Monday, August 5, 2013

Reflections: Capitalism and Freedom

Adam C. Zern opines on Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom:

"Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman is my kind of a book.  Ideological, libertarian (or what Friedman would call 'liberal' in a classical sense), liberty-oriented economic analysis, it has all the right ingredients for being a book I would love.  And I didn't really love it.

I've read several books similar to Capitalism and Freedom, such as The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek, which I really, really enjoyed, and The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, which, despite its exceptional length and complexity, I also very much enjoyed, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand.  Capitalism and Freedom, on the other hand, just didn't stand-out enough.  It had good things to say (or bad things to say depending on where you are on the ideological scale), but it doesn't say much of it very well.  A lot of the book felt a little too esoteric.  It seemed to waver back and forth between being a book written for the non-economists among us and then for the highly trained and pedagogical class of economists; therefore, in my mind, it felt very inconsistent in its presentation.

The book is not all bad.  Friedman has some fascinating things to say and overall the book is a valuable addition to liberty-oriented literature.  The book is short—especially when compared to other books like it, including The Road to Serfdom and obviously The Wealth of Nations.  Because of the book's brevity I think more people would be willing to read it than some other heftier economic books.  In the end, though, I just wish the book had been a little more accessible.

I have yet another book to add to my ever-growing political science collection.  I hope to one day teach political science at a university level and Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom is one more arrow in my teaching quiver.  I didn't love the book, but I didn't hate it.  It had some good things to say and just kind of said some other things that I'll likely forget.  If pressed, this probably is not the book I would recommend for others to read if they wanted to learn more about capitalism, freedom, and the value of both."

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: The Road to Serfdom
Reflections: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America

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