Wednesday, January 17, 2007

John Holt on Milton Friedman

When and to what degree should we citizens be allowed to protect ourselves against the crooked and incompetent, to decide what we will buy or use, or who we will work with, and when should we be protected whether we ask to be or not, and if so how, and by whom? Beyond that, is our present system of giving licenses through S-chools a good way, or the best way, or the only way of doing this? I think it is none of these. Too often the protectors don't protect, but turn themselves into a new conspiracy to exploit and defraud the public. We could probably protect ourselves quite well against many (but not all) dangers, if we were not early in life made into expert-worshippers, and if we could easily find out the truth about the dangers. Thus, the conservative economist Milton Friedman has said that even medical doctors should not be licensed. If someone thinks he can heal others, let him say so, and get what clients he can. But require him to make open to everyone both his methods and the results of his work, including the names and addresses of all his past clients, so that would-be clients can check up on him. To a large extent, people with money enough to choose do this now; they would not think of going to a doctor (or dentist, or lawyer) without asking former patients or clients what they thought of him.
—John Holt, Instead of Education, chapter 16

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