More on "The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman"


In the journalistic/academic circle of life, Milton Friedman biographer Lanny Ebenstein in a new article available at Economic Journal Watch riffs (at least partially) off a Reason review written by me of Ebenstein's own edited collection of Friedman rarities, The Indispensable Milton Friedman.

Ebenstein's new journal article, like my review, is called "The Increasingly Libertarian Milton Friedman."

It does a very thorough job demonstrating that as Friedman's career and knowledge went on–and especially when he shifted from a professional active academic to a professional public intellectual activist–he became more and more libertarian in his views.

From the article's precis:

This article traces the evolution of Milton Friedman's ideological views over the course of his adult life. It finds the evolution to be from a moderate liberalism to a definite classical liberalism and then, during the last 50 years of his life, to an increasingly robust libertarianism. Friedman explicitly acknowledged a change in his views on a number of policy issues; also, sometimes even if his opinion on an issue did not change, the strength with which he held and promoted it did. A significant point in Friedman's life was his retirement and relocation to San Francisco in 1976. There he became almost exclusively a public policy advocate, and his mode of discourse shifted significantly away from empirical demonstration and toward invoking and applying what he considered to be the broad verities and maxims of the outlook he had established for himself.

It's worth pointing out that Friedman's increasing libertarianism wasn't just based in shifting away from empiricism toward maxims. In cases like public education and public money his increasing libertarianism came from an increasing recognition of some actual history of public and private education (as Friedman told me in my 1995 Reason interview with him), and recognition of historical costs of government money.