Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Newt in 2006: "Renew Milton Friedman's Conservatism"

After Milton Friedman's death in 2006, Newt, along with David Merritt, penned a piece on NationalReview.com titled "Renew Milton Friedman's Conservatism."

In it, they called for the types of solutions Friedman always wanted -- those that powered individuals, and thus markets -- in two areas specifically: health care and education. "Friedman would agree that government can and should play a role in overcoming these challenges. But he would warn that its role must be limited, as he often said that a government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem itself."

On education:
The success of school choice, when properly administered, is indisputable -- proven by hoards of academic studies and thousands of personal experiences. School choice attracts better teachers, encourages creative curriculum, and improves student achievement. Friedman was a passionate advocate for school choice, particularly through his work at the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation. He argued -- correctly -- that by applying market principles to education, you empower students and parents at the expense of bureaucratic government control. This combination, of limited government and a vibrant market, never fails to deliver better outcomes -- even in public education.
On health care:
We need to put the consumer at the center of the health-care system, just as we do in every other market. And the surest way to do this is by creating a national market to purchase health insurance.


More competition among insurers in a national market will encourage more creative products, better services and lower prices — just as it always does wherever competition thrives — and every American will be able to find affordable coverage.


A vital part of this rational market is the availability of information. Information on performance, cost, and quality allows consumers to make informed decisions, but health care is perhaps the only market in which consumers have virtually no access to this information. When Americans shop for a new car, home, or thousands of other items, they quickly and easily gather information on cost and quality from an endless array of resources. But in health care, consumers are blind. Try finding out how a doctor stacks up against his colleagues. Try finding out how much a hospital charges for an elective surgery. Try finding out which surgical team has the lowest mortality rate.
Gingrich and Merritt wrap the article up this way:
Friedman was right: The only way to do this is to allow markets to work. A fitting tribute to him — and our country — would be a new generation of leaders who see intrusive government as part of our problems and markets as part of the solutions. By applying the conservative, market-based solutions that Milton Friedman so passionately and eloquently advocated, we will undoubtedly bring about real change and build a brighter future for America.

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