Thursday, November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman, 1912-2006

Milton Friedman honored by President Bush, 2002

One of the most noted economists in modern history, Milton Friedman died today at the age of 94.

He was noted for his work towards the ideals of lesser government and greater reliance on free markets and individual responsibility. As a spiritual heir of Adam Smith and Friederich Hayak,(Friedman wrote the intro to the 50th-anniversary edition of Hayak's `The Road to Serfdom') Friedman held to the view that the government that governs least governs best, and that government had the obligation to keep its hands out of people's pockets and, to the extent practicable, allow the free market do its work.

Friedman was the chief protagonist of the so-called “Chicago School” of economics, a conservative group within the department of economics at the University of Chicago. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science in 1976.

“His thinking has so permeated modern macroeconomics that the worst pitfall in reading him today is to fail to appreciate the originality and even revolutionary character of his ideas,” said Ben S. Bernanke, now chairman of the Federal Reserve, in a speech honoring Mr. Friedman in 2003.

Friedman's biggest acheivement, of course, was his influence in promulgating the principles at the heart of his classic book `Capitalism and Freedom': that you have to have economic freedom in order to have political freedom.

“The free market is the only mechanism that has ever been discovered for achieving participatory democracy,” he said. Of course the accompanying principle, which both Milton freidman and Friedrich Hayak understood, is that socialism and goverment control over markets and economyinevitably leads to totalitarianism and tyranny.

President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain, among others, were heavily influenced by his views.


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