Milton Friedman Part II: Evils of Collectivism

There is one man who embodies the spirit of capitalism, but most have never heard of him. That needs to change. It's time for Americans to remember and get to know Milton Friedman, the father of modern economics.

Milton Friedman was a brilliant champion of the free market, capitalism and the American way of life. He was not a politician, just a man who looked at things in a radically different way --- and articulated them simply and persuasively.

Part II: Evils of Collectivism

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman was a staunch and brilliant defender of capitalism. He understood that without America and the free market system, the world would still be languishing in the Dark Ages. He very often took on socialists and their distortions of history and reality. In a forum at the University of Chicago, Friedman took on Michael Harrington of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.

MICHAEL: I think people over 65 years of age in the United States today are freer now because of Medicare. I do not think that the freedom to die from the lack of medicine was a very good thing. Secondly, related to industrialists, I think that one of the startling things about American history is that when Franklin Roosevelt was saving the system from itself, the main beneficiaries were screaming bloody murder at him for being a traitor to his class, when he was, in fact, the salvation of that class. And I think if you -- therefore, if you look at our history, I do think you find a tremendous myopia on the part of industrialists, and you find that the positive increments to our freedom, interestingly enough have not come from the college graduates, but often from people --- not from the best people. It's come from working people. It's come from poor people. It's come from blacks and Hispanics and the like.

MILTON: Unaccustomed as I am to agreeing with Michael Harrington, I will agree in part with what he's just said. I do not believe it's proper to put the situation, in terms of industrialists versus government. On the contrary, one of the reasons why I am in favor of less government is because when you have more government, industrialists take it over, and the two together form a coalition against the ordinary worker and the ordinary consumer. I think business is a wonderful institution, provided it has to face competition in the marketplace and it can't get away with something, except by producing a better product at a lower cost. And that's why I don't want government to step in and help the business community. Now, I want to go to your question about Medicare. There are many people who benefited from Medicare, but you're not looking at the cost side. What has happened to the people who are paying for it? It isn't -- we don't have a free good. It isn't coming from nowhere. And are they benefiting from it, in a cost-effective way? Those are the questions. It's demagoguery, if you'll pardon me, Michael Harrington, to say the people who have Medicare are freer. Of course, in one dimension. But they themselves had been paying all their life, and have they gotten a good bargain? At the moment, they have. The young man, the young working people who are going into Social Security now, they're going to get a very raw deal indeed.

Milton Friedman boldly argued against government-controlled fairness and "social justice."

MILTON: Social injustices are clearly greatest where you have central control. The degree of social injustice and torture in a place like --- and incarceration, in a place like Russia, is of a different order of magnitude than it is in those Western countries where most of us have grown up and in which we have been accustomed to regarding freedom as our natural heritage. Where do you have the greatest degree of inequality? In the socialist states of the world.

Don't look at what the proponents of one system or another say are their intentions, but look at what the actual results are. Socialism, which means government ownership and operation of means of production, has appealed to high-minded, fine people. To people of idealistic views because of the supposed objectives of socialism, especially because of the supposed objectives of equality and social justice. Now, those are fine objectives. And it's a tribute to the people of good will that those objectives should appeal to them, but you have to ask the question: Does a system, no matter what its proponents say, produce those results? And once you look at the results, it's crystal clear that they do not.

According to Milton Friedman, the motives of those involved in oppressive nations may even be good, but it doesn't matter. He argued to look beyond the motives and assess the results.

MILTON: The most harm of all is done when power is in the hands of people who are absolutely persuaded of the purity of their instincts and the purity of their intentions. Thoreau said that philanthropy is a much overrated virtue. Sincerity is also a much overrated virtue. Heaven preserve us from the sincere reformer who knows what's good for you and, by heaven, is going to make you do it whether you like it or not. That's when you get the greatest harm done. I have no reason to doubt that Lenin was a man whose intentions were good, maybe they weren't, but he was completely persuaded that he was right and he was willing to use any methods at all for the ultimate good.

Friedman tried to reason with the collectivists who believed in socialism and wanted more of it, including more health care.

MILTON: I say to people who say we have to have government medicine in there. I say, would you mind first telling me which of the other great reforms of government have achieved their objectives? I take it you mean the federal housing program has solved the problem of housing for the low-income groups. I take it you mean that the federal welfare program has solved the problems of welfare of indigents and dependents, that federal urban renewal and housing --- and reconstruction programs have solved the problem of urban life.

Despite the pressures from socialists and communists, Friedman never lost hope --- and neither should we.

Listen to the Full Series on Milton Friedman

Part I: Economics 101

Part II: Evils of Collectivism

Part III: Friedman vs. Liberal Detractors

Part IV: Unapologetic and Unafraid

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

RELATED: MEDIA BIGOTRY: The New Yorker hates on Chick-fil-A over 'pervasive Christian traditionalism'

Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

RELATED: Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

RELATED: Media's anti-Israel, pro-Islam bias sweeps THIS fact under the rug

In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?