Thursday, June 14, 2007

Learning from Milton Friedman

While I have very mixed feelings about Michael Roberts, father of and Linspire, he educated me about Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist. Michael wrote:

I flew up to San Francisco and visited him [Milton] and his wife Rose in their San Francisco apartment. They offered me a cold glass of water and we talked about my Internet and business experience. Then I asked Milton the question I had come up with. "How do you make the world a better place?"

His answer was, "If you want to improve the world you have to create more capital. While creating non-profits makes people feel better, the only way to fundamentally improve living conditions is to create more business." I left the meeting puzzling over that answer. It was a bit more abstract than I was hoping for. Later he sent me some photocopied pages from several books with a nice note.

Over the years I've had time to think about his response. I've come to the conclude it was the most succinct and accurate response possible. Capital is gasoline for the great engine of economic development which creates jobs, grows wealth and responds to consumers needs and desires.

Nothing is free, a friend is fond of telling me. I shall ponder this further. I'm not even sure if I agree with Milton (nor that I'm qualified to disagree) but that one quote makes me want to research further... Milton Friedman's entire series titled "Free to Choose" is now available via streaming video.

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