Milton Friedman on Crony Capitalism in the US Oil Industry

Iowa Climate Science Education

“Few U.S. industries sing the praises of free enterprise more loudly than the oil industry. Yet few industries rely so heavily on special governmental favors.” (Milton Friedman, 1967)

In honor of his 107th birthday, MasterResource reprints a 1967 essay by Milton Friedman, “Oil and the Middle East,” which nicely summarized the political power and cronyism of the domestic oil industry at the time. [1] Far from just historical, the animus created by pro-crony policies over a half century came home to roost in the 1970s when Northeast politicians and others imposed price controls and new taxes on the industry. That animus exists today under the hubris of climate policy.


From the 1920s through the early 1970s, the political power of the domestic oil industry (primarily independent oil producers versus the integrated majors) succeeded in having the major oil states (excepting California) artificially restrict (‘prorate’) production to ‘market…

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