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Liberty Pen: Milton Friedman on Collectivism- Collectivism vs Individualism

July 18, 2011

Milton Friedman

Source: This piece was originally posted at FRS FreeState Now: Liberty Pen: Milton Friedman on Collectivism- Collectivism vs Individualism

What is collectivism? It’s a belief by Socialists (and others) that no one in society should have more than anyone else essentially. That we are all in it together and that we should all put our resources to make society better as a whole. Even if some people have the skills and are productive enough to get a lot more out of life (so to speak) than others. In a Collectivist Society in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any winners or losers essentially. We would all be even at least on paper. Now try imagining a sports event without any winners or losers, no champions right. What would be the point of watching the game? Athletes would essentially be entertainers, what would be the point of teams getting better and acquiring better players and coaches. If you know the answers to these questions, I would suggest that you’re a collectivist, someone who believes in collectivism. Now collectivism is a fine goal, even I will admit that, but that’s basically it a goal that you would see in a perfect world but not in real-life.

Imagine a world of no winners and losers , what would be the point of individual achievement and working hard and being productive as possible. Because the benefits that someone would receive from achieving those things, would be just as equal as the people who didn’t achieve on their own, who didn’t work hard, perhaps didn’t finish school, who weren’t productive. Someone who didn’t make them self the best person that they can be. Another issue with collectivism that I have is one of the ways that it achieves it. By taxing people at really high rates to take care of people who aren’t productive enough to even take care of themselves. Which sends two bad messages in my view. It tells productive people that they shouldn’t work hard and be productive. Because government is going to tax you so high, that you won’t see much of what you worked and well to produce. It also tells people that they don’t need to work hard and be productive, because the people who do those things will take care of you. And we would be left with a society of a lot of unproductive people.

Individualism or individualists which I’m one, believe that people should be encouraged to get a good education to work hard and be productive as they possibly can. And then collect a lot of the earnings from their work to be able to spend as they please. Yes pay their taxes based on their ability to pay, with the rich paying more than the middle class and poor and the middle class paying more than the poor. But not at such a high tax rate that it discourages people to earn a good living. This is how developed countries succeed, at least the large ones, where people have enough incentive to work hard and earn a good living. Individualism is not even a liberal, conservative or a libertarian value, but all three of these political ideology’s share it.

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