93 Milton Friedman Quotes from the American Economist

Milton Friedman, born in 1912, is the 20th century’s foremost advocate of free markets.

He earned degrees from Rutgers University, the University of Chicago and Columbia University.

Friedman was honored with the John Bates Clark Medal in 1951 and the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976 for his groundbreaking work in consumption analysis, monetary history and theory.

He revolutionized the understanding of economics through works such as “Income from Independent Professional Practice” and “A Theory of the Consumption Function,” challenging Keynesian perspectives.


Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” popularized market economics and his “Free to Choose” became the best-selling nonfiction book of 1980. Famously, he introduced monetarism, arguing that the money supply significantly affects prices and output.

He contested the previously accepted Phillips Curve trade-off between unemployment and inflation, reshaping economic thinking. His influence is unparalleled, fundamentally changing modern economic thought.

I have picked my best quotes by Milton Friedman that I think you might like.

Best Milton Friedman Quotes


Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned. ~ Milton Friedman.


Not all schooling is education nor all education, schooling. ~ Milton Friedman.


What kind of society isn’t structured on greed? ~ Milton Friedman.


The Internet is the most effective instrument we have for globalization. ~ Milton Friedman.


Inflation is taxation without legislation. ~ Milton Friedman.


The stock market and economy are two different things. ~ Milton Friedman.

People who intend only to serve public interest are led by invisible hand to private interest which was no part of their intention. ~ Milton Friedman.


Theories can be based on any assumptions, however bizarre. ~ Milton Friedman.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. ~ Milton Friedman.

Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. ~ Milton Friedman.


Nothing is as permanent as a temporary government program. ~ Milton Friedman.

Only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change. ~ Milton Friedman.

The government doesn’t have any money. The only power it has is to take from some and give to others. ~ Milton Friedman.


When something goes wrong, the natural tendency is to say, By God, we need to pass a law and do something. ~ Milton Friedman.

There’s no point in comparing an actual, operating system with an ideal system that doesn’t exist. ~ Milton Friedman.


Economics has become increasingly an arcane branch of mathematics rather than dealing with real economic problems. ~ Milton Friedman.

Famous Milton Friedman Quotes

The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit. ~ Milton Friedman.


I am a limited-government libertarian. ~ Milton Friedman.

And where are you going to get these angels who are going to run society for us? ~ Milton Friedman.

There is one and only one responsibility of business: to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game. ~ Milton Friedman.

Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government. ~ Milton Friedman.

To really understand something you’ve got to reduce it to its principles. ~ Milton Friedman.


The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem. ~ Milton Friedman.

Higher taxes never reduce the deficit. Governments spend whatever they take in and then whatever they can get away with. ~ Milton Friedman.

Top Milton Friedman Quotes

Money is a very powerful thing, which you hardly notice when it goes right, but which can create havoc when it goes wrong. ~ Milton Friedman.

There’s nothing that does so much harm as good intentions. ~ Milton Friedman.

Complete free trade is not politically feasible. Why? Because it’s only in the general interest and in no one’s special interest. ~ Milton Friedman.


Inflation is a monetary phenomenon. It is made by or stopped by the central bank. ~ Milton Friedman.

Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible. ~ Milton Friedman.

If you do not force political freedom, economic freedom will be stymied sooner or later. ~ Milton Friedman.

The facts never speak for themselves. They have to be interpreted in terms of some understanding of where they come from and what the relation between them is. ~ Milton Friedman.


I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible. ~ Milton Friedman.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. ~ Milton Friedman.

The problem in this world is to avoid concentration of power – we must have a dispersion of power. ~ Milton Friedman.

Popular Milton Friedman Quotes

Adam Smith’s key insight was that both parties to an exchange can benefit and that, so long as cooperation is strictly voluntary, no exchange can take place unless both parties do benefit. ~ Milton Friedman.

The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. ~ Milton Friedman.


Making prohibition work is like making water run uphill; it’s against nature. ~ Milton Friedman.

Legalizing drugs would simultaneously reduce the amount of crime and raise the quality of law enforcement. Can you conceive of any other measure that would accomplish so much to promote law and order? ~ Milton Friedman.

I would say that in this world, the greatest source of inequality has been special privileges granted by government. ~ Milton Friedman.

Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output. ~ Milton Friedman.

You can only make money if you buy a product, whatever it is – maybe a currency, maybe wheat and maybe something else – at a relatively low price and sell it at a higher price than you buy it at. There’s no other way to make money. ~ Milton Friedman.


A free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. ~ Milton Friedman.

The fall of the Berlin Wall really demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that there was a bad system, and what subsequently happened in the Soviet Union, that that system was a failure. ~ Milton Friedman.

Great Milton Friedman Quotes

I think it’s a scandal what has been happening in the school system so far as lower income classes. The dropout rates, the illiteracy rate, you know literacy in the United States was a lot higher in 1890 than it is now. ~ Milton Friedman.

The real tragedy of minimum wage laws is that they are supported by well-meaning groups who want to reduce poverty. But the people who are hurt most by higher minimums are the most poverty stricken. ~ Milton Friedman.

A society that aims for equality before liberty will end up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society that aims first 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. ~ Milton Friedman.


He moves fastest who moves alone. ~ Milton Friedman.

When you start paying people to be poor, you wind up with an awful lot of poor people. ~ Milton Friedman.

You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do. ~ Milton Friedman.

I think that the Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. ~ Milton Friedman.

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy. ~ Milton Friedman.


Governments never learn. Only people learn. ~ Milton Friedman.

Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it… gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. ~ Milton Friedman.

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it. ~ Milton Friedman.

The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. ~ Milton Friedman.

See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true. ~ Milton Friedman.

Powerful Milton Friedman Quotes

When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. That is why buildings in the Soviet Union – like public housing in the United States – look decrepit within a year or two of their construction… ~ Milton Friedman.

A society based on the freedom to choose is better than a society based on the principles of socialism, communism and coercion. ~ Milton Friedman.

Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another. ~ Milton Friedman.


The fall of the Berlin Wall did more for the progress of freedom than all of the books written by myself or Friedrich Hayek or others. ~ Milton Friedman.

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. ~ Milton Friedman.

So long as large sums of money are involved – and they are bound to be if drugs are illegal – it is literally impossible to stop the traffic, or even to make a serious reduction in its scope. ~ Milton Friedman.

Wise Milton Friedman Quotes

If you pay people not to work and tax them when they do, don’t be surprised if you get unemployment. ~ Milton Friedman.


Never try to walk across a river just because it has an average depth of four feet. ~ Milton Friedman.

I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it’s only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater. ~ Milton Friedman.

The future of private enterprise capitalism is also the future of a free society. There is no possibility of having a politically free society unless the major part of its economic resources are operated under a capitalistic private enterprise system. ~ Milton Friedman.

The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny. ~ Milton Friedman.


There is no good way of measuring poverty. ~ Milton Friedman.

I’m in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal. ~ Milton Friedman.

Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. ~ Milton Friedman.

The one thing that’s missing, but that will soon be developed, is a reliable e-cash, a method whereby on the Internet you can transfer funds from A to B, without A knowing B or B knowing A. ~ Milton Friedman.

The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government. ~ Milton Friedman.

The history of mankind is the history of money losing value. ~ Milton Friedman.


You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state. ~ Milton Friedman.

Statistics do not speak for themselves. ~ Milton Friedman.

I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40 percent of our national income. ~ Milton Friedman.

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. ~ Milton Friedman.

On aging societies, there is no reason why a country that has a lot of old people can’t be prosperous if, during their working lives, individuals provide for their retirement. ~ Milton Friedman.

Humility is the distinguishing virtue of the believer in freedom; arrogance, of the paternalist. ~ Milton Friedman.


A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both. ~ Milton Friedman.

How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect? Freedom is a rare and delicate plan. ~ Milton Friedman.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand. ~ Milton Friedman.

Universities exist to transmit knowledge and understanding of ideas and values to students not to provide entertainment for spectators or employment for athletes. ~ Milton Friedman.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Ronald Reagan was by far the greatest. Because he had real principles and he stuck by them. He made clear what he was going to do, and he did it. He didn’t back down. ~ Milton Friedman.


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

I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstance and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible. ~ Milton Friedman.

Pick at random any three letters from the alphabet, put them in any order, and you will have an acronym designating a federal agency we can do without. ~ Milton Friedman.

So these were the 93 top Milton Friedman quotes and sayings.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Octavio Paz quotes and Ogden Nash quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar