As I was leaving the house last Friday for a full day of travel, I wanted something to read during airport holdovers and almost-certain delays. My only prerequisite was that the book be small enough to fit in my purse.
Whether I grabbed Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” because of recent tributes to the Nobel laureate — he would have turned 100 on July 31 — or because of the book’s compact size, I can’t say. But I’m glad I did.
“Capitalism and Freedom” was published in 1962. Much has changed since then. Top marginal tax rates have plummeted, the government has gotten larger and more intrusive, and federal deficits have grown exponentially.
What hasn’t changed is the appeal of Friedman’s ideas. His thesis of capitalism as a system for economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom is as valid as ever. The role of government is to protect that freedom while the role of the market is to organize economic activity, based on a voluntary exchange between individuals.