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Milton Friedman (July 31 1912 – November 16 2006) was an American Nobel Laureate economist and public intellectual. An advocate of economic freedom, Friedman made major contributions to the fields of macroeconomics, microeconomics, economic history and statistics. In 1976, he was awarded the Nobel memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.
According to The Economist, Friedman "was the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century…possibly of all of it." Alan Greenspan stated "There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people." In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman advocated minimizing the role of government in a free market as a means of creating political and social freedom. In his 1980 television series Free to Choose Friedman explained how the free market works, emphasizing that he believed that it has been shown to solve social and political problems that other systems have failed to address adequately. His books and columns for Newsweek were widely read and even circulated underground behind the Iron Curtain.
Earning a Ph.D in economics from Columbia University in 1946, Friedman originally was a Keynesian supporter of the New Deal and advocate of high taxes. He moved away from the idea of central control in the 1950s, along with his close friend George Stigler. Before the 1970s their advocacy of free markets was a minority view among economists. His political philosophy, which Friedman himself considered classically liberal and consequentialist libertarian, stressed the advantages of the marketplace and the disadvantages of government intervention, strongly influencing the outlook of American conservatives and libertarians. He adamantly argued that if capitalism, or economic freedom, is introduced into countries governed by totalitarian regimes, political freedom would tend to result. He lived to see some of his laissez-faire ideas embraced by the mainstream, especially during the 1980s, a watershed decade for the acceptance of Friedman's ideas in many countries. His views of monetary policy, taxation, privatization and deregulation informed the policy of governments around the globe, especially the administrations of Ronald Reagan in the U.S., Brian Mulroney in Canada, and Margaret Thatcher in Britain.
Nobel prize and retirement
In 1976, Friedman won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy."
In 1977, Friedman was approached by the Palmer R. Chitester Fund and asked to create a television program presenting his economic and social philosophy. The Friedmans worked on this project for the next three years, and in 1980, the ten-part series, entitled Free to Choose, aired on PBS. The companion book to the series (co-authored by Milton and Rose Friedman), also entitled Free to Choose, was the bestselling nonfiction book of 1980 and has since been translated into 14 foreign languages.
Friedman served as an unofficial adviser to Ronald Reagan during his 1980 presidential campaign, and then served on the President's Economic Policy Advisory Board for the rest of the Reagan Administration. In 1988, he received the National Medal of Science and Reagan honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Milton Friedman is today known as one of the most influential economists of the 20th century.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Friedman continued to write op-eds and appear in the media. He made several trips to Eastern Europe and to China.
A proponent of school vouchers since the 1950s, in 1996, the Friedmans established the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation to advocate for school vouchers.
- ↑ California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement: Milton was one of the great thinkers and economists of the 20th century, and when I was first exposed to his powerful writings about money, free markets and individual freedom, it was like getting hit by a thunderbolt.
- ↑ Friedman, Milton. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 9 Oct. 2007.
- ↑ Milton Friedman, a giant among economists from The Economist.
- ↑ The Power of Choice from Free to Choose Media.
- ↑ Holcomb B. Noble, "Milton Friedman, a Leading Economist, Dies at 94, New York Times" November 16, 2006, obituary.
- ↑ Washington Times. Thursday, November 16, 2006. Milton Friedman, tireless promoter of free markets, dies. Patrica Sullivan and Carlos Lozada
- ↑ Milton Friedman: An enduring legacy, The Economist, November 17, 2006, retrieved November 20, 2006; Patricia Sullivan and Carlos Lozada Economist Touted Laissez-Faire Policy, The Washington Post, November 17, 2006, retrieved November 20, 2006