Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, died today at the age of 94. His many accomplishments include reviving the monetarist theory, predicting the “stagflation” of the 1970s, and creating the “Chicago School” of economics, based at the University of Chicago, where he taught. In 1976, on the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the publication of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. Since then, twelve faculty members and/or graduates of the economics school at the University of Chicago have followed in his footsteps and been awarded the same honor.
An intellectual of the highest order, he shunned the sometimes totalitarian mindset of the American academy, professing a loyalty to tolerance and freedom. In his seminal work Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman argued that economic freedom and political freedom were inseparable. A champion of limited government, Friedman was a staunch supporter of FIRE, remarking:
Over the course of a long lifetime, I have witnessed a serious decline in tolerance and respect for freedom of speech in the academy. FIRE is currently the most effective force countering that trend. It deserves the support of every believer in a free society.
Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity at the core of FIRE’s mission—are safer today because of the work of Milton Friedman.