“The purpose of this book is to persuade you that a libertarian society would be both free and attractive, that the institutions of private property are the machinery of freedom, making it possible, in a complicated and interdependent world, for each person to pursue his life as he sees fit.”
Though some of the examples are dated as this was originally published in 1973 and this second edition was five years later, the basic tenants of David Friedman’s “guide to a radical capitalism” are still appropriate today. In The Machinery of Freedom does a thorough job of clouding the issues surrounding Libertarianism. That’s not a bad thing as readers will come to know as complex issues are complex. Mr. Friedman successfully uses many examples to make his points.
One would expect such a book to be dull and difficult to embrace, however, Friedman succeeded in an offering that is fairly easy to read for those who want to learn. Unfortunately many of the positions that are espoused have not come to the forefront and government has not only gotten bigger, it’s gotten enormous. However all is not totally lost as the Libertarian candidate for the 2012 presidential election got around 1.2 million votes for around 1%.
“The modern liberal will claim that it was state legislation, limiting hours, preventing child labor, imposing safety regulations, and otherwise violating the principle of laissez faire that brought progress. But the evidence indicates that the legislation consistently followed progress rather than preceding it. It was only when most workers were already down to a ten hour day that it became politically possible to legislate one.”
“One of the charges brought against ALCOA during the anti-trust hearings that resulted in its breakup was that it had kept competitors out of the aluminum business by keeping its prices low and by taking advantage of every possible technological advance to lower them still further.” [emphasis added]
“Politics does not run on altruism or pious intentions. Politics runs on power.”
“Special interest politics is a simple game. A hundred people sit in a circle, each with his pocket full of pennies. A politician walks around the outside of the circle, taking a penny from each person. No one minds; who cares about a penny? When he has gotten all the way around the circle, the politician throws fifty cents down in front of one person, who is overjoyed at the unexpected windfall. The process is repeated, ending with a different person. After a hundred rounds everyone is a hundred cents poorer, fifty cents richer and happy.”