There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch


[February, 1973]

Playboy: In every public debate on an issue involving economics, there seem to be nearly as many conflicting opinions as there are economists. Why can't you people get together?

Friedman: We do. But that seldom makes news. It's our disagreements that receive attention. For example, how much attention is paid to agreement between Galbraith and myself in opposing a draft and favoring an all-volunteer armed force, or in opposing tariffs and favoring free trade, or on a host of other issues? What is newsworthy is that Galbraith endorses wage and price controls, while I oppose them.

Playboy: Yet in the past election, you supported Nixon despite his imposition of controls. Have you changed your mind?

Friedman: I haven't--and neither has Nixon. I'm still opposed to wage and price controls, and so is he. Incidentally, going back to Galbraith, in a note that I wrote to him shortly after Nixon imposed the controls, I said, "You must be as chagrined as I am to have Nixon for your disciple." So far, he hasn't replied.

I regret that he imposed them; yet in doing so, I think he behaved the only way a responsible leader of a democracy could. He resisted controls for nearly three years when there was strong pressure for their introduction. He tried to make the case against controls, to educate the people about the causes of inflation, and the best methods of fighting it-- namely, reduced monetary growth and lower federal spending. But he failed, and finally gave in to the popular demand for some kind of immediate and extreme measure to halt rising prices, and controls were the measure most people seemed to agree on. As a leader, that was a proper thing for him to do, even though he felt it was the wrong solution. He behaved the same way with regard to the war.

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