NEW BANNER: In regard to the ongoing debate between you and the Friedmanites. David Friedman has made an accusation. He has accused you of having not read what his father Milton Friedman has written, misquoting or quoting out of context what you have read, and further has accused you of being a mediocre economist who is jealous of all the attention accorded Milton. Any comments?
ROTHBARD: Ha, ha, ha.
As for misquoting, of course, you can always say that nobody has fully read the works of other people.
I don't think Milton, for example, knows anything about the Austrian School. Obviously, Milton is more of an expert on his own writings than anyone else. As for being jealous of attention, that's like saying that I am jealous of Keynes or Galbraith. Let me put it this way, I think that they are getting over-deserved attention. It seems to me that Galbraith is getting a lot more attention than he deserves, and I think the same is true of Milton.
But I think it is also very clear that you don't have to be an expert on Friedman's writings to realize that Milton is in favor of the absolute control of the money supply by the state, that he is in favor of a 3 or 4 per cent increase in the money supply (the numbers keep changing all the time) by the state every year, that he favors a negative income tax which is essentially a guaranteed annual income by the state, and that he favors a voucher plan which would leave the state solidly in control of the educational system. These things are quite blatant; there is no secret about it. I think it is pretty clear that Friedman is a statist. I mean, if you are in favor of the state having control of the money supply, control of the education system, and a guaranteed annual income, that's it. There is not much more that can be said. The fact that the Friedmanites are against price control is all very well, and I hail that, but the fundamental aspects of the state remain. The state still commands the highposts of the economy.
This is one of the problems with Friedmanites – they have no political theory of the nature of the state. They think of the state, and this is true of Milton and the whole gang as far as I can see, as another social instrument. In other words, there is the market out here and then there is the state, which is another friendly neighborhood organization. You decide on which thing, which activity, should be private and which should be state on the basis of an ad hoc, utilitarian kind of approach. "Well, let's see, we'll feed the thing through the computer. We find that the market usually wins out, that the market is usually better." So, most of the time they come out in favor of the market on things like price control or government regulations, but they really think of the state as just another social instrument. And so when they come out in favor of the state, they go all out. In other words, there is no limitation. Well, they say, the state will do this. The state will run the educational system or whatever the cop-out happens to be. So, they feed the thing in – we'll have controls for a while and then they will die out – it's not very important anyway. You see, they really think they can put through Friedmanism, let's say, just by educating Nixon. The sort of thing I said before jocularly, about Nixon reading Atlas Shrugged and being converted. That is really the sort of theory of social change the Friedmanites have. You see the President once in a while, you talk to him and you convince him that there shouldn't be price controls, the ICC should be eliminated, or whatever – and then he goes ahead and does it. But it just doesn't work that way. They have no realization that the state is essentially a gang of thieves and looters. That they are exploiting the public, that they have a whole bureaucratic apparatus of exploitation, and that they are not just going to give it up. In other words, there is the whole problem of power involved which the Friedmanites refuse to face. They don't realize that the state is not a social instrument. It's an inimical organization which is hostile to society, plundering it, which has to be confined, whittled away, reduced and hopefully ultimately abolished. They have no conception of that at all. They just think of it as another friendly, corner grocer kind of thing which you either use or don't use.