Thursday, November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman

Somewhere I have a photograph of me and Milton Friedman. The plan was we were going to count to three and then just as the photographer snapped the picture we were going to put our heads together and make the funniest faces we knew how. Milton made it through; he looks a little like Bugs Bunny . I cracked up, and I look pretty ridiculous.

We were working on a documentary on free market economics. I knew absolutely nothing about the subject. But I knew genius when I heard it. Genius, I had realized way back in college, was not the ability to give long, complicated speeches, or to drop lots of long words, or hold forth on any given subject until the cows came home. Genius was the ability to take the very complicated and make it very clear and simple, in ten words or less. MiltonFriedman could do that. He could sit down with an ignoramus like me and in less time than it takes to order dinner make the truth about what money really is and what it really does plain as the dawn.

Milton Friedman was a genius, a Nobel Prize winner, an intellectual who knew how to make a girl laugh at a silly joke and go home feeling like maybe she wasn't such a dope after all. He was a nice man. He died today at the age of 94. Another person the world will miss.


Joke said...

An epoch ago, when I was in my 20s, I was doing a gig at some agency or other in Washington, and I had the chance to hear MF speak.

You're righter than you know about his being a genius. He held an audience of college students (admittedly Reaganite college students) spellbound.

I was crushed when I heard the news.


JFR said...

I, too, had the opportunity to meet Dr. Friedman. I remember, though, seeing him in a debate sometime in the 1980's. He reminded me of the intellectual version of one of those super heroes who deflect bullets with the flick of the wrist. He calmly, charmingly, and devastatingly obliterated the opposition. It was exhilarating. Today I am praying for his widow, Rose. She would very often go with him to events, and they were always holding hands.

Ray from MN said...

Of the thousand or more obituaries and tributes being written this week, I have a feeling that he would treasure yours far more than those coming from Wall Street, the MSM or the Ivy League.

Educated as a Keynesian at the U of MN by the name-dropping Walter Heller, among others, I learned an awful lot of economics from Milton Friedman.

teachergirl said...

Milton Friedman was my husband's hero. I can't believe he's gone. I thought he would last forever. But you know, he will do just that.

Jeffus said...

I remember hearing him interviewed about farm subsidies and he surprised me with a simple but brilliant observation.

Paraphrasing somewhat - 'since early history a huge majority of farmers have subsidized a tiny minority of city dwellers for the benefits of social structure and economy. Now a huge majority of city dwellers are subsidizing a tiny minority of farmers for a stable food supply.'

A diamond bullet, right between the eyes. I never griped about farm subsidies again.