Phi Beta Cons

Milton Friedman

The world lost an intellectual giant with the passing of Milton Friedman.


For an excellent tribute on his career, you won’t do better than this Wall Street Journal piece.


In his Nobel Prize year, 1976, Friedman gave a talk at Duke University. I went to it, and was greatly irritated to find that the campus leftists had organized a protest against the mild-mannered professor on the grounds that he had advised the Pinochet regime in Chile.  The signs read something like “No Killers on Campus,” making an idiotic connection between the economic advice Friedman had given (stopping inflation and freeing up the economy from government control) and the regime’s bloody means of dealing with dissent, something which Friedman had nothing whatsoever to do with. (The same demented protests greeted Friedman in Stockholm for the Nobel ceremony.)


The allegations that Milton Friedman was somehow complicit in the Pinochet regime’s repressive actions were utter nonsense and their falsity had been demonstrated. None of that mattered, of course.  The leftists just knew that Friedman was not one of them; that he had attacked their sacred ideas on the supposed need for government economic planning and believed that free markets are better for everyone. That was sufficient for a slanderous protest.

Things aren’t any different thirty years later.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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