Lanny Ebenstein: The Indispensable Milton Friedman

“As much as he was a great public intellectual, a great scholar, he was also a great teacher,” Lanny Ebenstein says about the subject of his new book, The Indispensable Milton Friedman: Essays on Politics and Economics. Ebenstein's collection of neglected articles, interviews, and lectures provides fresh insight as to why, even six years after his death, the Nobel Prize-winning economist continues to be revered around the world.

Spanning six decades of thought, Ebenstein's book shows how Milton Friedman, more than any other economist, transformed the national debate about capitalism in the second half of the 20th century. Arising to prominence when Keynesianism and five-year plans had become mainstream around the world, Friedman's persuasive arguments for individual liberty pushed against the current. From his advocacy of school vouchers, to a contemporary, free-market solution to our healthcare crisis, his perspective on world events remain as compelling today as ever.

Would Friedman have supported the Federal Reserve's stimulative policy as a proper response to our recessionary times? How should our economy react to the imminent retirement of the Baby Boom generation? Lanny Ebenstein recently sat down with ReasonTV's Nick Gillespie to answer these questions and discuss Friedman's enduring legacy as a scholar, teacher, and public intellectual.

About five minutes and forty seconds long.

Camera by Josh Swain and Zach Weissmueller. Edited by Todd Krainin.

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  • The Derider||

    "... to a contemporary, free-market solution to our healthcare crisis"

    Thank you for reminding everyone that Milton Friedman, idispensable defender of capitalism and individual liberty, supported an individual mandate to purchase health insurance.

  • An0nB0t||

    When you're right, you're right. Dr. Friedman is universally beloved for his role in the establishment of the withholding tax, as Nixon's court libertarian, and as a monetarist. If there's has ever been a man who stood as the moral core of libertarianism, it was Milton Friedman.

  • ||

    So? You act like the simple fact he supported this means we have to support it too. It's the other way around; libertarians love Milton Friedman because the he was brilliant, not because people automatically accepted him and thus decided everything he said had to be correct. How hard is that to understand?

  • Killazontherun||

    Evidently, pretty goddamned impossible.

  • Brandybuck||

    According to Lew Rockwell, Friedman was not an Austrian Economist, and therefore the worst person to have ever lived. Actually, according to Lew ANY economist who is not an Austrian Economist is the worst person to have ever lived. Not only that, Friedman was a fallible human being, and thus was doubly the worst person to have ever lived.

    Would I take a Friedmanite monetary policy over our current Fed? Absolutely! Would I take a Friedmanite tuition voucher system over our current school system? Absolutely! Would I take a Friedmanite negative tax system over our current tax morass? Absolutely!

    The choices before us are not status quo versus perfection.

  • An0nB0t||

    Agree, but the point is that Friedman is not the uber-Libertarian you want your kids to idolize when they're growing up. He is the single greatest debater I've ever had the pleasure of listening to, and I'd use him as the gold standard (hah) for anyone who wanted to learn the basics of forensics, but he was also a malleable political economist who was more interested in short-term compromises than long-term gains and moral political ideology. Embracing charter schools as anything other than a temporary compromise position ignores the NAP, and the negative income tax is necessarily anti-NAP. Friedman frequently described himself as a big-R Republican and small-l libertarian, and, as always, he was absolutely honest in that assessment.

    It may be that I'm not being generous enough with Milton; I watch Free to Choose every year and enjoy every minute, and even in the age of Paul, he remains the best popular spokesman for elementary libertarianism. But I can't imagine that anyone, not even a cosmo like Dalmia, would suggest that Friedman is a better ideological representative of libertarian ideology than Paul, Hayek, or Rothbard.

  • Muzzle of Bees||

    Friedman said later in life that he supported abolishing the Fed.

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