The Corner

Immigration & The Conservative Crack Up Cont’d

From a reader:

Jonah — you’ve read enough Milton Friedman

to know better than to conflate a party of small

and big businessmen with a “party of free enterprise”.

You write:

“many small businessmen and even more big businessmen are

in favor of some kind of amnesty or amnesty-like solution.

It’s silly to say that the GOP is the party of free enterprise

and at the same time say that a significant portion of the

free enterprisers don’t constitute part of the base”

Friedman would laugh in your general direction.

Milton Friedman wrote:

“The two chief enemies of the free society or free enterprise are

intellectuals on the one hand and businessmen on the other, for opposite

reasons. Every intellectual believes in freedom for himself, but he’s

opposed to freedom for others.…He thinks…there ought to be a central

planning board that will establish social priorities.…The businessmen are

just the opposite—every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody

else, but when it comes to himself that’s a different question. He’s always

the special case. He ought to get special privileges from the government, a

tariff, this, that, and the other thing…”

What businessmen today want is a taxpayer subsidized cheap labor

pool that never goes dry — i.e. they want a powerless pool of laborers

who are largely supported by social welfare benefits payed for by the


Friedman pointed out again and again that a party of businessmen is

typically not a party of free enterprise.  Adam Smith is known to have

said the same thing …

Me: I agree entirely with the distinction between business interest and free enterprisers and I should have been more careful in how I framed it. But, I do think my basic political point — that business interests, particularly small business are part of the GOP base — was and is accurate. 

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