July 31st is the birth date of one of the great intellectuals of the freedom philosophy. Milton Friedman (1912–2006) would have been 101 today.
Friedman Legacy Day is being celebrated at 144 events: 90 in 44 states and Washington,D.C., and 54 events in 25 countries abroad. Here in Houston, a “Milton Friedman Rocks” party is tonight.
Friedman was more than a technical economist and early Nobel Laureate in this field; he was a popularizer of the case for free markets. His shorter tracts and biweekly column for Newsweek covered a variety of in-the-news issues, including energy. And he became more libertarian and appreciative of Austrian School economics (market-process economics), the rival to his Chicago School of economics, as time went on.
Friedman’s insight into the distortions from government intervention shortages are timeless.…
[Ed. note: Milton Friedman’s views are also explored in Part I of this series (worldview) and in Part III (political capitalism).]
“Economists may not know much. But we know one thing very well: how to produce surpluses and shortages. Do you want a surplus? Have the government legislate a minimum price that is above the price that would otherwise prevail…. Do you want a shortage? Have the government legislate a maximum price that is below the price that would otherwise prevail.”
– Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979), pp. 219.
“It is a mark of how far we have gone on the road to serfdom that government allocation and rationing of oil is the automatic response to the oil crisis.”
– Milton Friedman, “Why Some Prices Should Rise,” Newsweek, November 19, 1973.
Editor note: Milton Friedman would be 98 this Saturday July 31. (He died on November 16, 2006.) This exchange with Robert Bradley–when Dr. Friedman was 91 years old–is testament to the mental powers of one of the greatest social thinkers of modern time.
Friedman had not met Bradley but was in the habit of actively communicating with scholars until his final illness.
I had heard that the great economist and social thinker Milton Friedman (1912–2006) was a prolific communicator with those who posed worthy questions to him. So when I got interested in mineral resource theory, which would culminate with my 2007 essay, Resourceship: An Austrian Theory of Mineral Resources, I asked Dr. Friedman in August 2003 about his views on the late Julian Simon (1932–98), specifically whether Simon’s work on resources, and his conception of the ultimate resource, merited a Nobel Prize in economics.…