The Corner

Uncle Milton Bleg

A few weeks ago, I interviewed a guy on the subject of think tanks and their uses. He tried to recall a Milton Friedman passage. He didn’t know exactly where it came from, and I haven’t been able to find it. I’m hoping some well-read Cornerite can help out.

Here’s what my source said, more or less: “Milton Friedman once wrote that we write books and put them on shelves. Then something goes wrong, and some new policymaker looks for a new approach, and goes to those shelves. All of a sudden, an idea in one of those books has a chance.”

Does anybody know where Friedman may have written or said such a thing? If so, please contact me at

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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