PETERSON: Well I think it’s necessary to contrast what’s happened in the interim. I don’t see how we can talk about that without comparing it with the interim period. Now you talked earlier about the fact that during the last fifty years we had squandered some of our inheritance of freedom, and I believe during the last fifty years we really have improved our freedom. I spent over half that time working for one of the world’s largest industrial companies, the Dupont Company, deeply involved with the launching of new ventures; and got to know the free enterprise system well, and have a very healthy respect for it. But during that interval, and particularly during the last few years when I have been more involved with government and with environmental matters, I have become convinced that our freedom was improved when the people are allowed to add to their freedom in the marketplace, the freedom to vote with their ballots in the polling place, to put some restraints on the excesses of the marketplace, particularly when you’re concerned with such things as the long-term impact on our health from the pollution of our environment, the introduction of carcinogenic materials, or the radiation of our people with nuclear products.
FRIEDMAN: What about putting some restraints on the excesses of government. Hasn’t that become an ever more serious problem? How is it that a government of the people, supposedly, does things which a very large fraction of the people would really prefer not to have done, such as overtax them, over govern them, over regulate them. I think you’re looking, again, at one side and not the other. And, of course, I agree we have to look at what’s happened in the interim. We’re better off than we were fifty years ago. Never would deny that. But we stand on the shoulders of the people that went before us, and we have to look at how much they achieved from where they started, and that was the period in which you had the tremendous influx of immigrants from abroad, millions and millions and millions of them, when you opened up a new continent, when you had achievements.
McKENZIE: Milton, are you saying, though, that there’s any sense, in which you’d rather go back to those circumstances where there are no regulations of factory work, no hours, limitations of hours worked. Do you want to return to that or do you say that was a stepping stone to where we are now?
FRIEDMAN: It depends on what you mean by circumstances. I don’t want to have to go back to using a horse and buggy instead of an automobile, but I would prefer to go back to the kinds of governmental regulations, or absence of regulations, the greater degree of freedom which was given to individuals to pursue one activity or another, which prevailed then, than which prevails now.