barking cat fallacy

Like any good Rothbardian, I’ve made my criticisms of Milton Friedman.

He is a radical libertarian’s greatest challenge because he gives the mainstream someone to dismiss as radical without ever having to confront real libertarian radicalism.

They love to say, “Well even Milton Friedman admits that the State needs to do such-and-such…”

And of course, he is the kept intellectual of central banking and the ideological enemy of all goldbugs, whom he considers fetishists.

Worst of all, we can combine my two complaints into one big whammy: “Even Milton Friedman admits that the Great Depression was caused by too little government intervention!”


Having said that however, I’m quite grateful to him for 3 things, all from the book Free To Choose:

  1. Chapter 7, “Who Protects the Consumer?”
  2. Chapter 8, “Who Protects the Worker?”
  3. The following paragraph:

    What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided it barked”? Your statement that you favor a government provided it behaves as YOU believe desirable is precisely equivalent. The political principles that determine the behavior of government agencies once they are established are no less rigid than the biological principles that determine the characteristics of cats. The way the government behaves and its adverse consequences are not an accident, not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its nature in precisely the same way that a meow is a consequence of the nature of a cat.

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worst … president … ever!

Gary North treats the word ‘liberal’ with great disrespect and the word ‘conservative’ with plenty of respect — as if the mid-20th-century use of those terms was timeless.

He insists that George Dubya Bush is not really a conservative, but he has no problem calling the 1930s admirers of German and Italian fascism “liberals” without modifier or qualification.

Other than this one very annoying pattern (and he does make up for it somewhat by showing respect for the term ‘libertarian’), his analysis of how the history books treat presidents in general, and how they will treat George Bush Junior specifically, is really wonderful:

“Why Bush Will Become the Textbooks’ Worst President”