Today is the 100th anniversary of Milton Friedman's birth, born on July 31, 1912. He was a true champion of human economic freedom, and one of the clearest voices on behalf of the individual's right to choose that the world has ever known.
We have written many times in the past about the importance of Milt Friedman and his arguments for economic freedom, including:
We have also linked to many of his films and videos, and above is a link to the beginning of his superlative 1980 television series, "Free to Choose," which is well worth watching in its entirety.
Today, there is a powerful essay on the impact of Professor Friedman written by Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page entitled, "The Man Who Saved Capitalism." In it, the author notes that there are many who have recently "tried to tie Friedman and his principles of free trade, low tax rates and deregulation to the global financial meltdown in 2008."
However, as we wrote in 2008, that crisis was "A failure of government, not of private enterprise." Ironically, that quotation -- "a failure of government, not of private enterprise" -- came from an essay that Dr. Friedman and his wife Professor Rose Friedman wrote in 1979 about the Great Depression, in which they noted that the tragic misreading of the Great Depression as a failure of the free enterprise system (when in fact it was a failure of government) led directly to the rise of tyrants such as Hitler and Mussolini (and later Mao as well). It also led, they wrote, to the conviction among many intellectuals that capitalism was inherently unstable and needed the active and constant intervention of government.
That debate continues to rage to this day, and it is a critically important one that affects us all. We believe that Milt Friedman was right on this crucial subject, and that the events of the 20th century provide conclusive proof that he was right -- as do the events of the 21st century thus far.
Milt Friedman was truly a champion of human freedom and one whose voice is as important as ever today, one hundred years after his birth.