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Mark Your Calendars (Jan. 29) for “Milton Friedman Day”

It’s true: one week from today, it will be Milton Friedman Day, “a day of national celebration and remembrance of Friedman’s life and his influence on American society and economic systems.” It will feature, among many other things, a day of web-based discussion hosted by The Economist; debates and discussion at various universities; and a national PBS broadcast of The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman.

Friedman has turned up pretty reliably in various postings of this blog (type in his name in the search box to the right, and you’ll find them). FWIW, here are a couple of passages that caught my eye in an appreciation of Friedman by David J. Craig, published in the current edition of Columbia University’s alumni magazine. (Although Friedman is most vividly associated with the Univ. of Chicago, he received his PhD. from Columbia in 1946.) Consider them an appetizer to the Friedman feast to follow in a week:

Friedman was a free-market proponent from his days at Morningside Heights. His Columbia dissertation, “Income From Independent Professional Practice,” published as a book in 1945 with his thesis advisor Simon Kuznets [who would win the Nobel Prize in economics in 1971], argued that the American Medical Association had the power of a governmental regulatory body and that it artificially limited the number of licensed physicians in order to boost doctors’ profits. This increased patient costs, Friedman and Kuznets said, and hurt the quality of care.”

— “What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will,” Friedman wrote in 1961 in “The New Liberal’s Creed.” “The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really a lack of belief in freedom itself.