INTERVIEWER: Marxists say that property is theft. Why, in your view, is private property so central to freedom?
MILTON FRIEDMAN: Because the only way in which you can be free to bring your knowledge to bear in your particular way is by controlling your property. If you don’t control your property, if somebody else controls it, they’re going to decide what to do with it, and you have no possibility of exercising influence on it. The interesting thing is that there’s a lot of knowledge in this society, but, as Friedrich Hayek emphasized so strongly, that knowledge is divided. I have some knowledge; you have some knowledge; he has some knowledge. How do we bring these scattered bits of knowledge back together? And how do we make it in the self-interest of individuals to use that knowledge efficiently? The key to that is private property, because if it belongs to me, you know, there’s an obvious fact. Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.