Testing Milton Friedman: Equality of Opportunity

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 7:00pm

Bob Chitester and Milton Friedman

2012 is the 100th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth. His work and ideas continue to make the world a better place.  A revival of the ideas featured in the landmark television series Free To Choose are being revisited in a new 3-part PBS broadcast. Testing Milton Friedman airs Tuesday, October 2, 9, and 16 at 7 p.m. on WXXI World (DT21.2/cable 524).

Testing Milton Friedman - Preview from Free To Choose Network on Vimeo.

In Episode One, Equality of Opportunity, the panelists explore Friedman's ideas and the possible implications of equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. The panelists include: author, syndicated columnist and the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, Walter Williams; Senior Policy Analyst at Reason Foundation, Shikha Dalmia; political blogger Matthew Yglesias; and President and Advocacy Director of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, John Bouman. 

Testing Milton Friedman revisits some of the basic ideas championed by economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman in his 1980 PBS series and bestselling book Free To Choose. This new three-part series, hosted by veteran journalist Emily Rooney with a distinguished panel of two Friedman advocates and two challengers, presents a lively discussion and debate on Friedman's still-provocative ideas in each of these hour-long programs. In this, the 100th anniversary of Friedman's birth, special emphasis is placed on the relevance of his ideas in view of the current world economic situation. 

Comments

Mitlon Friedman and Inequality

I watched a few of Friedman's presentations. Evidently Ronald Reagan bought his ideas, as the beginning of the demise of the Middle Class started.
One of the "ideas" of Friedman was "We no longer need the draft or compulsory Military service for all".
I am a Veteran. I am also pretty successful, in the 10% of the Population as far as Wealth. I also am a college graduate in Finance and worked the last decade in Financial Services.
What I could not understand, is how much harder I worked, how much less I managed to keep. I noticed that Corporations were making lots of money and paying the Executives huge wages but the people employed in these Corporations were under stress, working hard, putting more time at work, and having less.
The Friedman ideas were "enhanced by "Financial Legislation" benefiting the Rich while stripping away the Assets of the Middle Class.
Let me begin with the "Military Service of All, including the Rich kids".
I worked for one of the most admired Corporations in the USA. The CEO who ran the Company, was a B-17 pilot flying missions over Germany in WWII. He "rubbed shoulders" with his crew - like in the Memphis Belle movie, and realized that his "crew of ordinary people" from all economic backgrounds All Contributed to him staying alive.
After the War ended, these Pilots went home, built their companies and tax laws were used to "Incentivize" the Corporations to provide Defined Benefit Pensions, Health Care, Adoption Services and other benefits that created a loyal and committed workforce. The CEO's made money (40 times employees) and the biggest surge in a Middle Class(having money left over to better their lives after living expenses).
What changed? Milton Friedman selling the President and putting the USA on a path of destroying the Middle Class.
First doing away with Volunteer Organizations of the masses. Destroying the Unions. Passing financial Laws that allowed Corporations access to Defined Benefit Pension plans that led to schemes like "Downsizing, Rightsizing, Merger and Aquisitions, Hostile Take Overs, Friendly Take Overs and other "creative schemes" to take away, the $7 Trillion of the Defined Benefit Pension plans. The Tax laws of Capital Gains and the Ruse of "having 15% Capital Gains" will "Create Jobs". What a big lie that was. Passing laws that allowed the takeover of the Media - Radio, TV, and Media where the average American is Polarized and convinced that supporting Inequality and 'Trickle Down" will benefit them.
Doing away with the Estate Taxes, so the Rich can pass along all their accumulated wealth, stolen from the Assets of the American Middle Class, Defined Benefit Pensions and the recent Home Equity, both representing 25% of the total wealth of the USA, shifted to the Point 1% who are 49% Corporate Exeutives and 19% Financial people like Leveraged buyouts and guys like Mitt Romney "Harvesting the Defined Benefit Pension plans" that Bain Capital took over.
All, Friedman Ideas, that have resulted in the biggest Inequality Gap in our History. Pretty Clever.
So what has got us in trouble?
NAFTA, the Repeal of the Glass Steagal, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, "Get the Government off our backs so Bernie Maddoff can run a 20 year Ponzi scheme and not get caught", Predatory Lending by Banks, easy credit, Profitizing Health Care Services with Price Fixing with a Computer naitonwide network, Lobbyists with bags of money filling Congress, No tax increases of the Rich and Blackmail from Norquist, the Koch Brothers manipulating grass roots and not to forget the ALEC organization, Corporatists writing laws to be funnelled into every state in the USA to be passed by Legislators who they bribe.
Mainly, Corporations have feathered their nest with laws passed and not passed for their benefit.
They are "Organized" and have their Own Union while destroying the Middle Class Unions.
The wealth disparity did Not happen without their "Corporate Union" and war declared on the people, who build bridges, homes, railroads, cars and not "Money Savy" of the likes of Friedman.
We have to do something about this NOW and the Republicans need to either change or go away, as their adoption of Friedman's ideas have resulted in the loss of the American Dream, for the average person and my kids and grandkids.
So, we need to revisit our "Tax Incentive" laws. and other laws like Military Service, including the Five Boys of Mitt Romney instead of the Mercenary Armed Services today. I think the decisions made to go to War would be less attractive with the 'Wealthy having their kids in harms way"
We need to raise the Insane Capital Gains taxes to the Marginal Tax rates as 90% of the Corporatists are paid at a 15% Tax rate, stock.
We need to reign in Wall Street, a good start would be the Stock Transaction fee, to stop Hyper High Speed Trading that is "fleecing the 401K' and IRA's every microsecond.
We need to raise the Estate Tax that forces turnover of 50% of the Estate values of the Wealthy to the future born Americans like Teddy Roosevelt Advocated.
We need to remove Tax Incentives to bring jobs and manufacturing back into Ameria.
We need to Incentivize Corporations to enhance their employees welfare.
We need to take the Profit out of Health Care Services and stop the One Million Families forced into Bankruptcy every year from Medical Bills.
We need to "rethink the War on Drugs" especially Marijuana and do away with "For Profit" jails and incarceration.

There are way to many to list but I think you get the idea of just how Milton Friedman's Ideas have led to the gradual but sure demise of the Middle Class.

The "Inequality" in the USA happened because of Laws for the benefit of the Rich and we, the Middle Class, did not recognize it. We were too busy raising our kids, working around the clock, and believed the "Friedman Koolaid" that has led the USA where it is today.

Transgressing from a Democracy to a Plutocracy with Oligarchs.

If we continue on the path of Friedman, we will have a country of a few Rich men in a Poor Country like all the third world countries and that the people of Russia lived 500 years before the 1917 Revolution.

We better wise up or the USA might just go the way to a similar, 1917 Revolution.