Milton Friedman on Fetters

by Don Boudreaux on October 15, 2008

in Myths and Fallacies, Regulation

This essay at Forbes.com describes Milton Friedman as a “champion of unfettered markets.”  This description reflects a common but unfortunate misunderstanding.

Milton Friedman championed not unfettered markets, but markets fettered by competition and consumer sovereignty rather than by political diktats.  Friedman understood that fetters imposed by government are neither the only nor the best means of keeping markets working well.  Indeed, far too often – as Friedman knew – fetters imposed by government turn in practice into crowbars that businesses use to break free of the competitive shackles that oblige them to behave prudently and fairly.

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