Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rest, Milton Friedman

Liberal as I am, I also have a day job that's gotten me into finance and thus, into the work of Milton Friedman. Fair to say that I'd disagree with this guy on most everything. I also have a lot of problems with economics in general because, as a science, it strikes me (as a layman and observer) as intrinsically biased towards free-market thinking and towards the power of markets over other human values such as aesthetics and morality.

Still, he was a great man.

There are certain people who I disagree with, but still respect. Friedman advocated a style of unencumbered capitalism that would, if it were ever adopted, certainly doom the entire planet Earth. But, his reasons always struck me as pretty darned pure. He had faith in people and hope for them. He devoted himself to a mechanism that he thought would give people the best chance to be the best people.

There are cruel laissez faire capitalists who seem to view human life as a Darwininian struggle and I kind of hate them all. But there are also laissez faire types who, liked Friedman, viewed themselves as liberators. I do respect that liberation impulse, quite deeply.

He was one of those types about who you can say, "I disagree with your vision for the world, but I see why you're pursuing it." That's rare.


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