Politics

New book publishes little-seen essays by Milton Friedman

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

Libertarian economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman would have turned 100 years old last July, and to celebrate his birthday, a new book is out with a series of essays he wrote that few have seen.

“As I was writing my biography of Friedman, I recognized there were a number of his essays that had not been republished that it would be a substantial advantage if they were easily accessible,” economist Lanny Ebenstein, who has written a biography of Friedman, told The Daily Caller about his new book, ”The Indispensable Milton Friedman: Essays on Politics and Economics.”

“There are two parts to the essays — those on politics and those on economics,” he said. “The essays span Friedman’s entire career. A number of the essays are philosophical and historical. The criteria for selection were the intrinsic significance of the essays and their representativeness of Friedman’s career.”

One essay in the book is a 1989 letter to conservative commentator Bill Bennett, who was then the director of National Drug Control Policy for President Ronald Reagan. In the essay, Friedman urges Bennett to reconsider the war on drugs.

“Friedman supported the complete legalization of all drugs,” Ebenstein explains. “He took this position for both practical and philosophical reasons. From the philosophical standpoint, he believed that individuals should have the right to put in their body whatever they wish. From the practical standpoint, he thought that the costs of the war on drugs exceed the benefits.”

See the rest of TheDC’s interview with Ebenstein below on what Friedman would have advocated to fix our health care system, if Friedman ever met economist and liberal commentator Paul Krugman, what Friedman thought of John Maynard Keynes, and much more:

Why did you decide to put this together?

As I was writing my biography of Friedman, I recognized there were a number of his essays that had not been republished that it would be a substantial advantage if they were easily accessible.

How did you choose what essays of Friedman’s to include in this compilation?

There are two parts to the essays — those on politics and those on economics. The essays span Friedman’s entire career. A number of the essays are philosophical and historical. The criteria for selection were the intrinsic significance of the essays and their representativeness of Friedman’s career.

Why does Friedman matter? What is his legacy?

Friedman matters greatly! He has a tremendous legacy. His contributions during the second half of the twentieth century in economics were unparalleled. He championed an all-volunteer army, flexible international exchange rates, no inflation, less government, lower taxes, less regulation, drug legalization, school vouchers and welfare reform.