Laying Blame for the Economic Mess: Milton Keynes or John Maynard Friedman?

September 11, 2009 by  

2009.09.11.jmfriedmanOn September 2, 2009, the Financial Post published an opinion piece by Penn Bullock that asks whether or not the current economic crisis was the result of Milton Friedman’s monetarism. Casting him rightly as someone held up as a hero by libertarians, Bullock concludes:

For two libertarian champions of free markets and limited government, this legacy has the ring of a world-historic irony.

In response, I submitted the following letter to the editor of the Financial Post. From what I can tell, it was not published by that paper.

Dear Editor:

Re: Penn Bullock: Did Friedman do it? (September 2, 2009)

Of all of the things undermining our prospects for a growing, capitalist economy, perhaps the most damaging is the libertarian practice of passing-off Milton Friedman’s monetarism as a capitalist alternative to Keynesianism. Monetarism and Keynesianism both aim to avoid recessions and depressions. The concern of both is not the individual’s pursuit of his own happiness, but the survival of all, considered collectively. Both propose the seizure of some wealth from those who produce it: Keynes proposed that a percentage of the money supply be seized via taxation; Friedman proposed that a percentage of the money supply be seized by having private banks increase the number of dollars of private credit comprising the money supply.

The essence of capitalism is ensuring that no person obtains what another has produced without the producer’s consent. The essence of libertarianism being nothing more than opposition to government, it is not “ironic” but inevitable that libertarians would reject taxation (being an activity carried out only by governments) yet embrace private-sector expansion of the money supply. Thus, it matters little whether Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke is a Keynesian or a libertarian Friedmanite: either way, he is essentially anti-capitalist, and that which is anti-capitalist – hence anti-producer – will always prove recessionary in the end.

Paul McKeever, B.Sc.(Hons), M.A., LL.B.
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario


One Response to “Laying Blame for the Economic Mess: Milton Keynes or John Maynard Friedman?”

  1. Simon O'Riordan on September 18th, 2010 11:22 pm

    Milton Keynes is the name of the only city in the UK created by government edict and planning.
    It’s between Bedford(with a large Italian population) and Newport Pagnel(home of Aston Martin).
    Most people despise the place. All the roads in the ‘city’ are four lane, 70mph highways, very short and connected at roundabouts.
    The streets are on a grid, with great names like ‘H4’.

    It’s a bit like travelling around a badly designed web-page written in html.
    In between, the blocks of land are either housing estates or light industrial areas.
    In the ‘city centre’ are lots of rectangular buildings; a shopping centre, a huge station(but with only two platforms) and various other anonymous lozenges.

    The local paper is called The Citizen.
    ‘Tally Ho’ would be more appropriate.

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