Milton Friedman always wanted to make the welfare state slightly less perverse.
He wanted to make education slightly less statist. He proposed vouchers. Supposedly, this was going to lead to greater parental choice. The scheme was nuts from the beginning. No school district ever adopted it. It was fantasy economics, politically speaking. It was designed to make the fascist system slightly more efficient, slightly less overbearing. It was never a serious proposal to restore liberty in education.
It always involved stealing money from taxpayers in order to transfer it to educational bureaucrats. There is no way to make that system just. That is theft from day one. There is no way to make a system based on theft into something favorable to freedom.
I said this from the beginning. I wrote about this in 1976. Friedman didn't respond until 1993. But I got to answer his response. It is posted here: https://www.ronpaulcurriculum.com/public/9097.cfm.
We don't need vouchers to fix the educational system. We need profit-seeking education, or free online education. We don't need federal loans for education. We should let the monstrosity sink into the tar pits of bankruptcy.
Friedman spent his whole career devising schemes to make the fascist state slightly more efficient.
He was the great promoter of the earned income tax credit. It was just another form of welfare.
We should never try to make the welfare state slightly more efficient. Our goal should be to let the monstrosity die in full public view, and stink up the environment.
We don't need to make Medicare more efficient. We need to let it go bankrupt in full public view. We should tell people why it is going bankrupt. We should show people why it cannot be reformed. We should tell them not to become dependent on it. Above all, we should not try to fix it. Anything that could be done to fix it is simply a way to extend the life of the fascist state.
We have had too much of Friedman's approach. The only time that politicians ever adopted what he recommended was to make the system worse.
Floating exchange rates made the system worse. The abolition of the gold standard made the system worse.
Every time that Friedman recommended a way to make the fascist state less of an oppressive burden, he betrayed liberty. He spent his whole life doing this. He wanted to make the income tax less burdensome, so he provided justification for income tax withholding. As a result, the public wound up paying four times as much to the government as it did before withholding began.
The way to fight the fascist state is to show that it is inherently morally corrupt, and that any attempt to make it slightly less corrupt is simply putting the monstrosity on life support. Let it go belly-up as soon as possible.
Anything that cuts its funding is a good idea. Anything that embarrasses it is a good idea.
We should never try to reform the welfare state. We should seek only to bankrupt it.
Rothbard had it right. The welfare state cannot be reformed. Any recommendation to make it work a little better works against liberty. Here is his assessment of Friedman's legacy:
But it is in the macro sphere, unwisely hived off from the micro by economists who remain after sixty years ignorant of Ludwig von Mises’s achievement in integrating them, it is here that Friedman’s influence has been at its most baleful. For we find Friedman bearing heavy responsibility both for the withholding tax system and for the disastrous guaranteed annual income looming on the horizon. At the same time, we find Friedman calling for absolute control by the State over the supply of money—a crucial part of the market economy. Whenever the government has, fitfully and almost by accident, stopped increasing the money supply (as Nixon did for several months in the latter half of 1969), Milton Friedman has been there to raise the banner of inflation once again. And wherever we turn, we find Milton Friedman, proposing not measures on behalf of liberty, not programs to whittle away the Leviathan State, but measures to make the power of that State more efficient, and hence, at bottom, more terrible.
The libertarian movement has coasted far too long on the intellectually lazy path of failing to make distinctions, or failing to discriminate, of failing to make a rigorous search to distinguish truth from error in the views of those who claim to be its members or allies. It is almost as if any passing joker who mumbles a few words about “freedom” is automatically clasped to our bosom as a member of the one, big, libertarian family. As our movement grows in influence, we can no longer afford the luxury of this intellectual sloth. It is high time to identify Milton Friedman for what he really is. It is high time to call a spade a spade, and a statist a statist.