The Two Libratarian Theorists I Look Up To

Growing up being forcefully fed of the socialism economy theory, I am always open to new ideas because of my independent thinking nature. Theories raised and held by Milton Friedman and Richard Epstein are mind-opening and so far the most compelling for me, even though I do reserve some questions.

Milton Friedman is a reputable household name in the US. He received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research and free market theories. Milton Friedman challenges the famed economist John Maynard Keynes, reputing his prevalent viewpoints as “naive Keynesian” theory.

Friedman extolled the virtues of a free market economic system with minimal intervention, which is resonated and practiced by the Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Another distinguishable aspect of Friedman is that he is not satisfied with his own academic research and indulged in Nobel Prize Laureate. He is an avid advocate of his theory, broadcasting to the massive people fervently.  He created a ten-part series – Free to Choose – with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and authored a companion book, also titled Free to Choose, to educate millions of people across the globe of his free-market thoughts.

Richard Epstein, a professor of American law I have particularly respected, firstly because of his extreme brightness and superb rhetoric virtuosity. His debate or speech is eloquent, well-founded, powerful like a torrent of a waterfall. It’s not only compelling but also enjoyable.

Similar to Milton Friedman, he is ardent and staunch with respect to what he upholds – libertarian theory.

Of course, also like Milton Friedman, he is always attacked by others as cold-blooded, cruel, and unethical. As I get older and older, I become increasingly aware of the dangers of attacking someone that he/she does not have morality and even using moral terms to restrain themselves and thereby extricate themselves from incompetence and stupidity is unforgivable.

Even though both Milton Friedman and Richard Epstein strongly believe free-market, they do not oppose the ultimate goal of realizing uniform happiness across all human beings. Put in other words,  they agree upon a high moral standard too.

It’s the means they have different ideas on. For example, in the United States, there is a law that employers may not decide on hiring based on their age or gender when hiring an employee. On the other hand, although the threshold varies, each state has a minimum wage – employers may not pay salaries below that level. Sounds beautiful, but Richard argues that although the starting point is good, what actually results is that employers will be reluctant to hire more people in need of work because such rule of law will increase his employment costs, therefore, the consequence renders upon the poor people who the designer of such law is meant to help.

Another controversial topic is whether legislation should be made to determine the responsibility of anyone to rescue strangers. According to Richard, the starting point is good, but if legislation passes such stupid laws, it will certainly be counterproductive and the costs will outweigh the benefits.

If these thoughts are not provocative enough, the next example is mind-boggling to me too. Milton Friedman attacked the legality or installing seatbelt and setting up institutions such as the FDA for drug approval. Note it’s not the action of installing or setting up the FDA that Milton is against, it is the means of law enforcement that he disagrees.

The FDA has been long time taunted as the great achievement due to a famous drug side effect by a drug called Thalomid. It caused a large number of “seal limb” babies in Europe, while thanks to the FDA, this drug is disapproved and thus didn’t cause this tragedy in America. However, Milton Freidman dared to challenge the necessity of the FDA, claiming it hampered severely the launching of a new drug to the market, therefore could potentially have saved tons of people from dying. Similarly, forcing manufacturers to install seatbelt not only introduced a fixed cost to the customers but also cause the drivers be more reckless during driving. Overall, He argues, it should be the consumers -no matter car consumer or terminal stage patients – who make the judgment whether they take the products offered in the market. the decision power should not be deprived and laid at the government, which always tends to be bureaucratic and corrupt.

What an extreme idea! I need more time to pause and ponder on it…


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