Anecdotes about Milton Friedman


"Everybody loves to argue with Milton, particularly when he isn't there."
- George Shultz

"Everything reminds Milton Friedman of the money supply. Everything reminds me of sex, but I try to keep it out of my papers."
- Robert Solow

Brad DeLong writes;

General William Westmoreland, testifying before President Nixon's Commission on an All-Volunteer [Military] Force, denounced the idea, saying that he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Milton Friedman interrupted him: "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Westmoreland got angry: "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." And Friedman got rolling: "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general." And he did not stop: "We are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher"

On responding to criticisms about giving advise to Pinochet regime (Mankiw article on Friedman);

“Friedman was--and is--unrepentant. Of course, he did not endorse the dictatorship. But, he wrote, "I do not regard it evil for an economist to render technical economic advice to the Chilean government to help end the plague of inflation, any more than I would regard it as evil for a physician to give technical medical advice to the Chilean government to end a medical plague." He also notes that years later, when he offered similar economic advice to China, there were no similar protests, even though the left-wing Chinese dictators were no less oppressive than Pinochet.”

Art Diamond recalls;

“One characteristic that came through in class, as well as in his public debates and interviews, was that he was focused on the ideas and not the personalities expressing them. I remember seeing Friedman debating some union official on television. He talked at one point about how he and the official had had to work hard in their youth. Friedman seemed to like the union official; he just disagreed with some of his ideas, and wanted the union official and everyone else, to understand why. By the end of the "debate", the union official had a warm, amused, expression on his face.

I remember once Friedman saying that more of us should speak out more often on more topics; that the bad consequences to us weren't as bad as we supposed. Probably he was right; though he had a lot working in his favor---his quick-wittedness, his good will, his sense of humor, and probably his being so short in physical stature---it was probably hard for anyone to feel threatened by him, so they were more apt to let down their guard and listen to what he had to say.”

John Quiggin has similar views of Friedman;

“Friedman was effective in part because he was obviously a person of goodwill. I never had the feeling with him, as with many writers in the free-market line, that he was promoting cynical selfishness, or pushing the interests of business. He genuinely believed that economics was about making people’s lives better and that disagreements among economists were about means rather than ends and could ultimately be resolved by careful attention to the evidence.”

Thomas Sowell recalls;

“The other side of Friedman was his generosity with his time to help students, and even former students. In later years, long after I had left the University of Chicago, he helped me with his criticisms and advice on my work--only when asked. When I was offered an appointment to the Federal Trade Commission in 1976, he was asked by the White House to urge me to accept but he declined to do so. It was the best non-advice I ever got. I would have been miserable at the FTC.”

Walter Block recollects;

“Another personal recollection. Once, at a Mont Pelerin Meeting, there was a panel discussion entitled “How to win a Nobel Prize in economics. The panelists were James Buchanan, George Stigler and, of course, Milton Friedman. This was pretty fast company. I don’t remember any of the specifics but I remember coming away from that event with the thought that “Milton Friedman is an intellectual tiger,” so overwhelming was he in that discussion.”


More links at PrestoPundit, Tim Worstall, Aplia blog, Southern Appeal and still more Google Blog search.


Lucas, of University of Chicago, Discusses Friedman's Economics

Milton Friedman on Money

Friedman on Capitalism and Freedom


How Milton Friedman Changed Economics, Policy and Markets

Milton Friedman- An enduring legacy

The Legacy of Milton and Rose Friedman’s Free to Choose-Economic Liberalism at the Turn of the 21st Century; A Conference Hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

On Milton Friedman's Ninetieth Birthday -Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke

Tennis With Milton

Congestion and Anonymity

Milton Friedman- Money and Economic Freedom

Milton Friedman interview (The Region)

Milton Friedman, a father of financial futures

The Methodology of Positive Economics

My Tribute to Milton Friedman: The Little Giant of Free Market Economics

The World Turner

Milton Friedman, RIP, and inflation targeting

Applying Some of Friedman's Wisdom

Friedman's Sampler

John Maynard Keynes By Milton Friedman

Roofs or Ceilings? The Current Housing Problem


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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on November 18, 2006 9:58 AM.

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