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

“A society that puts equality...ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.”

Milton FriedmanMilton Friedman
~ Milton Friedman

Ratings and Comments

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Equality among men should refer to their standing before the law, their access to opportunity, the respect of their rights. If these are put after something else, then what have we got left? If these define our freedom, then freedom and equality almost are synonymous.

Joe, Rochester, MI

Civil rights ... aren't. Women, blacks or gays, should have no special rights or protections over those who are men, whites or straight ... but they do.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Equality among men & women & blacks & whites & gays & hets does not say that they are identical, but rather that they must be treated in a manner which is indifferent to these differences... and there is no freedom until this is true... it is their right and it is the civil thing to do.

Felipe, São Paulo
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Felipe, São Paulo Anonymous, Reston, VA US 8/12/19

That's the definition of prejudice. Your ideas, no matter how good you believe they are, would take less than a generation to become the embodiment of unfair treatment. Judge not people and make no laws that judge them (by their color, sex, etc), and in time you'll have the old biases fixed and not new ones arriving.
You just expressed the very wrong way of creating "equality".

Mike, Norwalk

Ahhh, the noblesse of democracy with its oligarchal prowess. Given David's refinement, the quote stands absolute.

E Archer, NYC

The key to the phrase is 'equality ahead of freedom'. If we REALLY defended freedom for 'the other guy', equality would not be an issue. But when equality is put ahead of freedom, that is to say, when we trade freedom for a forced equality, we end up with neither freedom nor equality. When freedom is not applied equally to all people, then the solution is to enforce the principles of freedom for all. Of course, once the law is perverted to define cash from the treasury as a 'right', the cries for 'equality' roar above those for 'independence'.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

I am not referring to assumed rights but to legitimate ones. All people should enjoy all of their rights and comply with all of their responsibilities. Some of our legitimate responsibilities are the subjects of legislation, since some of our compatriots refuse to comply with them. You should forfeit some right for each legitimate responsibility with which you refuse to comply. Freedom does not mean being free of responsibilities. And equality does not mean having the same as someone else. It should mean having the chance to get there, given a fair set of social circumstances; for example: the right to compete for a job regardless of your ethnicity or skin color. No one should enjoy a right to pick your pocket. Mike: What are you talking about?

E Archer, NYC

David, the assumption that all legislation is legitimate is precisely what Friedman is talking about. Freedom means responsibility -- that is why most men dread it. But the responsibility is to oneself, not to the State -- that is a perversion of collectivist ideology. As an employer, am I not free to hire whom I would like? Don't I have the right (and fiscal responsibility) to hire someone based on my own qualified judgment? As far as forfeiting 'rights' for every illegitimate law I will not obey, that is completely arbitrary government based on the opinions of another -- it is completely opposite of what America is founded upon. Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

I did NOT write that all laws are legitimate. But we have responsibilities to the society in which we choose to live: stop when the light turns red; don't drive too fast in school zones; don't shoot your neighbor, not even by accident; little things like that. And I did NOT write about forfeiting a right for having disobeyed a law but for having failed to comply with a responsibility. If you fail to comply with your responsibility of being careful behind the wheel, and it results in a death due to your negligence, you should forfeit something. To suggest that we have no responsibilty toward those among whom we live virtually is to forfeit our right to security in our person among them.

E Archer, NYC

Those who would trade liberty for security will have neither.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Basically, Archer, what your response insinuates is that your distorted liberty to do as you please takes preference to a persons genuine right to security against the misdeeds of an unstable, aggressive person, who believes he should do as he pleases. That type of liberty is worthless, except to anarchists and sociopaths.

E Archer, NYC

David, I have heard your 'insinuations' more than a few times, so I don't have to take the bait every time, do I? ;-) And repeatedly, you attack the idea that liberty and personal responsibility is too dangerous because people will be shootin' and lootin' and running red lights without their seat belts on. Do you really think the laws are the reason people act civilly towards one another? The common law has always provided protection against violations of the rights of others -- if someone's rights haven't been violated, then there has been no crime -- you don't need 10,000 regulations to do that -- you only need 10,000 regulations to make people do as you wish. And not even you, but quite possibly a ruler that is "an unstable, aggressive person, who believes he should do as he pleases." It is collective power that is to be regulated, not individual liberty. We the free People do not have responsibilities to one another more than we have responsibilities to ourselves first. A peaceful and respectful society must rest on more than government statutes, a LOT more. But if we turn to government for all our needs, then we will never come to know another. There are places with no speed limits or stop signs, and low and behold, everyone isn't ramming into one another like "sociopaths" -- and some even have guns, too, imagine. It is merely a shift in the view of what it means to be 'responsible'. To insinuate that to be responsible for myself is 'distorted', 'unstable', 'agressive', 'worthless', 'anarchistic', and 'sociopathic' only reveals the fears of freedom itself.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Archer: People are already "shootin' and lootin' ", in case you hadn't noticed. If you have found some peaceful conclave in the idyllic depths of New York City, why not share the information. More people die per capita in Washington, DC, than in Iraq. On a slow day, 50 are murdered in the USA. Drunk drivers, or those under the influence of one drug or another, kill many others, and they call it vehicular manslaughter. It is a crime, and a failure to meet ones responsibility, to engage in an erroneous freedom to get high, when it results in death, injury, damages, or other serious consequences to the victims of the idiocy of those who insist upon engaging in a freedom that is not a freedom. We the "free People" have simultaneous responsibilities to one another and to ourselves. Try to ignore that (which I would bet that you don't), and you already know where you will reside for a long time. I did NOT write that that to be responsible for yourself is to be anything at all. You continue to distort at will, which is another sign of illness or depravity. I wrote what I wrote, which appears above, and which does not resemble what you have deceivingly presented. I am not insinuating but simply stating.

Mike, Norwalk

I ment, if we were truely a govenment of law, and not of men (carnal intellect being the supreme force) those individuals representing you and me would be limited to statutorily defining the protection of our individual inalienable rights only. My rights of course, ending where your nose begins. I have no responsibility to a non-tangible fleeting phantasim (society). If each individual is free, then they are equal (synonyms). If each individual is not free, by way of example: being yoked with a responsibility to the majority's fleeting phantasim(s), there is only an equality in slavery. (oxymoron)

Mike, Norwalk

A society that puts equality... ahead of freedom envisions rules and code for the society as a whole. The idividual with God given inalienable rights is a foreign entity to such prejudicial phantasm. The separation is absolute, government either focuses on the individual or the imaginary intangible. When society is the focus, the individual ends up with neither equality nor freedom.

David L. Rosenthal, The Moon

You win. I can't compete with endless babble.

E Archer, NYC

David, you admit that 10,000 laws have not stopped the shootin' and the looting'? So let's add on more regulations!! (Wrong.) What a shallow view of the world and of people in general. Let the criminals dictate the laws the innocent must now obey while the criminals continue on. Let's close down NYC because someone bombed the WTC, hmm?. WTF! New Yorkers can take it -- 3500 people killed and our tallest buildings demolished, do you think that is going to get us to start distrusting every one with a beard and a turban? Give me a break! We live in a city of millions of people from around the world -- many fresh from their home countries. Many have come for the freedoms afforded here, not for the subsidies promised by politicians. There are those who want freedom, and there are those who want license. David, you have defended nothing but license for those who have proven their worth to the collective -- as long as you don't really attempt to be responsible for yourself. No, a good collectivist waives his rights for the protection of the collective. He will buy insurance to protect himself against any liabilities -- and require others to do the same. Accidents are not accidents, there is no risk in life, and justice is punishment twice as severe as the effects of the so-called crime. (So much for a Christian nation... forgiveness? tolerance? hypocrisy!) The members of the collective do not represent themselves, but hire lawyers to stand in for them as wards of the State. No, we cannot trust the common man, as he is not taught nor expected to learn the workings of the system -- just follow instructions from your friendly neighborhood social worker who will see that your case gets the attention it deserves. Screw that, demogogues! A collectivist loves to blame others -- and rarely is the finger pointing to himself.

Mike, Norwalk

E Archer and/or anyone, please do not equate Christianity with that which now polutes this nation and/or any portion thereof. It is Christianity that provided the first nation in history with the concept that each individual is thee noble sovereign, free and equal therein. Any thing less is non-Christian.

E Archer, NYC

Mike, you cannot get two people to agree on what 'Christianity' is much less say that Christianity provided the first nation in history with the concept that each individual is sovereign. It just ain't true -- ever heard of the ancient Greeks? Remember the slaves and the women of America? They have been treated as property for thousands of years -- only recently have they gained some freedom. Talk about hypocrisy! If we were truly christian in our metting out justice, we would not be punishing but forgiving, right? No, christians come up with many excuses for killing and imprisoning others in the name of righteousness. They seem to forget that "whatsover you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me" and "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" and "judge not, lest ye be judged." There is not nor has there ever been a Christian nation -- that I believe is reserved for Heaven.

Mike, Norwalk

Brother Archer :); I have to smile, I agree with most everything you say 'BUT', such things as slavery were originally to have been timely eliminated after the original union's establishment (Christian values being referenced, non-Christian economics modified that reality) and as to the Greeks, they were Democracies with slaves, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. No nation is or has ever been reserved for heaven, that would be a non-Christian concept. A Christian nation doesn't mean that the majority of people believe in the Divinity of Jesus or one belief system receive precedence over another, but rather the legal principles from which the Republic equates its statutes would be from the same source as did the founders. There is ample written history to accomplish that task. It then doesn't matter if any two people can agree on what Christianity is.

E Archer, NYC

There have been many republican governments throughout history, and once they shifted from personal responsibility to collective responsibility, the people's sovereignty was eventually lost through the abuse of the collective power in the hands of a despot. Jefferson drew from his studies of the ancient Greeks and Romans for the establishment of an American republic. Out of 500 native American 'nations' that preceded the European colonization of the Americas, there are even more examples of people treating each other as 'sovereign' individuals (of course, there were also examples of huge 'royal' hierarchies). Whether a Japanese samurai, a Hindu swami, or Johnny Appleseed, individual sovereignty is neither Christian nor Buddhist nor Hindi -- yet the premise for these religions are relatively the same -- to provide for the 'liberation' from the bondage of 'sinful' actions. Perhaps it is true that in this life 'you've got to serve somebody', but that is the journey the individual must take and decide for himself what he will choose to serve . After all, he is the one who will reap the fruits of his own actions -- whether out of coercion or choice. I find it paradoxical that Christians so often defend the sovereignty of the Republic of the USA under the monarchy of Christ... there are too many contradictions between the two. A Christian nation would have to be a monarchy with Christ as the King. SO, until that day comes, America is not and never has been a Christian nation -- we are a confederation of free and sovereign states made up of free and sovereign individuals, and unless free and sovereign individuals actually start living by the Golden Rule, we shall continue to be ruled by gold. The Golden Rule predates Christ by thousands of years, and when we are ready to live by it, maybe we will get a glimpse of Heaven on Earth.

J Allen, Arlington, Va

This is a take on Ben Franklin's quote that those who give up liberty for security end up with neither. There is no greater good than individual freedom.

Kevin Isaac, Buda

I think Milton Friedman has no idea what Equality means!!! A country that does not strive for equality will become Extremely Corrupt!!! When some people have much more money than others, they use their money to buy off Govt. officials to make laws that benefit the rich & fuck the poor! A country that strives for Equality will have much less corruption, because no one will have enough money to buy off Govt. officials, and instead of most of the money sitting & collecting interest for the top 5%, it would be invested on the people for higher education, health care & paying Everyone a Livable Wage!! Equality happens from laws that advocate Equality. Laws do not take away Freedom as long as the right one's are made. Actually, they can increase your freedom! Every country should strive for EQUALITY!

J Carlton, Calgary

Equality is outlined in the Bill of Rights...nothing more and nothing less will do.

jim k, Austin

Kevin, are you kidding. Your gibberish is nothing but socialism. "No one will have enough money to buy off government officials," that statement is a joke. And what is a "livable wage" and who decides this. A "livable wage" in San Francisco will be a lot different than one in Elbow Bend Arkansas. Your diatribe is nothing more than the nonsense of soaking the rich. The rich already pay about 80% of income taxes: they are already pretty well soaked. Your notion of equality will work in making us all equally poor.

Mary - MI

Every individual has the right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
The "Pursuit of Happiness" is for you to strive for under your own steam ... and Not to take from another individual's fruits of their labor .. whether by practicing theft or government plunder.

Robert, somewhere in the USA

Without freedom there is no equality... it's really very simple...


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