As most readers will know by now, Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman passed away earlier this morning. The WSJ tribute is worth reading for those unfamiliar with Friedman’s many contributions to economics and policy. Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson’s comment is the closest I have seen to capturing the magnitude of Friedman’s influence:
“No one in the 20th century has had the ideological influence that Milton Friedman has had in moving the economic profession from Great Depression-era do-goodism towards a friendliness toward, and appreciation of, the free market. We’ve lost a giant in economics.”
On a personal note, Milton Friedman’s reach extended to my own dinner table as a teenager thanks to my father, who had studied some economics himself and was fond of pontificating on economic policy over dinner. I apparently have in common with my colleagues David Bernstein and Ilya Somin (and surely countless others) that our fathers introduced us to Friedman in one way or another. As a child who was mostly obsessed with sports, I now have greater appreciation for my conversational exposure to economics at a young age (thanks Dad). Decades later, some of our most recent conversations have involved Friedman’s work on school choice and the potential gains from unleashing the power of market forces on our school systems. While I never had the honor of meeting Milton Friedman, those hours of dinner conversation and my well-worn copy of Capitalism and Freedom will always have a special meaning for me.