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Prof. Becker:

What was Prof. Friedman's response to the Sweden counter-example cited by Judge Posner (democracy lashed to a command economy) and to the Singapore counter-example (authoritarian rule lashed to a free economy)?

Would you please expand on your own view of how Sweden and Singapore fit into theories about the link between personal and political liberty? Is it simply the case that both countries are lucky enough to be too wealthy for latent tensions to arise? Or is there an unfashionable cultural explanation?

Judge Posner accuses Prof. Friedman of dogmatism. Is the response that Prof. Friedman's policy prescriptions were informed both by economics and a passionate belief in personal freedom. Couldn't Judge Posner sometimes be accused of dogmatic pragmatism?

Best regards,


Greg Ransom

When and how did Milton Friedman come to be a (classical) liberal? Was the big influence Frank Knight or was perhaps it Rose herself?

And Friedman's views seemed to change in the wake of his exposure to the ideas of Friedrich Hayek (which Friedman taught in his graduate seminars and which play a central role in the first chapter of _Free to Choose_.)


Thanks for this post, I very much enjoyed your tribute.

Robert A. Book

Prof. Becker,

I hope you consider it a compliment that sitting in your class and attempting to answer your questions had the same effect on me -- in terms of convincing me I had to (re)learn economics from the ground up -- that sitting in Prof. Friedman's class had on you. I suppose it didn't hurt that at times in class I would imagine that a few years (decades) before, you'd been in the same room taking the same class from him.

Now, I am teaching economics to senior military officers, diplomats, and others at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. They all favor the all-volunteer military, and to a great extent they understand the benefits of free markets. All we have to do is explain the virtues of free trade. And they know the contributions of you and Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.

Thanks for everything,

Robert Book
Industrial College of the Armed Forces
National Defense University

Larry Horse

Professor Becker,

A very thorough tribute. However, I am also very interested in learning about Milton Friedman's contributions to scientific economics. Is there a book or article that I should read in order to get this information (short of a jstor search on his articles)? Thank you.


Mr.friedman is great, who has changed and will still change the world even after him.


Pr. Becker,

I wouldn't say that General Pinochet and General Chiang Kai-Shek's regime were "totalitarian"; the URSS or Hitler's Germany were totalitarian, Pinochet's Chile and Chiang Kai-Shek's were authoritarian. There can be no "economic freedom" in a totalitarian regime, by definition.

Thank you for this great tribute to the great Milton Friedman.

Drieu Godefridi


Thank you for this tribute to Milton Friedman; his ideas had a strong influence on my decision to major in economics and mathematics. I am sad that I will never have the opportunity to meet this great man, so I shall have to content myself with continued study of his brilliant contributions to economic thought.


Professor Becker,

Friedman came to oppose Chilean-style forced saving. In a New York Times op-ed ("Social Security Chimeras", 11 January 1999), he wrote, in response to Martin Feldstein's argument that contributions must be mandatory, "the fraction of a person's income that it is reasonable for him or her to set aside for retirement depends on that person's circumstances and values. It makes no more sense to specify a minimum fraction for all people than to mandate a minimum fraction of income that must be spent on housing or transportation. Our general presumption is that individuals can best judge for themselves how to use their resources. Mr. Feldstein simply asserts that in this particular case the Government knows better."


IF anyone deserves a bust or plaque in the Economic Pantheon, it's probably Milton Friedman. Although, I never knew the man personally, I have a passing acquaitance with some of his ideas. Being somewhat trained in the "Classical" and "Neoclassical" school of economics, Friedman's monetarist views always forced a review and rethinking of some basic fundamental assumptions of classical economics which were necessary. Even though I still disagree on some of them. Perhaps his repositioning in later life was a respnse to get monetarists to rethink some of their basic assumptions as the Monetarist school became more doctrinaire. Anyway, the debate still rages on.


Prof. Becker,

Thank you for your tribute.
Personally I'm interested in Friedman's proposal of the voucher system. Currently many cities in China are starting to adopt this idea from a new perspective, that is, to provide subsidy in terms of education. Yet they are probably not successful enough, since it's apparent that parents tend to use the money saved from the benefit of the voucher received for something else rather than further education of the kids. The case in China is different from Friedman's experiment in California though, for several questions. And we are doing research on that now, to check whether or not it's a helpful system for China. After all, I'd like to express my admiration for Friedman's original proposal and sorrow at this sad news.


In your conclusion you say it is hard to believe he is not here. You are mistaken about that, because he is here. His ideas will always be with us and with our descendants. They will only bury that small part of Milton Friedman which could ever die.


Thank you Dr.Gary Becker
Really a great tribute and eulogy.


He was my hero and I was heart-broken to learn of his death. Thankyou for the post on his contributions to economics

B. Meighan

I disagree that Friedman was the most influential economist
of the past century. J.M. Keynes rescued and saved capitalism and the state during the Great Depression and enabled the post-W.W II era to be one of the greatest perioda of economic growth among democracies.


I greatly respected Friedman as not only an economist, but also a philosopher. He helped to keep the important philosophies of Peirce and Popper alive and well in the current intellectual debate...namely, the philosphies of empiricism and pragmatism.

Peirce in particular was probably the greatest American thinker of all time, but is largely unrecognized. I wouldn't be surprised if Friedman had read a few of his essays, because Friedman's quote about the importance of a theory's predictive value appears to be a direct rephrasing of some of Peirce's ideas.

If anybody is curious, check out http://woodstock.typepad.com


Dear Prof.Becker,
Your teacher Prof.Milton Friedman's areas were mainly macro and money.Then as a student what tempted you to migrate to micro?
G.V.Varma,Kerala State,India.

Kenneth R. Gregg

“Capitalism and Freedom” came out at a time when his voice was the prototypical cry in the wilderness. One could not find such advocates of freedom easily. It was like traveling from one state to another: This state had one, that one had none, another perhaps one.

He will always be remembered.

Just a thought.
Just Ken

Scott Wood

Much as I love Milton Friedman, surely Keynes, by providing intellectual cover for naked vote-buying, was by far the most "influential" economist of the 20th Century.


Many have raised the question of whether Friedman was the most influential economist of the twentieth century. Along those lines, I wonder if he might've been more influential if he'd not stuck to policy prescriptions developed ab initio.

One example is vouchers. One of the strongest arguments against vouchers has been that they starve the public schools system of funds, in particular by providing money to people who'd been sending children to private schools (i.e. those essentially contributing money to public schools and getting nothing back). The obvious answer, and one that Friedman resorted to in several other places in the book, would be to increase the amount of the vouchers to compensate (indeed above the level of the initial cost of public schooling, to cover overhead). Then, years down the road, when competition presumably has evened everything out, cut physical plant, etc., vouchers could eventually be reduced. But this requires increasing taxes, which is immediately a no-go politically.

Several places in the book, he ridiculed the idea of advocating an illogical policy in order to take advantage of its beneficial side effects in an area which is politically untouchable. But like it or not, that's sometimes how the political system works. In that way, perhaps it's easier for, say China, or an Eastern European country just emerging out of Communism, to try vouchers, than for the US.


a good teacher can always have important influence on his students.


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Thank you, you always get to all new and used it
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great post,and you will lovetiffanys,

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