Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

January 29, 2007

Milton Friedman: An Appreciation

by Doug Mataconis

Since today is Milton Friedman Day, I figured it was as good a time as any to note my own personal appreciation for a man who contributed so much to the ideals of free minds and free markets.

I am not an economist, or a political scientist, so this won’t be an examination of Dr. Friedman’s contributions to either of these disciplines. Instead, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on the influence that Milton Friedman had on the evolution of my own political philsopophy.

It started when I was in college and was exposed to ideas that, quite honestly, didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Specifically, I had a Professor —- in a course ironically titiled “Capitaism, Socialism, and Democracy” —- who spent a good deal of time telling us just how evil capitalism was and specifically using Friedman as an example of all that was wrong with it’s defenders. I never really believed what he was saying, and knew that I wanted to learn more and that’s where Milton Friedman got involved.

As I’ve mentioned before, I graduated from Rutgers University. Among it’s claims to fame, Rutgers can, but seldom does, rightly claim Milton Friedman as an Alumnus. In fact, during the time I was there, you would have scarcely known that one of the most important economists of the 20th Century had graduated from Rutgers……and I am totally convinced that it was because his politics no longer coincided with those of the faculty.

Once I figured out that I wasn’t getting the whole story, I decided to check things out for myself.  In addition to whatever reading I needed to do for my classes, I started reading on my own. Friedman. Hayek. Mises. Rand. Quite honestly, I was amazed at how much independent reading I was able to get done and still keep up with my classes. In the end, though, I felt like I was on a journey that had less to do with the grades I was getting than it did with what I wanted to learn.

And the truth is that I started my intellectual journey with Capitalism And Freedom, and have never been the same. And for that I have nothing but gratitude for Milton Friedman.

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