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Milton Friedman
Posted by: Jon Henke on Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm deeply saddened to learn that Milton Friedman has died today. The New York Times has an obituary here, while the Financial Times has an excellent retrospective here. As the Financial Times notes, he may have generally been considered a "right wing" economist, but he was far from partisan.
Those who wanted to write him off as a right-wing Republican were disabused by the variety of radical causes he championed. I was not impressed in my own student years by the claims to a belief in personal freedom of the pro-market British economists whom I first encountered. It was not until I came across Friedman, and learned that he had spent more time in lobbying against the US “draft” than on any other policy issue, that I began to take seriously the wider philosophic protestations of the pro-market economists.

Friedman's iconoclasm endured. He regarded the anti-drugs laws as virtually a government subsidy for organised crime. Even in the financial sphere, he espoused causes such as indexed contracts and taxes as a way of mitigating the harm done by inflation which did not endear him to natural conservatives.
It can fairly be said that Professor Friedman advanced human knowledge and, in doing so, improved the world. Here's something I wrote in 2004...


I don't have "personal heroes" - or, really, buy into the concept...but, I confess, I would be honored to meet - even speak to - Milton Friedman.


Much of what Professor Friedman taught us comes down to this lesson...
There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you're doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I'm not so careful about the content of the present, but I'm very careful about the cost.

Then, I can spend somebody else's money on myself. And if I spend somebody else's money on myself, then I'm sure going to have a good lunch!

Finally, I can spend somebody else's money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else's money on somebody else, I'm not concerned about how much it is, and I'm not concerned about what I get. And that's government. And that's close to 40% of our national income.
Feel free to leave your own favorite quotes or reminiscences in the comment section.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Conditions for victory of the Human Race:

1. The passing of someone the caliber and import of Milton Friedman is marked with as much fanfare and tribute as was Diana Spencer’s.
Written By: Augustus Nalley
URL: http://
So it goes.

I’ll have more to say later, but this news was quite saddening for me as I arrived at work this morning (I work for a place committed to free enterprise, so of course we all were sad. I heard from someone I know that they held a moment of silence for him at Cato’s Monetary briefing as well.).

We’re all poorer for it, but he’s left so much for us, from which we can continue learning. Capitalism and Freedom, for example, will be around for a long time, I think.
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
From LAT, his draft disagreement with Gen. Westmoreland:
" At one point, Westmoreland declared that he did not want to command an army of "mercenaries."

"I stopped him and said, "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Friedman later recalled. "He drew himself up and said, ’I don’t like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.’ I replied, ’I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries.’"

U.S. officials ended the draft in 1973."

I met Milton quite a few times at Libertarian Party functions around Stanford in the early 80s. He was a Libertarian hero and, despite being ’Republican’, was a nearly pure-L libertarian. He always wanted the Lib Party to be as pure as possible, to advocate freedom from an economic view but also with freedom as a moral good. He thought bringing the pure Liberty argument into the political discussion would change the debate, in a similar fashion but a 180 degrees different direction as the Socialist view of the early 20th century.

He was great. He’ll be missed. We were proud and pleased when he visitied Bratislava, Slovakia. (See the F.A. Hayek Foundation, but is just in Slovak, so far.)
Written By: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad
My first classroom exposure to economics was comparison and contrast of Milton Friedman (Capitalism and Freedom, the 1st version of Free to Choose) and John Kenneth Galbraith (Economics and the Public Purpose). This was 1975-76, the height of Keynesian liberalism, and Galbraith and his "best and brightest" were supposed to be charting the course for the rest of us proles. The class consisted of about a dozen bleeding hearts, two fence sitters, and me.

I thought Friedman was lucid and logical. Every single concept and proposal in his book was well thought out. He was a joy to read.

Galbraith was turgid, rambling, and illogical. He made sweeping generalization with the flimsiest of evidence.

I was the only Friedman fan in the class. I’ve very, very happy that his stature grew so rapidly from that point. He helped me understand as much about how the world is put together as any other single writer or thinker.

I don’t think his early version of monetarism was perfect, but it was light-years better than the Keynesian nonsense it replaced, and was the foundation for the Public Choice and Rational Expectations schools that followed. And he was still coming up with good ideas until very close to the end.

He will be missed. We need such men by the gross.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Well I cannot say I am sad, since 94 years and Nobel Prize greatness and the love and admiration of many is really not a bad life at all. In fact it is a great life. He lived long enough to see many of his ideas become adopted policy, (and some not adopted yet, but advocated).

He along with Murray Rothbard were of a great influence on me and prompted me to get a degree in economics.

What will be missed of all is his eloquent defense of freedom.

Written By: kyle N
In my opinion America’s best economist the last 100 years. If he had had the connections Lork K had he would have been the world’s best.
Disclosure I have believed in the "invisible Hand" and the good it does since I was 16 and read A. Smith. My bias is deep and hard. Which is why I am a conservative; who once was a Democrat
Written By: Rodney A Stanton
URL: http://
"Inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon"

This one sentence explains so much about basic economics and yet is largely ignored by those who carry out "economic policy", those who write about it on a day to day basis and those who attempt to make a living investing other people’s money.

Written By: DS
URL: http://
I am interested in reading some of Friedman’s writings. Could someone please make a book recommendation? Also, if there is a good counter-argument, a book recommmendation for that (perhaps Keynes) would be appreciated, too. Thanks.


Written By: David Shaughnessy

We have a large number of posts and links up (we should cross one hundred today)on Friedman. Our first post (Milton Friedman R.I.P.) has a few of his most influential books, which are pretty easy reads, with links to Laissez Faire books. You can order them and read summaries of them. Besides, we enjoy having you visit.
Written By: Lance

One of my favorite Friedman books is "An Economist’s Protest" which is out of print, but I’ve bought several copies at eBay for less than $5.00 over the past few years. It’s a compilation of the articles he wrote for Newsweek from the late 60’s to early 80’s. Since it was a column, some of the articles are a little dated, but the ideas underlying the columns are not. Some of the topics discussed include school choice, privatization of social security, volunteer military, monetary policy, social responsibility of business, etc.

Written By: m.jed
URL: http://

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