Rose Friedman, R.I.P.


Rose Friedman, who was partner and collaborator with her late husband Milton on many of his most important works of political thought and advocacy, has died of heart failure. Though her birth records in her native Russia are lost, she was believed to have been 99. The Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation has a notice of her death, which also sums up the achievements of her life:

She will be remembered both as a talented economist and an influential advocate of freedom. Her economic work helped to discredit the idea of government management of the economy, rolling back policies that were hindering wealth creation and thus helping extend the blessings of prosperity to millions around the world. And as a standard-bearer for human liberty, she contributed to the galvanizing of public opinion – especially in the 1980s – against the growing encroachments of intrusive government…..

Her most important contribution was the 1980 book Free to Choose, which she co-wrote with her husband, and the accompanying ten-part PBS series. Both were highly successful – the book topped the bestseller list for five weeks – and had a profound impact on the public understanding of freedom. At a time when the nation's confidence in its founding ideas was at an all-time low, Free to Choose played a decisive role in restoring America's faith in liberty.

Because she was collaborator on his major works of popular political and economic philosophy and advocacy, most importantly Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose, she deserves her fair share of the glory and regard her husband Milton got. Consult my March 2007 article in Reason magazine for the ideas and accomplishments of the Friedmans in helping make America a place that is in some respects actually freer, and in most respects an intellectual environment where the idea of human liberty has wider play than it did before they did their long, arduous work of explaining the benefits of liberty, often against great opposition.

Here's how she and Milton summed up what they thought they were doing, toward the end of their memoir, Two Lucky People:

Our central theme in public advocacy has been the promotion of human freedom….it underlies our opposition to rent control and general wage and price controls, our support for educational choice, privatizing radio and television channels, an all-volunteer army, limitation of government spending, legalization of drugs, privatizing Social Security, free trade, and the deregulation of industry and private life to the fullest extent possible.

The specific chosen legacy for her and her husband was the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, dedicated to the issue they decided was most vital moving forward to ensure a freer society: helping separate education from the bureaucratic and controlling hand of the state. 

NEXT: Robert Novak, RIP

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  1. The mother of global misery!!!

  2. RIP.

  3. I'm worried now that Michael Jackson will come back to life, then die again today.

  4. She does deserve all the praise we can heap.


    The specific chosen legacy for she her and her husband ...

  5. I read Free to Choose in college, because I was curious why my lefty profs hated Friedman so much. It was some of my first exposure to that kind of thinking, and is part of what made me the libertarian girl I am today. Thanks, Rose.

  6. This means the Milton, Rose and Novak three-ways are on again!

  7. Who will be third?

  8. You're mourning someone who gave Augusto Pinochet's wife decorating tips? It's outrage upon outrage with you guys.

  9. Ninety-nine years (assuming that's accurate) is a good run. And what she helped communicate with Milton was great stuff. We could use some prominent successors to both her and her husband.

    I briefly met Milton and his son, David, at a Cato conference back in the 90s. Both had interesting things to say.

  10. At a time when the nation's confidence in its founding ideas was at an all-time low, Free to Choose played a decisive role in restoring America's faith in liberty.


  11. Perhaps we can convince some broadcasters to run a marathon "Free to Choose" day in her memory. We could sure use it right about now...

  12. Nah, they're more likely to run something called Free to Choose the Public Option.

  13. Any married couple that stays together for 69 years deserves attention. I suspect Rose's percentage of the Friedman pie will grow as scholars dig over their partnership and as one of the two or three libertarian feminists decides to brave the wrath of the males by showing her findings. If you don't believe me, just remember that Rose's maiden name was "Director."

  14. The initiation of tax witholding from paychecks was a mistake.

  15. It's high time I read Free to Choose.

    resquiat in pace

  16. Heartfelt condolences to David, who remains in the fight, and the rest of Rose Friedman's family. Are there any prominent libertarian couples out there now who are/will be as influential? Maybe McArdle and Suderman someday?

  17. Though her birth records in her native Russia are lost, she was believed to have been 99.

    Expect birfer nuttery to hit this thread in five... four... three...

  18. Much sadness, but 99 years is a helluva run.

  19. RIP. Good, long life.

  20. Trolls? Here? Come on now. I read Free to Choose when I was in junior high and never looked back. It was easy to be mezmorized by Milton and forget she was standing there right beside him but I think by the end of his life she was already starting to get the recognition she deserved as well. I agree with previous posters about how recognition of her influence will grow over time. Perhaps she can make theirs a two-Nobel household postumously. Do they do that?

  21. Free To Choose, Which I read and watched in college changed my like. Rose & Milton Friedman are responsible for the intellectual underpinning of modern day Free Thinkers! Thank you Rose.

  22. I wonder why this hasn't been picked up anywhere else. Have seen nothing in any MSM. Sign of the times, I suppose, that michael jackson is in the news for months, and Friedman gets nothing.

  23. Sadly the hateful Left will come out of the woodwork and spread their lies, as has already started here. What vicious, small people they are especially compared to the graciousness and gentle manner of both Rose and Milton. I always found Rose to be pleasant and friendly. My sympathy to David, Janet, Patri and the other grandchildren and greatgrand children.

  24. Free To Choose, Which I read and watched in college changed my like.

    I think it would be better to say: "After reading Free To Choose, I changed my life with a new understanding."


    Free To Choose marked my intellectual transition from (whatever it was before) to (whatever it became after).


    After reading Free To Choose, I embarked on a new direction.

    Something along those lines.

    You may take responsibility for your part in the transformation.

  25. You may take responsibility for your part in the transformation.

    Eh. I pretty much just bounce from book to book and do whatever the last one says.

    It's a journey from which many can take inspiration.

  26. Would we expect any different, CLS.

    May you have a peaceful journey across the river, Rose.

  27. To the dope who made the comment about her giving Pinochet's wife tips on whatever, if you're going down that path, just remember that Prescott Bush helped to fund Hitler(just in case you're a GOP rumpswab), and Roosevelt was good buddies with Joe Stalin. I believe he used to call him Uncle Joe(just in case you're a Jackass rumpswab)
    Not that I agreed with everything Milton and Rose Friedman did, they did contribute a great deal in the advancement of individual freedom. That is their legacy.

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