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The Good Intentions and Unfortunate Consequences of Government Programs


Published: July 16, 2019

Milton Friedman explains that in case after case, government programs adopted for good purposes have had the opposite effects. Federal programs on housing, schooling, health care, and job training have created as many problems as they have solved. There are almost no exceptions of governmental programs that have achieved their initial stated goals.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do most governmental programs fail to achieve their initial, stated goals?
  2. Is there a governmental program that has achieve its goals? 

Additional Resources

  • Watch “What Do We Owe Our Country?” with Milton Friedman, available here.
  • Read Milton Friedman’s essay on “Why Government is the Problem,” available here.
  • Read “Friedman on Ending Government Programs” by David Henderson, available here.
View Transcript

The evidence is, that in case after case, governmental programs adopted for good purposes have had the opposite effects. 

The government housing program was adopted to provide more housing and ended up destroying more housing units than it provided. 

Government has taken over schooling in order to improve education, it centralized it, it federalized it. Schooling has gotten worst. 

In every case that I can think of, and I can think of almost no exception, of any governmental program that has achieved its initial announced objectives. 

It has done the opposite.