We had a great celebration of the life and ideas of Dr. Milton Friedman on Friday, July 30th at the Metropolitan in Golden Valley. Dr. Friedman believed that freedom leads to superior outcomes and he dedicated his life to advancing that one simple (but radical) idea. Thanks to all of you who joined us for great conversation and great food by D’Amicos. You were great guests!
Our board chairman, Tom Kelly, wrote the following article about Dr. Friedman:
“Remembering Dr. Friedman”
Dr. Milton Friedman was a great man. He was one of the two most influential economists of the 20th Century. His work fundamentally changed our understanding of the causes of the Great Depression, the relationship between inflation and unemployment, and the way people save and consume over the course of their lives. He also was the intellectual force behind the end of the peace-time draft, and the father of today’s all-volunteer military. In addition, he was the founder of the modern school choice movement – still the leading alternative to our failing public school systems. Finally, not only was he a leading philosopher of freedom, but the most effective public spokesman for economic freedom in my lifetime.
I first became familiar with Dr. Friedman’s thought through his columns in Newsweek in the late1960s (yes, I did start reading newsweeklies before I was 10). While I was in college in the late 1970s, I learned that he was the leading challenger to the received Keynesian wisdom of the time. By the time I graduated in 1980, that wisdom had been discredited by stagflation, and Dr. Friedman’s monetarist approach was being used by Paul Volcker at the Federal Reserve to bring inflation under control. Although Dr. Friedman was gone from the University of Chicago by the time I was there in the early 1980s, his influence remained pervasive, not just in the Economics Department but also in the Law School.
Dr. Friedman’s vision is as revolutionary today as it was when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976. The neo-Keynesian revival of recent years has failed to solve the economic “malaise” we suffer today. Even worse, it goes largely unchallenged in the policy debates that have shaped our response to the financial crisis. Would that we had a leader of Dr. Friedman’s vision and ability to challenge the neo-Keynesian revival, as he successfully challenged the Keynesian consensus of the 1970s.
In celebration of that vision, the Minnesota Free Market Institute will be hosting, along with 65 other organizations around the world led by the Foundation for Educational Choice, the annual Friedman Legacy for Freedom Day. The event will be at the Metropolitan in Golden Valley on Friday July 30, which would have been Milton Friedman’s 98thbirthday, from 4-7 PM. As in previous years, David Strom will deliver the keynote address.
Dr. Friedman once said “the great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus… The record of history is absolutely crystal clear: That there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.” We live in an era during which the potential of economic freedom to work miracles is once again being smothered by growing government. Which makes it all the more important to celebrate Milton Friedman and his legacy.