This video of Milton Friedman espousing greed and self-interest as expressed by free enterprise and free trade is making the rounds again:
Friedman reduces all of human behavior to greed. "You think Russia doesn't run on greed? You think China doesn't run on greed?" "You think the communist commissar rewards virtue?.... Do you think American Presidents reward virtue? Is it really true that political self interest is more noble than economic self-interest? Tell me where in the world you are going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us?"
Professor Friedman, we do not need nor do we seek angels to organize society. While Phil Donahue may have been flummoxed, none other than chief framer of the US Constitution James Madison had a complete answer to your prescription of increasing concentration of wealth and plutocracy, over 200 years ago.
In Federalist #51, James Madison wrote:
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other -- that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights....
It is of great importance in a republic not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part. Different interests necessarily exist in different classes of citizens. If a majority be united by a common interest, the rights of the minority will be insecure. ... [I]n the federal republic of the United States[, w]hilst all authority in it will be derived from and dependent on the society, the society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from interested combinations of the majority. In a free government the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects. The degree of security in both cases will depend on the number of interests and sects.... In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger; and as, in the latter state, even the stronger individuals are prompted, by the uncertainty of their condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak as well as themselves; so, in the former state, will the more powerful factions or parties be gradually induced, by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful....
Against the tyranny of the wealthy plutocracy, Milton Friedman has no answer; in fact he is the enabler. Against the tyranny of the wealthy plutocracy, as in all other combinations of power, that James Madison DID have the answer: set devils against devils under a system of checks and balances.
It was the genious of the mixed economy initiated by Teddy Roosevelt and later brought to fruition by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to release the atomized masses from powerlessness in the face of modern mass production, by setting the devils of government bureaucrats against the devils of private industry. The great American middle class did not exist during the laissez-faire Gilded Age nor in Dickens' England. In both cases, the vast middle class only came into being when government stepped in on behalf of the many with regulations and protections, and set them against plutocratic power.
Strip away too much power from either capitalists or the regulators, and freedom and prosperity suffer.
Milton Friedman, your ideas have been tried to the utmost degree, and the more they succeeded in rendering governments powerless, the more they enslaved billions. It is time to restore the balance of economic power that James Madison had the genius to describe.