CARD DEALER: Cards are coming out now, high
wager players saying they have… (poker chips clicking, background conversation) FRIEDMAN: When the evening started, all of
these players had about the same number of chips in front of them. But, as the play progressed
they surely didn’t, some won, some lost. By the end of the evening, some of them will
have a big pile of chips, others will have small ones. There’ll be big winners, there’ll
be big losers. In the name of equality, should the winnings be redistributed to the losers,
so that everybody ends up where he started? That would take all the fun out of the game.
Even the losers wouldn’t like that. They might like it tonight, but would they come
back again to play if they knew that whatever happened, they’d end up exactly where they
had started? (roulette wheel spinning) (background music and casino noise) But, what does Las Vegas have to do with the
real world? A great deal more than you might think. It’s one very important part of our
life in highly concentrated form. Every day, all of us, are making decisions that involve
gambles, sometimes they’re big gambles as when we decide what occupation to pursue,
or whom to marry. More often, they’re small gambles as when we decide whether to cross
the street against the traffic. But each time, the question is: who shall
make the decision, we or somebody else? We can make the decision only if we bear the
consequences. That’s the economic system that has transformed our society in the past
century and more. That’s what gave the Henry Ford’s, the Thomas Alva Edison’s; the
Christian Barnard’s the incentives to produce the miracles that have benefited us all. It’s
what gave other people the incentive to provide them with the finance for their ventures.
Of course, there were lots of losers along the way. We don’t remember their names,
but remember they went in with their eyes open, they knew what they were doing, and
win or lose, we society, benefited from their willingness to take a chance.