Milton Friedman Quotations

Milton Friedman / 1912–2006 / New York, USA / Economist

Equality and Freedom

A society that aims for equality before liberty will end up with neither equality nor liberty, and a society that aims for liberty will not end up with equality, but it will end up with a closer approach to equality than any other kind of system that has ever been developed.

Source: “Milton Friedman Speaks: The Role of Government in a Free Society” (in the Q&A section, at about 1:13), 1978.

Freedom and Free Markets

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

Source: Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 1962).

Government Programs

Nothing is as permanent as a temporary government program.

Source: Tyranny of the Status Quo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1984).


Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.

Source: “The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory,” IEA Occasional Paper No. 33 (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1970).

Intentions vs. Results

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

Source: “Living within Our Means,” interview with Richard Heffner, December 7, 1975.

Property Rights

I think that nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual’s natural right to property, and giving individuals a sense that they own something that they’re responsible for, that they have control over, and that they can dispose of.

Source: “Free to Choose,” interview with Larry Arnn, July, 2006.

Self-Interest and Free Enterprise

The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate 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. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.

Source: “Your Greed or Their Greed?,” interview with Phil Donahue, 1979.