Great economist by day and crusading public intellectual by night, Milton Friedman was my hero. Friedman’s contributions to economics are profound, the permanent income hypothesis, the resurrection of the quantity theory of money, and his magnum opus with Anna Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, all stand as great achievements.
But Friedman did not restrict his genius to the academy, he used economics to forcefully argue for a better world. Friedman was a key player in ending the draft, he championed school choice and drug legalization. He not only wrote about floating exchange rates he helped to bring them into being. The end of welfare as we know it? Friedman’s negative income tax was an inspiration.
Milton Friedman loved liberty. Even today, chills run down my spine whenever I read the slashing opening to Capitalism and Freedom.
President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country."… Neither half of that statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society.
On a personal note, Friedman inspired my book, Entrepreneurial Economics: Bright Ideas from the Dismal Science, in which I said Milton Friedman was the greatest entrepreneurial economist of the twentieth century. It was thus a real thrill for me and a bringing around of the circle when I sent him a draft and he wrote back praising the book (see the back cover!).
He will be missed.