Reception honoring Milton Friedman with cameo appearance by Fred Thompson

The Claremont Institute and the Milton & Rose J Friedman Foundation co-hosted a special reception this evening to honor the late Dr. Milton Freidman who would have been 95 years young today. This private reception, attended by 100 invited guests, was held at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

Brian T. Kennedy, President of the Claremont Institute chaired the panel which included Donald R. Booth, Professor of Economics at Chapman University and Dr. Charles R. Kesler, Editor in Chief of the Claremont Review of Books.

Dr. Booth shared with us that in Dr. Friedman’s 1962 book entitled “Capitalism and Freedom” he listed 14 areas of government involvement that he believed could not be justified. They included price supports for agriculture, tariffs and import quota’s and the military draft to cite but a few. Dr. Friedman correctly argued that we need to have economic freedom as a precondition for political freedom. He won the Nobel Prize in 1976 in the area of economics where he argued that monetary supply is the driving force, not how much the government spends.

We were told that in 1962 Milton Friedman sponsored a voucher system for K-12 public education which was fought by special interests. He also is acknowledged with promoting the G.I. Bill with vouchers for returning servicemen, Food Stamp vouchers, and was an early advocate for a flat tax.

At this point we had a surprise guest stop in to pay his respect to the memory of Dr. Friedman. Presidential candidate Fred Thompson. His recollection of Milt was “the simplicity of his brilliance” and his “promoting free markets.”

Dr. Booth related that Milt felt the real cause of the Great Depression was shrinking the monetary supply by the Federal Reserve. I recently watched a video of Peter Robinson’s interview with Dr Friedman in which he made the same comment — blaming mistaken monetary management by the Fed. In that video he did state the Fed under the direction of Alan Greenspan was well run.

In his closing comments Dr. Booth told us that both Milton Friedman and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.(who once spoke at Chapman) are honored in having their bust statue’s in the same hallway of the school acknowledging that both men were “fighters for freedom and liberty.”

Dr. Kesler shared the life story of the Friedman’s whose “Free to Choose” book became a PBS Series. He stated that “the world is full of thinkers who can’t write and writer’s who can’t think.” He made the case that Milton Freidman was one of the two greatest economists of the 20th century. He said Milt’s 1962 policy ideas, that included the privatization of Social Security, were ahead of current policy thinking. He pointed out Milt’s position regarding “the intimate connection between economic freedom and political freedom” and cited the downfall of Communism and the decline of Socialism which he believes is discredited today.

After working as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan Dr. Friedman later became a member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Board. He died of heart failure on Nov 16, 2006.

About Larry Gilbert