Contrary to how the progressive left sees Barack Obama, economist Milton Friedman shot down the utopian vision of a socially engineered just society with a simple observation, asking where do you find these angels?
In a 1979 interview with talk-show host Phil Donahue, Friedman was asked if he ever had “a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on,” in light of the many have-nots in the world.
The noted economist responded by undermining the left’s idea that somehow America’s an evil country.
“Well, first of all,” he replied, “tell me, is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed?”
Friedman went on to explain that “the world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests,” and pointed to Albert Einstein and Henry Ford as examples of this.
“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,” he said. “If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that.”
Not content with letting capitalism off the hook, Donahue took another bite, asking if it “seems to reward not virtue as much as ability to manipulate the system.”
Friedman destroyed the talk show host’s argument by asking what does reward virtue?
“I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted,” he told Donahue. “Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us.”
Game. Set. Match.
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