Milton Friedman

Free To Choose

  • 48-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 10 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer with degrees in philosophy and economics
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Free To Choose Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 48-page guide for “Free To Choose” by Milton and Rose Friedman includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 10 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Price System and The Invisible Hand.

Plot Summary

Free to Choose is a nonfiction book first published in 1980 and written by Milton and Rose Friedman. The text advocates for free market principles and was made into a ten-part television series. Free to Choose attempts to answer questions including: Why do government programs so often fail to reach their goals? Why do children do worse at school while taxpayers pay more and more to support their education? Why must we fill out a tangle of forms and apply for many licenses just to get a job? Why do the prices we pay at the store keep going up?

Milton Friedman is a Nobel Prize-winning economist, and the book explains for a general audience some of the innovative ideas that won him the Nobel Prize and that can help fix many of the issues that plague modern governance.

The main reason for the increasing complexity and cost of our lives, declare the Friedmans, comes from government programs that begin promisingly but balloon into gigantic schemes that benefit special interests and interfere with the very people they are supposed to help.

Why, then, do voters put up with it? Over the decades, America has undergone a sea change in public opinion about the role of government, from a limited institution meant strictly to protect its citizens to a director and manager of society. The Friedmans walk us through the history of this shift and how it has engendered the enormous growth of government and the problems that result.

Chapters 1 and 2 explain how free markets work and how government programs tend to hamper the smooth functioning of the marketplace. We learn that voluntary cooperation brings prosperity and that the price system hastens that process. We discover that side effects of government projects can skew prices, restrict opportunities, and make prosperity harder to achieve.

Chapters 3 through 5 describe the economic disaster of the 1930s that leads to vastly increased government control over the economy, in an attempt to protect people from misfortune. The enlarged government continues to grow over the decades as its purpose expands to include the quest for equality of outcome for everyone.

In Chapters 6 through 8 the Friedmans focus on specific government projects—schools, consumer protection, and worker benefits—that exemplify the bloat and waste of programs that tend to enrich special interests and give short shrift to the groups they are meant to help. Solutions to these problems are also presented.

Inflation looms large in Chapter 9, where its causes and destructive impact receive a thorough examination. Finally, Chapter 10 puts forth a proposal for a comprehensive economic Bill of Rights that would enshrine in the Constitution limited government spending, low inflation, a flat tax, and occupational freedom.

The book includes a short set of appendices, extensive footnotes, and a thorough index. It is written in straightforward prose easily accessible to the general reader.

Free to Choose argues against those who disparage free enterprise and defends those who cherish individual liberty. It suggests a number of ways Americans can wrest back their freedoms from the growing horde of special interests and bureaucrats who daily encroach on people’s private lives.

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