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The Independent Review is
GARY BECKER, Noble Laureate
in Economic Sciences
Let us now praise famous men.
ilton Friedman, who died in the early morning of November 16, 2006,
free-market economy. Much of his celebrity derived from his role as pub-
lic intellectual, an aspect of his work that was reﬂected largely in popular books such
Capitalism and Freedom (1962) and the hugely successful Free to Choose (1980)—
both coauthored with his wife, Rose, and the latter based on the television docu-
mentary of the same title—and in the
Economics in 1976, this award greatly enhanced his stature as a public ﬁgure and his
effectiveness as a policy advocate, and in the vast outpouring of obituaries and public
testimonials prompted by his passing, these aspects of his life and work have received
the greatest emphasis.
Most professional economists (and probably Friedman himself), however, would
regard another aspect of his career as far more important than his incursions in the
policy arena. Indeed, even if “Friedman the public intellectual” had never existed,
“Friedman the economic scientist” would still be renowned and respected (though
perhaps not as a bona ﬁde world-class celebrity), and his memory will live long in the
Milton Friedman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 31, 1912, the youngest
child in a family of poor Jewish immigrants from Carpatho-Ruthenia (then in the
Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary, now part of independent Ukraine). He received
his early schooling in the public schools of Rahway, New Jersey, where he grew up,
and in 1928 he obtained a state scholarship to attend Rutgers University, which he
entered with the intention of majoring in mathematics (his original career plan was to
become an actuary). In college, however, chance intervened, as he said, in the form
of “two extraordinary teachers [of economics] who had a major impact on my life”:
Homer Jones and Arthur F. Burns (Friedman 2004, 68). Under their inﬂuence, he
switched majors from mathematics to economics.
Upon graduation from Rutgers in 1932, Friedman received two scholarship
offers for graduate study, one to study economics at the University of Chicago, the
other to study applied mathematics at Brown University. Both, it seems, were equally
attractive: “It was close to a toss of a coin that determined which offer I accepted”
(Friedman 2004, 69). In the event, he opted for Chicago and became an economist.
At Chicago, where he earned his master’s degree in 1933, his teachers included
Frank Knight, Lloyd Mints, Henry Simons, Henry Schultz, and Jacob Viner.
would become life-long friends and colleagues.
His friendship with Stigler was es-
individuals, eventually deﬁned and personiﬁed what became known as the “Chicago
school” of economics.
He went to Columbia University in 1934, where he studied mathematical sta-
Clark. He later returned to Chicago as research assistant to Henry Schultz, who was
1. Friedman had fond recollections of Viner (“[His] course was unquestionably the greatest intellectual
experience of my life” [Friedman 2004, 70]), and several generations of Viner’s students have attested to
Viner’s qualities as teacher, though he also seems to have been quite fearsome in class. Another great
economist recalls: “I had the opportunity to take Jacob Viner’s celebrated course in graduate economic
theory—celebrated both for its profundity in analysis and history of thought, but also celebrated for Viner’s
ferocious manhandling of students, in which he not only reduced women to tears but on his good days
drove returned paratroopers into hysteria and paralysis” (Samuelson 1972, 161).
2. Another classmate was Rose Director, Friedman’s future wife and coauthor. They were married on June
3. See Friedman’s touching tribute to his friend and colleague (Friedman 1999) and the recently published
Friedman-Stigler correspondence (Hammond and Hammond 2006). The Chicago school became a pow-
erhouse in academic economics, and the University of Chicago’s Department of Economics is to date the
institution with the largest number of Nobel Prizes in Economics to its credit (see Rowley 1999 for proﬁles
of ﬁve Chicago Nobelists).
1 1 6
H . C
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
At this point, it is perhaps useful to pause and reﬂect on this remarkable edu-
cational experience. Although it resulted from a seemingly fortuitous combination of
circumstances, a program better suited to his future professional development would
have been difﬁcult to plan deliberately. At the theoretical level, the Chicago inﬂuence
was of course decisive, though one of the most important aspects of Friedman’s
approach to economic research—his careful and detailed analysis of empirical evi-
dence—did not come from Chicago, but from his contact with Wesley Mitchell and
the NBER. In fact, the empirical research now regarded as a hallmark of “Chicago”
economics owes much to Friedman’s later inﬂuence. In the 1930s, with the somewhat
marginal exceptions of Henry Schultz and Paul Douglas, the Chicago economists
emphasized theory more than empirical analysis (Reder 1982).
In the early stages of Friedman’s career, however, Hotelling had the strongest
inﬂuence on him. Indeed, at ﬁrst Friedman showed more signs of becoming an
eminent statistician than a great economist. In one of his ﬁrst professional publica-
tions, he developed a nonparametric technique for the analysis of variance under
certain conditions (Friedman 1937). As in most of his analytic contributions, the
motivation for the “Friedman test” was to help solve practical problems in the analysis
of data (in this case, income and expenditure data).
During World War II, after a brief stint at the Treasury Department, Friedman
combat problems and quality inspection for war materials.
This group comprised a
stay abroad and was faced with the prospect of having to train and build up an entirely new staff of assistants
in order to ﬁnish the work, Milton Friedman, a former graduate student of mine, came to my rescue and
for a year continued to render valuable assistance” (1938, xi). A further and more speciﬁc acknowledgment
is noted on p. 569 (note 1): “I am profoundly grateful to Mr. Milton Friedman for invaluable assistance
in the preparation and writing of these chapters [18 and 19] and for permission to summarize a part of his
unpublished paper on indifference curves in Sec. III, chap. xix.” The section Schultz was referring to is
entitled “The Friedman Modiﬁcation of the Johnson-Allen Deﬁnition of Complementarity” and is based
on an unpublished paper by Friedman entitled “The Fitting of Indifference Curves as a Method of Deriving
Statistical Demand Curves” (January 1934). This essay must have been Friedman’s ﬁrst technical paper in
economics (note that he was twenty-one years old at the time!). It was never published, though it is cited
occasionally in the literature on complementarity (see, for instance, Samuelson 1974), and two Japanese
scholars have recently developed some implications of Friedman’s analysis (Tsujimura and Tsuzuki 1998).
I thank Mr. Takashi Yoshida of Keio University for kindly providing me a copy of the Tsujimura-Tsuzuki
5. Though not much used by economists, the test is widely used in other ﬁelds. Indeed, it has become so
without further attribution, so most of the analysts who routinely use it are probably not aware that the
creator of this useful test and the famous economist are the same person. See, for instance, Gibbons 1976,
material Wallis covers, but sets it in a somewhat broader context. Wallis reports some of the titles of the
studies the SRG prepared, one of which is rather chilling: “Relative Effectiveness of Caliber 0.50, Caliber
I L T O N
R I E D M A N
, 1 9 1 2 – 2 0 0 6
1 1 7
inter alia, the development of “sequential analysis,” an important advance in statistical
theory. Friedman, together with Allen Wallis and navy captain Garret Schuyler, no-
ticed that the conventional method of taking samples of a predetermined size was
inefﬁcient because it did not take into account information generated by the sample
process itself. The idea was later rigorously developed by Abraham Wald, who proved
the basic theorem underlying sequential testing, which was quickly adopted and
adapted as the standard method for inspection sampling.
After the war, Friedman served brieﬂy on the faculty of the University of Min-
Department of Economics, where he remained until his retirement in 1977. The
return to Chicago coincided with a major change in the focus of his research activity,
which shifted away from pure statistics and eventually centered almost entirely on
economics. He was back home.
The Methodology of Positive Economics
Friedman had a profound impact on economic research during his lifetime, and his
inﬂuence reached far beyond the particular ﬁelds he chose for his own research. Much
of this inﬂuence came from his opinions on methodological issues, which he clariﬁed
at an early stage of his career. His famous 1953 essay “The Methodology of Positive
Economics” is arguably his best-known work among professional economists, as well
as one of the most controversial.
Friedman began his essay by distinguishing between
of systematized knowledge concerning what is,” and
systematized knowledge discussing criteria of what ought to be” (1953, 3; unless
otherwise stated, all page references in parentheses in this section refer to this work).
The two disciplines are related, but the conclusions of positive economics are inde-
pendent of ethical positions or normative judgments. The purpose of positive eco-
nomics is to “provide a system of generalizations that can be used to make correct
predictions about the consequences of any change in circumstances” (4). Economic
theories should be evaluated according to strictly empirical criteria: “Viewed as a body
of substantive hypotheses, theory is to be judged by its predictive power for the class
0.60, and 20 mm Guns as Armament for Multiple Anti-aircraft Machine Gun Turrets” (August 28, 1945).
This report was written by Milton Friedman.
7. See Armitage 1968 for a brief introduction to the literature on sequential analysis. Stigler was also a
member of the SRG, though not for as long as Friedman (ten months and thirty-one months, respectively).
Stigler’s view of the experience is characteristic of him: “[The SRG] was a pioneer American branch of the
new craft called operations research, which applied statistical and economic theory to combat problems and
to wartime procurement. . . . Our group had illustrious successes, such as the invention by Wald of a new
method of statistical analysis called sequential analysis. That method of quality inspection saved the
economy more money per month in the purchase of rocket propellant than the entire wartime cost of our
organization. My role in our work was so modest that my claim must be that I did not aid the enemy”
1 1 8
whether it is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or, better, tentatively ‘accepted’ as valid or ‘rejected’”
(8). This standard is stressed repeatedly throughout the essay: “[T]he only relevant
test of the
The hypothesis is rejected if its predictions are contradicted (‘frequently’ or more
often than predictions from an alternative hypothesis); it is accepted if its predictions
are not contradicted; great conﬁdence is attached to it if it has survived many oppor-
tunities for contradiction” (8–9, emphasis in original).
Using language that is now associated with Karl Popper’s ( 1959) phi-
losophy of science, Friedman added that “factual evidence can never ‘prove’ a hy-
pothesis; it can only fail to disprove it, which is what we generally mean when we say,
somewhat inexactly, that the hypothesis has been ‘conﬁrmed’ by experience” (9).
To be sure, economic phenomena present special difﬁculties because controlled
sible to perform. Therefore, “we must rely on evidence cast up by the ‘experiments’
that happen to occur” (10). Friedman held, however, that “the inability to conduct
so-called ‘controlled experiments’ does not . . . reﬂect a basic difference between the
social and physical sciences because it is not peculiar to the social sciences—witness
astronomy—and because the distinction between a controlled experiment and un-
controlled experience is at best one of degree. No experiment can be completely
controlled, and every experience is partly controlled in the sense that some disturbing
inﬂuences are relatively constant in the course of it” (10).
Furthermore, “evidence cast up by experience is abundant and frequently as
conclusive as that from contrived experiments; thus the inability to conduct experi-
ments is not a fundamental obstacle to testing hypotheses by the success of their
predictions.” Such evidence, however, is admittedly “far more difﬁcult to interpret. It
is frequently complex and always indirect and incomplete. Its collection is often
arduous, and its interpretation requires subtle analysis and involved chains of reason-
ing, which seldom carry real conviction” (10–11). In short, a “crucial” experiment is
seldom possible in economics, which hinders adequate hypothesis testing, although
8. Friedman nowhere cites Popper in his essay, which at ﬁrst glance might seem puzzling, given the
similarity of their views in this regard. It seems, however, that by the time of his ﬁrst meeting with Popper,
Friedman had already developed his methodological notions independently: “Shortly after I had completed
a ﬁrst draft [of the 1953 essay], George Stigler and I had long discussions with Karl Popper in 1947 at the
founding meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society. The part of those discussions that I remember best had to
do with scientiﬁc methodology. Popper’s book,
Logik der Forschung, published in Vienna in 1934, had
already become a classic analysis of the methodology of the physical sciences, but my German was too
limited for me to have read it even though I may have known about its existence. It was not translated into
English until 1959, . . . so these discussions at Mont Pelerin were my ﬁrst exposure to his views. I found
them highly compatible with the views that I had independently come to, though far more sophisticated
and more fully developed” (Friedman and Friedman 1998, 215). The Mont Pelerin Society is an interna-
tional association of scholars founded at a conference organized by F. A. Hayek in 1947 and committed to
the preservation and dissemination of the ideals of classical liberalism. (On the history of the Mont Pelerin
Society, see Hartwell 1995. Friedman, at age thirty-four, must have been one of the youngest of the
thirty-nine founding members. Because he lived a very long life, it is likely that he was the last surviving
member of that original group.)
1 1 9
reasonably prompt and wide consensus on the conclusions justiﬁed by the available
evidence” (11). In economics, the process of weeding out failed hypotheses is slower
than in other sciences. On occasions, however, casual experience provides evidence
just as compelling as the result of a controlled experiment—the empirical correlation
between monetary growth and price inﬂation is a good example.
In Friedman’s approach, the criteria for acceptance or rejection of hypotheses are
strictly empirical. Unlike his teacher Wesley Mitchell, however, Friedman was by no
means opposed to abstract theory per se. In fact, one of his objectives in the meth-
odology essay was to defend the abstract nature of neoclassical economic theory,
which was often criticized for its lack of realistic assumptions. Friedman thought these
critiques were misplaced and that scientiﬁc hypotheses should not be judged by the
realism of their assumptions because they can never be “realistic” in a descriptive
sense. In fact,
the relation between the signiﬁcance of a theory and the “realism” of its
“assumptions” is almost the opposite of that suggested by the view under
criticism. Truly important and signiﬁcant hypotheses will be found to have
“assumptions” that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of re-
ality, and, in general, the more signiﬁcant the theory, the more unrealistic
the assumptions (in this sense).
The reason is simple. A hypothesis is
and crucial elements from the mass of complex and detailed circumstances
surrounding the phenomena to be explained and permits valid predictions
on the basis of them alone. (14)
Theoretical assumptions are simpliﬁcations of reality, and in this sense they
be descriptively false (that is, they take into account only the features regarded as
important because the success of the hypothesis shows that all other circumstances are
irrelevant to the explanation of the phenomenon). To Friedman, the realism of the
assumptions was unimportant, and “the relevant question to ask about the ‘assump-
tions’ of a theory is not whether they are descriptively ‘realistic,’ for they never are, but
whether they are sufﬁciently good approximations for the purpose in hand,” which
can be determined only by “seeing whether the theory works, which means whether
it yields sufﬁciently accurate predictions” (15).
The “Methodology” essay was (and remains) controversial, and it generated a
large secondary literature.
Friedman, however, having stated his case, preferred to
are unrealistic (in this sense) do not guarantee a signiﬁcant theory” (14 n.).
10. See Boland 1979 for a good review of the early critical literature. Most economists now probably agree
with Mayer that Friedman’s essay is best interpreted as “an attempt to provide practicing economists with
some useful ground rules, speciﬁcally with a way of healing the unfortunate split between theoretical and
1 2 0
U L I O
O L E
decided to move on and was more concerned with applying his principles in practice.
After around 1950, Friedman’s interests began to center on monetary economics, the
ﬁeld in which he achieved his greatest prominence. A notable collection of empirical
studies edited by Friedman,
based on doctoral dissertations supervised in his famous Money and Banking Work-
shop at Chicago. A longer-run project resulted from his association with the NBER,
where he took charge of the monetary aspects of a much larger-scale project on
business cycles. The detailed investigations related to this project resulted in three
volumes coauthored with Anna J. Schwartz:
Friedman laid out the theoretical framework of this empirical research and linked
it to previous monetary traditions at Chicago in his introduction to the
ume, “The Quantity Theory of Money—A Restatement” (1956a).
working economists and not a sophisticated philosophical analysis . . . and [his] essay is broadly consistent
with the methodology that most economists now afﬁrm, at least in principle” (1993, 213–14). Few
working scientists ever pay much attention to what philosophers say about science (or about anything, for
that matter), so it is not surprising that criticisms from that corner have never made much of a dent in the
essay’s appeal, which is not to say that it is above reproach. In fact, it has been subjected to devastating
criticism, not from a philosopher, but, ﬁttingly, from an economist (and a
Chicago economist, no less!):
“The view that the worth of a theory is to be judged solely by the extent and accuracy of its predictions
seems to me wrong. . . . Except in the most exceptional circumstances, the data required to test the
predictions of a new theory . . . will not be available or, if available, will not be in the form required for the
tests and . . . will need a good deal of manipulation of one sort or another before they can be made to yield
the requisite predictions. And who will be willing to undertake these arduous investigations? . . . [F]or the
tests to be worthwhile, someone has to believe in the theory, at least to the extent of believing that it might
well be true. . . . If all economists followed Friedman’s principles in choosing theories, no economist could
be found who believed in a theory until it had been tested, which would have the paradoxical result that
no tests would be carried out . . . [so] acceptance of Friedman’s methodology would result in the paralysis
of scientiﬁc activity. Work would certainly continue, but no new theories would emerge” (Coase 1988, 64,
theory, though Patinkin (1969) later criticized him for trying to link his own theoretical contributions to
an allegedly quite different “oral tradition” at Chicago. Johnson went further, imputing questionable
motives and actually accusing Friedman of “scholarly chicanery” (1971, 11). Friedman responded, “I shall
not defend my ‘Restatement’ as giving the ‘ﬂavor of the oral tradition’ at Chicago in the sense that the
details of my formal structure have precise counterparts in the teachings of Simons and Mints. After all, I
am not unwilling to accept some credit for the theoretical analysis in that article. Patinkin has made a real
contribution to the history of thought by examining and presenting the detailed theoretical teachings of
Simons and Mints, and I have little quarrel with his presentation. But I certainly do defend my ‘Restate-
ment’ as giving the ‘ﬂavor of the oral tradition’ at Chicago in what seems to me the much more important
sense in which, as I said, the oral tradition ‘nurtured the remaining essays in’
Studies in the Quantity Theory
of Money, and [in] my own subsequent work. And, in any event, it is clearly not a tradition that, as Johnson
charges, I ‘invented’ for some noble or nefarious purpose” (Friedman 1972, 941). The Patinkin-Johnson
critique provoked considerable scholarly debate involving many authors, but Friedman, as in other cases of
controversies motivated by his writings, opted to observe from the sidelines. For a good review of this
literature and its background, see the two articles by Leeson (1998, 2000). Don Patinkin was a great
1 2 1
monetary authorities might control the
the public is the
purchasing power). The scientiﬁc problem consists in determining the variables that
affect the demand for money—the amount of real monetary balances the public holds.
According to Friedman, the demand for money is a stable function of real income and
the opportunity cost of holding money. Two essays (Friedman 1959; Friedman and
Schwartz 1963b) later explored this idea and its implications empirically.
The stability of the demand for money had certain implications concerning
effects of variations in the money supply that were inconsistent with the Keynesian
analysis that prevailed at the time. A frontal assault on Keynesian theory was made in
an extensive empirical study in which Friedman and Meiselman (1963) compared two
basic theories: (1) a Keynesian multiplier model, relating national income to “au-
tonomous” expenditures (investment, government spending, and net exports), and
(2) a “monetarist” model (the term
monetarist had not yet been invented), relating
income to the money supply via the velocity of money. The results showed that in
practice the money supply had much greater explanatory power than autonomous
expenditures. The Friedman-Meiselman study set off the “Keynesian-monetarist”
debate that came to dominate discussions of macroeconomic policy for many years.
The main conclusions from this and later “monetarist” studies were that: (1)
out,” whereas an increase in the money supply has a permanent effect; (2) the ad-
justment of nominal income to an increased rate of monetary growth involves “long
and variable lags”; (3) in the long run, an increase in the rate of monetary growth
affects only the inﬂation rate and has no effect on real output; and (4) in the short run,
variations in the rate of monetary growth can have devastating effects on both prices
and real output (the most notorious example being the “Great Contraction” of
1929–33, as explained in chapter 7 of
Shortly after receiving his Nobel Prize, Friedman retired from the University of
Chicago, and the Friedmans moved to San Francisco, where Milton established an
association with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University that lasted for the rest
of his life. Though he remained active in economic research for years after his retire-
scholar and intellectual historian, and he seems to have felt very strongly about this matter, though in
retrospect it is hard to understand what the fuss was all about, and the whole episode seems rather bizarre.
12. Although Friedman was critical of “Keynesian economics,” he always expressed great respect and
admiration for Keynes the economist. See, for instance, Friedman 1997.
13. For two brief and relatively nontechnical summaries of his monetary studies, see Friedman 1968 and
1 2 2
interests shifted increasingly toward popular writing and involvement in public-policy
He was already well known among the broader public as a staunch critic of
unhampered free market, having expressed such views in
(Friedman and Friedman 1962) and in the triweekly
from 1966 to 1984. His leap to celebrity, however, came with the ﬁlming of the
television documentary series
Free to Choose and with the publication of a book of the
same title (Friedman and Friedman 1980), which eventually became a worldwide
His general ideas regarding capitalism and the market economy are well
reasons for his remarkable success in spreading his ideas to the broader public.
Friedman succeeded as a communicator at least in part because his rhetorical
style was much less ideologically colored than that of other free-market advocates.
Although he had a strong ideological commitment to values such as personal liberty
and individual responsibility, his arguments on speciﬁc policy issues tended to stress
practical matters, such as economic efﬁciency and how government interventions
often led to consequences worse than the evils they ostensibly sought to remedy. This
approach allowed many people to agree with him on speciﬁc issues even though they
might not accept his entire social philosophy. A related rhetorical feature is what we
might call his “incremental” approach to the ideal of a free-market economy. Many
policy issues are not matters of “all or nothing,” but of “more or less,” and Friedman
was often willing to settle for a compromise solution if it offered a clear possibility of
moving closer to the free-market ideal.
A good example is his active role in the movement that eventually ended the
military draft in the United States. This issue was not an abstract matter of “capitalism,
take it or leave it,” but a speciﬁc policy with enormous implications for the personal
liberty of millions of ﬂesh-and-blood individuals. It was also an issue that, in the midst
of an unpopular war, could enlist the support of many people across the political
14. On the impact of
Rosenblum, and Formaini 2004) and especially the paper by Boettke (2004).
15. For an early statement of his views in this regard, see Friedman 1967. On the role Friedman and many
other prominent economists played in the 1969 President’s Advisory Commission on an All-Volunteer
Force (also known as the Gates Commission) and other initiatives that eventually resulted in the ending of
the draft, see Henderson 2005. (This paper should be required reading for every American young man on
his eighteenth birthday. It is available online at http://www.econjournalwatch.org.) An interesting anec-
dote related to the Gates Commission hearings is worth retelling. Among economists, Friedman had a
reputation as the best stand-up debater in the profession. General William Westmoreland, formerly the
commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, discovered this debating ability the hard way: “Like almost all
military men who testiﬁed, [Westmoreland] testiﬁed against a volunteer armed force. In the course of his
testimony, he made the statement that he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. I stopped him
and said, ‘General, would you rather command an army of slaves?’ He drew himself up and said, ‘I don’t
1 2 3
government would ideally no longer be involved in the administration of educational
institutions, though it would still be involved in ﬁnancing education. The voucher
proposal was thus not a pure free-market solution, but it was clearly a step in the right
direction from Friedman’s point of view.
Separation of government ﬁnancing of
income levels greater freedom in choosing the schools their children were to attend.
Moreover, one does not have to accept Friedman’s ultimate vision of a purely private
market in education in order to appreciate the efﬁciency and welfare-enhancing fea-
tures of the “intermediate” voucher solution: more choice would entail greater com-
petition and hence greater efﬁciency in school provision.
Finally, another likely factor that explains Friedman’s greater success in spread-
economists in general) used essentially the same language as most mainstream econo-
mists. Indeed, as Israel Kirzner noted many years ago,
The price theory that underlies the contributions of the “Chicago” writers
is not fundamentally different from that accepted by American economists
generally, including those holding the efﬁciency and justice of the market
system in deep mistrust. It is merely that the “Chicago” economists apply
their price theory more consistently and more resolutely, assigning to it a
scope of relevance far wider than that granted by others. . . . “Chicago”
price theory, like that taught in most United States economics depart-
ments, is solidly in the Anglo-American neoclassical tradition associated
most importantly with Alfred Marshall. (1967, 102)
To use a bit of economic jargon, one might say that Friedman had a comparative
advantage in communicating with mainstream economists, as compared to other
leading classical-liberal economists, such as Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek, whose
Austrian school background was much more alien to other members of the profes-
like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.’ I replied, ‘I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers
professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary
lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher’” (Friedman and Friedman 1998, 380). Whether
the general had anything else to say after he picked his head up from the ﬂoor is not reported. In any case,
“that was the last we heard from [him] about mercenaries” (380).
16. “Murray [Rothbard] used to call me a statist because I was willing to have government money involved.
But I see the voucher as a step in moving away from a government system to a private system” (from the
interview in Doherty 1995, 36). For Rothbard’s critique, see Rothbard  2002.
17. On the progress of the voucher idea in the half-century since Friedman’s initial proposal, see Enlow and
Ealy 2006. The “choice in schooling” issue was near and dear to Friedman’s heart, and in 1996 he and Rose
established the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, whose sole purpose is expanding the range of
options for parental choice in education.
1 2 4
tures, and I may be wrong in my interpretation of the reasons for Friedman’s phe-
nomenal success as social critic and policy advocate. Whatever the reasons, however,
the fact itself is indisputable.
In the foreword of a collection of essays honoring Milton and Rose Friedman, Alan
Greenspan wrote recently: “My ﬁrst contact with Milton was in 1959, when I mailed
him a copy of an article on the impact of the ratio of stock prices to replacement cost
on capital investment. I am sure he had never heard of me, yet he took the time to
reply with several very thoughtful suggestions. I have never forgotten that” (2004,
xii). This remembrance was not the ﬁrst I had encountered along the same lines, and
I do not think these reports describe isolated cases. In fact, Greenspan’s experience
reﬂects an important aspect of Friedman’s personality: he was very generous with his
time, even to complete strangers, as I can personally attest.
I, too, once maintained a correspondence with Milton Friedman. The ﬁrst time
I wrote him was to comment on one of his
Bolivia and worked at a sugar mill. Of course, I did not expect him to reply. Why
would he write to a perfect stranger? Imagine, then, my surprise when I received a
polite and detailed letter from him. I answered it, and he answered back, and our
correspondence continued for several years.
I even got the chance to meet him in person, soon after I began my career as a
university professor. At the time, I was translating some of his monetary studies. He
was interested in the project and encouraged me in his letters (no e-mail then).
Because I was consulting him constantly about many minor details, he suggested at
one point that maybe I should visit him, so we could sit down for a whole day with
the materials and resolve all my queries. After we agreed on a date, I traveled to San
Francisco, and we met in his ofﬁce at Stanford University.
Our meeting was very productive, but I soon realized that although its ostensible
purpose was to discuss his papers, he was not really much interested in talking about
his work. Rather, he seemed much more interested in my own projects and concerns.
What courses was I teaching? Had I published any papers? What other things was I
working on? It so happens that I was then working on a book of my own, my ﬁrst
book, on Latin American inﬂation, and, as I recall, we actually spent more time that
day talking about my book than about his own writings. At midday, he invited me to
lunch at the faculty club, where we were joined by George Stigler, and in the after-
noon we continued to talk until I had to leave for my return ﬂight. I will always
remember his gracious generosity, his encouragement, and his willingness to devote
part of his valuable time to a young, budding academic. His kindness meant the world
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