Milton FriedmanMilton Friedman, (1912-2006) Nobel Prize-winning economist, economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan, "ultimate guru of the free-market system"

Milton Friedman Quote

“The preservation of freedom is the protective reason for limiting and decentralizing governmental power. But there is also a constructive reason. The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or in literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.”

Milton FriedmanMilton Friedman
~ Milton Friedman

"Capitalism and Freedom"

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

How many stars can be given to express history that is so simply obvious? Only 5 here but, Id like to place at least place 50.

jim k, austin

I'm in total agreement with mike.

Waffler, Smith

Frank has got it right. Just look at Athens, Rome, the Renaissance, Mayan, Aztec, and Inca culture to understand the role of society and its government in these fields of endeavor. The more you read of Friedman the more of a flake he appears to be. Like many on this site he is anti-government first, sharp and analytical second, thus his views are most often warped and wrong.

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Blue    3/6/09

Waffler you're examples of successful goverments informs us as to what success means to you.

Waffler, Smith

Here I am only confining myself to the quote. To believe that art and architecture and culture exists in some vaccuum outside of society and its government is well to be just a little bit insane I think.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Thanks for the fallacy Waffler, we can always count on you. Genius was never started by government; government is not the author of such a concept. Simply because I rally together with the majority of my neighbors and arbitrarily pass a "law" that all cars must fly, does not mean that the market will naturally contort to our delusions of grandeur. Centralized systems that force creativity end in drivel and eventual suicide. Athens, Rome, the Renaissance, the Mayan, and Aztec were not first established as centralist societies. Yes, even you, in all your dribble, promote that the government is the people; however, I ask you, do you freely open your wallet and life choice to your neighbor to let him make the most important decisions of your life? The nature of creativity within a society where your neighbor forces you to do certain things (in a centralist society) or from a society where you are free to act according to your own dictates will vary widely. Secondly, if you wouldn't entrust your neighbor with the majority of your finances (as a self-appointed "sharp and analytical" man that you implicitly claim yourself to be), how is it that you are so damn ignorant to blindly trust the government? After all, they're just your "neighbor" too. You are full of contradictions and fallacies... even after these many years, you can't get two thoughts out that don't invalidate every argument you purport.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Each of Waffler's examples exactly prove the point of the quote, just as Logan says. Each of these civilizations were decentralized during their greatest periods of creativity in the fields of architecture, art, and science. The Greek city-states were small, localized government. Rome was a small republic. The greatest Renaissance art was produced by the small city-states of Italy and the rich families who funded them. The Maya, Aztecs, and Inca were each essentially small city-states, sometimes loosely confederated but more often at war with one another. When small government turns into empire, the creativity dies and society goes into decline, and it survives on the produce of its small government ancestors. When empires finally finish squandering what they inherit, they die. Sometimes it is a quick death, sometimes it is a long, lingering, painful death. We'll see what President O'Nero has in store for us.

Waffler, Smith

Art, culture and creat ivity have a societal base as well as individuality expressed within those societies. The Renaissance would not have occureed without its rich patrons and the structure of its' society. You may argue that "society" is not "government" but it is a form of governance. In some societies they had strict rules set by the church or the government defining what art and culture is. Thus the Greeks had a mathematical calculation for the dimensions of a ladies leg from the ankle, to the calf and all the way up to the lovely thigh. Ken proves my point. The city states were not decentralized. You guys are just anti-Fed and anti-Washington and you will twist every word out of your mouths to maintain that poisiton.

E Archer, NYC

Were the Mayans free? I do not think so. The culture and art of the societies Waffler mentions came mostly from the Church, not the State, although, they were intimately connected in most cases of empires. Waffler worships power, so obviously he recognizes only big things found within a society. But it is the little things that make up the genius of a nation. It is typical collectivism to equate society and government as one entity, hence the devotion to acquiring power so that those that govern consider themselves 'the people' and the people merely wards of the state. Be clear: the people are the people, they make up the societies which establish governments of even smaller groups of the people and society. Of course those in power would sure wish that the rest of us would simply accept them as 'the nation' itself and thus absolute, and by right of power alone, the 'sovereigns.' It is delusional thinking like this that forms the basis of collectivism. Collectivism enrolls the support of those that believe the rulers will divert wealth and prosperity from others to them. But in the end, the temptation is too great, and the politicians merely take from others and keep for themselves and their own. The very purpose of American jurisprudence was to prevent a central governing body that equated itself with 'society' itself. That is the root of totalitarianism.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler's extreme apples and oranges disconnect has him arguing a subject completely off topic of the quote. For example: when has a large centralized government ever moved to protect freedom or to preserve reasoning (especially that which is pro-natural law, individual inalienable rights or that which is antithetical to a large centralized state)? The answer: NEVER ! The great advances to civilization as here listed were all destroyed by centralized government. The answer to everything "Waffer" is, bigger centralized government with any result thereof being better than the alternative.

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

Characteristically, human progress is predicated upon the inspiration, illumination and dedication of individuals who are so confident as to be capable of
thinking without conventional intellectual, social and cultural boxes.

John Shuttleworth, New York City

At the risk of contradicting so august an individual: it must be pointed out the greatest scientific and artistic advances in mankind's dubious course have been under the heels of benign despots; but it is true that centralized governments, pretentiously playing at democracy, have generally suppressed individual vision and exercise. Then, no more so than have tyrants and theocracies.

Robert, Somewhere in the USA

This deserves six stars. Centralization is the curse of all freemen.. and the reason we have wars... and a degradation of our rights....

cal, Lewisville, Texas

Communist countries are the finest examples of this quote.

Mary - MI

The only person I truly believe who is too often "warped" and "wrong" in their views is the ever bloviating "fake" and pathetic attention seeker known as Waffler.

Mick, Manchester

Creativity is an expression of the human spirit but even those with the most jaundiced view of collectivism have to admit that creativity is socially mediated. The most stultifying influence over scientific and artistic endeavour has been and continues to be the quest for profit and wealth. The commodification of art and the exploitation of science for profit rather than human advancement are great sins of capitalism.


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