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The Appropriate Role of Government


Published: Feburary 7, 2019

Milton Friedman, Hoover Institution Senior Research Fellow and Nobel Laureate, discusses how there are times when the government can become involved without infringing upon political freedom and autonomy. If two individuals enter into a business, most likely they will both benefit from it; however, there are cases in which a business can impose a cost on another individual without providing reparation. In this case, the government can become involved if markets are unable to compensate for the harm they’ve imposed.

Audio excerpted from Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson.

Discussion Questions

  1. Where does libertarianism come from?
  2. What do libertarians want to do?

Additional Resources

  • In “Take It To The Limits: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism,” Milton Friedman discusses what defines a libertarian and how Friedman balances the libertarians' desire for a small, less intrusive government with environmental, public safety, food and drug administration, and other issues. Available here.
  • Read Richard Epstein’s book, “The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government.” Available here
  • Listen as Richard Epstein talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the difference between classical liberalism and hardline libertarianism. Available here.
  • Read “The Three Blind Spots of Politics,” by Russ Roberts. Available here.