Thomas Sowell

When both unemployment and inflation rose at the same time in the 1970s -- "stagflation," as it was called -- the idea of the government "fine tuning" the economy faded away. There are still some die-hard Keynesians today who keep insisting that the government's "stimulus" spending would have worked, if only it was bigger and lasted longer.

This is one of those heads-I-win-and-tails-you-lose arguments. Even if the government spends itself into bankruptcy and the economy still does not recover, Keynesians can always say that it would have worked if only the government had spent more.

Although Milton Friedman became someone regarded as a conservative icon, he considered himself a liberal in the original sense of the word -- someone who believes in the liberty of the individual, free of government intrusions. Far from trying to conserve things as they are, he wrote a book titled "Tyranny of the Status Quo."

Milton Friedman proposed radical changes in policies and institution ranging from the public schools to the Federal Reserve. It is liberals who want to conserve and expand the welfare state.

As a student of Professor Friedman back in 1960, I was struck by two things -- his tough grading standards and the fact that he had a black secretary. This was years before affirmative action. People on the left exhibit blacks as mascots. But I never heard Milton Friedman say that he had a black secretary, though she was with him for decades. Both his grading standards and his refusal to try to be politically correct increased my respect for him.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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