Milton Friedman: 100

Today would have been Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday. None of us knew him personally but all of us, I think it is safe to assert, miss him, and the world is much the worse for his absence. עליו השלום – alav hashalom.


(Photo Credit: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice)

Stephen Moore’s thoughts for the day are worth reading.

UPDATE: A good brief video from Reason.

11 thoughts on “Milton Friedman: 100”

  1. In honor of the occasion, I offer a memory of Milton Friedman. I was an undergraduate at the U of C from 1965 through 1970. Mr. Friedman*, although not yet a television star was already a public intellectual well known for his column in Newsweek (alternating with Paul Samuelson) and for his book “Capitalism and Freedom” which had been published in 1962.

    He did not teach undergraduate courses in that era, but he did lecture to the Soc Sci 1 students when they did their units on economics. I distinctly recall his lecture about money and inflation. He also participated in many on campus debates and lectures.

    The late 1960s was a more divisive political era than is ours, if you can believe it. Political views on campus varied from the libertarian right, inspired by Mr. Friedman, to the Weathermen.

    Walking across campus in that era, Mr. Friedman was often accosted by students eager to dispute his views on some issue of the day, perhaps something he had just lectured about. But, he always listened to them, engaged what they had said, and answered them with irrefutable logic. He was never thin skinned or impolite. I was not a libertarian in that era, but I learned to respect Mr. Friedman as man, before anything else.

    *The custom was to call professors “Mister” and to not use honorifics like doctor or professor.

  2. Robert – interesting story – showed the humility of the man. Still I think it would take some arrogance to want to challenge Mr. Friedman on anything economic. Arrogance or chutzpah?

    I have some friends – living in Milpitas – who went to Berkeley the same time as you – at least there was a common window. The wife worked in the cafeteria and said that Mario Savio was a jerk – rude.

    Just a little sidebar to Berkeley.

  3. Good excuse for this classic joke:

    A friend of mine was taking a class by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, and after a late night studying fell asleep in class. This sent Friedman into a little tizzy and he came over and pounded on the table, demanding an answer to a question he had just posed to the class, my friend, shaken but now awake said ” I’m sorry Professor, I missed the question but the answer is increase the money supply.”

  4. “Still I think it would take some arrogance to want to challenge Mr. Friedman on anything economic.” Are you mad? That’s what you go to university for.

  5. Milton Friedman was the best possible person to get into an argument with. He always treated his interlocutors with respect, took their arguments seriously, and argued against them with facts and logic. They always lost, but so what? They won a great deal of knowledge.

  6. I highly recommend another article about Mr. Friedman:

    “Milton Friedman: An Economics of Love” By Kevin D. Williamson

    “And that is what really should be remembered about Milton Friedman: He didn’t argue for capitalism in order to make the world safe for the Fortune 500, but to open up a world of possibilities for those who are most in need of them. The real subject of economics isn’t supply and demand, but people, and to love liberty is to love people and all that is best in them. And it is something that can only be done when we are free to choose.”

  7. Yes, as in sports, where you benefit by training with people who are fitter/more skilled than you are, you benefit intellectually by arguing with people who are smarter/more knowledgeable than you are.

  8. Robert – Dearieme – I had “interpreted” yours (Robert) post by thinking that the students were disrespectful in questioning Mr Friedman. In rereading it I see no evidence of that – Dearieme – certainly – to question is part of learning. As to whether I am “mad” the jury is split ;-)

    That he would listen to them respectfully – and give them some of his time – is a measure of the man.

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