Unfortunately, Milton Friedman passed away last night at the grand old age of 94. He was one of the great, venerable figures among the monetarists, a powerful proponent of sound monetary policy and an admirable defender of human liberty. His writings introduced me to the principles of libertarian economic thinking, and Capitalism and Freedom was the first work on any aspect of economic theory that I had read (as I am reminded reading over the remarks about him, the book had another edition, Free To Choose, which was followed by a PBS miniseries that disseminated the arguments of the book). His arguments were extremely important for providing a coherent opposition to the expansive state in an era when the ability of the market to provide goods and services was in some ways as derided and underestimated as it is now (excessively) celebrated. More recently, he opposed the invasion of Iraq, recognising aggression when he saw it and warning against the expansion of government power that always follows the outbreak of war. As he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in July:
As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression.
Reihan also has a post remembering the impressive man, a “genuine American hero.”
The Wall Street Journal interview from earlier this year with Milton and Rose Friedman is available here.