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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5905/milton-friedman-rip/

Milton Friedman RIP

November 16, 2006 by

Milton Friedman died today at age 94. May he rest in peace.

I don’t want to discuss the Reagan and Thatcher “revolutions” he supposedly inspired. Nor his “Free to Choose” series, his many years with the University of Chicago and the Hoover Institution, or his Nobel Prize in Economics. These will be covered, I expect, by others, and in great detail. Nor in this recollection do I want to touch upon his monetarism, his championing of school vouchers, the negative income tax, flexible exchange rates, anti-trust laws, his opposition to the gold standard and to privatizing roads and oceans. Libertarians have long disagreed with him on these issues, and this is not the time to delve into such longstanding controversies.

Instead, I wish to focus on the positive, and to relate a few personal experiences I have had with him. I shall end with a joke that gives a taste of the kind of embattled professional life he led.



kjartan November 16, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Condolances from norway, he will be missed.RIP

Kirk Olson November 16, 2006 at 7:52 pm

Condolances from the Netherlands. He was a great inspiration to me and a beacon of light in a dark socialist world. Truly a great mind. Thank you Milton and may you rest in peace.

Guillermo Pineda November 16, 2006 at 7:56 pm

Mis más profundas condolencias a Rose y David. Sus logros nunca serán olvidados y continuaremos la lucha por la Libertad individual y una sociedad próspera fundamentada en el Estado de Derecho y el respeto de la libertad individual de actuar en el libre comercio sin coerción ni privilegios.

Mark Brabson November 16, 2006 at 8:01 pm

I too wish to express my condolences. Regardless of our differences, he was a great man and will be missed.

Alexander Villacampa November 17, 2006 at 12:07 am

Rest In Peace, Milton Friedman. We must accept him for the large amount of good he did and understand his failures, not ridicule them.

M E Hoffer November 17, 2006 at 4:47 am

Sr. Pineda,

This: “Mis más profundas condolencias a Rose y David. Sus logros nunca serán olvidados y continuaremos la lucha por la Libertad individual y una sociedad próspera fundamentada en el Estado de Derecho y el respeto de la libertad individual de actuar en el libre comercio sin coerción ni privilegios.

and, the rest, below, from your weblink:

“El premio Nobel que recibió en 1976 por sus logros en el estudio del consumo y la creación de la teoría monetaria fueron uno de los principales bastiones con los cuales los creyentes en la economía de mercado luchamos para combatir a los seguidores de las ideas keynesianas inflacionarias y proteccionistas.

Su esposa, Rose Friedman y su hijo David Friedman continúan la lucha por la Libertad que Milton Friedman inició.

Milton Friedman no ha muerto, vive en su carismático y afable video Free to Choose y en todos aquellos que creemos en una sociedad próspera fundamentada en el Estado de Derecho y el respeto de la libertad individual de actuar en el libre comercio sin coerción ni privilegios.”

Is, both, finely figured, and well said.

For myself, much as with Francisco Torres, Milton Friedman was my first introduction, outside the home, to Free Market Economics.

Nothing drove home the length of the road still to be traveled quite like finding a clean paperback edition of Mr. Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” at The Strand, in NYC, late ’80′s, being blown out for a single “dollar”.

kurt November 17, 2006 at 6:31 am

I’ve just watched an old interview of Milton Friedman from 1975, which showed to me that Friedman was certainly one of the most eloquent speakers that could actually lay a case against big government and collectivism, even though he did not follow an Austrian or natural law perspective.

He will be sorely missed, and I think many people in former communist countries in Europe still today find massive inspiration from his books, books that were contraband a mere 20 years ago.

Björn Lundahl November 17, 2006 at 7:42 am

Friedman, my heart is bleeding.

When I was 19 years old, Milton Friedman was my idol. His views contrasted a lot against the political opinions in Sweden. He was the counterpart to John Kenneth Galbraith.

He was the man who learnt me that there is something which is called the money supply and that there is a connection between the money supply, business cycles and inflation.

He opened the door to a more free market policy. I followed his ideas closely when some of them were practised in Chile.

When Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were elected, I was very happy. They were influenced by his ideas. I was in an ecstasy. Now his ideas would have an influence throughout the entire world! God, I must be dreaming! Life was bright and liberty, I thought, was taking over! Everyone who knew me also knew that I loved Friedman. I always talked about him.

I bought his video films with his television series “Free to choose”. My best friend George and I watched those videos. He was not at all interested. My best friend George always started to fall asleep when I started the video recorder. I watched George, hey! Watch and listen! George! And I rewound the tape so George did not miss anything! Poor George, he was really forced to watch those movies.

George and I went to Hong Kong. I really wanted to experience his ideas in reality. I was impressed!

I also read some of Hayek’s work. For a New liberty, by Murray Rothbard, I first read it in the spring 1980. He was too extreme, I thought, in those days, “but still his ideas seemed to be very logical”.

Much later on, in life, I converted entirely to the Austrian School of Economics (I believe in the late 90s).

I, still, do believe that it was Friedman’s ideas that were one of the very great causes for all deregulations and relatively low inflation rates throughout the entire world.

The Austrian School of Economics is a lot more sophisticated than the Chicago School. It has a comprehensive world view, which the Chicago school is lacking. I believe that The Austrian School of Economics is superior compared to any school of economics.

I do also believe that it was Friedman’s charisma as an individual that influenced my heart.

He was a good and nice man, really quite sweet.

Well, life must go on… I am so sorry…

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg, Sweden

Cyd Malone November 17, 2006 at 8:53 am

God rest his soul. He will be missed by those who appreciate a man with the courage and the moral fiber to stand against the tide of irrationality and greed and yell “Stop”!

Luke M November 17, 2006 at 9:11 am

RIP Milton Friedman.

Thanks for your recollections Walter.

Edward Murray November 17, 2006 at 9:18 am

Outstanding eulogy and I think he would have enjoyed the joke as well. He will be missed and he was an incredible mind.

greg November 17, 2006 at 11:11 am

RIP Milton Friedman.

His Capitalism and Freedom played an important role for me in breaking the chains of my former statist ideology. Thank you Professor Friedman. Condolances to his family and friends.

Paul Marks November 17, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Rest is peace Professor Friedman. And thankyou for your memories Dr Block.

Eric November 17, 2006 at 12:43 pm

My first experience with Milton Friedman was his “Free to choose” tv series. One highlight was when he said, “Do you want to stop inflation?”, and he pushed a button and all these printing presses stopped printing new Federal Reserve Notes. What mind blower that was.

I then read all his books I could find, especially Capitalism and Freedom. I like the idea of “department stores of medical services” as a license free medical profession.

His Free to choose series also had some great debates. I first saw Thomas Sowell on one of them. The updated series has Arnold (yes Gov. Arnold) introducing one segment where he said the book Free to Choose had changed his life. Too bad he has become a politician, and has apparently forgotten what Milton said about the minimum wage laws – esp. how they were the most racist of all laws hurting Black teens the most of all.

A great mind, a great Human being.

Daniel M. Ryan November 17, 2006 at 12:46 pm

I wonder if Dr. Friedman would be surprised at how much he has been, and will be, missed…RIP.

Dennis Sperduto November 17, 2006 at 1:04 pm

Yes, Milton Friedman did much to help turn economics down a more correct and truthful path, and he was a strong defender of the Classical Liberal/Libertarian world view.
He will be missed, and may he rest in peace.

However, aside from the theoretical disagreements that Austrians have with Friedman and the Chicago School in several keys areas of economics, my major gripe with him boils down to this: Given Friedman’s status in the economics profession, why did he not work harder to secure reasonable academic positions for Mises, Rothbard, and Hayek? These three world-class thinkers, and Mises was arguably the 20th century’s greatest economist, were relegated to second, if not third, class academic positions in the United States.

Björn Lundahl November 17, 2006 at 3:24 pm

Watch some video clips from Milton Friedman’s television series ”Free to Choose”:


Björn Lundahl

olmedo November 17, 2006 at 6:31 pm


milton freidman met and knew lv. mises very well and long before “free to choose”
and “capitalism and freedom”, did he ever quoted him in those books???

i searched my copies and he didnt.


Robert Brager November 17, 2006 at 10:17 pm

“Given Friedman’s status in the economics profession, why did he not work harder to secure reasonable academic positions for Mises, Rothbard, and Hayek? These three world-class thinkers, and Mises was arguably the 20th century’s greatest economist, were relegated to second, if not third, class academic positions in the United States.”

I feel compelled to defend Msr. Friedman on this point. From what I’ve been led to understand, it was Mises’s own antagonism towards Friedman that was the crucial obstacle standing in the way of any possible championing of Mises on the part of Friedman.

If anyone can shed some light on that subject, I’d be interesting in reading about it.

Jacob Steelman November 18, 2006 at 5:20 am

The world has lost a great man and promoter of freedom. He will be missed.

Dennis Sperduto November 18, 2006 at 7:14 am

Robert Brager,

Thank you for the comment. I too desire to learn more about this topic, not only as it relates to Friedman and Mises, but also to Hayek and Rothbard. Why were Mises, Rothbard, and Hayek not given fulltime, tenured academic positions in economics departments with doctoral programs at major U.S. universities? If anyone can shed light on this and related issues, it would be appreciated.

From the bits of information that I have stumbled across, I have been led to believe that, despite the Chicago and Austrian Schools’ agreement on many issues of economic policy, differences between them regarding several important theoretical issues precluded significant support and cooperation in the academic sphere. Among these theoretical issues are: money, banking, and the business cycle; the epistemological status of the general equilibrium and perfect competition frameworks; and, the methodology of the social sciences.

And while Mises was known for his intransigence, I believe this characteristic flowed from his firm belief that what he was teaching was correct and his refusal to compromise what he believed to be scientific truth. This stance by Mises provided him little financial remuneration and even less positive academic acknowledgement.

olmedo November 18, 2006 at 9:31 am


milton freidman, the father of neoliberalism.

Patrick Mahon Jr. November 18, 2006 at 2:03 pm

Milton Friedman was, without a doubt, one of the greatest champions of human freedom in his or any other age.

As a supporter of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, I was concerned that his differences with the Austrian School might lead to the ignoring of his passing on the sight, or worse, a final attack.

Thank you to Walter Block for his very thoughtful comments on this great loss. As libertarians, we have far more in common with classical liberals than we sometimes admit, and I’m gratified that that critical common ground has been acknowledged.

Rest in peace, Dr. Friedman.

T.G.G.P November 18, 2006 at 10:14 pm

I am also happy that the Mises institute, despite many of its strong dissagreements with Friedman, recognized his earnest dedication to the cause of freedom. Although what I know of economics leaves me more partial to the Austrians than Chicago/Monetarists I would likely not even be that, or even a libertarian, if it had not been for the teachings of Friedman and his students (in my case if I recall correctly it was Thomas Sowell who introduced me to basic economics).

This from the Guardian on the late Mr. Friedman was just shameless though.

F L Light November 18, 2006 at 10:40 pm

Friedman debarred illiberal barriers

To commerce, interdicting commissars.

F L Light November 19, 2006 at 10:36 pm

Far more than Friedman’s code of freedom is

Allowed by Mises in his sentences.

TokyoTom November 20, 2006 at 9:29 am

Friedman was a bright light of rationality in dark days, and played an important role in turning the country to the right.

Too bad his legacy was sorely abused over the past six years.

T.G.G.P November 20, 2006 at 1:48 pm

Could you elaborate, Tom?

Eduardo Angeli November 24, 2006 at 1:21 pm

His “Capitalism and freedom” has had a crucial role in my life as an student of economics. I thank Friedman because of this book.
Condolences to mrs. Rose and family.
“Abraços” from Brazil,
Eduardo Angeli

Sanda Heffner February 14, 2011 at 8:47 am

My daughter was entertained when reading this line on your blog “……” it also made me think about the day I ran into my wife.

John James April 20, 2011 at 12:32 am

I really enjoyed reading this. And I laughed out loud at the joke. I think it worked the way Block wanted it to.

Like many others here Friedman was basically my first introduction to the true concepts of liberty and free markets. It was this popular clip from an appearance he made on Donahue that struck me with what I believe to be the very same feeling Block had at the Mont Pelerin meeting. Finding more and more clips of his interviews and lectures (thank you YouTube) I was constantly amazed by his wit, eloquence, and as Block said, inspirational nature…the way he demolished opposing arguments with such clarity and courteousness. He truly was an intellectual tiger.

I truly wish I had had the opportunity to meet him.

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