Milton Friedman Day
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.