Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog

1.29.2007

Milton Friedman Day

By Shawn Healy
Today Americans and economists across the globe celebrate Milton Friedman Day. As I speak a memorial service is being held at the University of Chicago, the Ivy League-calliber school that he made famous for his emphasis on monetary policy instead of fiscal proponents like John Maynard Keynes. He not only won a Nobel Prize for his scholarship, but blazed a path for a secession of peers to lay claim to the prestigious award.

The London-based magazine The Economist is in the midst of a week-long web discussion celebrating his many contributions to the field.

Universities across the country are hosting a "Day of National Debate," and even YouTube is hosting a "Challenge the Status Quo" video contest in honor of the man that made a living doing just this.

John Stossel chronicled each of these events and more in his January, 24, 2007, column posted on TownHall.com.

PBS is to air a special this evening titled "The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman." His discovery of the root causes of inflation (poor monetary policy), the connection between capitalism and political freedom, and his advocacy of an all-volunteer army are among the topics this 90-minute documentary intends to explore.

Loudon County, Virginia, went so far as to create a holiday for the famed economist, planning to celebrate his birthday every January 31st. “Loudoun County owes its success to the global economy that Friedman helped create,” Eugene Delgaudio, a county supervisor and sponsor of the resolution, said in a statement. “Without Friedman’s lifelong advocacy of greater individual freedom we would never know the quality of life we enjoy in both Loudoun County and United States.” (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 15, 2006)

Milton Friedman is nothing less than my intellectual hero. He essentially adapted the tenets of Adam Smith's invisible hand to the 20th Century and prevailed in a battle with those who thought the government had answers to all of societal ills. Bill Clinton's statement that the "era of big government was over" was nothing less than an exclamation point on Friedman's career pushing for this very goal. But the battle is far from over. Some of his ideas are still in the experimentation phase, including school vouchers and privatized social security. Others are sincerely threatened, particularly the notion of a global free market where we all benefit from specialization and comparative advantage.

In urge you to watch tonight's PBS special, read one of Friedman's wonderful works (Capitalism and Freedom, Free to Choose), and engage in a great debate over the fate of our national and world economy. Milton Friedman, a man of short stature, was nonetheless "the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th Centuary...possibly all of it." (according to The Economist) Thankfully, his ideas stand tall even though his mind left us to fend for ourselves.

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SHAWN HEALY

Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project


Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.



Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.


First Amendment journalism initiative


The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at



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McCormick Foundation

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McCormick Freedom Project


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