Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Milton Friedman's Passing
Not everyone noticed, but last week one of the world's most forward thinking economists passed away. Milton Friedman believed in the freedom of the individual, and distrusted government economic intrusions. He has been praised around the globe for his savvy. While there is one thing he did that I disagree with -- helping draw plans to withhold people's income tax during WW2 (leading to today's lack of understanding among most Americans about just how much tax they pay and the fallacy of wealth redistribution) -- he challenged the world to re-think old-line approaches to economics. I was 17 and attending a teen conference in Washington DC in 1977 when I was given one of his books. It opened my eyes. Accused of being, as New York Times columnist David Brooks remembers, "a free-market crank," Friedman's theories, later put into practice, have created a situation where America and much of the world today are experiencing the greatest economy and highest prosperity ever known in human kind. Thanks Milton for all you gave us . . . your research and unabated opinion . . . your books . . . your time . . . and your belief in clear language instead of incomprehensible "academic-speak." Unfortunately, there are some who now have forgotten (or disagreed with) the lessons you taught; who suggest that government should impose heavy regulations to "correct" a relatively few minor problems generated by our hard-charging, highly fueled, incredibly strong economy. And mostly for political gain. Milton, you are already missed.