« Observations on the Milton Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago-Becker | Main | Does the Free Market Corrode Moral Character? Posner's Comment »

10/26/2008

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Jim

Having worked at The U of C for 15 years, I know that "the university" will turn on anyone regardless of accomplishment or fame if his/her position or status is not aligned with the university's view of itself. Good luck Milton!

RichK

Judge Posner, count me as one of the potential donors that you predict would be offended by the university taking Friedman's name off the institute. Having faculty members like Friedman (and Becker and Posner) is what has induced me to contribute to the university for many years.

I thought the tiresome Pinochet business was dead and buried long ago, especially after Friedman explained it in great detail in Two Lucky People. How naive I am!

I remember how Friedman used to have an open question and answer session once a year or so when I was a student there in the early 70's, a very politically charged time. I remember one session in particular, when a group of SDS students turned up to shout him down. Are they now UC faculty members?

I hope the university shows the same respect for its public that Friedman showed that night - he ignored the name-calling and answered the serious objections to his views with logic and his usual good-natured enthusiasm. In this case, the logic is that the university is honoring a faculty member who arguably brought it more honor and presige throughout the world than any other in its history.

While I'm waltzing down memory lane, Mr. Becker, I'd like to add that Friedman was the best teacher I ever had too (I never had a course with you, though - my mistake!).

RichK

One additional thought that just occurred to me. I once heard Friedman say that universities sell two products, education and monuments, the latter being the professorships, buildings and schools named after contributors. I believe he would feel very honored that in this case the university is giving away a very big monument - if, that is, the administration has the guts to stand its ground.

Jim

One has to be wary of monuments and the power to erect them as Shelley wrote in his poem Ozymandias:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Rumple Stilskin

Excellent point Jim! Also, institutions that survive long enough seem to eventually evolve into something diametrically opposed to their founders. Mainstream religions have certainly evolved with the times. I am sure that the catholic church, if it survives will eventually embrace atheism as the "true" message.

St. Darwin Assisi's cat

Jim, prey or pray tell pleeeeeese...what is the U of C view of itself? Thank you.

Tim

It's sad that every naming has to be so politically controversial or economically motivated. Also sad that so many people get upset over the name of the institute. If it was the Karl Marx institute than the outrage would be justified.

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Die Märkte reagierten am Freitag auf den historischen Schritt in der US-Bankenbranche mit Entsetzen: Die Citi-Aktie stürzte fast ins Bodenlose und riss die Märkte weltweit mit. Der Eingriff des Staates heizte die Spekulationen weiter an, welches US-Institut als nächstes womöglich sogar komplett von der Regierung übernommen werden könnte.

Die Krise der Citigroup beschleunigte sich nochmals dramatisch: Für 2008 gab sie am Freitag überraschend neue Wertberichtigungen von 9,6 Milliarden Dollar (7,5 Mrd Euro) vor Steuern bekannt. Damit liegt der Rekordverlust für das vergangene Jahr mit nun 27,7 Milliarden Dollar noch einmal um knapp die Hälfte höher als kürzlich verkündet. Schon bisher zählte die Bank zu den weltweit größten Verlierern der Finanzkrise.

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Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

ABS: what's incoherent? Fairness and decency? Well, since you posted, I think we've (1) had an election for fairness and decency and (2) a stunning proof of what excessive narrowness, and coherence bought at the price of truth, can lead us in the credit crisis.

I think, ABS, that the liberal professors would not even propose a Milton Keynes institute. However, if they did so, it would be on the basis that Keynes, unlike the monetarist Friedman, has not been thoroughly discredited.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong

The fact that the "dismal science" is not a science is proven by the fact that while you have a Max Planck Institute, and you could have an Al Einstein Institute, you could not have an Adam Smith Institute or a Karl Marx Institute without announcing committments to ideology outside of your discipline.

Therefore, economists would be well-advised not to wash this particular piece of very dirty laundry in public.

Einstein's results work outside of history no matter what. Friedman's don't, and what's more, he didn't claim they did; Friedman merely noticed that in 1981, screwing around with the money supply could produce a mini-depression and Whip Inflation Then. But now, doing so is pushing on a string.

Keynes failed to anticipate that redistribution would be gamed in a mixed capitalist/socialist economy so as to impoverish the socialist part, since in their role as capitalist actors, people would naturally exploit the socialism (working as well as collection welfare, for example).

Keynes failed to anticipate British "bloody-mindedness": the drive by union members to maximize their pay packets in a society in which the greengrocer and the landlord had to be paid, and in which National Health was being cut back.

Hayek foresaw this and announced as a General Law that planning an economy would never work, for two reasons: (1) the costs of coordination would overwhelm the planners in all cases and (2) coordination would be gamed, even in a pure socialist economy, in self-interest.

To my knowledge, Hayek, with an Austrian school excess respect for brute facts, was unable to prove (1) or (2). (1) may have been a result of the primitive state of office technology in his day and no "proof" of (2) exists: in fact, counterexamples exist, such as Lancashire weavers supporting the North in the American Civil War.

Whereas Marx made the claim that over history, productive forces would evolve, and may yet be right. He'd deserve a Karl Marx Institute were he so.

A Milton Friedman Skewl of Economix is ideological, as ideological as a Marx undt Engels Hochschule fur der Sozial-Forschung. Best to give economics institutes neutral names, or even cute names (Hello Kitty Institute) until you boys figure it all out.

rapics

i dont see why they should back down, they've done nothing wrong and a hell of a lot of history and tradition to stand by,although we all evolve and adapt there is the brand name to consider and i think it would be a loss to change this, when the arguments would disapear with time.

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