Sad news: Milton Friedman has died

Media reports are saying that Milton Friedman, the great Chicago economist and Nobel Prize winner has died at the age of 94.

He was truly a revolutionary thinker. People do not realize how revolutionary because so many of his ideas that were thought to be crazy when he suggested them eventually came to be seen as obvious: school choice, a volunteer army, etc.

The least of his accomplishments, but the one that gave me the opportunity to interact with him on a regular basis, was to serve on the Board of Directors of the Becker Center which I direct at the University of Chicago.

Even at the age of 94 he would teach me something about economics whenever we talked.


toddzilla

What a bummer. I saw a clip of him on Charlie Rose and he looked (for obvious reason) really old, and his voice was ragged. I wondered how well his mind had held up. To my relief, it help up perfectly. He sounded rough as all get out, but his mind was still as sharp as a tack.

What I enjoyed most about him was his ability to frame his arguments objectively as opposed to slinging mud and attacking the character of his opponents in the name of 'debate.' To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, it was enough for Friedman to state that his opponents were mistaken and their policies harmful -- and why.

His genius was that he was capable of thinking far beyond anyone else yet he was equally capable of explaining economic concepts and ideas in a manner than most any layman could understand. "Free to Choose" lit a fire of interest in economics for me, and had I not read it I doubt I would have returned to college to pursue an econ degree.

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scott cunningham

His work and Gary Becker's work made me want to become an economist. RIP Dr. Friedman.

dtmcgraw

Dr. Friedman's genius is still taught in college classrooms across the United States today. As a senior Economics major at the University of Michigan, it is more than obvious how influential he was to the field. His legacy will live on with other Economists to the likes of Smith and Keynes.

aaronsw

On which planet are school choice and volunteer armies now seen as obvious?

Oh, right, Planet University of Chicago Economics Department.

Still, my condolences.

bgrabow

Sad, sad news. Not only did the Drs. Friedman lead me to choose Economics as my undergraduate major, their generosity and eagerness to put the muscle of their money behind their ideas is apparent in the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation, based here in Indianapolis. The Foundation may be the most powerful driving force behind school choice and certainly the best hope for reforming public education in our country. Moreso than anyone before him, Friedman persuaded in a way that all can understand, "economic freedom and political freedom go hand in hand." Thanks for your vast contributions and a remarkable lifetime of achievement, Dr. Friedman.

bogey4

I second aaronsw.

rene

RIP Dr. Friedman, a true legend.

egretman

"On which planet are school choice and volunteer armies now seen as obvious?"

Precisely! But that just shows that every belief system is usually followed to it's illogical conclusion. Even Milton Friedman's.

sunilsinja

It has been a great lost to world of economics.

He changed the way of economics thought, he was a great pillar for economics studies and has inspired thousand and thousand of student and scholors.

We all will rememember him for all his work and contribution.

unroyal

Greg Mankiw said he was the economist of the century (XX).

Champion of freedom and respect. Friedman influenced modern economics more than any other economist.

Gaijin51

My condolences.

I don't know much about Mr. Friedman or Economics besides Econ 101 in college, but if Mr. Levitt was inspired by him I would like to learn more.

Regarding school choice and volunteer armies, they both seem like very good ideas to me. But our army is only quasi-voluntary. Once you are in, they've really got you by the short hairs. And not just for the length of your enlistment, which can be extended indefinitely. It is a kind of indentured servitude (I am a veteran).

If you had a "truly" volunteer army, then soldiers could quit whenever they want. This could prevent quagmires like the one in Iraq, or at least ensure that only "true believers" have to fight them.

If our homeland was attacked I'm sure millions. myself included would volunteer.

dtmcgraw

Hey aaronsw,

I'm obviously not on the same planet that you are on. If you can argue that the fundatmental economic theory that you learned (assuming you learned any) was without Dr. Friedman, then you have an argument. But by only saying "my condolences", you are an embarassment to the field of Economics.

lfstevens

Friedman innovated in so many areas. And he explained the Depression. And he provided the basis for today's monetary policy. And he explained why people's spending doesn't closely match their income.

This is a very partial list.

Allegedly he even invented income tax withholding during WWII.

Amazing.

arthur.orange

I don't think I am too fond of people who invented income tax withholding.

Cyril Morong

It seems like no one recalls that from 1975-1983 both inflation and unemployment averaged 7.7% (inflation has averaged just about 3% since 1983-unemployment averaged 5.75% in the 1990s and 5.11% since 2000).

Friedman's influence probably helped get the FED to focus more on fighting inflation. Maybe some of our economic well being is directly attributable to Friedman.

egretman

"Regarding school choice and volunteer armies, they both seem like very good ideas to me."

It's that word "seem" that gets politicians, the lay public, good economists, and even god herself into trouble. Now isn't it?

Teri

R I P, Genius Friedman.

snubgodtoh

Here, here. Via con Dios.

DAB

Finally, savings for the Medicare Trust Fund. Milton was perhaps a Medicare beneficiary (due to his efforts, now labeled “recipients” as in “welfare queen in a Caddie.”) Unlike so many of his fellow citizens, he and Rose were free to choose their physicians and hospitals.
Ushering in an era of selfishness without shame, Milton provided cult-like right wing devotees with a theoretical underpinning for a toll on every road. He paved the way for global free markets – like those in adoption-ready infants and kidneys (giving a whole new meaning to human capital.) The freedom-rich Chinese have been among his most adroit pupils.

His monetarism conceit (M1, M2 targets anyone?) flopped and Keynesian deficit spending fiscal policy prevailed.

Rose is now free to collect the Social Security death benefit. Milton's obit didn't mention funeral services, but certainly they'll be private.

Fellow pensioner Pinochet to follow. Somehow, freedom, GDP growth and low marginal tax rates aren't always correlated.

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socialismisevil

school choice, volunteer army etc means that people are in charge of their own lives and that the "necessary evil" that is government is kept on a leash as opposed to "the people" being kept on that leash.
Hope that helps.