Competition is good for everyone else but I need special privileges – The difference between pro-free enterprise and pro-business

There is a dramatic difference between saying you are pro-business and saying you are pro-free enterprise or pro-capitalism. Do you want lots of competition for yourself or do you want special treatment while everyone else faces competition?

Milton Friedman explains the difference:


A few of my favorite comments:

You talk about preserving the free enterprise system. Who has been destroying it? The business community must take a large share of the responsibility.

..You must separate out being “pro free-enterprise” from being “pro-business.” The two greatest enemies of the free enterprise system in my opinion have been on the one hand my fellow intellectuals, and on the other hand, the big businessmen – for opposite reasons.

Almost every businessman is in favor of free enterprise for everybody else, but special privilege and special government protection for himself. As a result, they have been a major force in undermining the free enterprise system

If the rest of us are such fools as to let them (large companies wanting special treatment for themselves) make money by getting tariffs or getting import quotas or getting other provisions, then we’re the ones to blame, not they.

Stop kidding yourself into thinking you can use the business community as a way to promote free enterprise. Unfortunately, most of them are not our friends in that respect.

(Hat tip: Carpe Diem)


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