Economist and Champion of Liberty Milton Friedman Dies
UPDATE II: The NY Times has a lengthy obituary. For being such a forceful libertarian advocate it’s ironic Friedman’s early government was with the withholding tax:
During the first two years of World War II, Mr. Friedman was an economist in the Treasury Department’s division of taxation. “Rose has never forgiven me for the part I played in devising and developing withholding for the income tax,” he said. “There is no doubt that it would not have been possible to collect the amount of taxes imposed during World War II without withholding taxes at the source.
“But it is also true,” he went on, “that the existence of withholding has made it possible for taxes to be higher after the war than they otherwise could have been. So I have a good deal of sympathy for the view that, however necessary withholding may have been for wartime purposes, its existence has had some negative effects in the postwar period.”
Jagger at The Rad Report declares him the “smartest man ever.”
Steven Levitt reminds us of Friedman’s policy innovation:
He was truly a revolutionary thinker. People do not realize how revolutionary because so many of his ideas that were thought to be crazy when he suggested them eventually came to be seen as obvious: school choice, a volunteer army, etc.
The Cato Institute’s Ed Crane said,
Here’s a guy who won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work in monetary theory and he was a great Chicagoan, a great empiricist and theoretician of economics. But ultimately, what Milton believed in was human liberty and he took great joy in trying to promote that concept….Milton would say, ‘Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it.’ …In my view he was the greatest champion of human liberty in my lifetime, certainly in the 20th century. And he didn’t slack off in the 21st century.