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Celebrating Milton Friedman at 100

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 31, 2012 12:48 PM

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Milton Friedman passed away in 2006, but his spirit lives on among lovers of economic liberty around the world.

There are celebrations taking place in 43 countries and all 50 states to commemorate Friedman at 100.

More here on Friedman Day from the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice.

Heritage posts its latest Index of Economic Freedom and notes:

People across the globe are particularly indebted to Milton Friedman for his role in championing economic freedom, and that effort lives on in The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom. Friedman elaborated “the role of competitive capitalism—the organization of the bulk of economic activity through private enterprise operating in a free market—as a system of economic freedom.” Indeed, it was Friedman who first suggested that economic freedom of countries around the world be measured and monitored.[4]

The Index, a data-driven policy guide that empirically evaluates countries’ economic policies and demonstrates why economic freedom matters, was first published in 1995. Since then, the Index has continued to echo many of Friedman’s insights on the power of freedom, documenting reform efforts, and monitoring ups and downs of economic freedom around the world. Dr. Kim Holmes, the founding editor of the Index of Economic Freedom, observed that the Index is “not only the first comprehensive economic freedom index, but one that has continued to grow in importance ever since,” offering “many examples of what economic freedom can do.”[5]

To many who have long tracked economic freedom, the years since 2008 have served as a vivid reminder of the continuing struggle between the state and the free market. In times of uncertainty, it may be natural that people will look to their governments for answers. Yet the long-term solutions to our current economic problems do not lie in more government controls and regulations. They lie in a return to free-market principles.

Perhaps the most critical lesson of the past four years of ever-growing government intrusion into America’s free-market system is that the fundamental superiority and value of economic liberty must be steadfastly reiterated, or even re-taught, to many political leaders and policymakers.

The great Thomas Sowell writes a tribute published in IBD:

If Milton Friedman were alive today — and there was never a time when he was more needed — he would be 100 years old. He was born on July 31, 1912. But Professor Friedman’s death at age 94 deprived the nation of one of those rare thinkers who had both genius and common sense.

Most people would not be able to understand the complex economic analysis that won him a Nobel Prize, but people with no knowledge of economics had no trouble understanding his popular books like “Free to Choose” or the TV series of the same name.

In being able to express himself at both the highest level of his profession and also at a level that the average person could readily understand, Milton Friedman was like the economist whose theories and persona were most different from his own — John Maynard Keynes.

Like many, if not most, people who became prominent as opponents of the left, Professor Friedman began on the left. Decades later, looking back at a statement of his own from his early years, he said: “The most striking feature of this statement is how thoroughly Keynesian it is.”

No one converted Milton Friedman, either in economics or in his views on social policy. His own research, analysis and experience converted him.

As a professor, he did not attempt to convert students to his political views. I made no secret of the fact that I was a Marxist when I was a student in Professor Friedman’s course, but he made no effort to change my views. He once said that anybody who was easily converted was not worth converting.

I was still a Marxist after taking Professor Friedman’s class. Working as an economist in the government converted me.

Here’s President Bush’s 2002 tribute on Friedman’s 90th birthday.

Here’s Friedman’s tribute to Ronald Reagan.

Here’s video of Friedman from the “Open Mind” program.

The “Free to Choose” website has a fabulous archive of Friedman’s video appearances–including his famous gigs on the Dinah Shore and Phil Donahue shows.

One of my faves on the free lunch myth:

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