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‘Money Matters’ Milton Friedman Quotes

These Milton Friedman quotes show why he is regarded as one of the most influential economists of our time.

Nobel prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman, was an advisor to both President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

His research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy influenced policies and economies around the globe.

Milton was born in Brooklyn, New York; the son of Jewish immigrants.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers, and then his Master’s from the University of Chicago, where he would later end up teaching.

One of Milton’s most popular works, A Theory of the Consumption Function, introduced the phrase “permanent income” to the masses.

This work questioned the commonly held beliefs of Keynesian economics.

One of these was that people within a household would modify their expenditures to correlate with their current income levels.

Milton believed that the income people expected to earn over a few years would impact their level of consumption.

These Milton Friedman quotes educate us on matters involving government, economics, and life.

Milton Friedman quotes about problems and government

1. “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.” – Milton Friedman

2. “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” – Milton Friedman

3. “The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.” – Milton Friedman

4. “Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.” – Milton Friedman

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5. “Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink, and make the combination worthless.” – Milton Friedman

6. “Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.” – Milton Friedman

7. “I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse.” – Milton Friedman

8. “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” – Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman quotes that focus on government power

9. “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” – Milton Friedman

10. “The world runs on individuals pursuing their self-interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.” – Milton Friedman

11. “Government has three primary functions. It should provide for the military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property.”- Milton Friedman

12. “When government – in pursuit of good intentions – tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost comes in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom.” – Milton Friedman

13. “Government should be a referee, not an active player.” – Milton Friedman

14. “The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.” – Milton Friedman

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15. “The lack of balance in governmental activity reflects primarily the failure to separate sharply the question what activities it is appropriate for government to finance from the question what activities it is appropriate for government to administer—a distinction that is important in other areas of government activity as well.” – Milton Friedman

16. “Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom.” – Milton Friedman

Witty Milton Friedman quotes

17. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” – Milton Friedman

18. “Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.” – Milton Friedman

19. “Columbus did not seek a new route to the Indies in response to a majority directive.” – Milton Friedman

20. “One man’s opportunism is another man’s statesmanship.” – Milton Friedman

21. “Governments never learn. Only people learn.” – Milton Friedman

22. “Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?” – Milton Friedman
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to check out our collection of political quotes that show all perspectives.

Milton Friedman quotes about taxes and capitalism

23. “Inflation is taxation without legislation.” – Milton Friedman

24. “I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.” – Milton Friedman

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25. “We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non-work.” – Milton Friedman

What did you learn from these Milton Friedman quotes?

Capitalism and Freedom, Milton’s book that focused on the parts of economics that didn’t focus on math, has sold over 400,000 copies worldwide.

The book stressed the importance of a free market and limiting the power of the government.

It has shaped the libertarian view of government and economic theories.

His three decades of teaching experience, coupled with his views and reach, have made him one of the most influential economists of our time.

Friedman retired from teaching in 1977 but continued to travel the world and make appearances on television.

He was a proponent of the monetarist school of economics and co-authored a book titled, A Monetary History of The United States.

A good deal of his work focused on money supply, the role of government, and consumer markets.

Feel free to share any other Milton Friedman quotes and sayings you like that didn’t make the list in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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