Thanks Richard for a detailed and well-presented article. It continues to surprise me how easily people gravitate to simple-minded “solutions” even when they are nominally supposed to be somewhat intelligent. Friedman et al were so enamored of the “free market” that they failed to remember Adam Smith’s most important point: markets are far superior to government edict in enabling a more efficient allocation of resources but the role of government is not to abdicate altogether but to legislate so as to prevent the inevitable abuses that will follow if business owners are permitted to collaborate so as to rig markets in their favor.
Furthermore, in many markets there is no inherent competition and so relying on market forces is stupid, as the Brits painfully discovered with their inept privatizations of natural monopolies such as water and sewage supply, electricity supply, and trains.
It’s a shame so many nations appear unable to notice the fundamental problems inherent in the “Chicago School” approach to economics even today.