From Cradle to Grave Featuring Milton Friedman, Discuss.

Critical Review 3

Free to Choose Part 4: From Cradle to Grave Featuring Milton Friedman

At the time of the great depression in America, the intellectual elites thinking was that  problems were to be solved by government, what was to become known as security from ‘cradle to grave’.

Old age pensions were precursors to the welfare state. Then followed welfare, unemploymentt benefit and distribution of food. With these measures came rules, regulations and red tape. Bureaucracy and government control continued to grow.

People become trapped in the system rather than a temporary state of affairs. Also it may not pay to work. However, accepting welfare, you also have to accept the rules. Friedman says if the welfare was not there a person would have to find some other form on income. Also, he believes, government money corrupts and that trying to do good with other peoples money has not worked.

Freidman goes on to explain a least painful system known as, the negative income tax.

We should help people that are poor by giving them money. With a positive income tax  you are entitled to a certain amount of exemptions and deductions and above that amount you pay tax.  If you have no income, under a negative income tax, a fraction of your unused exemptions would be paid to you by the government guaranteeing at least a minimal income. If you earn something you would still get a fraction of your unused exemptions. As your earnings would rise, the supplement to your income would become smaller and smaller. Until your earnings equal your exemptions. At that point you would break even, neither paying a tax or receiving a subsidy. Freidman accepts it is not ideal but it would lessen the gap between this who pay and those who receive.

In my opinion, it looks good on paper but whether it would work in reality I am unsure. It seems a good alternative to a welfare system.

Would an NIT tax really reduce administrative overheads and government bureaucracy?

Again has a Laisse Faire system ever been allowed to operate?

As stated in wikipedia – Laisse faire  

As a system of thought, laissez faire rests on the following axioms: 1. The individual is the basic unit in society. 2. The individual has a natural right to freedom. 3. The physical order of nature is a harmonious and self-regulating system. These axioms constitute the basic elements of laissez-faire thought, although another basic and often-disregarded element is that markets should be competitive, a rule that the early advocates of laissez-faire have always emphasized.

In the film there was a couple who tried to live of the grid. Self reliance is one way in which people can begin to get some freedom from government control.

Currently Russians are proving that small scale gardening can help towards self reliance. In a recent article in reclaimgrowsustain .com it says,

If Russian families can manage such production in their region’s very short growing season (approx. 110 days), imagine the output most parts of the world could manage by comparison. Unfortunately in just the US alone, lawns take up more than twice the amount of land Russia’s gardens do (est. 40-45 million acres).

To conclude, liaise faire is certainly admirable and in my opinion would be highly beneficial, as the modern day state is coming to have more and more say in our everyday lives. In Ireland, we increasingly have to answer to the E.U which is bureaucracy upon bureaucracy. Government is increasingly becoming entrenched in our lives. Maybe as people become unhappier with the state control financial system, we will look for ways that work better. I can’t help feeling if a laisse faire state were given a true and fair chance, with it’s ideals of the individual as a basis to society, that it would in fact prove to work better than the patriarchal government control that we currently now have. Also, if we don’t need to rely so much on money alone as a means to live healthily, such learning to grow our food, this would also afford us some freedom in which we are not reliant on an outside force for our well being and maybe allow us a space to step back from any outside force which tries to manage our lives and reach clearer conclusions about our goverence, when we have mastered some self governance of our own.

I realize things may not always be as simple as Milton would hope for, but I feel his ideals were worthwhile and worth careful consideration as well as being very thought provoking.


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