Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Milton Friedman – on his passing

Posted by shannonclark on November 17, 2006

Today Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006 according to Wikipedia) died here in San Francisco. The BBC has a great article about his death and life.

As someone who attended the University of Chicago, though long after Prof. Friedman had stopped teaching there, and who is working on a Economic text of my own, clearly Prof. Friedman is an important figure. In many ways I agree with a lot of his politics (though I’m more progressive/centrist than Libertarian). I did not take any economics courses at the University of Chicago while I was there (though since I have yet to complete my degree, perhaps someday I will at least audit a course or two) so my direct exposure to his views is limited.

On a more personal note, however, while I was at Chicago I did grow to know Prof. Friedman’s son, David D Friedman who when I was at Chicago in the early 90’s was teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. There he was also active in the Society of Creative Anachronism chapter there, and I had the great pleasure of camping with him at Pensic War. (I see that he is now teaching at the University of Santa Clara so I should perhaps look him up again). He now also has a blog and website.

I have mixed feelings about Milton Friedman. On the one hand he was a highly influential and important thinker whose impact has lasted for decades. On the other hand, while I agree with some of his analysis, I find myself approaching economics from a very different perspective and reaching some conclusions that are very different. And the lasting impact of some of his suggestions has a very decidedly mixed set of results, people have many debates about whether it was positive or negative when they were applied (or tried to be applied) to South America, often working with dictators such as Pinnochet.

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