Saturday, November 18, 2006

All Battles Are Perpetual

As the anti-socialist movement in America pauses to reassess both the progress and failures of the recent past, the passing of Milton Friedman earlier this week is a reminder it is worthwhile to review the thoughts of those who formulated this most recent push to restore the primacy of individual rights over the power of government. There are many worthy tributes covering the immense impact of his extensive work, but the most concise summation of his philosophy may be this quote.

Milton Friedman: "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."

A more detailed overview of Friedman’s personal review of his life, work, philosophy and impact upon both America and the world is found in his 1995 Reason Interview. One phrase that caught my attention is a seemingly tossed off comment that “All battles are perpetual”. It is the understanding of a wise old man that life is always a dynamic struggle and the values we believe will always find opposition.