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10/26/2008

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a Duoist

That partisan hate for a Nobel winner thrives at Chicago says much more about the university than it does about Dr. Friedman. Let them change the name; Friedman's name and his writings will endure for centuries among the more open-minded.

Sylvester

"Economics is a highly competitive field." Dear Judge, please name one that isn't highly competitive. Even in the disciplines which pay their PhDs much less than economics PhD's, there is a ferocious competition for any decent tenure track position.
Would anyone like to play devil's advocate for the Judge, who, I might assume, has a few cases to adjudicate?

Andrew

Thank you for raising my awareness to this shameful disrespect towards Friedman. What a short-sighted view those faculty members must have.

neilehat

"What's in a Name"? I've never been a big fan of putting people's names on things and organizations. I much prefer a more descriptive title. Like, "The UofC Institute for Economic Research & Development". But what do I know? There are hundreds if not thousands of Institutes named after people (not too mention streets and parks). Such as, Max Planck, Salk, Fermi, Pillsbury, Venter, Lerner, Cato?, Howard Hughes, Getty, Nestle, even including trees, Aspen, and tree seeds, Buckeye.

So what's in a Name? "Friedman" is just as good as anything. Especially, if it helps to raise funds for the organization's operating budget.

Jake

Judge Posner, that is at best a lukewarm defense of the University of Chicago's gesture in honor of a great man. If you do not wish to take a firm stand on the matter, why post the comment?

Jim

I would hope that these 150 self-rightous prfessors would turn down a Nobel Peace Prize because Alfred Nobel was famous for inventing a weapon of war. I am sure that they would-----NOT.

robert

We live in a time in which certain groups move to erase names because they offend the politically correct zeitgeist, such as attempts to do away with things named after slaveholders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. However, what's missing is context. Today's hero could be, in a generation or two, not worthy of the honor (or vica versa). The current controversy concerning Friedman is anything but contextual: opponents have seized upon recent Wall Street financial problems as a pretext for their 60's militancy, without regard for the position Friedman played in both academia and American life. As such, their opposition is suspect and not worthy of consideration by the university.

Dan

I guess we're done with that silly global recession business. Thank goodness. Now we can move on to something really substantive and far-reaching, like faculty politics at Chicago.

Thomason

What person's name would not generate some sort of controversy? All over academia, there is expressed distaste when it is proposed to name an endowed chair after someone who is distasteful to others. It is as if University faculty are unaware that fundraising is the IV that sustains the lifeblood of their college.
That being said, I recall my first courses in Economics and the coursebooks authored by Prof. Friedman. I thought 'who is this guy' and why is he trying to confuse me? Give him a plaque or a lintel or classroom complex with his name, but an entire Institute?

Patrick Murphy

For someone outside the academy this furor is hard to understand. Friedman's ideas will be reevaluated by succeeding generations of economists who have the benefit of history including the current crisis. If his ideas do not stand the test of history he remains one of the most influential individuals ever associated with the UC. Robert E. Lee was wrong at Gettysburg and on the question of succession but his name is engraved on too many monuments and buildings to catalogue. The faculty would do well to stay out of this matter but it is a curious spectacle and a reminder of why serious people might want to avoid the faculty experience.

Jim

It is said that Academic politics is so intense because there is so little at stake.

Dan

Jim: I think it was Kissinger who said that.

Speaking of the devil, is there a Henry Kissinger School of Foreign Policy yet? Didn't he win the Nobel Prize...

Jim

Thanks Dan,

There is such a double standard in all of this. It makes me think that hypocrisy is a more pervasive social illness than imagined.

Jim's Daddy

"It makes me think that hypocrisy is a more pervasive social illness than imagined." And there are more fools (and quacks) than I imagined. But I'm glad you were able to take a moral shit on this one, Jim.

Edward G. Nilges

Posner frameworks the discussion in a way that although *au fait* in America, is bizarre globally.

It is simply untrue that universities are "monolithically liberal" unless it is possible to base a university on pre-enlightenment world-views.

Even the Catholic Church was incapable of this stunt, for its leading educational order, the Jesuits, had to make its peace with the enlightenment in order to do its job.

The University of Chicago gets its somewhat less than "monolithically" liberal reputation only because some of its faculty, and some of its bitter, twisted, and prematurely aged graduate students, will say paradoxical things which call into question the basic values of the Enlightenment such as fairness, decency, and an expanding as opposed to a contracting culture.

For example, a U of C math professor told Saul Bellow, who could for some strange reason never get a real job at the U of C despite winning a Nobel or two, that he didn't use the university library because he didn't read outside his field.

Comes now the Judge, Posner, who is also apt to say strikingly narrow and nasty things, either because he's engaged in high class trolling (which is bad) or actually believes them (which is worse).

ABS

Would the same professors object to naming an economic research institution the John Meynard Keynes Institute? If so, I would perhaps be sympathetic, but I just do not believe that would be the case.

Edward G. Nilges, that post was absolutely incoherent.

SorinPLATON

Some remarks in romanian/european language for US-UE citizens from Romania, a percent of

your readers & taxpayers by the way...

Standard & Poor 'scade calificative nationale, ca minoritaru' lautar, ...dupa ureche

http://sorinplaton.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/standard-poors-s-tales/

Cele bune sa se adune,

1= [rezistenta antigloAbalizanta din muntzi :) ]

SorinPLATON

Some remarks in romanian/european language for US-UE citizens from Romania, a percent of

your readers & taxpayers by the way...

Standard & Poor 'scade calificative nationale, ca minoritaru' lautar, ...dupa ureche

http://sorinplaton.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/standard-poors-s-tales/

Cele bune sa se adune,

1= [rezistenta antigloAbalizanta din muntzi :) ]

St. Darwin Assisi's cat

Yo Judge Posner...thank you for blog...interesting, informative. Comments were interesting too...touched some nerves with this post. Glad I don't have to sit in on THOSE faculty meetings. Talk about turf wars...does this discussion affect young Professor Posner?

Rumple Stiltskin

Good riddance to the evil dwarf.

Why name anything after him. He lived his life in a island of fantasy as do his followers.

He missed his chance in life when he didn't get a part in a once popular TV show.

How I would have loved to see him "Boss!... The plane! The plane!"

Jim

Not let's see. 150 faculty at The U of C, 80 faculty at Duke. Does anyone see a similarity?

I will wager that a public hanging in Durham or Hyde Park would draw a sizeable crowd.

Jon

This is a response to the comments by Sylvester:

It's not the competition for labor positions that is the issue here, but the competition of ideas. I do work related to public health where in that field there is no competition for ideas. In economics, there is healthy debate on issues of all types -- methodology, empirical outcomes, and policy. When I look at the public health area, i see that everyone agrees, especially on the policy implications (and so many people are really unnecessary). Milton Friedman would be the first person to support competition in the market place for ideas.

Tony Blah

Milton Friedman would be the last person to support competition in the market place for ideas.

DaveinHackensack

"The stated ground of opposition is that naming the Institute after Friedman would constitute the University's endorsement of his political views..."

Milton Friedman's alma mater, Rutgers University, has named more than one building, if memory serves, after Paul Robeson. I don't recall anyone protesting that this might constitute the university's endorsement of some of Robeson's more controversial political views (e.g. his support of Stalin). I wonder if the Rutgers community would protest if the university proposed naming something after Friedman.

DaveinHackensack

"The stated ground of opposition is that naming the Institute after Friedman would constitute the University's endorsement of his political views..."

Milton Friedman's alma mater, Rutgers University, has named more than one building, if memory serves, after Paul Robeson. I don't recall anyone protesting that this might constitute the university's endorsement of some of Robeson's more controversial political views (e.g. his support of Stalin). I wonder if the Rutgers community would protest if the university proposed naming something after Friedman.

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