November 16, 2006
Milton Friedman, RIP
Posted by Gordon Smith

Free to Choose was not my first encounter with economics, but I still remember reading it as an undergraduate and thinking that Milton and Rose Friedman made good sense. Later I encountered Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman's 1962 masterpiece, which argued in the tradition of Hayek and von Mises that economic and political freedom were inextricably connected:

Economic arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society.   On the one hand, freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom   broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. In the second place,   economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political   freedom.

The first of these roles of economic freedom needs special emphasis because   intellectuals in particular have a strong bias against regarding this aspect   of freedom as important. They tend to express contempt for what they regard   as material aspects of life, and to regard their own pursuit of allegedly higher   values as on a different plane of significance and as deserving of special attention.   For most citizens of the country, however, if not for the intellectual, the   direct importance of economic freedom is at least comparable in significance   to the indirect importance of economic freedom as a means to political freedom.

The W$J has a nice tribute to Milton Friedman, who died today. I particularly enjoyed this anecdote:

Lawrence Lindsey, who served in both Bush presidencies and on the Fed board, recalls telling Mr. Friedman in the early 1990s, "Why don't you come to Washington, we could use you here." Mr. Friedman replied, "I detest that town."

As noted, Friedman made good sense.

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