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Capitalism, Greed, and Mankind

Written By: An interview of Milton Friedman  |  Posted: Thursday, October 27th, 2011

                  "When you see around the globe the mound distribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in under-developed countries, when you see so few "have's" and so many "have not's," when you see the greed and the concentration of power … do you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism? And whether greed's a good idea to run on?" - Phil Donahue

                "Well, first of all, tell me, is there some society you know that doesn't run on greed? You think Russia doesn't run on greed? You think China doesn't run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it's only the other fellow that's greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases that the masses have escaped the grinding poverty you're talking about, the only recorded cases in history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are the worst off, it's exactly in the societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by free enterprise." - Milton Friedman

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