Milton Friedman on Reality Shows

Listening to religious and political representatives, in this case it was Smriti Irani and Farooq Siddiqi on Times Now, moralising about what content should and shouldn't be on TV, I almost squirmed in my seat. After all, I am a man of faith too, and these people make us all seem like moralising ignoramuses.

The topic of discussion was Reality shows with special reference to the Indian version of 'Moment of Truth'. Smriti even squeezed in a thought about how our culture has helped us weather the economic crisis. I almost fell off my chair, guffawing.

There are reality shows I find crass and demeaning. But that's no reason for me to advocate them being shut down (note my take on morality guiding advertising). If I don't like the show, I can switch the channel. In the world of remote controls, that's easy, isn't it? I am also game to the suggestion that, should a show have content that could be considered troubling to kids, it can be slotted for late night. But, no, the moralists in Smriti and Farooq ranted and raved against how the latest reality show was only trying to rake in the TRPs. I wonder what Smriti Irani's soaps (me thinks they are as pathetic as certain reality shows) were trying to do? Usher in salvation?

Milton Friedman warns us of such 'do gooders' in his classic, 'Free to Choose'. He states, 'Indeed, there is hardly one of us who is not engaged in 'interested sophistry' in one area or another. In Pogo's immortal words, 'We have met the enemy and they is us'. We rail against 'special interests' except when the 'special interest' happens to be our own. Each of us knows that what is good for him is good for the country - so our 'special interest' is different. The end result is a maze of restraints and restrictions that makes all of us worse off than we would be if all of them were eliminated. We lose far more from measures that serve other 'special interests' than we gain form measures that serve our 'special interest'.

So now you know when the likes of Smriti and Farooq demand control over such shows, whose special interests they serve.

Will we collectively be the worse off? Isn't it obvious?


Popular Posts