Originally published in 1949, this book contains the text of the sixth annual lecture of the National Book League, delivered the previous year by the Liberal politician Viscount Samuel. Samuel considers what the 'right use' of leisure might be in an age where an increasing number of workers were being granted to access to free time through shorter working hours and annual paid leave, and suggests that idleness is only advisable in small doses, with the rest of the time to be spent in self-improvement and education. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in the history of labour and leisure.
Milton Friedman was arguably the single most influential economist of the 20th-century. His influence, particularly on conservative politics in America and Great Britain, substantially helped as both supporters and critics agree to shape the global economy as it is today.
Capitalism and Freedom (1962) is a passionate but carefully reasoned summary of Friedmans philosophy of political and economic freedom, and it has become perhaps his most directly influential work. Friedmans argument focuses on the place of economic liberalism in society: in his view, free markets and personal economic freedom are absolutely necessary for true political freedom to exist.
Freedom, for Friedman, is the ultimate good in a society the marker and aim of true civilisation. And, crucially, he argues, real freedom is rarely aided by government. For Friedman, indeed, the great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government. Instead, he argues, they have always been produced by minority views flourishing in a social climate permitting variety and diversity. In successive chapters, Friedman develops a well-structured line of reasoning emerging from this stance leading him to some surprising conclusions that remain persuasive and influential more than 60 years on.
Milton Friedman was one of the most influential economists of all time and his ideas had a huge impact on the economic policies of governments across the world.
A key theorist of capitalism and its relationship to democratic freedoms, Friedman remains one of the most cited authorities in both academic economics and government economic policy. His work remains striking not just for its brilliant grasp of economic laws and realities, but also for its consistent application of high-level evaluation and reasoning skills to produce arguments that can convince experts and laypeople alike.
Friedmans 1968 essay The Role of Monetary Policy is a key example of how Friedmans critical thinking skills helped to cement his influence and reputation. The paper addressed the question of how a governments monetary policy affects the economy from employment levels to inflation and so on. At its heart lies an evaluation and critique of the most widely accepted conception of monetary policy at the time the Phillips Curve which argued that increased inflation leads naturally to increased employment. Systematically noting the flaws and weaknesses of the Phillips Curve theory, Friedman showed why this is not, in fact, the case. He then drew up a systematic alternative argument for what governmental monetary policy could and should aim to do.
Though economists now consider Friedmans ideas to have considerable limitations, The Role of Monetary Policy remains a masterclass in evaluating and countering faulty arguments.