by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The great economist Milton Friedman would have turned 100 today. The John Locke Foundation honors his memory with a special noon luncheon program.
National Review Online also marks the occasion with recognition from NRO editors:
He was unstinting in his criticism, but he was a famously happy warrior. His wit was one of his great pedagogical tools. Inspecting a government-run canal-building project in Asia, he noted that the workers were using shovels and wheelbarrows instead of bulldozers and earth-moving equipment, and was informed by his guide that using shovels meant more jobs for the workers. “Then why not use spoons?” Friedman asked.
It is in no small part the result of Friedman’s work that the ravages of inflation are in the United States today remembered rather like the ravages of polio: a fading impression from an increasingly remote history. Those with short memories would do well to remember that, until the election of Ronald Reagan, whom Friedman tutored on monetary policy, persistent inflation was considered a more or less normal and permanent part of life.
He was very much a man of his time: In the critical year of 1980, his Free To Choose television series began airing, and an American public that would soon be asked to choose between the two very different visions of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter was given an invaluable education in the economic and moral case for a free society. Capitalism, Friedman argued, was good not because we need not protect the worker and the consumer, but because capitalism actually protects the worker and the consumer, while government merely makes proclamations about doing so.