Milton Friedman Day

Was just watching a memorial service for Milton Friedman held at the University of Chicago as part of Milton Friedman Day. Look for a replay of the Webcast here soon. Speakers included fellow Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker and Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic. President Bush and Alan Greenspan sent in letters that were read before the audience at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. The speakers honored his influential ideas on monetary theory, the role of prices, flexible exchange rates, a volunteer army and Social Security privatization.      

To me, more than any specific idea, Milton Friedman's lasting contribution was to emphasize that people can't be totally free unless they have economic as well as political freedom. In practice, communism inevitably leads to totalitarianism, but advocates of statism like to kid themselves into believing that the government can exert control over the economy while maintaining political freedom. Friedman convincingly argued that individuals cannot be considered free if they are restricted from engaging in mutually beneficial voluntary exchange with one another.

For more on Friedman, you can also watch PBS tonight, which is airing a documentary, "The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman."

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