Friday, November 14, 2008

Milt Friedman

Peter Robinson at Forbes relates a story regarding the famous economist Milt Freidman. Robinson had complimented Friedman for postively influencing economic thought against the socialist model, but Friedman disagreed.

"Academia as a whole may have continued its long, sorry wobble to the left, I continued, but the economics profession had proved an exception, moving the other way. Departments of economics across the country now grasped the importance of free markets. "Mises, Hayek, Stigler and you," I told Friedman. "You've transformed the intellectual climate. You've won."

Friedman shook his head. "We may have won the intellectual battle," he replied, "but in practical politics, it's difficult to see that we've had any effect at all." Government spending had continued to grow, he explained. After a pause during the Reagan years, regulations had once again proliferated. For a moment, Friedman grew silent. Then he looked at me.The challenge for my generation," he said, "was to provide an intellectual defense of liberty. The challenge for your generation is to keep it." "

Robinson then recounts his disappointment with the marginal accomplishments of the Republican Congress and President, a list which makes you wonder if they were Republicans at all. The Medicare drug benefit. The farm bill. Huge discretionary spending increases. The nomination of John McCain, primarily responsible for the most signifigant threat to the First Amendment in the nation's history.

And now it just gets worse. There is the proposed auto bailout, which the current administration seems inclined to sign even before the new one takes office. Federalizing the healthcare industry. The proposed tax rebates for nearly half the population. Collectivization at its worst in the form of card check regulaiton and the Fairness doctrine. So much for freee markets and individual liberty.

Maybe I finally decide to make that trip to Australia and check things out Down Under.

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