Source: Liberty Pen-C-SPAN: Brian Lamb- Milton Friedman Personally Speaking in 1994
One of the things I like and respect about Milton Friedman's history and politics, is that his history and life story has shaped his libertarian politics and how he looks at the world. That he came from practically nothing or very little. And worked his way up by earning a college scholarship from Rutgers University and working his way up in life that way. Which I believe is a big reason why's he's been so against welfare and the welfare state. At least to the extent that it's there to take care of people because with Dr. Friedman's life, he wasn't raised on public assistance. And didn't live his life off of public assistance, but he showed that people could make it in life on their own. Even if they come from very little and make something out of their lives, if they are just given the opportunity to do so. Which is a classical liberal idea, not Libertarian but classical liberal idea. An economic Liberal idea that people who even come from very little in life if they are just given the opportunity to do so.
What separates Liberals such as myself from Classical Libertarians, is that Liberals believe that government can play a role through scholarships and grants to empowering people in need. Especially kids who come from rough beginnings. Who work hard and are qualified to go to a good college and even adults who've made mistakes early on in life. But just need an opportunity and empowerment to be successful if life and then they'll be able to do that as well. The 1996 Welfare to Work law being a perfect example of that. Economic liberalism is not about telling people what to do and how to live their lives and telling people how much they can make and punishing economic success through high taxation.Which is essentially what democratic socialism or social democracy is. Or is it about getting government completely out of the economy. Which is what Libertarians tend to believe. But economic liberalism is about seeing that everyone can do well in life. And empowering people at the bottom to be able to advance on their own through economic opportunity.
I agree with Milton Friedman that if we're going to have a public safety net and I believe in a public safety net, but Professor Friedman would probably say, "if we're going to have a public safety net, then it needs to be designed to empower people in need to be able to move up in life. And that is should encourage work and independence and be temporary for people who only need it. But everyone else who can should be able to take care of themselves and support themselves from their own hard-earned income." I'm not even paraphrasing Professor Friedman here, but that is what he essentially believed with his proposed Negative Income Tax and support for Welfare to Work in the 1990s. Liberals believe that government should be an insurance system and a referee for the economy. Not the director and have something top-down centralized big government welfare state. But to protect consumer and workers from predators. And help people who fall through the cracks of the private enterprise system and help them get back up.