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Milton Friedman Biography

Milton Friedman has been credited with many different achievements, including being one of the most effective advocates of economic freedoms and free enterprise, being the greatest economist to ever walk the face of the earth, and proving every single word that Lord Maynard Keynes ever said to be wrong. Why these may or may not all be true, it is obvious that Friedman was a brilliant man of many accomplishments. Milton Friedman was born on July 15th, 1912 in New York City. His parents were poor immigrants and his father died when he was a senior in high school.

Despite all of these obstacles he had to overcome, Friedman received a scholarship to Rutgers University and got his B. A. , an M. A. in 1933 from the University of Chicago, and a Ph. D. in 1946 from Columbia University. He worked as a research assistant to Henry Schultz at University of Chicago until 1937 when he started working with the National Bureau of Economics. There he jointly published the book Incomes from Independent Professional Practice with Simon Kuznets, which also served as his doctoral dissertation at Columbia. This book introduced the concepts of permanent and transitory income.

In 1933 Milton Friedman met Rose Director, a fellow Economics student, and six years later they were married. Rose and Milton have collaborated on quite a few books and essays, and have established the Milton & Rose D. Friedman foundation, which promotes School Choice, which will be explained in more detail later. In 1976 Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.

Milton Friedman coined the terms only money matters as his emphasis on the role of monetary policy in the United States economy. Friedman is perhaps the most effective advocate for free enterprise and monetarist policies from 1945-1985. His only rival among economists of the 20th century would have to be Keynes. As well as being a Nobel Prize winner and just an overall brilliant man, Friedman served as Senator Barry Goldwater’s informal economic advisor in 1964 and for Richard Nixon in 1968, then as President Nixon’s advisor.

He served as President Reagan’s Economic Advisor on his Advisory Board in 1981. Friedman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988 and received the National Medal of Science the same year. He was also a member of the President’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force and the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. He is a past president of the American Economic Association, the Western Economic Association, and the Mont Pelerin Society and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.

Friedman was awarded with many honorary degrees by universities in the United States, Japan, Israel, and Guatemala, as well as the Grand Cordon of the First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Japanese government in 1986. He is known as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics. Milton Friedman is the author of many books and two public television series that he did with his wife Rose: Free to Choose(1980) and Tyranny of the Status Quo(1984).

His most important books include Free to Choose and Tyranny of the Status Quo( both of which compliment the TV series), Capitalism and Freedom(1962 with Rose D. Friedman); and Bright Promises, Dismal Performance (1983), which consists mostly of reprints of tri-weekly columns that he wrote for Newsweek from 1966 to 1983. Also, A Theory of the Consumption Function(1957) and A Monetary History of the U. S. (1963 with A. J. Schwartz). Milton Friedman has a primary belief in the tenet of limited government. He describes himself as classic liberalism. Today’s liberalism views are very opposite to Friedman’s, and therefore he is often considered a Republican Libertarian, as conservative is really to narrow a label to encompass his other views of a limited government.

Friedman’s belief in a limited government is supported by his desires to restrict the scope of government’s authority in the lives of individuals and to decentralize the power base of government to prevent a person’s unwanted entanglements with a federal bureaucracy. Friedman’s belief is that any one person given the power that officials of the government are given is bound to become corrupted. Therefore, he believes that the original intentions of separation of the branches of government should be enforced more strictly. Friedman says Government has three primary functions.

It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens against crimes against themselves or their property. This entire belief is based simply upon the principles that the United States was founded on. Principles like that of Thomas Jefferson that government is best that governs least. The economic arena is the major area where Friedman feels government has no right to intrude in the freedom of the collective or individual rights of its constituents. Government should be completely hands-off, laissez-faire when it comes to the private market.

Otherwise, the government will only end up doing more harm than good, government should trust in the free market system and support the capitalism that this country is a product of. Friedman very much chooses to follow the beliefs and theories of Adam Smith, who was a free market supporter all the way. Today’s liberals support regulation to deal with economic and social problems, where as Friedman supports only an entirely free market of capitalism galore. Milton Friedman has many things to say about the common idea that higher unemployment and slow growth are cures for unemployment.

Milton Friedman argues that this is not so, and it’s evident just by examining the trends of countries in which growth level has slowed, unemployment has risen, yet at the same time inflation is also rising. Friedman’s explanation seems simple enough as well. Slow growth and higher unemployment are not cures to inflation, but only side effects of the cure. For example, a producer is going about, producing his product when he notices that he’s selling a lot more for the same price as usual. So he orders more from his manufacturer, who orders more from the workers.

If this increase in demand is coming from newly created money though, other products are increasing demand as well. This puts a greater demand on labor to work harder and longer, so they think for more money. But when they get their money, they discover that the price of things they must buy has gone up. Therefore it takes a bigger percentage of their paychecks to buy their necessities, so they didn’t make any more money at all. This results in the companies raising their prices higher and higher to make up for the money they’ve lost and eventually results in a vicious downward spiral of inflation.

And then this is going to make employment and prices go way up. This is how he proves the common theory wrong, and you can’t argue with facts like that. In the free market system that Milton Friedman saw workers are protected either by unions, the government, other employees or no one at all. Unions bring workers of a common trade together so that they can make sure they are getting the proper safe and comfortable work conditions. As well as getting paid for what they think they should be paid for their profession.

This can be very beneficial to a work force by either keeping down the number of jobs available, or the number of people available for a class of job; both by enforcing a higher wage rate. Of course unions can also be harmful to the workers. This is because anytime one group of workers is benefiting from the increased wages or other union benefits, another group is being hurt by it. For example, if the pilots union decides to raise his ticket prices, he would benefit with the profit, but the consumer is hurt by this transaction.

Even other pilots are hurt by this raising of wages, because when wages are raised, more must be charged for the tickets, and as a result less people will fly. This will mean that fewer pilots are required, and some can be let go. The government sets laws such as minimum wage, child labor laws, and affirmative action to help to protect the worker. Once again these laws definitely do help the worker, however some laws, such as the minimum wage law can give certain groups, especially minorities, an unfair disadvantage.

Minimum wage laws stop workers that maybe aren’t worth as much as minimum wage from getting a job where they could work up with on the job training or something. Instead many minority teenagers have great problems finding jobs. Some laws, like child labor and workmen’s compensation simply embody practices that had already become commonplace. Other employers especially protect many employees. This is simply competition in the job market. If workers are mistreated or not paid enough, they can always get another job at another company. Finally, there are certain job situations in which the worker is really covered by no one.

Workers who have only one possible employer, and workers who have no possible employer. A good example of a worker with one possible employer would be a professional sports team player. While they have a contract, the only leverage they have is to threaten not to play. This can work to great lengths, or it can work not at all, just depending on the situation. People who have no choice among employers are usually victims of government measures. For example, it’s only beneficial for a welfare recipient to get a job if the wages he earns will make up for the money he will lose.

However, it may not be possible for a person of such a disadvantaged background to find an employer to which he is worth that much. Such people are the victims of bad socioeconomic background and bad schooling, says Friedman. Milton and Rose Friedman have founded the entire movement of School Choice. They believe that public schools are a large part of what is wrong with our society today, and why so many average people are so grossly uneducated. If you have a child, they are herded into the nearest school district, then herded into the nearest overpopulated under-funded public school.

This is just another version of the post office, where an establishment has no rival business to live up to, therefore can do whatever it wants and be as sub-par as it wants. And very often parents don’t have any other choice except for very pricey private schools. Schools that are run independent from local government bureaucracy provide better education at lower cost. School choice would allow more students to attend better schools. It is a potent educational reform that is far more effective than increased spending. The fears of opponents of school choice are factually unfounded.

Through allowing more parental choice in education, school choice forces education into a free market environment, thus creating competition, and thus a desire to improve. If a family is wealthy enough, they can send their children to a private school, however then they are paying twice as much to send their child to private school as well as still paying taxes on public school. What Milton and Rose propose is that any parent who decides to send their child to a private school will receive a scholarship from the government, redeemable for tuition at scholarship-accepting private schools.

The scholarship dollar amount is far below that of the average cost per student per year at public schools, but would allow millions of parents who cannot presently afford private tuition to do so. One conflict of the voucher program, however, is the racial implications of it. Some people believe that because the schools can now be chosen, the melting pot environment of public school will no longer exist, instead vouchers will only be a flashback to the vouchers that were used by the white community to avoid integration.

However, Friedman assures that this will not be so. Instead he feels that since children will be grouped into schools based upon common interests, like arts or sciences, whatever the school specializes in, they will look past racial implications and would be a step in the right direction for civil rights. Another question of the school voucher program is whether or not the students would be permitted to use thir vouchers at parochial schools, and whether that would violate the first amendment.

Obviously this issue would have to be settled in court, however Bush compred the school voucher system to the GI Bill for kids and no problems were ever brought up with any of the veterans who attended religious colleges. Friedman believes however, that despite the many questions and conflicts the voucher program would make public and private schools a safer place to send your children. By grouping children by schools of interest, you are more likely to have children who want to go to school, and are therefore less likely to cause problems.

Milton Friedman is known mostly as the anti-Keynesian. This is mostly in reference to the Phillip’s Curve, or the inflation-unemployment trade-off, which is the Keynesian model that depicts the inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment, namely when inflation goes up unemployment will go down. This theory helped to add some signification to inflation, recognizing that is had a purpose. However, Milton Friedman came along in the 60’s and 70’s and proved there were many points that just did not fit along this curve, in which both unemployment and inflation were high.

These points fell far to the right of the initial curve. This shows higher rates of inflation coexisting everywhere with high rates of unemployment. It seemed to require higher and higher rates of inflation to bring the unemployment down to an acceptable level. Another one of Friedman’s strongest and most well known opinions was on the Federal Reserve and how it is practically useless. Friedman being the big free-market capitalist that he is, thinks that the Federal Reserve acts stupidly, rashly and doesn’t take the time-lag into respect when making their dramatic decisions.

Friedman also blames most of the economic instabilities on the federal reserve’s action. Milton Friedman has definitely been one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. His discoveries and theories in monetary policy, school choice liberalism and inflation relations impact economic history in a way only a few people can do. He and his wife Rose are now running the Foundation for school-choice and have just published Two Lucky People: Memoirs.

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