Howdy. Been looking at a couple of threads over the past couple of weeks, but this is my first post on the forum
I've considered some political views over the years, but I've got a lot to learn - and from time spent on religious discussion forums I've found that discussion and debate can be an excellent motivation and way to learn. This seems as good a place as any to start.
That said, maybe I can open up discussion on Friedman's key points. (Let me know if I've misunderstood him!)
> The most effective mechanism for eliminating poverty is a free enterprise/free market system
Seems to me this is clearly false. More or less by definition the most effective way to eliminate poverty within a society is redistribution of wealth within the society, rich to poor, so the poor are no longer in poverty. So is there anything intrinsic to a free market system which accomplishes this? Not as far as I'm aware; on the contrary, human nature (and ongoing experience) implies that even the very richest will continue to seek to accumulate more wealth for themselves. But in the 19th to early 20th century period Friedman focuses on there was
considerable redistribution of wealth occurring globally through political
means - the ongoing dismantling or restructuring of the concentrated wealth and power of the old aristocracies. Perhaps more importantly, Friedman seems to ignore the tremendous new opportunities afforded by scientific and technological advances of the period - greater productivity, new goods to make and sell, new resources to extract and use. And most critically, nothing I've read suggests that there even was
a genuine free market system in that period; I gather that the United States, for example, imposed substantial governmental tarriffs on all kinds of imported foreign goods, protecting
its industries from free (and potentially destructive) competition with foreign industries.
> Minimum wage laws force employers to reject some potential employees
That's undoubtedly true. In 2012 the billionaire Aussie heiress and richest woman in the world Gina Rinehart expressed her desire to pay workers less than $2 a day
. It's perfect economic sense. But is exploitation a good thing? More broadly, is the use of cheap labour to extract endless resources and produce endless crap a good thing for our species' future? On a finite planet, promoting unlimited production and hence cheap, mindless consumption would be utterly stupid. Even with minimum wages in developed there's plenty of evidence that we're pushing many of the world's limits. All our technological gadgets and gizmos are supposed to reduce our workloads and make life easier; so is there any reason why we should still be pushing for over 90% of our population to be working 40-odd hours a week? Why not 30 or 20 hours a week? The major reason is simply that even with (very) minimal wages, it remains profitable to keep up that level of production for as long as enough demand can be manufactured for the products - as long as generations X and Y can be convinced they need a new phone every year, and baby boomers persuaded that a ferrari or botox will make them young again.
> Welfare encourages or forces people into poverty
Again possibly true to some extent; if you're gonna lose your welfare payments by getting a job, where's the incentive to do so? But I'd guess the answer is fine-tuning the system, not eliminating it. Most importantly, so that welfare benefits scale down significantly less
than the increase in employment income, so folk are actually gaining money by getting a job. But I'd also (very tentatively) advocate reducing 'full-time' working hours so that the same amount of work employs more people. Gradually, of course, because it'd mean employers are paying more in wages overall. But this comes back to the fact that without introducing new
sources of wealth - such as the 19th/20th century booms in manufacturing, technology and resources which Friedman forgets to mention - and ensuring much of that goes downwards not upwards, reducing poverty requires redistribution
of wealth. Moreover if overall higher costs of employment help reduce our tendencies towards over-production and advertisement-driven consumption, that can only be a good thing for our planet and our descendants.
Those are a few thoughts prompted by the video, anyways. Like I say, I've got some ideas, but I need to have them criticised and learn many more facts before I could consider them good
ideas. But for now suffice to say that I'm certainly not convinced that the video portrays "a one man wrecking ball" against more left-wing views :lol: