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A Tribute to Milton Friedman

     Famed Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman died yesterday at age 94. Friedman embraced free-market principles of economics and believed that political freedom could only be accomplished with economic freedom. Here is what people have to say about the man The New York Times called, “grandmaster of free-market economic theory in the postwar era.”

 

     "When President Richard Nixon informed Milton Friedman in 1971 that Uncle Sam was preparing to freeze wages and prices for several months, Nixon knew that Friedman would disapprove.  The President said to Friedman 'Don't blame George' – meaning, don’t blame Secretary of Labor George Schulz, one of Friedman's close friends.

 

     Friedman told the president.  'I don't blame George, Mr. President. I blame you.'

 

     This small episode illustrates well the kind of man Friedman was. He was a man of character, not awed by power. Only a person of such high integrity could become one of history's greatest champions of liberty. Humankind owes him so very much."

 

Don Boudreaux

Chairman, Department of Economics

George Mason University 

Business & Media Institute adviser

 

     "Milton Friedman entered economics at a time when the profession, and the broader public policy community, favored more government control. In both his empirical work and his theoretical musings, Friedman displayed uncommon rigor and tremendous courage. He did not care that most people thought his ideas to be crazy. His reward was to live long enough to see his ideas triumph. Friedman’s influence was profound. The tremendous achievements of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were due – in no small part – to Milton Friedman. And now Friedman’s influence can be seen in the free market reforms sweeping Eastern Europe."

 

Daniel J. Mitchell, Ph.D.
McKenna Senior Fellow in Political Economy

Business & Media Institute adviser

 

 

      “Milton Friedman was one of the great economists of the 20th Century, not just because he did brilliant academic work, but because he could bridge the gap between academia and the general populace.  His 'Capitalism and Freedom' and later 'Free to Choose' were as important as any of his professional journal articles or books. His clear presentation of the benefits of a free market economy and the problems of a centrally planned economy affected politicians and voters throughout the country and the world.  There are few who have done so much for individual liberty.”

 

Dr. Gary Wolfram

Professor of Economics and Political Economy at Hillsdale College

Business & Media Institute adviser

 

     “Friedman did more than any single person in our time to teach the public the merits of deregulation, privatization, low taxes, and free trade.”

Dr. Richard Ebeling and Sheldon Richman

Dr. Ebeling is a Business & Media Institute adviser and President of the Foundation for Economic Education

Mr. Richman is also with the Foundation for Economic Education

 

     "By the time I was a graduate student during the late 1960’s, I had already been exposed to four years of Keynesian economics as an undergraduate majoring in economics. One of my areas in graduate school was monetary theory, and it was then that I was exposed to Milton Friedman’s ideas in a significant way. At some point, I can’t remember when, I picked up his Capitalism and Freedom and was profoundly moved by the clarity and power of his writing. I later wrote and thanked him for saving me from the Keynesian abyss of big government as a cure-all for all of society’s ills.

 

     On April 13, 1993, I was privileged to preside over a black-tie gala that celebrated Milton Friedman and his work. Dr. Friedman and he wife were in attendance and we presented him with a cash prize and a medallion containing copper from the Statue of Liberty and featuring the profiles of Adam Smith and James Madison. It was one of the most memorable evenings of my life because that date was the 250 anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. We toasted Jefferson and Friedman, two eloquent advocates of individual liberty.

 

     Earlier this decade, I send Dr. Friedman several copies of my new publication, Independent Reflector, and he was gracious enough to read them and encourage me to continue its publication. He believed that the free society will only prevail if the vineyard of freedom is populated by many laborers committed to this ideal. Milton Friedman was one of my intellectual heroes and I attempt to pass on his wisdom to all of my students."

 

Felix R. Livingston, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics and Business, Flagler College

Business & Media Institute adviser

 

 

     “He was a spiritual heir to Adam Smith, the 18th-century founder of the science of economics and proponent of laissez-faire: that government governs best which governs least.”

 

The New York Times

 

     “A half century ago, Milton Friedman’s advocacy of free markets over government intervention and his prescription for inflation-fighting by central banks were treated as fringe notions by many economists. By the time the Nobel Prize-winning economist died yesterday at the age of 94, his views had helped to reshape modern capitalism.”

 

The Wall Street Journal

 

     “Among economic scholars, Milton Friedman had no peer.”

 

Ben S. Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman

Quoted by The New York Times

 

 

     “For right-of-center American libertarians, Milton Friedman was a powerful leader. For left-of-center American liberals, Milton Friedman was an enlightened adversary, and one whose view is now ascendant. We are all the stronger for his work. We will miss him.”

 

Brad DeLong, Salon.com

Professor of Economics, UC-Berkeley



     “He had been a fixture in my life both professionally and personally for a half century.”

 

Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman

Quoted by USA Today