Walter E. Williams

Friedman made a major intellectual contribution to the formation of a voluntary army. In testimony before President Nixon's commission on eliminating the draft, General William Westmoreland said he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Mr. Friedman interrupted, "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Gen. Westmoreland replied, "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." Mr. Friedman then retorted, "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher."

Whether one agreed or disagreed with Professor Friedman, they found him to be a friendly, witty and tolerant person. My first encounter with him occurred during the mid-1960s while I was a graduate student at UCLA and he was a visiting lecturer. I've since forgotten my statement to him during a lecture, but I recall he had patiently replied, "Walter, you don't really mean that," and proceeded to show me why.

During my guest-hosting stints on the Rush Limbaugh show, Professor Friedman was a guest on several occasions. His responses to caller questions demonstrated the real teacher in him -- the ability to explain complex phenomena in a way that ordinary people can readily understand.

In terms of his scholarly output and worldwide contributions to ideas on liberty, Professor Milton Friedman was the 20th century's greatest economist.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Walter Williams' column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.