Remembering Milton Friedman on his 100th birthday

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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On what would have been Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday. The son of immigrants, Friedman would go on to become a public intellectual — and an incredibly influential economist. Here are a couple of tributes that caught my eye this morning:

Libertarian Bryan Caplan explains why Nobel laureate’s legacy endures:

All of my other adolescent intellectual heroes – Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises – gradually came to seem less impressive in my eyes.  But the greatness of Milton Friedman is as constant as the Northern Star.

… Why does Friedman stand apart from my other idols?  In the end, it’s the absence of obscurantism.  Friedman makes his points as simply, clearly, and bluntly as possible.  He never rambles on.  He never hides behind academic jargon.  He almost never makes bizarre philosophical assertions to explain away obvious facts.  He never tries to win fair weather converts by speaking in vague generalities about “liberty.”  Friedman never turned out to have feet of clay, because he played every game barefoot.

(Emphasis mine).

The Telegraph notes the the importance of Friedman’s partner:

[T]hose who knew Milton will also raise a glass to his wife, the Ukraine-born Rose Director Friedman, who was never quite sure of her exact date of birth. Theirs was a remarkable partnership, dating from a graduate class in price theory at the University of Chicago in 1932 to his death in 2006 (she lived to 2009). Indeed, when Milton received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, Rose was asked if she felt overshadowed. “No,” she replied, “I’ve always felt that I’m responsible for at least half of what he’s gotten.”

And Patrick Byrne, the founder of chairman of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, and Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the foundation, examine what Friedman might have thought about today’s current events:

On the 100th anniversary of his birth Tuesday, one may wonder what the Nobel laureate would say about the more controversial policies now unfolding across America. What would Friedman have thought about the recent advances in school choice, an idea he developed in 1955? How would he react to the government’s decision to tax Americans who do not purchase health insurance? Would Friedman take a position regarding the financial impact of soaring public union pensions on state economies? As an expert on monetary policy, certainly Friedman would have an opinion regarding the federal government’s bailout of the financial industry and its impact on our personal freedom.

Clearly, his influence is greatly missed.

Matt K. Lewis