 5, “The Rich Get Richer And The Poor Get Richer,” Friedman argues against excessive concern with inequality, saying: In absolute terms, the rich have gotten richer, but the gap between rich and poor seems, so far as very imperfect statistics make it possible to judge, to have been slowly closing…we can note that both the rise in the general standard of living and the decreasing inequality appear to have been occurring fairly steadily over a long period of time, in a variety of different more or less capitalist societies…in the previous chapter I argued that liberal measures tend to injure the poor, not benefit them, and to increase, not decrease inequality.
If that has been true in the past, then the increasing equality we have experienced is in spite of, not because of, such measures…
Even if the capitalist invests all the income from his capital and consumes none of it, his wealth will only grow at the rate of return on capital.
This might also be profitably mapped onto construal level theory, ie Robin Hanson’s Near Mode vs. Anyway, having determined that democracy should not be expected to help the poor, he gets on to demonstrating that in fact it doesn’t: There are some programs that give money to the poor – Aid to Families With Dependent Children, for instance.
I can’t do justice to the Libertarian 101 arguments in this review because there are too many of them on too many different topics.
This is too bad because they are excellent and fascinating and you should really read them.
David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom is half Libertarianism 101: Introduction To Libertarianism, and half Libertarianism 501: Technical Diagrams For Constructing An Anarcho-Capitalist State.
And aside from either of these, it’s interesting as a historical artifact.
There is something very innocent about expecting someone to become a libertarian after reading a book arguing for libertarianism, something very much a product of the time when the movement was new and anything was possible.
Friedman discusses and debates the views of Ayn Rand not as some sort of ascended cultural archetype, but as a fellow theorist who happens to be writing around the same time.
The heartbreaking thing is that every word of this was true in 1973.
In fact, 1973 is frequently given as the inflection point, when for some reason middle-class wages stopped rising at the same rate as the wealth of the top 1% and capital’s share of income started a steady climb (this is frequently blamed on Reagan, but started almost a decade before his presidency).
For example, he notes that the cost per capita of law enforcement/police/courts is (remember, this is 1973!
) and estimates that minus government waste and corruption, the free market could provide extremely competent policing for .