Darrow Miller and Friends

Out of the Mouth of Bono: Economics and Freedom

 

 

By Web Summit, CC BY 2.0


What do Bono and Milton Friedman have in common?

Bono the rock-star economistAs everybody knows, Bono is a celebrity rock star. Maybe not quite as many readers are aware that Friedman was an economist.

Which one of them said,

  • “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
  • “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
  • “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

Okay, time’s up: it was Friedman who said these things.Milton Friedman agrees with Bono

Milton Friedman was a very bright, professional economist. He won the 1976 Nobel Prize. He was described by The Economist as “the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century … possibly of all of it.” [Wikipedia]

From an economist of Friedman’s stature and erudition we expect such pithy insights. We don’t anticipate equal substance from professional entertainment celebrities who are amateur economists.

But Bono might surprise you.

Two years ago we published The Rock Star Who Preached Capitalism. That post referenced the singer’s “conversion” from regarding government as the solution to the world’s ills, to a more realistic (read biblical) perspective.

What perspective is that? The cultural mandate (Gen 1:27-28) combined with human freedom. When paired, these amount to capitalism (to quote Bono).

Notwithstanding  the corruption of capitalism  (e.g. crony capitalism,  predatory capitalism, hedonistic consumerism), free markets have  done more than any other economic system to produce the bounty of God’s intentions to “fill the earth.”

When a public figure like Bono grasps that, the message gets out.

Click the video and hang on!

  • Gary Brumbelow

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9 Comments

  1. Lianggi Espinoza

    December 14, 2015 - 9:13 am

    Para muchos chilenos Milton Friedman es el economista que se alineó con el dictador chileno Pinochet, en cuyo poder se desaparecieron y mataron a más de 3.000 personas, y quién impuso a la fuerza de las armas el sistema económico que tenemos actualmente en chile. En grandes cifras un sistema económicamente estable, pero desde dentro un mundo lleno de enormes desigualdades. Los alumnos de Friedman llenaron sus bolsillos y las empresas extranjeras se enriquecen, se acumula el capital, se controla el mercado, y al final lo menos que hay es libertad de mercado, sino monopolios y acumulación. Para muchos chilenos Milton Friedman es el padre de un sistema que hace competir a las personas y fomenta el egoísmo y el llenarse a través del consumir. Es cierto, en cierto nivel hay riqueza económica, pero hasta hoy hay muertes en las calles en protestas contra un sistema que cada día se vuelve más rígido e inhibe la libertad económica y social.

    • admin

      December 15, 2015 - 6:37 am

      Good Morning Lianggi

      It is good to hear from you. Thanks for your thoughtful response to the Bono blog.

      There is certainly no justification for the violence perpetuated by the Pinochet regime. And the continued violence that I hear about in Chile is tragic.

      The free markets that we speak of cannot be free lacking a moral framework. It is the moral framework that tempers our human tendency towards greed and “self.” With out a moral framework free markets easily devolve into “crony capitalism,” hedonistic consumerism, mercantilism, etc.
      What we argue for in this space is an economy that creates wealth in a moral framework.

      Thanks again Lianggi

      Darrow

    • admin

      December 15, 2015 - 12:55 pm

      Thanks, Lianggi. I’m not familiar with Friedman’s international activities, but your comment reminded me of an exchange Friedman had with TV personality Phil Donahue in which he made the salient observation that greed is the human condition, not the sole possession of capitalists. “Do you suppose communists act out of self interest?” he asked Donahue. The video is well worth watching.

      • Lianggi Espinoza

        December 15, 2015 - 3:33 pm

        Sobre la entrevista de Friedman, el décimo mandamiento es no codiciarás. Y da lo mismo que los comunistas codicien. Un hecho es que su sistema está basado en la codicia y hoy vemos las consecuencias de esto.

        Le cuento un poco de Friedman en Chile: Su política económica ha enriquecido principalmente a dos bloques: 1) sus alumnos que trajeron su sistema a chile, y 2) pequeñísimos sectores de poder y empresas extranjeras, que hoy tienen todo el derecho de explotar el país pagando casi nada de impuestos. En lo macroeconómico Chile es un país fuerte, pero en las encuestas internacionales es unos de los países más desiguales (por ingreso) del mundo. Y todo esto se gestó por las recomendaciones que Friedman envió a Pinochet en 1975 (http://www.elcato.org/milton-friedman-y-sus-recomendaciones-chile) Chile fue el “laboratorio” en el que se aplicó el modelo en Latinoamérica: es un país próspero en lo macro, pero profundamente desigual, opresor y sin libertad económica.

        Quisiera aclarar que creo en las ideas de libertad para la economía presentes en el evangelio. Pero creo que hoy hay que enfatizar con mayor fuerza el Jubileo, el perdón de las deudas, el no cobrar intereses a los pobres, la protección de los vulnerables, la dignidad del trabajo justo, el desarrollo de un sistema laboral que no atente con las familias, el acceso a la educación, etc.

        Saludos y gracias por su blog y respuestas. Abrazo desde Chile Darrow, te queremos mucho.

        • admin

          May 12, 2016 - 2:19 pm

          Lianggi and Eunice

          It was so good seeing you in Chile last week. I have just now seen your reply to our blog. I am sorry for not responding sooner. Two of the conversations that we had in Chile dealt with the issues you have raised in this comment. Trust that you see what we are saying is different from crony capitalism.

          Thanks for taking me to the museum. Looking forward to the next time we can be together.

          darrow

          In reply to admin.

          On the interview of Friedman, the tenth commandment is thou shalt not covet. And it makes the communists yearns for. A fact is that your system is based on greed and today we see the consequences of this.

          I tell you a little bit of Friedman in Chile: Its economic policy has mainly enriched two blocks: 1) their students who brought their own system to Chile, and 2) dwarfish sectors of power and foreign companies which today have all the right to exploit the country paying almost nothing of taxs. In the macroeconomic Chile is a strong country, but the international surveys is one of the most unequal countries in (income) in the world. And all this was conceived by the recommendations that Friedman sent to Pinochet in 1975 (http://www.elcato.org/milton-friedman-y-sus-recomendaciones-chile) Chile was the “laboratory” in which it applied the model in Latin America: is a prosperous country in the macro, but profoundly unequal, oppressor and without economic freedom.

          I would like to clarify that I believe in the ideas of freedom for the economy present in the gospel. But I think that today we must emphasize with greater force the Jubilee, the forgiveness of debts, do not charge interest to the poor, the protection of the vulnerable, the dignity of work fair, the development of a labor system that does not conflict with the families, access to education, etc.

          greetings and thanks for your blog and responses. Hug from Chile Darrow, we love you very much.

  2. Randy Uthe

    December 14, 2015 - 9:14 am

    The question still left hanging is that of the reality of some “true” or “unadulterated” form of capitalism and the free market. Is it a puritan’s utopic ideological reference point; not unlike many Christian groups have done? Free markets have done wonders for the cultural mandate. They have equally destroyed it. Balance of power is a better equalizer. That is not a socialistic statement because it still demands more from those who have more (an equally Biblical concept). The bible demanded this from both the private and governmental sectors; not one necessarily over the other. Jeffrey Sachs has even backed off of some of his earlier claims.

    • admin

      December 15, 2015 - 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Randy. In his masterful book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism Roman Catholic writer Michael Novak points out that admittedly, a free-market system is an economic system “designed to be checked by a political system and a mora-cultural system.” It requires a moral culture. “It cannot thrive apart from a democratic polity committed to … limited government … .” As for uptopic, that seems to be even more the requirement of socialism than of capitalism.

    • Lianggi Espinoza

      May 12, 2016 - 4:06 pm

      Amigo Darrow, fue muy bueno verte nuevamente y escucharte enseñar. Te agradecemos de todo corazón por toda tu enseñanza en Chile. Para mí, Eunice y para mis amigos fue maravilloso. Gracias por tu esfuerzo y dedicación en viajar, enseñar y servir a otros. Aprendemos de todo esto, sigue así, nos dejas una alta meta con tu ejemplo. Si Dios lo permite esperamos verte pronto. Abrazo grande.

      • admin

        May 14, 2016 - 6:27 am

        Thanks you Lianggi.

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