Tomorrow will be Milton Friedman's 100th Birthday
Thomas Sowell has posted a "must read" column at the Investor's Business Daily website in celebration tomorrow of the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman. The highlight:
"What Milton Friedman is best known for as an economist was his opposition to Keynesian economics, which had largely swept the economics profession on both sides of the Atlantic, with the notable exception of the University of Chicago, where Friedman was both trained as a student and later taught.
"In the heyday of Keynesian economics, many economists believed that inflationary government policies could reduce unemployment, and early empirical data seemed to support that view. The inference was that the government could make careful trade-offs between inflation and unemployment, and thus "fine tune" the economy.
"Milton Friedman challenged this view with both facts and analysis. He showed that the relationship between inflation and unemployment held only in the short run, when the inflation was unexpected. But, after everyone got used to inflation, unemployment could be just as high with high inflation as it had been with low inflation."
Dr. Sowell's column, as usual, is well worth a complete read.
UPDATE (7/30/12): In the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore writes about Milton Friedman, saying he was the "man who saved capitalism" and made free markets popular again. Moore's lede:
"It's a tragedy that Milton Friedman—born 100 years ago on July 31—did not live long enough to combat the big-government ideas that have formed the core of Obamanomics. It's perhaps more tragic that our current president, who attended the University of Chicago where Friedman taught for decades, never fell under the influence of the world's greatest champion of the free market. Imagine how much better things would have turned out, for Mr. Obama and the country."
UPDATE (8/9/12): Yesterday, Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum commented on Friedman's book , "Capitalism and Freedom." For example:
"Rereading “Capitalism and Freedom” after a hiatus of at least 15 years reminded me just how relevant Friedman is. The application to the present day should be obvious:
“‘Full employment’ and ’economic growth’ have in the past few decades become primary excuses for widening the extent of government intervention in economic affairs.” -- Chapter III
"The subsequent six decades were no different. The 2008 financial crisis provided just such an excuse: “an opportunity to do things that you could not do before,” said Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff, outlining the administration’s crisis-management strategy following the last election.
"Obama left the details of his $831 billion fiscal stimulus to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which proceeded to lard the bill with pet projects that had little to do with stimulus and everything to do with priorities (tax credits for renewable energy, for example).
"As for full employment and economic growth, there’s little to show for $5 trillion of newly minted debt since Obama took office.
“The federal budget has if anything been itself a major source of disturbance and instability.” -- Chapter V"