Milton Friedman in *Death Wish*

Dan Klein writes to me:

Yes, a movie character (young woman student) was reading it aloud to her friend in a coma, Bruce Willis’s daughter, who had been attacked and shot. Willis comes in and asks what she’s been reading. The young woman replies that she had to read it anyway, for summer reading in anticipation of NYU, and figured good for coma victim to hear voice. Willis makes a joke about “I don’t think that will wake her up” or “Do you think that will wake her?”

When Willis asks her what she’s reading she says “Essays in Positive Economics, by Milton Friedman”. And then explains that it is on the NYU summer reading list.

The text quoted was: “Normative economics and the art of economics, on the other hand, cannot be independent of positive economics. Any policy conclusion necessarily rests on a prediction about the consequences of doing one thing rather than another…”

Has anyone else seen this movie?


Yes I've seen the movie. Yes, I thought it was funny that book was being read to someone in a coma.

I don't remember seeing the original Charles Bronson Death Wish, but I've been told that movie is a better version of the story. I liked the Bruce Willis version, it plays out nicely. It's a bit gruesome, but not overly so. It was directed by Eli Roth ('Green Inferno', 'Hostel') so I was actually expecting a more...visceral experience. I was gratefully disappointed.

I have seen that movie and all of the Death Wish movies that Bronson did. I have a friend who was in a coma and she said that she can remember her mother and father talking to her while in the coma and even the doctor and nurses. She thinks it was something her mother said that brought her out of the coma; her crying and pleading with her to wake up.

You watch this movie because it is Death Wish or you don't for the same reason. I did not. I heard that C.S. Lewis makes a cameo appearance as well.


To clarify, both the daughter and the friend were set to attend NYU in the fall. The friend is reading it to her in part because the daughter can't.

Next week, we get the economics professor in love movie - Crazy Rich Asians.

After America deports all of its mexicans, we need to deport all of its asians next. Lets bring this country to greatness. #maga2020

Tyler should just leave the comments off if you can't make an innocuous comment without some idiot indulging in performance art.

Not funny or clever, just kinda tiresome. Zero marginal product workers meet trolling.

I have not seen the movie. But I am asking if there is a layer of meaning --- as opposed to an economist-nerd joke a la' Ben Stein -- to having the quote from Friedman. A prediction about the consequences of one policy action instead of another? Would gunning down criminals in cold blood, as retaliation against crime, be a policy action?

It does very much sound like, in the context of the film, a justification of “end-justifies-means” form of justice and vigilantism.

Very deep: Libertarians bring in the law of the jungle? Or a bunch of pot smokers! Or a bunch of boring religious home-schoolers!

for the record - Ben Stein was a nerd in high school, maybe, but at Columbia, as an undergrad, he was in the coolest fraternity (and had a sports car). The last time he was a nerd, as opposed to a cool guy who knows how to imitate a nerd, was the very early 1960s. Picture that!

Related sad fact - Marlon Brando was fascinated by Wally Cox, who was sort of boring. Ben Stein was always way cooler than either one of them,

I recently watched a "film" called Blade Runner 2049, which I heard riffed in interesting ways on "Pale Fire." So ... "Pale Fire" is overrated (if you read a lot of Russian poetry you understand that the insights per page in the novel are much less than the insights per page in Khodasevich or Tyutchev or Blok....) and , Blade Runner 2049 did not riff on it (Pale Fire) in any new and interesting way, beyond the cinematography, unless I missed something, and so, reading from a Milton Friedman book as a background device in some movie (by the way, he was not a libertarian, because he had no understanding of life - he was one of those European intellectuals who walk through a zoo and do not notice, because they are discussing "social issues", that in many of the enclosures there are interesting animals) does not make that movie more memorable, unless of course you are a friend of a friend of Milton Friedman's. Or something like that.

A Monetary and Fiscal Framework for Economic Stability is in that book, and my views are mainly derived from it. Truly, a classic book.

I saw this a few weeks ago. I'd forgotten this bit, but it was an amusing reference for a Hollywood action film.

I found the movie watchable, but it's not on par with the original (which I regard as a classic). It's just not as topical as it was in the 70s. They switched the setting from NY to Chicago and they made the guy an ER doc rather than an architect (seemingly just so he can stitch himself up when needed).

When did female students become women students? Why not man student instead of male student?

Yes, I did see that movie. My daughter was watching Gilmore Girls the other day and I overheard one of the characters referencing A Monetary History of the United States as hospital bed reading as well.

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