(November 16, 2006 – Chicago, IL) The following is a statement from Heartland President Joseph Bast on the death of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman.
“A giant in the world of ideas has passed away. His students number in the thousands; those who were influenced by his ideas, in the millions; and those whose lives have been improved thanks to the consequences of his ideas, in the billions.
“Milton Friedman has passed away, but his legacy can be seen everywhere, from the vibrant financial markets in Chicago to the reformed economies of Eastern Europe, from textbooks that must include his proof of the government’s role in causing the Great Depression, to institutions such as The Heartland Institute and The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change (to name just two I work with) that would not exist were it not for his ideas, influence, and integrity.
“I read Milton Friedman’s small but extremely influential book, Capitalism and Freedom, as a freshman at the University of Chicago in 1976, the year Friedman left the university for the sunnier climate of the Hoover Institution in California. His ideas, energy, and reputation all played major roles in the creation of The Heartland Institute–the first free-market “think tank” devoted to a particular state’s public policy issues–in 1984. Today there are some 40 similar think tanks, and Heartland has moved on to become a national organization. We are all Milton Friedman’s legacy.
“Over the years, Dr. Friedman was generous toward me with his advice and assistance, providing often-lengthy comments on books and policy study manuscripts, recommending that students and academics contact me, and encouraging me in many ways. He was always generous with his time, never harsh or judgmental in his criticism, and always optimistic. He was a teacher, a mentor, and a philosophical touchstone that could be counted on, no matter how stormy the political climate might be.
“Few people actually change the course of history; fewer still change it in positive ways, ways that benefit the lives of millions and even billions of people. Milton Friedman was such a person. It was an incredible honor to have known and worked with him.”