Economics

Milton Friedman, RIP

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Undoubtedly the most successful and influential proponent of libertarian thought in the 20th century, Milton Friedman, died last night at age 94. His successes as both a technical economist and libertarian polemicist are enormous. We can thank him, in large part, for happy events from the elimination of the draft to the conquest of inflation. Just a quick note now–his impact was staggering, and there could never be enough words said in praise of him.

My 1995 Reason interview with him.

A 2005 Reason interview, with Nick Gillespie, on his legacy of fighting for school choice.

His most recent Reason interview, with me, in our November issue, as part of a roundtable on the Federal Reserve.

Jacob Sullum's celebration of Friedman's 90th birthday.

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  1. This is a sad day, for true.

  2. I saw him speak at a conference in San Jose once (and met his son, David)–he was as impressive in person as on paper.

    A great man, and a great loss. R.I.P.

  3. Sad day indeed. We’ll miss ya Mr. Friedman.

  4. This is the first time I’ve cried since my grandfather passed away.

  5. Wow! Thanks for the heads-up. And thanks to a truly great America.

  6. I was a strange bird in college, a non-economics major who loved economics.

    Thanks Mr. Friedman for helping me to open my eyes a little wider and see things as they really are.

    R.I.P.

  7. Here’s to a long, well-lived life serving his fellow man.
    Cheers!

  8. A great and influential man. One of the greatest intellectuals of our time. R.I.P.

  9. I was fortunate enough to see him in Cabo a few months ago. Yes, just see. I mean, what do you say to Milton Friedman? I felt intrusive enough just taking his picture.

    A tip of the glass………

  10. RIP, Uncle Milty.

    He’s the man who made me a libertarian.

  11. Sadly, another beacon of liberty has been extinguished. But Dr. Friedman enlightened and energized a whole generation of libertarians. We are his legacy; let’s do what we can to make him proud.
    Condolences to David, Rose and the entire
    Friedman family.

  12. Milton Friedman dead and Paul Krugman still ranting at the NY Times. Is there no justice in this world?

  13. I don’t think it goes to far to echo Stanton’s words upon Lincoln’s death, and say Mr. Friedman now belongs to the ages. We stand upon the shoulders of giants.

  14. Rest in Peace and thank you, Mr. Friedman.

  15. God speed Milton. You will be greatly missed.

  16. The Wine Commonsewer,

    I was amazed how short he was when I saw him. But he’s a giant in every other way!

    By the way, isn’t Cabo great? I kayaked to the arch, caught dolphin (the fishing there is great), saw whales, sailed on a wooden ship, and ate great Mexican food when I was there. And had some awesome margaritas and mojitos (the latter being Cuban, but good anyway). I also went to the best bar on the planet, El Squid Roe.

    Incidentally, the real Mexican Independence Day is 16 de Septiembre.

    I’m glad that you posted his picture. It looks like he was going strong until the end. Pretty danged good for 94!

  17. He was also as genuinely nice and decent a person as he was a sharp and clear thinker.

    And that is saying a lot.

  18. John, I hesitate to type the name of the NYT columnist you mention in a thread devoted to news of the passing of Milton Friedman, but if anyone wishes to understand what popular writing from the vantage point of the economist is capable of, Friedman’s columns in Newsweek are well worth reading today, to say the least. I wonder if they ever have been collected in book form.

  19. Will Allen: Yes, they have (click my name).

  20. Christ, doesn’t anyone remember Murray Rothbard’s take on Friendman?

    In fact, in this as in other such cases, suspicion is precisely the right response for the libertarian, for Professor Friedmans particular brand of “free-market economics” is hardly calculated to ruffle the feathers of the powers-that-be. Milton Friedman is the Establishment’s Court Libertarian, and it is high time that libertarians awaken to this fact of life.

    It’s a shame anyone suffers and dies, but please, spare us the hagiography which declares one of the guys who was responsible for income tax withholding to be a libertarian champion.

  21. Yes, Pro, Cabo was fab. As pricey as here, but we had a perfect time.

    However, I am still jonesing for Aloha………..

    I, too, was amazed at how short he was.

  22. Thank you, Mr. Friedman. May you rest in peace.

    Here’s to a great thinker and a great man.

  23. My father got to have lunch with Dr. Friedman when he was in college; I’ve always envied that. When I was younger, it was Friedman who helped me transition from Rand-style libertarianism to something more grown-up.
    I’ve known this day would come, but it’s still sad. Thanks for everything, Doctor.

  24. Will Allen,

    The old PBS Friedman did in the late 70s or early 80s were fabulous. I think every American ought to have to watch them before being allowed to vote. I can’t imagine what the typical lefty PBS viewer must of thought of them and I still can’t believe PBS agreed to them.

  25. So what was the bigger tragedy of the Nixon administration: Watergate, or Dick’s doing pretty much the exact opposite of what his adviser Milton Friedman told him to do in economic policy?

  26. The old PBS Friedman did in the late 70s or early 80s were fabulous.

    You can still see them on Google Video (just search Milton Friedman).

  27. One thing that ought to be mentioned on this thread that hasn’t been is that Friedman definitely ended the myth that Hoover caused the great depression and Roosevelt’s programs did anything to help it. His writings in the early 1960s on monetary policy and the mistakes the Federal Reserve made causing the depression are probably the most significant pieces of academic writing in economics in the last century. Before, Friedman economists were like doctors in the middle-ages, they had no idea was caused the malidies they were trying to treat and often their cures were worse than the diseases. After Friedman, economists at least knew how to do no harm.

  28. Thank you, Mr. F. RIP

  29. Herrick, if one discounts that Watergate may have been one of the chief reasons that the Cambodians were completely abandoned to the tender mercies of Pol Pot, then it is easily argued that wage and price controls, and the installation of Arthur Burns at the Fed, made Watergate look like a minor slip-up.

    Nixon was forced to resign for the lesser reason.

  30. Thanks, asg.

  31. My intention is not to denegrate Dr. Friedman, but I have often used him as an example of how the casual and pragmatic evil that we do almost always outlives the most heroic of our valiant efforts.

    Payroll tax withholding was Milton Friedman’s idea, but despite the subsequent 50 years of writing, teaching and championing economic freedom we remain burdened with this evil.

    Payroll tax withholding is not just an evil intrusion into the lives of workers, but it aids in the unfettered growth of government which leads to further losses of freedom and more taxes.

    Rest peacefully, Milton Friedman. I pray that all your good ideas will yet overcome that bad one.

  32. Will Allen,

    I never thought of it quite that way, but good point. Thinka bout this, without Nixon’s screwups not only do we not get the stagflation of the 1970s, we also don’t get the 20% interest rates and horrific 1982 recession that were the result of Paul Volker’s fixing the problem.

  33. Thanks Mr. Friedman.

  34. On a similar note, several of my libertarian friends have never forgiven Reagan for instituting state income tax withholding in Californicate.

  35. Watergate does not bother me.

  36. I wonder if Friedman’s being mourned in Chile.

  37. Nonny, yer right, maybe Miltie will roast in hell for his transgressions against the populace.

  38. Pat

    What a denigration of your grandfather, whom you presumably actually knew. Your tears are too cheap. Get a grip.

  39. “He’s the man who made me a libertarian.”
    Herrick

    Too bad he’s dead, or I’d ask him to make me one? What material did he use? Sawdust for the brains, I’ll bet.

  40. Rand-style libertarianism to something more grown-up

    If Objectivism is college, Libertarianism is 7th Grade.

  41. NoStar

    Do you really think that nobody would have thought of payroll tax withholding if Friedman hadn’t come up with it? The intensity of your ideological commitment makes me think that maybe you’re a libertarian only because the maoists didn’t get to you first.

  42. Is it impossible to find a collection of Friedman’s Newsweek columns?

  43. Concerning withholding taxes, I hate taxes as much as anyone, but we do have to have a government and to do that we need taxes. The income tax is a pretty efficient and fair tax when compared to other forms of taxes such as property taxes and ad volum taxes. It is not Friedman’s fault that the government went bizerk with payroll taxes. Further, even if no on had ever thought of payroll taxes, you don’t think the government couldn’t collect too many taxes using other forms of taxation? Do you people really believe that the only way the government can over tax people is through the evil payroll tax? If you do, you have never lived in a state with high property and sales taxes.

  44. John,

    I saw reference to a book called There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, which is a collection of his Newsweek columns. I think it was published in 1977 or so.

  45. Is it impossible to find a collection of Friedman’s Newsweek columns?

    Yes John, according to an earlier post by asg there in book form. You can buy the book on amazon.com

    http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Promises-Dismal-Performance-Economists/dp/0156141612/sr=8-1/qid=1163701256/ref=sr_1_1/102-0877217-5874546?ie=UTF8&s=books&tag=reasonmagazinea-20

    I not sure if they are on the web though

  46. A telling Friedman quote:

    http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/fri0int-2

    “My parents were Orthodox Jews, but they weren’t fanatic about it. They observed the dietary laws and so on, but there was nothing fanatical about it. They weren’t, but I was. In my early years, I was fanatic about it. If this was right, this was the religion, you should do what you had to do, and so I was scrupulous, at about the age of 11 or 12, maybe 13. Not quite 13, I guess. Ten, 11 or 12. I was an enormously observant Jew. I remember once going on a joint Boy Scout trip, a trip with a number of Boy Scout troops, in which they were going to have hot dogs for lunch. They were not Kosher hot dogs, so I ran away, because I didn’t have the courage to stand up and say I wasn’t going to eat them. That was a defect in my character, and I simply ran away. But then, somehow or another, and I don’t know where, I began to question it. When I finally decided that there was no fundamental basis for it, that all of this was mostly myths and prejudice, then I went the other way. My wife will tell you that I became fanatically anti-religious.”

  47. I just want to second or third what Brian Doherty said.

  48. Edit earlier post:

    there is supposed to be they’re

  49. He never ever gave up his fight against the “Distroyers” of Education,the NEA.
    Plaese note, I attented a public school as a LAD , and known first hand what these people care and do not care about.

  50. Edit earlier post:

    no question mark after the first sentence

  51. I always found it incredible that so many people listened to Galbraith rather than Friedman.

    Friedman will be missed.

  52. Joe, I like you pretty well and don’t typically think you’re a troll, but do you have to mock people paying their respects? Regardless of how cheesy some people might get, I doubt you’d act like so if you weren’t shielded by the anonymity of the Internet.

  53. Prof Maple
    “Plaese [sic]note, I attented [sic]a public school as a LAD , and known [sic] first hand what these people care and do not care about.”

    I assume you flunked out.

  54. Lord Duppy

    You’ve got that right.

  55. “He’s the man who made me a libertarian.”

    Herrick and his Balls,
    Shouldn’t that read, “He’s the man who made us libertarians?

    Or do your Balls still hang to the left? Or to the right? Or perhaps one swings left and the other swings right. If the one on the right goes left and the one on the left hangs a right, this could be a knotty problem of near Gordian proportions.

    I do hope to honor Milton Friedman, you Let them Be Free!

  56. Friedman has had lasting influence in mostly the right direction. It is easy for Rothbard to sneer from his favored position of irrelevance.

    RIP Dr. Friedman

  57. Joe,

    I had been more of a big government type back in the day because I did and still do have the liberal inclination to help the poor and downtrodden. Friedman’s work more than any one else’s convinced me that a much more effective way for a government to help the unfortunate is to maintain a free market economy rather than dirigisme or bureaucracy-driven welfare programs.

  58. Milton will be sorely missed, though both his son and his grandson may someday be as original and influential as he.

  59. Income tax withholding was instituted because during the war there were simply too many people like my grandfather who spent all his money on womanizing, gambling, drinking, and smokes. When the tax man came to the door he just shrugged, grinned, and said sorry boys, I’m broke. Can’t get blood out of a turnip and all that.

  60. Thanks for the link for the book. Friedman will definately be mourned in Estonia.

  61. Lord Duppy,

    I daresay this is a different “Joe”. At least, it’s not Captain Former-Planner Democrat and Massachusetts-Lovin’ joe.

  62. At long last can we finally now universally agree that Joe is nothing but a simple troll and ignore him?

    It’s a sad day, but 94 is a hell of a run and he did a hell of a lot for a whole bunch of people. He shall be missed.

  63. Why do ideologues so desperately need Heroes? Friedman was just an economist. Economics isn’t some metaphysical system that generates immutable truths that can be turned into sacred dogma. What we should honor is the disinterested open-minded investigation that is the hallmark of science. All this canonization and adulation is an enormous denigration of the man and his fallible scholarship.

  64. Joe,

    Where did you get your education, the school of hard snarks?

  65. Joe,
    It will take someone with better libertarian credentials than yours to question my ideological commitment and its intensity.

    You are, are you not, a proponent and an enforcer of zoning laws?

  66. Note the capital “J”. As Pro Libertate pointed out, not the “joe” who is a know-it-all urban planner liberal.

  67. Joe typed
    “He’s the man who made me a libertarian.”
    Herrick

    Too bad he’s dead, or I’d ask him to make me one? What material did he use? Sawdust for the brains, I’ll bet.

    LAMO…In the midst of all the e-ulogizing this is the funniest thing I’ve read/heard all day.

  68. I’m a libertarian. I want government out of the bedroom. I love the free market and free speech. I believe that “troll” is a word mutual self-masturbators use to shut out anybody who intefers with their fun, the sort of people who like only free speech they agree with. I guess I forgot to genuflect.

  69. Friedman was my hero.

    His Free to Choose PBS series (what were they thinking?) and book did more to convert me than anything else. I followed up with a Cato seminar attended by many well known (at that time) lib’s, including a young Walter Williams (who we hung out with over a few [many?] beers) and that was it. My liberal days were over.

    He had the ability to debate in a rational, professional and polite manner, and yet devastate others’ arguments.

    I love his recent quote on open borders, (paraphrased) “Sure, a great idea, if we didn’t have a welfare state.”

  70. NoStar

    Read my post again. Far from questioning your ideological commitment and its intensity, I compared it to that of the maoists. You are one committed ideologue.

  71. Joe:

    Somehow I don’t think Pinochet would have been any less of a murderous bastard if we had him institute the state-capitalist systems that our puppets in South Korea, Taiwan, or Iran utilized. On the other hand (even though this will get me crucified as a heretic on this board), a system more like that of SK or Taiwan probably would have served Chile slightly better. I wouldn’t blame Pinochet on Friedman; I’d blame Pinochet on the idiots who installed him.

  72. I love his recent quote on open borders, (paraphrased) “Sure, a great idea, if we didn’t have a welfare state.”

    Which is unfortunately being used by the fence-builders as evidence that libertarians want a fence too.

  73. Milton Friedman is also the father of Cariadoc of the Bow, the first King of the Middle Kingdom in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

  74. “Which is unfortunately being used by the fence-builders as evidence that libertarians want a fence too.”

    It doesn’t change how right he was. It is not that libertarians don’t want a fence, they don’t, it is that they won’t face the sad reality that the welfare state is never going away.

  75. I’ve got a tear in my eye, but it’s hard to be sad.

    What more could someone with such a titanic intellect want than to put forth and be remembered for good ideas that will live forever?

  76. Go easy, Mr. Friedman. We’ll miss you.

  77. Postmodern

    Friedman’s willing collaboration with the murderous Pinochet makes me wonder about his commitment to freedom. But I forgot. He’s a saint now that he’s dead. Sorry.

  78. I believe that “troll” is a word mutual self-masturbators use to shut out anybody who intefers with their fun, the sort of people who like only free speech they agree with.

    Joe, you are correct. Free speech is wonderful! You are not only a troll, you are an ass. Genuflection aside, claiming that people have “sawdust for brains” and that they are libertarians only because “maoists didn’t get to them first” is trolling. Typical asshat troll doesn’t even use a real email address.

  79. Kwix

    Oh, so that’s what trolling is! Thanks, Kwix. Does calling me an ass and an asshat troll make you a troll then?

  80. Oh well another monetarist has passed…..apparently addition injections of liquidity were unable to rescusitate him!

  81. Oops, I see I confused one joe with another.
    Hit&Run has become sloppy with joes.

    I believe “joe” was here first. Could the rest of of the “Joes” please do something more than capitalize their moniker to differentiate themselves. Use an initial, add an umlaut. Help us out here.

    Hit&Run could use a scorecard with a roster list. “Get yer scorecard here. Ya can’t tell the trolls without a scorecard!”

  82. Shit…..”additional”…….I really need an editor!

  83. How is that?

  84. By the way, Kwix, I never claimed that anybody actually has sawdust for brains. It was just a joke. Did I hit a sore spot?

  85. My sincerest condolences to Rose, who now faces life without her partner of many decades.

  86. I’d have preferred the suggested umlaut: J?seph. It’s angrier. Like G?tterd?mmerung.

  87. Hey, Joseph, did you noticed that God cuckolded your lame ass? LOL

  88. You’ll be hearing from our lawyer, Joseph.

  89. Clean Hands

    Does your mother know you’re using the computer?

  90. Rose, who now faces life without her partner of many decades.

    Well, she’s pretty old too…

  91. Robert Redford’s willing collaboration with the murderous Castro makes me wonder about his commitment to freedom.

  92. Does the group home know that you snuck onto theirs, Joseph?

  93. From the corner today. From a letter from Friedman to Bill Bennett concerning drug legalization. Here is hopeing Bennet managed to absorb some of it in between gambling binges.

    You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve. Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault. Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. “

  94. So so it’s clear, this is my first post on this thread.

    Friedman was wrong about most everything, but he was a genuine intellectual and moved the conversation forward.

    I’m sure he and Galbraith are going at right now in Heaven.

    RIP.

  95. “But I forgot. He’s a saint now that he’s dead. Sorry.”

    Joe:

    In 2002, when Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash, a friend of mine- who is a very conservative Minnesotan blogger and opponent of Wellstone- wrote an entirely snark-free tribute to the man, and attacked several other bloggers for a notable lack of respect for the dead. I don’t know about you, but where I come from, insulting mourners is a quick way to get a punch in the face. Being dead doesn’t make one a saint- but I can’t say that spitting on Friedman’s grave is called for, either.

  96. “Friedman was wrong about most everything, but he was a genuine intellectual and moved the conversation forward”

    Yeah,

    He was just right about montary policy, the causes of inflation and the root causes of the great depression. Just little things like that. I have no doubt Friedman is doing much conversing with Galbraith right now, since Galbraith is no doubt in a pit of purgatory atoning for his horrible economic thinking and the damage it did.

  97. BTW, quite a few of you were real shits on the thread about Galbraith’s passing.

  98. “Robert Redford’s willing collaboration with the murderous Castro makes me wonder about his commitment to freedom.”

    Me too. Leftists like Redford have long been rather tolerant of Castro’s butchery.

  99. I have tears too. Milton Friedman contributed greatly to the liberty and prosperity of our country and others by shattering the prevailing liberal/left statist orthodoxy and pointing the way to the many benefits of economic liberty including the diminution of other liberties when economic liberty is reduced.

    His scholarly accomplishments include monetary history and theory and his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy for which he won the Nobel Prize. In doing what he loved, Milton enriched many lives.

    Comfort to his family and friends.

  100. Galbraith was not a bad guy personally, but he was dead wrong about a lot of things and his thinking hurt a lot of people and to this day are used to justify a lot of stupid ideas and damaging policies. I am sure he was a great guy to have dinner with. I am just sorry he never realized the errors of his ways.

  101. Postmodern

    There is a big difference between refusing to endorse a canonization and spitting on a grave.

  102. joe,

    Galbraith was wrong about most everything, but he was a genuine intellectual and moved the conversation forward.

    There. Better? πŸ™‚

    By the way, maybe you should use the umlaut. I can’t figure out why we have so many “Joes”, but they keep popping up and confusing everyone.

  103. Joe

    Milton Friedman never had a “willing” (or any other kind of) “collaboration with the murderous Pinochet”.

    You are perhaps thinking of the graduates of the University of Chicago (who were inaccurately referred to as disciples of Milton Friedman) who advised the Chilean Government on economic matters.

    Friedman himelf was never and advisor to the Pinochet regime and the only statements I heard him make about Pinochet were critical.

    This is a sad day. RIP.

  104. How about a moment of silence for the dead victims of Friedman’s friend Pinochet?

  105. Milton & Rose Friedman’s book “Free to Choose” was the required reading book at my college my sophomore year. It was nothing short of an epiphany for me. Later, I saw Mr. Friedman on the Donahue show espousing – horror of horrors – privatising social security. Donahue worked his audience up into loud booing, but Friedman stood firm with a very eloquent and logical defense of his position. I never met the man, but I loved him. A truly great man has died. We are all better off because he lived in the world. He will be sorely missed.

  106. PL,

    That was much more gracious than what John had to say on that thread.

    BTW, I’m joe, the real joe, and all you other joes are just imitating.

    So won’t the real joe please hit post. please hit post. please hit post.

    I know about that rap music you kids do. That hippity-hop. I’m one hippity-hop cat.

  107. Okay, Joseph. You start.

  108. “Me too. Leftists like Redford have long been rather tolerant of Castro’s butchery.”

    According to Postmodern Roommate and her mom, Castro never butchered anyone except land-stealing criminals that deserved it. They like to heap scorn upon Pinochet and Shah Palavhi, however.

  109. Joe:

    Friedman was wrong about most everything

    That’s a lot. Elaborate. I’m not really expecting much from you, Joe as your comments in this thread have revealed a profound lack of knowledge of the subject along with an abundance of silly Non sequiturs.

    You’ve also displayed callous poor taste.

  110. Rick Barton,
    Joe != joe
    Joe(Joseph) = non sequiturs and poor taste
    joe = “Friedman was wrong about most everything”

  111. “You are one committed ideologue.”

    Dear Joseph/Joe,

    I commend your restraint for not adding and one ideologue that should be committed”

    or was that simply an oversite?

  112. Huh. joe, I’d watch out, because your identity is being threatened. Why, I don’t even believe that Dan T. even exists after all his impersonators got through. Virtual existence is such a tenuous thing. . . .

    Incidentally, I forgot to tell you that Friedman was right about almost everything πŸ™‚

  113. Just so it’s clear, this is also MY first post on this thread. Just wanted to say that Milton Friedman was a certified badass, and he’ll be missed. Thank goodness we had someone to carry the torch of capitalism and lbiertarianism through the second half of the 20th century.

  114. Rick Barton,

    I don’t intend to elaborate, because my comment was deliberate vague, and meant only to show goodwill across an ideological divide.

  115. joe-Joe: Ok I’m hep. What kwix said.

  116. (Not only that, but he’s deathly afraid of being proven wrong on every point… as usual. Poor little Marxist.)

  117. How’s this:

    Conservatism accomplishes good to the extent that it furthers self-correction and humility within liberalism, and Milton Friedman accomplished a great deal of good in helping American liberalism to avoid overreaching.

  118. Very diplomatic, joe. Of course, I would call Friedman a classic liberal, too (unlike the neoMarxist hijacking of the term in vogue today…)

  119. Hey, joe, can we have “liberal” back? Y’all ain’t using it anymore, after all. And it would be a nice tribute to Dr. Friedman.

  120. joe,

    Goodwill accepted and back at you.

    Sorry about confusing you with Joe.

  121. The old PBS Friedman did in the late 70s or early 80s were fabulous. I think every American ought to have to watch them before being allowed to vote. I can’t imagine what the typical lefty PBS viewer must of thought of them and I still can’t believe PBS agreed to them.

    They were rammed down PBS’ throat.

    from Tim Graham, via the corner:

    The last chapter in my friend Laurence Jarvik’s terrific book “PBS: Behind the Screen” explains how Milton Friedman’s groundbreaking PBS series “Free to Choose” made such an impact. It certainly did on 16-year-old me. Jarvik reported the free-market series on PBS was given, as you might expect, a difficult berth on the taxpayer-funded liberal network, as in New York, where it was shown opposite the Super Bowl:

    “Yet in at least one case, PBS aired a blockbuster miniseries unwillingly, a program it neither purchased, funded, nor commissioned, and which it fought to keep off the national schedule every step of the way – as it had with the Mobil Masterpiece Theatre production of the similarly successful ‘Upstairs, Downstairs.’ The year was 1980, the same year Cosmos aired, and the program was Milton Friedman’s ten-part documentary miniseries Free to Choose: The Importance of Free Markets to Personal and Political Freedom. Despite its scheduling problems, the series was extremely successful. The companion volume by Friedman, and his wife, Rose, was on the New York Times bestseller list for a year and was the best-selling nonfiction book of 1980. The sales, which made Friedman a millionaire, did much to expose American audiences to economic ideas that were crucial to understanding what would be called the Reagan revolution?

    Heh.

  122. So PBS gave us Reagan? That explains a few things.

  123. Clean Hands, Pro Libertate,

    Those of us whose liberalism can account for the changes wrought by the industrial revolution have are under no obligation to limit the use of the term to those liberals still stuck in 1800.

  124. Watch it, joe, or I’ll give you a liberal piece of my mind πŸ™‚

    Stuck in 1800, indeed. Are you repudiating the Constitution? See? I am armed in adamantine snarkiness.

    Look, you take Progressive back from the music industry–where it has no meaning–and we’ll take Liberal back in politics. And, if you act now, we’ll let you have this this marble statue of Thomas Jefferson. . .at no additional charge! Our representatives are standing by.

  125. “Changes wrought by industrial revolution” = “Everything we ever said before about limited government? Toss it out.”

    And lo, an apple becomes an orange.

  126. One of the greatest economists of the 20th century, and a tireless fighter.

    What an incredible loss. I will miss him.

  127. pshaw. Your adamantine snarkiness is no match for my casual condescention! Take that, libertoid freak!

    “Look, you take Progressive back from the music industry…” No way, man. Peter Gabriel got latex adhesive all over it, and Rick Wakeman stretched it all out. I don’t want it.

    Give me an L!…you know, don’t. Cuz I totally wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable. Maybe we should just hug.

  128. I’m grateful to the man.

  129. One of the greatest economists of the 20th century, and a tireless fighter.

    Maybe not so tireless anymore.

    Damn my smart ass.

  130. Friedman is roasting Gehenna as we speak for eating traif.

  131. joe,

    I’ve got it figured out. You’re a Classical Progressive. Stuck in 1900. Like we Classical Liberals are stuck in 1800. I feel like everything is now properly labeled.

    Sorry for the threadjacking, everyone. Friedman was great and deserves further praise. I’m curious to see what some of the luminaries out there have to say about him. I might go check out VP’s site to see what she has to say, now that I think about it.

  132. 132 comments on a thread that didn’t involve Julian insulting the crying daughter of a deposed right-wing Senator… very impressive.

  133. “132 comments on a thread that didn’t involve Julian insulting the crying daughter of a deposed right-wing Senator… very impressive.”

    However, we did manage to turn a memorial into one of our usual snarky exchanges with a generous helping of ad hominem and non-sequiturs. πŸ˜‰

  134. I was kidding. Milton Friedman was a committed Zionist. May he rest in peace.

  135. Aresen,

    Except for J?seph’s contributions, I think that’s my fault. Sorry. Friedman was the best of us libertarian folk and will be missed tremendously. If we could produce more people like him, with the right ideas and the ability to influence people to adopt those ideas, maybe we’d see Libertopia in our lifetimes.

  136. Who will support chilean dictators now?

  137. But I enjoy the snarking! And I think Friedman would have, too!

  138. Rick

    “Who will support chilean dictators now?”

    Dunno. But I’m sure the liberals will continue to support the Cuban one.

  139. Friedman will be missed.

    RIP

  140. BTW, quite a few of you were real shits on the thread about Galbraith’s passing.

    This thread? There are a couple of insults (“glib old windbag”, “evil man”) and several honest dismissals of his work that lacked the backhanded smarm of your take on Friedman. Of the people from that thread actually in this thread, Rick Barton made the same “comfort to his family and friends” remark.

    I don’t see much shittiness there at all, those two aforementioned insults aside.

  141. Friedman was a good man and I have to say I am pretty irritated to see a lot of snarky, sub-adolescent folk making dumb comments here. (Did he “support Chilean dictators”, as some dickhead claims?

    Friedman did not get everything right (who does?), and I suppose compared to some utopian model of perfection, he fell a bit short. But really, on the big issues: the role of the state, inflation, trade, the draft, the war on drugs, education….he got them right, and is being proved right now. He also opposed the invasion of Iraq and was a skeptic about Bush’s brand of conservatism years before most commentators. He was a liberal in the truest sense — ie, not American but British – use of that word.

    Someone else mentioned the rude reactions of some to the death of JK Galbraith as a sort of contrast. The rudeness was pretty nasty I will concede, but the problem with Galbraith was that he was on the wrong side of the sort of arguments we are talking about and dismissed the importance of liberty. He was what I would call a professional smart-alec, but there was not much substance. Friedman was of a different order.

    His influence, overwhelmingly positive, will endure. RIP.

  142. I recall first reading Friedman’s piece extolling a flat rate income tax in an issue of Playboy sometime in the early ’70s. It not only illustrated that some people did read Playboy for the articles, but was the most enlightening view on economic and taxation policy I had encountered to that date. That article was key to forming many of my political/economic beliefs today. RIP

  143. Playboy has articles?!

  144. I can’t help but think of the stories of Milton and Rose together. By all accounts, not just tremendous contributors to economic and libertarian thought, but genuinely delightful people as well. My thoughts and condolences to Rose and the Friedman family.

  145. So let me get this straight: Milton Friedman discovered monetarism. He was the first one to write that it was expansions in the money supply that caused inflation.

    So during the 1930s, when places like Germany were cranking out legal tender around the clock, and prices were increasing by 2000% per year, they had no idea that the two were related. They watched prices rise, were at a loss to explain why that kept happening, and went on printing money, completely oblivious.

    Is that accurate?

  146. I don’t really care whether he “discovered” monetarism. I don’t even care about his Nobel. “Free to Choose” resonated with me more than anything I have ever read, and for that alone I owe him a great deal of respect.

    joe, I apologise for thinking capitalized Joe was you.

  147. Regarding Pinochet. From a Q/A session after Friedman’s short lecture “The Drug War as a Socialist Enterprise” (well worth reading – click my name for reference.)

    Trebach: This question says you supported Pinochet or advised Pinochet.

    Friedman: I never advised Pinochet. I never supported Pinochet.

    Trebach: We’ll throw that one away.

    Friedman: But hold on. No, I don’t want to evade the question.

    Trebachi: All right.

    Friedman: Chile was a case in which a military regime, headed by Pinochet, was willing to switch the organization of the economy from a top-down to a bottom-up mode. In that process, a group of people who had been trained at the University of Chicago in the Department of Economics, who came to be called the Chicago Boys, played a major role in designing and implementing the economic reforrns. The real miracle in Chile was not that those economic reforms worked so well, because that’s what Adam Smith said they would do. Chile is by all odds the best economic success story in Latin America today.

    The real miracle is that a military junta was willing to let them do it. As I said to begin with, the principle of the military is from the top down. The principle of a market is from the bottom up. It’s a real miracle that a mititary group was willing to let a bottom-up approach take over. I did make a trip to Chile and I gave talks in Chile. In fact, I did meet with Mr. Pinochet, but I never was an adviser to him, and I never got a penny from the Chdean government. But I will say that that process led to a situation in which you were able to get an election which ended the military junta. You now have a democratic government in Chile. There is as yet no similar example from the world of entirely socialist states.

    So, I was not an adviser to Pinochet. I was not an adviser to the Chilean government, but I am more thanwifling to share in the credit for the extraordinary job that our students did down there.

  148. Did he “support Chilean dictators”, as some dickhead claims?

    No. See my post at 3:50pm.

    Although the canard that he was an “advisor” to Pinochet continues to be told. It was repeated on All Things Considered on NPR this evening.

  149. My condolences to Rose and thre Friedman family.

    Uncle Milty will be missed by all friends of liberty.

  150. Eric makes a good point besides which, this thread is ours. It would have been unkind to go to a lefty thread and bag on Galbraith on the day of his death.

  151. Ironically, many who insist that they are “pro-choice” are opposed to the ideas expressed in Free to Choose.

  152. A sad day… as an econ major, he was one of the few we studied that made sense.

    And, yes, there are criticisms of M.F. to be made just as there are of Rothbard, Hayek, and the rest of the crew. But, no other 20th century economist brought conservative and/or libertarian theory more into mainstream America than he.

  153. NPR Obit: Friedman was interesting and all, but…[insert criticism from hack from American Prospect]

  154. Mi m?s sincero p?same a Rose y David. Sus logros nunca ser?n olvidados y continuaremos la lucha por la Libertad individual y una sociedad pr?spera fundamentada en el Estado de Derecho y el respeto de la libertad individual de actuar en el libre comercio sin coerci?n ni privilegios.

  155. Gary Becker’s Business Week columns inspired me, an engineering grad student, to apply to the University of Chicago B-school 13 yrs ago. Once there I discovered Professor Friedman’s legacy, the fruits of which transformed my life and work.

    What a towering and thoughtful presence. What a wonderfully lived life. He’ll live on for many, many years. Thanks to both Milton and Rose Friedman for all they have given us.

  156. Wha’d he die of? Yeah, not as big a deal at his age, but I gotta know.

  157. Damn! Godspeed, Dr. F…

  158. As a public policy advocate Friedman had priorities. I believe the six causes he MOST associated himself with were…

    1.) Monetary discipline

    2.) Abolishing conscription

    3.) Social Security reform

    4.) Educational choice

    5.) A Flat Tax

    6.) Drug legalization

    He flat-out won the public policy debate on the first two issues. At least introduced the next two into the public discussion.

    And for the last two…well, no soap!

    Not bad. Who else has been a comparable influence for good?

    A couple of things he WASN’T: he was neither a Deficit Hawk, nor a Supply-Sider. He saw no point in “taxing up” to balance the budget for a bloated government, nor “taxing down” to shift the same bloated government into deficit.

    He was a Monetarist, not a Keynesian. He did not believe fiscal effects were important, and always contended that the real burden of government was what government spends – the cureent stream of goods and services commandeered by the state, whether obtained by direct conscription, or from the credit markets.

  159. We’ll miss ya sir, wish there were more of you. rip

  160. The Wine Commonsewer,

    Kudos on the nice pic of Milton and your intriging web site:

    http://www.winecommonsewer.com/the_wine_commonsewer/2006/05/milton_friedman.html

  161. Rose and David Friedman,

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

  162. I thought I’d posted on this topic before, or did I dream it?

    Anyway, RIP, Milton Friedman.

  163. Rick, thanks for the kind words.

    TWC

  164. I met David Friedman several times, and if it is true that certain traits are inherited, then his dad must have been a very likeable person, as well as wise and right on the big issues.

    My condolences to the Friedman family. May they continue Milton’s good work. I am sure that they will.

  165. When I was an impressionable young man, I remember a teacher who waxed effusively about Maynard Keynes, and introduced Milton Friedman as a foil. But even through the leftist smokescreen of that first lesson, I discovered how brilliant Friedman was, and became a true believer in supply-side economics.

    Friedman is simply one of the greatest men who has ever lived.

  166. Friedman certainly “supported” Pinochet far more than these mythological liberals “support” Castro. He liked to say that he didn’t support Pinochet, but then again, the CIA also likes to say that. Let’s go to the tape.

    “I am not now, and never have been, an economic adviser to the Pinochet Chilean junta. I spent six days at the end of March 1975 in Chile under the auspices of a private Chilean bank. I gave public lectures and seminars on inflation, talked to many citizens from different walks of life and met with many government officials, including General Pinochet. That was my first and only visit to Chile, and my only contact with Chilean government officials.”

  167. Mythical, I meant to say.

  168. Somebody upthread mentioned the open-borders issue.

    Check out this quote from Milton Friedman (Free to Choose, book 198011, PBS series12):

    “When the law contradicts what most people regard as moral and proper, they will break the law — whether the law is enacted in the name of a noble ideal … or in the naked interest of one group at the expense of another.”

    I’m sure he didn’t have illegal immigration in mind when he said this. But boy does it bring illegal immigration to my mind when I read it.

    Come to think of it, drug prohibition applies as well.

  169. I’m a libertarian. I want government out of the bedroom. I love the free market and free speech.

    Well Joe if that is true then why were you telling me to shut up because I didn’t have the proper education to discuss a particular subject.

    Liberal arts degree…BWAHAHHAHAHA!

  170. I wonder if Friedman’s being mourned in Chile.

    If not they should be…from the CIA factbook they will soon be doing better then France:

    GDP – real growth rate: 6.3% (2005 est.)

    GDP – per capita (PPP): $11,900 (2005 est.)

    GDP – composition by sector:
    agriculture: 6%
    industry: 49.3%
    services: 44.7% (2005 est.)

    Labor force: 6.3 million (2005 est.)

    Labor force – by occupation:
    agriculture: 13.6%
    industry: 23.4%
    services: 63% (2003)
    Unemployment rate: 8.1% (2005 est.)

    It must be their private social security accounts that they hate Friedman so much for.

  171. joshua,

    That wasn’t me you dipshit.

    I was wondering what you meant on the other thread.

  172. Well done, neil. You managed to repeat the lie that Milton Friedman supported Pinochet, and followed up with a quote demonstrating its falsehood.

    As many times as this lie is repeated I can understand why it is so widely believed. But when one continues to repeat it after being shown its falseness one has crossed from being mistaken to being a liar.

    And as for “mythical” liberals the list of leftwing intellectuals and celebrities who have visited Cuba and praised the accomplishments and greatness of Fidel is practically endless.

  173. joe,

    Your very existence is coming into question, thanks to all the other “Joes”. I’d sue. Otherwise, you’ll become transparent like Michael J. Fox’s family in Back to the Future.

  174. And congratulations to you, Isaac; you fell right into my trap: claiming that what Friedman did with Pinochet’s Chile wasn’t “support,” and then spinning around and attacking an endless (and beginning-less) list of liberals for doing the same thing in Cuba: visiting on a junket, meeting with government officials, coming back talking about how wonderfully Miraculous things are there. Oh, but they aren’t advisers, no no. Just admirers, well-wishers, enablers.

  175. neil,

    Clearly, you need to review Peter’s Evil Overlord List. Don’t compliment your enemies for falling into your trap. Simply vanquish them.

  176. “Chile is an even more amazing political miracle. A military regime has supported reforms that sharply reduce the role of the state and replace control from the top with control from the bottom…” — Milton Friedman, Newsweek , January 25, 1982

    I don’t suppose he was making an ironic reference to the fact that the regime hadn’t allowed elections for nearly 10 years at that point, do you?

  177. How is whether Chile had elections relevant?

  178. A regime which refuses to hold elections is not one that’s committed to ‘control from the bottom.’ (To be fair, Friedman made this comparison explicit in other speeches, preferring to spin it that it was miraculous that a top-down military organization would embrace ‘bottom-up’ economics. I think it’s more fair to say they had no such miraculous commitment to bottom-up anything, and their policy was one that Friedman believed was fundamentally ‘bottom-up’ even if it didn’t look that way to the guys in charge.)

    “Chile, as you know, was first taken over by Salvador Allende and a socialist group…Allende’s policies provoked the military to overthrow him and set up a military junta led by General Pinochet to run the country.” — Milton Friedman, 1991

    So winning an election means ‘taking over’, but a forcible overthrow of the government means you were ‘provoked.’ And surely the massive amount of capital that the U.S. spent on creating disorder didn’t provoke the military.. no, it was just Allende’s anti-free-market policies. Policies like nationalizing the copper industry. Oh wait, Pinochet continued the nationalization of copper.. well, anyway, socialism is bad, m’kay?

    But wait, there’s more: “In Chile, the drive for political freedom, that was generated by ecoriomic freedom and the resulting economic success, ultimately resulted in a referendum that introduced political democracy.” That’s right — the centuries-old democratic tradition in Chile, the most durable in Latin America before Pinochet, is all thanks to the economic reforms introduced at the barrel of a gun and praised by Friedman. And exactly why was it that economic freedom took nearly 20 years to generate an election? It seems that the lack of economic freedom that came before had a better track record than that. Say what you will about Friedman’s responsibility for Chile, but I don’t believe he’d have say something this baldly absurd if he weren’t ashamed of his support for the regime.

  179. Friedman made it abundantly clear then and later that he was surprised that a government like that would pursue such economic reforms. Hardly endorsing or supporting that sort of regime. Friedman has been a consistent champion of freedom and deserves better. If he thought that the greater economic freedom might lead to greater political freedom, he wouldn’t have been the first to think so. And he might’ve been right.

    This all stems from the fact that the Chicago Boys did advise Pinochet. But Friedman wasn’t one of them.

  180. I think Neil got you, Isaac.

    If “Cuba has universal health care and universal literacy” counts as supporting Castro, then “Chile is an even more amazing political miracle. A military regime has supported reforms that sharply reduce the role of the state and replace control from the top with control from the bottom…” counts as supporting Pinochet.

    If justifying the Cuban revolution by tallking smack about Batista counts as supporting Castro, then “Chile, as you know, was first taken over by Salvador Allende and a socialist group…Allende’s policies provoked the military to overthrow him and set up a military junta led by General Pinochet to run the country.”

    Personally, I don’t think either one counts as supporting either dictator, just acknowledging positive things that they accomplished. But what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people on this board accuse Hollywood liberals of supporting Castro for saying things not very different than the quotes neil provides.

    neil, you should now set in motion a slow and cumbersome method of killing Isaac Bertram, and leave before it is completed, confident in its ultimate success. After all, he has fallen into your trap, as you knew he would.

    Mmm-ha. Mmm-ha-ha-ha. Mmmm-waah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaa!

  181. joe,

    Now you should know better than to not kill your victim immediately. I know you’ve seen the Overlord List before. For shame.

  182. joe, at least I always spell your name right. Is it too much to ask you to do the same for me? πŸ™‚

    The family hasn’t used that spelling since they crossed the channel in 1066.

  183. I’ll go farther: Anyone who can look at a regime that overthrows an elected leader, puts a dictator in power indefinitely, cancels the constitution, shuts down newspapers, executes and tortures political dissidents, and say that this regime has “shown a miraculous devotion to bottom-up policies” is a straight up apologist. It’s one thing to talk about the advantages of policies which were instituted by force, but when you go farther and describe those policies as reflecting well on the regime that put them in place, you’re just not a credible champion of freedom.

  184. I will concede that neil has caught me in a semantic trap. So, of course, I deserve to be on this platform in the middle of this tank full of sharks.

    However the point that I was addressing is the oft repeated canard that “Milton Friedman was an advisor to Pinochet”. This statement is plainly false and those who repeat it are either mistaken or outright liars depending on the amount of information they have. And it was repeated in NPR’s coverage of his death. Frankly, I expect better fact checking from an organization like that.

    Is Milton Friedman “soft on Communism” because he did essentially the same things (give lectures and meet government officials) in China and Yugoslavia?

    joe, keep in mind that nobody ever says that anyone who just claims that “Cuba has universal health care and universal literacy” (never mind that Cuba had pretty good health care and universal literacy under Battista* – it did after all have the highest standard of living in Latin America; now it has the lowest, except for Haiti) is an “advisor” to Castro.

    The fact of the matter is that there is a particular kind of American leftist (hell, my family is full of them) who not only gushes over Castro’s “achievements” but denies all of his abuses. Hardly any of them is ever subject to any kind of criticism from the rest of the liberal community.

    *It also had arbitrary detention and torture of political dissidents, of course, oh wait, nothing’s changed there though, has it?

  185. I’m sorry Isaac, but on principul, I don’t spell anything correctly.

    At I always say…

    OK, if you are limited your comment to “advisor,” you can get out the shark tank.

  186. I’m sorry Isaac, but on principul, I don’t spell anything correctly.

    That’s a damn lie. I know you can spell good. You just have it in for me. πŸ™‚

    OK, if you are limited your comment to “advisor,” you can get out the shark tank.

    Actually I was referring to the common allegation that Milton Friedman had a formal relationship as an advisor to Pinochet.

    But some of those sharks look like they might have fricking laser beams.

  187. “BTW, quite a few of you were real shits on the thread about Galbraith’s passing.”

    Maybe I’m confused but I thought this was mostly a libertarian blog. And most people consider that Milton Friedman was in the libertarian camp. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that on a libertarian blog many people here are going to be mourning a great contributor to libertarian ideas and policy.

    Galbraith, as someone else said, might have been a good dinner guest, but he was unfriendly to many libertarian ideas. That doesn’t mean it’s gentlemanly to take some pot shots at him, but it shouldn’t be all that surprising on a libertarian blog for people to snark – people here would say even worse things about Kim Jong the Second if he passed.

    It *would* be behaving like “real shits” if we went over to a “progressive” blog, friendly to the ideas of Galbraith, and knocked him around a bit, while commenters *there* were remembering him fondly (Just as it would be shitty to go onto a Star Trek blog and make fun of people who were mourning the passing of the actor who played “Scotty”). In case any of the Joes are confused, it’s like walking into a memorial service of someone you didn’t know or even didn’t like, and regardless of the feelings of the hosts, you say whatever you happen to be thinking at the moment.

  188. “I’ll go farther”

    Should be written, “I’ll go farther to distort the truth so I can spin this according to my biases.”

    “Anyone who can look at a regime that overthrows an elected leader, puts a dictator in power indefinitely, cancels the constitution, shuts down newspapers, executes and tortures political dissidents, and say that this regime has “shown a miraculous devotion to bottom-up policies” is a straight up apologist.”

    He was talking about the “economic policies” – the market. He made it clear he distinguished what happened above from the bottom up policies of the market by calling military regimes, “top down.” He called the economic reforms in Chile a miracle in that it was so extremely rare for bottom up economic policies to be given a trial in such a top down climate. If he sounded effusive it was only that at least the people were given some measure of choice in one aspect of life, and Friedman consistently favored ‘choice’ in all aspects of life. He was hopeful that the incursion of bottom up economic policies in Chile would lead to bottom up policies in general in Chile, that liberal democracy would eventually prevail. If he was the supporter of fascism as Neil is trying to make him out to be, he would not have been the one to advocate abandoning military conscription, to ending the drug war, to giving students more choice in what schools they could go to, etc.

    Neil, I won’t go so far as to call you a liar but this gross distortion of the truth you have presented here is lying’s ugly sister. Better luck at the dance next time.

  189. from page 170 of A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet:

    “At the University of Chile, [Friedman] told students the economy needed a ‘shock treatment’ and deep spending cuts. In a talk wiht Pinochet, [Friedman] counseled the general to ignore his poor image abroad, focus on curing the ‘disease’ of statism, and take sharp action against inflation.” (italics mine)

    Friedman actively supported a military dictatorship that stripped Chile of democracy and consistently and grossly violated basic human rights. That makes him a dick.

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