November 16, 2006

Friedman Is Dead @ 94 Both a Revolutionary Economist and a Libertarian Campaginer, he advocated the decriminalzation of prostituion and drugs. He also worked towards the cessation of the draft in the 1970's


  • A great economist if you're rich or an investment banker. Not so great if you're just one of us lowly workers. His thinking is the force behind the growing gap between rich and poor in the first world and the ongoing exploitation of the third world by the first.
  • You'd think the market would have worked out a solution to death by now.
  • His interest in legalizing drugs and sexwork is not out of care for the injustices these prohibitions cause, but out of a belief that: a) the market can cure everything b) everything is for sale
  • I crap on this man and all his works, may he rot in hell.
  • Ha! zqwerty took the words right out of my mouth.
  • I used to get him mixed up with Sidney Friedman, the recurring psychiatrist on M*A*S*H.
  • He got a very big spiel on the ABC (Australia) this morning, which was very soft and basically consisted of some fanboy intellectually masturbating about how great he was. I really can't believe the respect that the press give to economics and economists generally, so much goes unquestioned even on public broadcasters. They get a softer ride than almost any other group of knowledge and information workers.
  • I crap on this man and all his works, may he rot in hell. Why? He's just an economist with a theory that free markets work best when goverment involvement is zero. That theory (which has never been tested, btw) is based on a lifetime of study of the science of economics, not out of any malice toward the working man. Just because some bastards took part of his theory and twisted it with their own political views and then added the worst kind of government involvement to create neoconservative corporatism, doesn't mean Milty was a bad guy.
  • "He's just an economist with a theory that free markets work best when government involvement is zero" Yes, back to the law of the jungle.
  • So the old bugger is finally proving that it was JM Keynes who was right, he of the, 'In the long run, we're all dead.'
  • Keynesian Fatalism? A good arguer, apparently. BBC Radio 4 said he could go on and on until the other person got bored and gave in.
  • I've got mixed feelings about Friedman's work. His approach to monetary policy was very sensible, and a lot of the stability in the world economy from the late 80s to now can be attributed to his work* and those of his followers. While I think OECD economies have regressed in social policy partly as a result of Friedman's recommendations, it's important to remember that monetary instability hurts the poor in the most tangible manner. I disagree with a lot of what Friedman said about government involvement in the economy, but my problem is partly that he took such an extreme view. I was disappointed that he never publicly disclaimed the policies that were put in place in his name in Britain and the U.S., particularly as (in my opinion) these policies were inherently flawed and contradicted some of Friedman's own proposals. Anyway, he had a good innings. * There are rumours that it's his wife Rose who's the clever one.
  • Bah. I endured the results of his kind of thinking during Thatcher's tenure in Britain, & it's no fucking joke for the lower classes. These kinds of assholes expect people to 'get on their bikes' & find income even when the economic climate won't allow it. It's an intensely brutal & unrealistic view of market forces, & the ground effect is to abuse the masses while buoying up the prejudices & wealth of the rich.
  • As a public school teacher who sees and hates the pernicious effects of the business model of education (especially the private schools of which Friedman was so enamored), I can't say I'm sobbing buckets this morning.
  • ...the ground effect is to abuse the masses while buoying up the prejudices & wealth of the rich. If you're talking about Thatcherism, I'd agree. If you think that's the intent of Friedman's ideas then you don't understand them. Thatcherism was not even close to what Uncle Milty had in mind. Blaming Friedman for Thatcher's mess is like blaming Marx for Stalinism. I'm not saying I'd like to see totally free markets in action; any more than I'd like to see unfettered socialism...they're both extremes and extremes rarely work. I'm just saying that Friedman believed that free markets would be better for everyone - rich and poor would both be better off. (The rising tide that floats all boats). He wasn't evil. Whether that would work in practice will probably never be known because governments (Even Reagan's and Thatcher's) can't keep their hands off the controls, mostly because they're so beholden to corporate interests. Friedman believed that the huge income disparity we have now could never exist in a truly free market...that natural market forces would correct it. The extreme disparity exists only because of government policies.
  • Friedman's (or monetarism's) greatest achievement in Europe = taking central banks out of political control.
  • I don't know much about Friedman's work other than the pop-culture version of it. Was he really for zero gov't intervention? If so, why did he advocate things like the negative income tax and school vouchers? (which presume some kind of governmental oversight)
  • You'd think the market would have worked out a solution to death by now. Mackerel wins. Also, I generally agree with rocket in that Friedman is getting an undue amount of blame for the actions of certain politicians. I wouldn't give him a total pass though, as he had the ability (responsibility?) to speak up if he felt that his theories were being abused. (Marx was dead long before Stalin took power.)
  • So Friedman the economist wanted an all volunteer army and now we have an army in which almost no member of Congress has a child. Agency problem anyone? If we had had army whose populace was representative of the nation, would we have gone to Iraq?
  • You prefer the draft?
  • I believe MonkeyFlitter prefers fairness.
  • but isn't the volunteer system fair?
  • Oops. My bad.
  • The extreme disparity exists only because of government policies. Explain this to me in more detail. I don't get it.
  • There are lots of arguments to be made against the draft. But I think there is one winning argument in favor of it. A lottery, no exceptions and no deferrals is fair and forces the people to pay attention to what their government is doing in their name. Friedman wanted a minimal, non-interfering government. But he gives it an army that is not represented (and yes, resented) by the people. There is thus no feedback loop to keep that army minimal and focused on defense. And the prime example of that is Iraq. With 500+ members in the House and Senate, isn't it egregiously wrong that there are only a handful with children in Iraq? Doesn't that have to lead to poor judgment in how our armies are deployed?
    Fahrenheit 9/11 closes with a stunt: Michael Moore's attempt to get members of Congress to send their children to serve in Iraq as a way of pointing out the class divide between the United States' leaders and the people who serve in the military. Moore does acknowledge that at the start of the war in Iraq, there appears to have been only one member of Congress with a child serving in Iraq: Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), whose son Brooks serves in the Army. Two more Congressmen had sons who reportedly were being sent to Iraq in late 2003 or early 2004: Representatives Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) and Duncan Hunter (R-California). In addition, there are some other members of Congress and the Bush administration with children or relatives serving in the military if not necessarily in Iraq. For example, Representative Mark Kennedy (R-Minnesota), who was seen in Fahrenheit 9/11, reportedly has a nephew serving in Afghanistan, and one of his four children reportedly was thinking of joining the navy. Attorney General John Ashcroft's son Andrew also reportedly has served in the Navy in the Persian Gulf. In any event, the larger question asked by Fahrenheit 9/11 is whether the people who make the decisions about war would think differently if they had close personal ties to those who actually have to fight those wars. Representative Charles Rangel (D-New York), who served in the Korean War, called in late 2002 for a reinstatement of the draft, saying that such a draft would help the military meet its needs and also force political leaders to be more cautious. "Decision-makers who support the war would more readily feel the pain of conflict and appreciate the sacrifice of those on the front lines if their children were there too," Rangel wrote in a January 7, 2003 op-ed piece (on-line here). "Minorities comprise 35 percent of the military and Blacks 20 percent, well above their proportion of the general population. They, along with poor and rural Whites do more than their fair share of service in our ground forces. Yet the value of our foot soldiers is demeaned by those who promote the unproven notion that high-tech warfare will bring a quick and easy victory in Iraq." There are no studies tracking the number of politicians with children in the military. Surveys conducted for the Defense Department have find that young people who have better educational and career prospects are less likely to enter the military and that the children of educated, affluent parents were less likely to seriously consider military service, factors which could suggest that children of Congressmen would be less likely to enter the military themselves.
  • The free market forces under Friedman's models settle on a system with some degree of wealth disparity. Disparity is needed to provide incentive to work and to improve one's lot in life, and also because different labour is valued differently (skilled labour pays more than unskilled). If the disparity gets too high, then not only do you lower the supply of customers for products, but it's also a sign that profits are higher than they need to be and opens up opportunity for less greedy competitors to undercut your prices and gain market share. The current system of unhealthy disparity is created and supported by government policies. These can be in the form of industry regulation that limits competition (whether domestic or foreign), unequal taxation (super-rich not paying their share due to loopholes only they have access to), or patent laws that favour corporate interests (think Big Pharma). At least that's what I remember from ECO101.
  • And things would be better if there were only market forces to check corporate hegemony? There's a logic gap for me, there. Where I see unfettered markets, I see corporate takeover. What am I missing?
  • You're right HW. At some point monopolistic corporations can curtail free market forces.
  • I'm sure that's ECO201 stuff, and beyond me. I do know that corporatism is at odds with Friedman's theories. Corporations became mega-powerful with the help of (or by exploiting) government poicies.
  • Milt was an ass to boot. He had a rotten tooth that made me want to gag. I will not miss him at all. Regardless, the homeless weep tears of blood and phlegm. I, Lord Foetus, approve. On with the show!
  • Corporations became mega-powerful with the help of (or by exploiting) government poicies. What about when there're no government policy other than noninterference in the markets? Isn't that kind of where Friedman came down -- "the best government is the smallest government"? And if so, what's to stop corporatism from reigning in the markets?
  • Or it could be that I've just got the popular-culture version of Friedman's philosophy in mind. Or Freidman might have been against laws that give corporations the massive ongoing legal rights they currently have, rather than older laws that allowed incorporation mainly on a per-project basis. That'd explain it. Guess I just haven't seen a logical explanation of what, to me, is a huge logic gap.
  • AFAIK, Friedman wasn't against government interference in the markets. He just didn't want governments restricting market freedom. If supposed competitors in a market started price-fixing or otherwise colluding in a way that undermined free market forces, I imagine he'd have had no problem with the government passing laws against such practices.
  • His influence on groups like the Chicago Boys brought untold suffering and injusticies to a whole generation of people in latinamerican countries. He might have been a talented person, but his legacy won't be recalled fondly.