Thursday, November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman, RIP

Drudge is reporting that Milton Friedman has died. I can find no stories about Dr. Friedman's death anywhere else. He was 94 years old.

I don't know much about his life, but I remember the impact he had on me and my own growth. Friedman's book, "Free to Choose" was one of the first truly conservative books I read as I broke free of the leftist teachings of my public school education almost 25 years ago.

As I recall, I never finished the book. By the time I had read most of it, I was so excited by the ideas it presented, I moved on to other, more libertarian works. "Free to Choose" was simple enough for a high school student to understand. The book easily explodes the myths propagated by any unionized teacher regarding economics, politics and even history. With Friedman's help, it was relatively easy for me to "unlearn" the myths I had heard regarding the industrial revolution, the depression, taxes and federal spending.

Original version

"Free to Choose", in the early 1980's, was like manna in the desert for someone whose only previous exposure to conservatism and conservative economics came from the statements of Ronald Reagan that the MSM/DNC would allow us to hear (as well as a few columns in the newspaper from William Buckley, George Will, William Safire and Joseph Sobran). The MSM/DNC can easily drown out a President and a few columnists, but it cannot compete for the mind of any person who has read a book that thoroughly explodes leftist mythology.

I have resolved, over the years, to read Friedman's other works. I never got to them during my undergraduate years as I found myself immersed in von Mises, Hayek, Hazlitt, Rothbard and others. I frequently heard or read slander directed at Friedman from college textbooks. By that time, I knew better. Every so often, I would see film of Friedman on television, including interviews on Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser. Here is an excerpt from Friedman on his own program in 1980.

Take note of the dark haired man with glasses and the red tie.

It would be nice if the new Congress would watch this and other videos before they wreck our economy worse than it already is.

The bottom line is that Friedman played an important role in the Reagan revolution, as his ideas definitely influenced the administration. It was not Friedman's fault that the Democratic congress of that day refused to cut spending, eliminate domestic programs and reduce the size of government sufficiently.

The ideas that drive conservatism bear Friedman's stamp in large part. Maybe we should force all GOP candidates to watch these videos in the future. Instead of waiting and hoping for another Reagan to rescue the GOP and our country, we should educate ourselves and each other so that a Reagan will be more likely to emerge. The tools exist. We should take advantage of them.
Michelle Malkin has more details on Friedman's life and work.

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