I continue to be amazed at how much relevance the books from this project have in today’s world. Free to Choose was written in the 1970’s. Yet much the book, and much of what we have covered here, could easily apply to today.
One of the interesting points in this last section was the inclusion of the Socialist Party Platform of 1928. The Milton’s write this about the Socialist Party:
In our opinion the Socialist party was the most influential political party in the United States in the first decades of the twentieth century. Because it had no hope of electoral success on a national level… it could afford to be a party of principle…The Socialist party never received more than 6 percent of the popular vote for President (in 1912 for Eugene Debs). It got less than 1 percent in 1928 and only 2 percent in 1932 (for Norman Thomas). Yet almost every economic plank in its 1928 presidential platform has by now been enacted into law.
They include those planks (along with evidence they have been enacted in Appendix A). This is in-spite of the fact that both Republicans and Democrats have held the presidency since 1928. I think this is one of those lessons I mentioned earlier. If the Socialist Party’s agenda can be enacted under Democratic and Republican congresses, it can happen again.
We have seen a number of socialist policies enacted over the last two years, and some during the previous eight. Now that there is a Republican majority, we must hold their feet to the fire to repeal those laws, and to fight some of the laws that have been enacted since 1928. Here, the Friedmans have given us a starting point. This section provides some “draft” constitutional amendments. One of my favorites is written in language similar to the first amendment. The Friedmans suggest we add:
“Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of sellers of goods or labor to price their products or services.”
Imagine if this was passed today. Minimum wage laws would be gone. I suspect many of the price controls that give the unions the ability to compete with the private sector would also be gone.
Free to Choose was a very well written and well thought out book. It’s lessons are as important today as they were in the 1970’s. If you haven’t read this book through the Book Notes Project, you should run out and pick up a copy. You won’t be disappointed.
For Next Week: I have decided to take a week off from the Book Notes project. I will be back in two weeks with a new entry. I am starting Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater. The book is less than 100 pages. Between the week off, and the short book, I will probably cover the entire thing in my next post. Have a good two weeks!