Happy 100th birthday, Milton Friedman

posted at 12:01 pm on July 31, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

In these strange times of Obamanomics, populism, Keynesian revival, envy politics, big government, bureaucracy, regulation, and widely held belief in basic economic fallacies, the life and work of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman is all that much more poignant. Though he passed away in 2006, today would’ve marked Mr. Friedman’s 100th birthday, and it’s always worthwhile to appreciate a voice like his that could cut through all of the baloney out there with such clarity and simplicity. If you haven’t read Capitalism and Freedom, get on it — it’s a quick and rewarding read that delivers more intellectual honesty than you can shake a stick at.

Just to take a few minutes to remember this humble yet mind-blowingly brilliant economist, and as a demonstration of why we need more voices like his to help make freedom cool again, here are just a couple awesome op-eds and videos for you reading/viewing pleasure. First, from Stephen Moore in the WSJ:

It’s a tragedy that Milton Friedman—born 100 years ago on July 31—did not live long enough to combat the big-government ideas that have formed the core of Obamanomics. It’s perhaps more tragic that our current president, who attended the University of Chicago where Friedman taught for decades, never fell under the influence of the world’s greatest champion of the free market. Imagine how much better things would have turned out, for Mr. Obama and the country. …

In the 1960s, Friedman famously explained that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” If the government spends a dollar, that dollar has to come from producers and workers in the private economy. There is no magical “multiplier effect” by taking from productive Peter and giving to unproductive Paul. As obvious as that insight seems, it keeps being put to the test. Obamanomics may be the most expensive failed experiment in free-lunch economics in American history.

And from his former student, Thomas Sowell:

If Milton Friedman were alive today — and there was never a time when he was more needed — he would be one hundred years old. He was born on July 31, 1912. But Professor Friedman’s death at age 94 deprived the nation of one of those rare thinkers who had both genius and common sense. …

As a professor, he did not attempt to convert students to his political views. I made no secret of the fact that I was a Marxist when I was a student in Professor Friedman’s course, but he made no effort to change my views. He once said that anybody who was easily converted was not worth converting.

I was still a Marxist after taking Professor Friedman’s class. Working as an economist in the government converted me.

And this, my friends, is what sanity looks like:


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