Milton Friedman

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Milton Friedman (1912-2006) remains one of the most influential proponents of neoliberal / libertarian / free-marketist economics, and was one of the primary inspirations behind Reaganomics and austerity policies.

Friedman's son David continues to advocate similar ideas and policies.


His influence derived largely from his ability to craft persuasive arguments using false assumptions. Blogger Edward Morbius has this to say about Friedman's style of argumentation:

  • Friedman argues to win. Not to convince, but to win.
  • He doesn't mind, and in fact often seems to enjoy, making his opponents, or even questioners from the audience, look like fools. Whether they are or not.
  • He often argues by assertion rather than by proving his points.
  • His methods are far more grounded in rhetoric and very carefully sculpted quotes than in facts or truth.
  • If he's selecting the passages he cites, he's well aware how he's twisting their meaning. Which is to say: he's intellectually dishonest.
Arguing with Milton Friedman

Such tactics – basically, using arguments as soldiers – are consistent with the Straussian belief that society should be governed by wise leaders who can make decisions without interference from a temperamental public, and it is therefore necessary to make up believable fables to convince the public to support those decisions. If this is the case, then Friedman's philosophy could be described as corporate Straussianism.

Quotes about

...there is one and only one successful tactic to use, should you happen to get into an argument with Milton Friedman about economics. That is, you listen out for the words “Let us assume” or “Let’s suppose” and immediately jump in and say “No, let’s not assume that”. The point being that if you give away the starting assumptions, Friedman’s reasoning will almost always carry you away to the conclusion he wants to reach with no further opportunities to object, but that if you examine the assumptions carefully, there’s usually one of them which provides the function of a great big rug under which all the points you might want to make have been pre-swept.

— blogger "Daniel" (possibly Dan Davies?), The correct way to argue with Milton Friedman



  • Wikipedia The Economist described him as "the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century ... possibly of all of it."
  • ConservapediaConservapedia is an unreliable source. ...Nobel Prize winning libertarian economist who emphasized freedom. [...] He was the favorite economist of many conservatives (including Ronald Reagan), in part because nearly all other economists have been liberal.
  • SourceWatch of the most influential proponents of neo-liberal market economics. [..] Friedman argued that the only "corporate social responsibility" is for a corporation "to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits" without deception or fraud. Friedman argued that "only real people, not artificial people like corporations, can have 'responsibilities.'
  • RationalWiki ...the great-granddaddy of Reaganomics [...] He held a libertarian point of view that was in favor of a strong private sector without government intervention – the free market cures all ills.

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