Textual Analysis Final [Humphreys]

Who is Milton Friedman? Well known in the economics world, Friedman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis in 1976, however, he has a very strong opinion when it comes to public policy. Friedman focuses on the individual freedom of people and has a strong emphasis on monetary policy, this has helped people across the United States. In a letter to Bill Bennett regarding drug usage in the US, Friedman uses various rhetorical devices to get his point across and back up his stance on the problem. Although there are many literary devices, Friedman’s use of word choice, personal accomplishments, and common sense build a strong argument in his letter.

In the english language many words can give a certain kind of connotation, making the reader feel a certain way; Friedman does this throughout his letter, hoping he can attack Bennett’s emotions and change his view. When someone refers to someone as innocent, it often means they have done nothing wrong; in the letter, Friedman uses the words “innocent victims” to stimulate emotions in Bennett. “Innocent victims” in this case means someone who has died but not meant to die, this can bring a sad emotion to the reader and really get their attention. Friedman wants the reader to feel bad and demand a change in society. To instill fear into the reader Friedman uses words like murderous, infested and suffering. Although the word murderous might not seem that scary, when using it describe the tactics used by drug lords, it sets a morbid tone to the letter. Other words like infested and suffering do the same through their negative connotations.

Milton Friedman is a decorated economist, he is most known for winning the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Due to his successes, the reader knows he is a credible source; this instills trust in the reader because they know all the facts are true and have good intentions. People often see ethos when a brand is trying to promote something, the company will hire celebrities to be in their ads and campaigns so they gain the audience’s trust and buy their product. Friedmans goal is to help the people of America and ensure a safer environment. It is important that individuals who look to Friedman as a source that they find him credible and trustworthy. The last paragraph is his call for help, he says “This plea comes from the bottom of my heart”, here the reader sees a genuine concern for the people, if the reader knows he is credible and honest they will agree with anything he writes. This is a key factor in trying to persuade the audience, the reader knows before even looking at the piece if it is going to be truthful or not.

Common sense, something not everyone has but needs. Friedman uses logic as a way to persuade the reader as well. Using economic supply and demand, Friedman makes a point by saying, “Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts”, in other words if there was less supply then there would also be a lesser demand for drugs, in turn, helping our society. By adding key facts it builds up a wall that backs up his argument. He uses details like, “Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition”, this argument has evidence from statistics and studies that make it near impossible to disagree with. Logos persuades the audience, it gives them an argument they can’t win because each claim has facts to back it up.

The overall goal for Friedman was to convince Bill Bennett that he was right, however Friedman knew he was going to be tough to persuade so he had to incorporate rhetorical devices in order to do so. Pathos is the quality that give the reader emotions, Friedman does this through his word choice, choosing words that would make the audience feel sad or fearful. Credibility is important when trying to persuade someone, Milton Friedman is well known and has many years of education to back up his arguments. Lastly, his use of logos ties it all together giving Bill Bennett an uncrackable argument. With a tough audience, Friedman makes good points and backs up his work well.


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