It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times


A small, weird note: In addition to being the sad day of Milton Friedman's death, today is also Robert Nozick's birthday.

NEXT: Milton Friedman, 1912-2006

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  1. Both Friedman and Nozick were committed Zionists whose support for Israel never waved. If only Israel had taken their economic advice.

  2. Friedman opposed government aid to Israel both on principle and on the grounds that it harmed the Israelis:

    Israel, however, had what would be widely regarded as a major advantage, although I don’t regard it as such. Israel received much foreign aid from the U.S. government and other governments around the world…

    Also check out his interesting comparison of Israel with Hong Kong:

    …from 1960 to 1996, its average per capita income went from 60 percent more than Hong Kong’s to 40 percent less.

    …the most plausible explanation is that Israel followed a socialist policy and Hong Kong a free market policy. Government spending in Hong Kong was, at its maximum, about 15 percent of national income. Government spending in Israel was at times close to 100 percent of national income. (That may seem an impossibility, but it isn’t because of the mysteries of national income accounting.) The socialist policy was Israel’s folly, though it did less harm than the corresponding policy did in Britain, partly, in my opinion, because the British were much more law abiding.

  3. An open letter to Bill Bennett (on drug prohibition) by Milton Friedman 1990.

  4. Friedman on Israel’s need for free trade:

    Israel is in trouble in part because its government is too large. Israel has been a very controlled and regulated state, far from a free market. Part of that involved discrimination against Israel’s Arab neighbors. Israel would have done far better if it had had a lot freer trade with it’s Arab neighbors and made fewer attempts to restrict trade.

  5. I just got an email about this thread so…Discloser: I’m not Jewish nor any religious or ethnic group often associated with either affinity or antipathy toward Israel..

  6. Of course Friedman criticized Israel’s socialist government, but he supported the Zionist project wholehartedly. So did his wife Rose.

  7. The man who would do most to advance Milton Friedman’s ideas in Israel is Bejamin Netanyahu. Both he and Friedman spoke at this event:

  8. Saul,

    Could you provide evidence that Friedman: “supported the Zionist project wholehartedly.”? Just curious, I’m not contending that he didn’t. I do know that Friedman was against our government giving the Israeli government our money.

    From the link you provided:

    As minister of finance since 2003, Mr. Netanyahu is moving Israel toward a free-market, free-price system. The government has cut taxes, reduced spending, and privatized state-owned enterprises such as El Al air-line.

    Yea! Is Netanyahu available to hold a domestic policy position in our government?

    But I’m guessing that his commitment to economic liberty doesn’t include abandoning the barriers against free trade with Israel’s neighbors that Friedman criticizes in the link that I provided above. If I’m wrong on this matter, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  9. Rose and David Friedman,

    Many of us here want you to know that we loved Milton too.

  10. What a great man! (Friedman)

  11. I will second that. May you be comforted together with all other mourners for Zion and Jerusalem. Barukh Dayan Emet.

  12. As someone who supports Israel in theory but not so much as it has been practiced, I would love nothing more than for the Palestinians to seize Friedman’s ideas so that the Gaza Strip can become the Hong Kong of the Middle East.

    Unfortunately, Israel pursues a racist policy of not allowing the Gaza Strip to trade with the outside world, preventing that from happening even if the will was there, but one can hope that some day Israel can act like a grown-up country and not sink to the level of their Arab neighbors.

  13. Also, Katherine, you should know that “It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Blurst of Times” would have been a much more appropriate Hit & Run subject line.

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