The author Dave Breese wrote a book published in 1990 entitled Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave. In the book, Reese explains the impact that ideas can have for generations—long after their original proponent has physically passed away. Men such as Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and John Maynard Keynes continue to influence world governments, science and international economics.
In his book, Breese focuses on the negative impact these men had on society as a result of their twisted worldviews. But just as Marx, Darwin and Keynes left a troubled legacy to the world there have been equally influential men who bequeathed a legacy leading to increased freedom and prosperity. One such man was Milton Friedman, who would have been 98 years old on July 30th.
Regarded by many as one of the greatest economists of the 20th century, Friedman had the unique ability to take complex economic matters and explain them in laymen’s terms. It was an ability he shared with another great 20th century communicator, President Ronald Reagan—a leader Friedman frequently advised on America’s economic policy. And just like Reagan’s enduring legacy of eloquently expressing the principles of political freedom, when Friedman passed away in 2006, he left a legacy of advancing the freedom of choice in economics and education.
Friedman wasn’t always the capitalist apologist for which he gained world renowned. In fact, he was a student of Keynesian economics and aided in the expansion of the New Deal government programs during FDR’s administration. But as his understanding increased, he began to understand the true power of an unfettered free market and the inherent danger of government meddling in the marketplace.
He was so influential that in 1976, Friedman won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He advised world leaders and his writings were published around the globe—including his two extremely important works: Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose.
For the average person, economic policy may seem like a rather boring, remote topic. But in reality, economic policies impact our lives every day. Through his witty one-liners and astute analysis, Friedman was able to help average people understand just how government economic policies would ultimately impact their lives—and why it was so crucial for citizens to care about the policies implemented in government.