Milton Friedman - Morality & Capitalism



this has to do with the the Ford Pinto I'm not sure if you're aware of recent revelations that have come out about the production of that car Ford produced it knowing full well that in any rear-end collision the gas tank would blow up because they had failed to install a 13 dollar plastic block in front of the gas tank and Ford estimated in an internal memo that that would cost about 200 lives a year and they estimated further that the cost of each life would be two hundred thousand dollars they multiplied and they found that the cost of installing those blocks in each of the cars would be more than the cost of saving those 200 lives and over the past seven years the car has been produced and over a thousand lives have been lost seems to me that Ford did what would be the right thing according to your policy and yet that seems to me to be very wrong well let me ask you let's suppose it would have cost a billion dollars per person should for to put them in a nonetheless so your they are Weston you know that you're really arguing about the print you're not arguing about principle your no no no because you intend not nobody can take the principle nobody can accept the principle that that an infinite value should be put on an individual life because in order to get the money involved in order to get the resources involved it's not money in order to get the resort they have to come from somewhere and you want the policy which is maximizes a situation overall you cannot accept a situation that a million people should starve in order to provide one person with a car that is completely safe that's absolutely right right and there's well you're not arguing anything about principle you're just asking you're just arguing whether Ford used two hundred thousand dollars was the right number or not no I'm not I suppose it would hundred million dollars what was it were 200 million dollars what should Ford have done 200 million dollars for what suppose it would have cost 200 million dollars per life saved should Ford still have spent that 200 million dollars you mean put that's not that's not really the question yes it is a question yeah that's the question that's the only principle involved I don't know whether Ford did the right came to the right answer or not what's the question of whether these numbers are valid numbers for the relative cost of different things you're not arguing about a principle if you once agree with me yes if it had been 200 million dollars the cost per life save it have been 200 million dollars you would not argue look let me go back for a moment can I say something in response to that if Ford had not been able to market those cars in the same kind of economic bracket because of the price of installing this one plastic block that would be a different question maybe for it could have considered redesigning the whole car so as to make it cheaper but what we're talking about is balancing advantages and balances as more used aminute your only time a supporter of abortion therefore I don't believe that every single human life is sacred I believe that principles have to be balanced and yet I don't see Ford spending $13 less on each car at the cost of 200 lives a year as being a principled position to take and Bender logic today is one fewer life a year so that the $13 per car so that that one life instead of being 200 times what's 200 times 200,000 and it's a 40 million suppose it had been one life of year so did it cost 40 million would it then have been okay for Ford not ever did that one life is going to be cost because of a physical defect in the car this was a clear I know I know I know but this is you're evading the question of principle no I'm not I'm saying that they know before they put the car out then there was a mechanic you know when you buy a car you know that your chance of being killed in a Pinto is greater than your chance of being killed in a Mack truck no I didn't I didn't know that the gas tank would sure of course it is a question where we one of us separately in this room could at a cost reduce his risk of dying tomorrow you don't have to walk across the street of course the question is is he willing to pay for it and the question here he should be raising if he wants to raise a question of principle the Bible he has raised is whether Ford wasn't required to attach to this car the statement we have made this car $13 cheaper and therefore it is one whatever the percent is it is one percent more risky for you to buy it but while that then he would be arguing a real question of principle why should they do that or doesn't that interfere with the free enterprise system that your cloudy why not the consumer should be free to decide what risky wants to bear if you want to pay $13 extra for though you should be free to do it but if you don't want to throw filters out we excuse me we have to keep it to the audiogram so then the government does have the right to require information if corporations don't know that right no no the government has a right to provide courts of law in which corporations that deliberately concealed material that is relevant can be sued for fraud and made to pay very heavy expenses and that is a desirable part of the market of course what I'm trying to say to you is that these things are really a little bit more subtle and sophisticated than you are at first led to believe there are no you can't get easy answers along this line because your way of putting it really only doesn't really get at the fundamental principles involved the real fundamental principle is that people individually should be free to decide how much they're willing to pay for reducing the chances of their death in Ohio an old man failed to pay his electric bill you may be familiar with the case and the electric company turned off the electricity and he died the reason they turned it off was because it wouldn't have been profitable for them to keep it on because he didn't pay his bill do you believe that was right I don't know the details of that case at all but I can well Malay but I'll be glad to not know excuse me in many of these cases you hear stories which when you find the details are very different from those are present but let's suppose it were true which was what I was going to go understand you know why do you want to stop me why do you assume I'm always going to give the wrong answer let's assume let's assume the fact that we're truth the result is tragic who is responsible is it really the responsibility should I blame the people let's suppose at the for a moment let's suppose that the electric company we're to follow the practice of never turning off anybody's electricity let's just for a moment take that other extreme then this wouldn't have happened who would pay the cost there's one whether it wants one is well for a moment we can come to other alternatives but I just want to show you the logic of the case look like I was the only acidity no no it's not an absurdity because I want to show you that what you have to ask about are the costs imposed on different individuals the electric company is meaningless the electric company is a non human institution the electric company that what you must talk are either the stockholders of the electric company the employees of the electric company or the customers of the electric company those are the people involved now if you go to the other extreme and adopt a policy that the electric company will always will never turn anything off then you effectively institute a system under which the only people who will pay for electricity will be those who pay for it voluntarily now the number is Eve able to do that the only two alternatives no but I'm just showing you I want to go you've gone to one extreme I'm going to the other extreme and show you that where the responsibility really lies for the kind of thing you're describing the responsibility really lies not on the electric company for turning it off but on those of this man's neighbors and friends and associates who are not charitable enough to enable him as an individual to meet the electric bill your rule you're blaming you're blaming the wrong person for what happened




Comments
  1. Michael Moore in this case argues against his own example. He says that not every life is valuable because he believes in abortion, therefore why is he arguing that human life is worth $100,000 or $200,000?

  2. Yeah, any person could die of any reason, but when you talk about morality, shouldn't the issue have been disclosed when they found it? Sounds like intentional negligence in my opinion.

    Life is full of questions that don't have answers. What if your parent was one of those hurt by a defective product? What would you do? Forgive and forget? I wouldn't call Friedman's philosophy the truth as you'll start to question his philosophy when you ponder the purpose of Capitalism, and the role it plays in the desires of the human soul. Yes, we've made progress in the living conditions of most humans, but how much of that is due to Capitalism, and how much is that due to the invention of new technology/machines? And does it pay in the long run to turn a blind eye to everyone that gets in the way of profits?

  3. Young people have not engaged in free Enterprise and taking on responsibility yet so they don’t quite see how the system works. Youngster wonder why more items are not free. Someone will always have to pay, nothing is free

  4. What an absolute knob. Heartless capitalist showing his true colours. Yes paper money is worth sooo much more than other's lives, misery and suffering huge eye roll Absolutely flawed logic, look a little deeper Friedman and use some compassion while you're at it instead of mindlessly defending an economic system that does not work for everyone

  5. A tragedy yes, 1The electric company does not know the exact health of each consumer. 2. So a 30 year old demands from the electric company free electricity (lying of course) because he or a family member is in poor health??? Imagine the fraud!!! Come on people think!!! Friedman is right! The community is to blame!!

  6. I agreed on the first question. But the electric company, which is a company established by our government for the common good of the people, dependent on if it is doing it's part or not will have accountability. The government is ultimately the responsibile party, since it is supposed to protect it's people.

  7. What I can appreciate from this exchange is that the student did some homework as opposed to simply regurgitating empty sentiments he hadn't given any thought to. He seems so innocent. Students in newer videos with opposing views are rarely so inclined to have discourse, wow!

  8. MF has said, "Can a building have moral obligations? If a building can't have social responsibility, what does it mean to say a corporation can?" Fine. But corporations claim the rights of a person, without the responsibilities. The outcome has been one disaster after another, to the point that of the relatively few habitable places on earth, it is those where corporate pursuit of profit dominates that now threaten the entire biosphere. And that, to the extent that the corporate model of development holds sway, since it has sweeping rights, but ever fewer responsibilities.

  9. So is this student engaging in "moral relativism" ?

    I'm trying to understand the concept of moral relitivism.

    There's a principle at play here that Milton Friedman is trying to understand and explore, where as the student appears to be mainly interested in view the situation in a way that is meaningful to him. He feels strongly about some perceive injustice and is willing to disregard the principles of free choice and personal responsibility.

    (I know I'm either not getting that right or I don't fully understand it. If anyone out there is willing I welcome corrections and observations)

  10. If that young guy was asserting something factual about Ford, then Ford grossly miscalculated the financial cost to their business for not putting in the extra safety feature and sacrificing however many people who bought their products per year. Not factoring the people who would no longer do business with them because of their failure to build in extra safety features due to bad press etc would be a costly mistake.

    Also you can't both complain about companies not spending x amount on safety features, then have to put their prices up and then complain that companies are not providing services cheap enough that end up cost people their lives because they are too expensive (as with the guy who couldn't afford heating).

  11. Capitalism isn't moral. Morality only exist, as long as it's profitable, it's productive. If you can pillage a local economy for quick profit, do it. The economy is 'improving,' so it's moral.

    If you need to use the Government to rig the economy in your favor, then do it. It doesn't matter. Profit matters more.

  12. Notice how even back then the student states that he’s pro abortion because some lives are worth more than others…admitting it’s a life and not a bundle of cells. Yet he’s upset about some deaths involving the amount of money within an automobile industry.
    I’m not jazzed about some things pertaining conservatives but I fucking hate liberals.

  13. Moore aint learned an effing thing in 50 years. He still tries to evade the facts, he still "thinks" that things should be as he wants them to be and he can't WAIT to disarm you, so that he can FORCE you to do things his way.

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