The Israel Center
for Social & Economic Progress
an independent pro-market
public policy think tank since 1984
Winner of the 2005 Award for Institutional Excellence and the 2006 Templeton Award for Student Outreach
Log in or Register
The Jerusalem Post1 Dec ’10
Many of the social and economic troubles we are experiencing are due to the public’s lack of understanding of the need for economic literacy.
fundamentals • public policy • limiting government • public choice • world affairs
When distinguished economist Alan Meltzer recently attacked the policies of the US Federal Reserve, its chairman, Ben Bernanke, retorted that their mentor, the late Nobel economics laureate Milton Friedman, would have approved.
Friedman died four years ago, but his influence is still strong. When asked in the past whether his innovative ideas would still have an impact in the future, Friedman replied with his customary modesty: “This will be known only 50 years from now.”
Indeed it will take several decades to assess the full impact of this wise man’s ideas.
We already know that Friedman had enormous impact on crucial economic and social developments in the past century. Just think of the great economic leap forward in the past several decades, the huge increase in prosperity propelled by the stability that his anti-inflation cure made possible; of his strong support for floating exchange rates that made possible the enormous expansion of international trade; and of the dramatic effect of even the partial adoption of his freemarket policies on the spread of prosperity to poor and backward economies such as China’s, India’s and even Israel’s.
These alone prove that Friedman’s policies helped better the economic lot of billions of people who suffered poverty and oppression until his pro-market policies helped liberate them, albeit only partially for the time being.
In a world that still suffers from economic illiteracy, especially among the ruling elites, which causes laggard growth and often grave crises, it is certain that one of the Friedmans’ (Milton and his wife Rose, a great economist in her own right and his true partner) greatest contribution was educational.
Deeply committed to democracy, and treating every person with respect (even when they sharply disagreed with their views) Milton and Rose devoted much of their energy to educational endeavors. They never locked themselves in an ivory tower.
IN HIS many media appearances, in his weekly page in Newsweek magazine, and in his highly rated television series and bestselling book Free to Choose (which was coauthored with Rose), Friedman succeeded in transforming public opinion on a huge scale. His ideas became the basis of Margaret Thatcher’s reforms that saved Britain from being the dead man of Europe and helped it become one of the fastest-growing economies for several decades. His influence made the election of Ronald Reagan possible, and the policies that initiated several decades of unprecedented prosperity.
It was this prosperity that also enabled Reagan to challenge the Soviet Union with “Star Wars,” exposing the economic bankruptcy of communism and leading to its collapse. For this alone, Friedman deserves the gratitude of humanity. His ideas helped save hundreds of millions from slavery under communism and rid the world of the terrible danger it represented.
No less important than his crucial contribution to the welfare of humanity, Friedman’s efforts succeeded in making masses of people aware that every thinking person, every responsible citizen must acquire a basic knowledge of economics, and that this required study because economics is often counterintuitive, so simply relying on common sense and logic may lead to disastrous consequences.
Many of the social and economic troubles we experience are due to the public’s lack of understanding—especially among opinion molders and decision makers—of this need for economic literacy. In economics more than in other disciplines, ignorance can kill.
The terrible economic crises caused recently by governments – crises that only ignoramuses or propagandists blame on markets—proved again, if we still needed proof, that only government meddling can threaten to ruin the economy, such as the meddling by the Federal Reserve when it flooded the US economy with cheap credit and enabled two giant semi-governmental entities, Fanny Mae and Freddie Mack, to sell worthless mortgages worth trillions of dollars.
THE CRISES also teach us three more lessons: that a healthy economy is essential for social well-being, that economic literacy is a precondition for the enactment of policies that create sustained growth and that economic prosperity, and not a counterproductive “peace process,” can bring true reconciliation between peoples, as it has in Europe after centuries of bloodshed.
The panic and confusion with which governments reacted to the recent crises would not have resulted in dangerous policy initiatives if the public understood better how an economy functions. An enlightened public could have prevented the steps politicians took out of ignorance and myopia, steps that could yet lead to such ruinous consequences as runaway inflation, and which may endanger our well-being and future security.
A society cannot preserve its stability, strength and capacity to grow without economic prosperity. Friedman understood this profoundly, and devised successful solutions to most of the crucial problems that plagued our economy.
The Jerusalem Post30 Jun ’15
Israel’s last elections proved how right David Ben-Gurion was when he said that, in Israel, whoever does not believe in miracles is not a realist.
PJ Media20 Jun ’15
The security challenges facing Israel obscure other deep concerns about the viability of Israel’s economic system.
The Jerusalem Post7 Jun ’14
Unless the laggard Israeli economy is reformed soon, its problems—including its morally debilitating corruption—may threaten its future.
Israel Hayom15 May ’14
What does it say about Israeli society and the system of government when a prime minister is convicted of taking bribes?
Israel Hayom23 Feb ’14
What kind of education should it offer and at what cost?
The Jerusalem Post9 Jan ’14
The productivity of Israeli workers is only two-thirds that of Americans, and their salaries are much lower.
The Jerusalem Post11 Jul ’13
As he completes an exceptionally difficult 8-year tour of duty during a worldwide financial crisis, Stanley Fischer has achieved a unique status.
The Weekly Standard7 Jun ’13
When Israel finally discovered a bonanza of natural gas about five years ago everyone was happy. But then fierce arguments broke out—and rightly so.
The Weekly Standard22 Apr ’13
The economic future of Israel now rests in the hands Netanyahu, Lapid and Bennet. Will they succeed in fulfilling the most difficult and complex mission of liberating Israel’s economy?
Israel Hayom2 Jan ’13
The Israeli government could eradicate poverty by breaking the monopolies and spurring competition.
The Jerusalem Post7 Dec ’12
Our socialist and statist heritage bred our inefficient system. But foreign aid and remittances were serious enablers. The struggle against political and economic concentration could finally permit Israelis to overcome this destructive heritage.
Israel Hayom8 Nov ’12
The time to prepare the reforms is now, so that after the Israeli elections, the prime minister can immediately devote his time to moving them forward.
The Financial Times21 Jun ’12
Israel Hayom6 Jun ’12
To grapple with the impending crisis, Israel’s government must improve the nation’s competitiveness.
The Jerusalem Post7 May ’12
The Wall Street Journal3 May ’12
Reform-minded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is stymied by bureaucrats and monopoly tycoons.
Middle East Quarterly30 Mar ’12
As the high hopes for a brave new Middle East fade rapidly, Western policymakers must recognize that promoting market economics and its inevitable cultural changes are far more critical to the region’s well-being than encouraging free elections or resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Jerusalem Post17 Feb ’12
The choice is between an efficient, growth-inducing market economy or a welfare state, meaning a huge government that actually harms the poor and inhibits prosperity.
The Jerusalem Post25 Oct ’11
Aversion toward the rich has had strong roots in Zionism since its early leaders embraced Marxist practices.
Is capitalism in crisis? Of course.
The Jerusalem Post10 Aug ’11
The tent-dwellers’ revolt calls for the enforcement of ‘the will of the people’ (like all autocrats). It refuses to rely on Democracy.
The Jerusalem Post9 Aug ’11
David Lewis, the exceptional entrepreneur and philanthropist, and head of the Isrotel Group dies at 87
The Jerusalem Post20 Jul ’11
Although MKs appear concerned over rising costs, it was they who allowed this injustice to occur in the first place.
The Jerusalem Post28 Jun ’11
Who is to blame for the shameful situation in which millions of Israeli workers – who earn about half what American workers earn – have to pay double for goods?
The New Republic19 May ’11
A Middle East peace strategy that could actually work.
The Jerusalem Post15 Mar ’11
Israel needs to slash its state budget by as much as possible if it wants a chance at fighting waste and corruption.
The Jerusalem Post9 Mar ’11
Too little attention has been paid to how Egypt’s socialist past and welfare-state present shaped the current rebellion.
The Jerusalem Post7 Feb ’11
The Herzliya Conference has become an important international event, but one central issue is absent: Israel’s debilitating economic concentration.
The Jerusalem Post22 Jan ’11
It’s highly unlikely that government can ever learn to make long-term plans and execute them efficiently.
The Jerusalem Post23 Dec ’10
How can one dare compare narrow-minded religion with the all-embracing faith of universality and equality that is socialism?
The Jerusalem Post17 Oct ’10
The PM’s courageous decision to tackle economic concentration was misrepresented by several of our media publications—owned of course by tycoons.
The Wall Street Journal8 Oct ’10
Economic concentration hurts the country’s viability and the chances for peace.
The Jerusalem Post4 Oct ’10
A damaging ethos of ‘welfarism’ and distributive politics has come to dominate not only academia but our cultural, military and even our business elites.
The Jerusalem Post19 Aug ’10
The reformers must know the importance of the reform’s success both for Israel and for their careers, and what damage they will incur if it fails.
The Jerusalem Post13 Jul ’10
Kagan’s admiration for Justice Aharon Barak’s philosophy may have revealed her own predilection for radical judicial activism.
The Jerusalem Post30 May ’10
We must dismantle the oligarch-owned monopolies that impoverish the Israeli consumer and choke our economy.
The Wall Street Journal18 May ’10
The OECD’s invitation to Israel is a “seal of approval” but the country still needs more reforms.
The Jerusalem Post10 Feb ’10
The world’s astonishment at Israel’s response to the Haiti disaster is insulting. What we saw there was Israel’s true face.
The Jerusalem Post10 Jan ’10
Individual initiative and freedom are essential for creativity—in hi-tech as in all other spheres.
The Jerusalem Post14 Oct ’09
As far as Rose Friedman was concerned, public kudos did not matter that much. She persisted in being a rose, no matter what.
The Jerusalem Post22 Sep ’09
Lasting peace must grow from the bottom up, from an “economic peace process” that proves what advantages peace has to offer on a daily basis. It cannot come from signing peace agreements with radical and corrupt entities propped up by corrupting Western handouts.
Recognized by the IRS as a charitable organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Tax ID # 13-3129249
Copyright © 2001-2022
The Israel Center for Social & Economic Progress
“Where there is
there is no Torah.”
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers)
Contributions made out to Friends of ICSEP can be mailed to:
Fox Associates, 100 Front St., West Conshohocken, PA 19428, USA