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Milton Friedman, Still the Best

He may have been gone for four years now, but Milton Friedman, the Hoover Institution website indicates, remains one of the most popular interview subjects ever to appear on Uncommon Knowledge.  

Oh, if only–if only.  I understood that Milton was a great man, but when I knew him at Hoover–his office was just two doors down the hall from mine–I failed to grasp just how singular he was.  No one else is even a little bit like him.  I should have insisted on sitting right down with Milton and getting his entire life story on tape.

Still, we have this.

For the holidays, Milton Friedman reprised.

  1. Jason

    In the abstract, Friedman is right on.  In the real world, however, if the US gov’t has acted to kill Chrysler via The Wagner Act and its consequences, onerous regulations, et al., then isn’t it automatically incumbent on the gov’t to act to save Chrysler and GM?  

    Japan and Germany (i.e., the places where cars are made “that people want to buy,” as I heard over and over again in 2009) have spent much more than ~$60-$70 billion (the auto bailout expenditure) over the last 4-5 decades.  These JPN/GER expenditures were (and still are) a coordinated industrial policy intended to support their native auto OEMs and can easily be argued to have been successful. 

    Decry GM as “government motors” to your heart’s content: But when you buy a Toyota or a Volkswagen, your money supports OEMs who enjoy the very government support/intervention that you mock.

  2. Misthiocracy

    Is this episode also being re-run on the podcast RSS feed?

  3. MBF
    Jason :  Decry GM as “government motors” to your heart’s content: But when you buy a Toyota or a Volkswagen, your money supports OEMs who enjoy the very government support/intervention that you mock. · Dec 21 at 7:19am

    More like the Japanese and German governments are supporting ME in my choice of automobile. Some might even call it a kind of foreign aid. If those governments want to take their citizen’s money and send it to America why should we complain? It is when my own government engages in such subsidies with MY tax dollars that I object.

  4. Gödel
    Jason : Decry GM as “government motors” to your heart’s content: But when you buy a Toyota or a Volkswagen, your money supports OEMs who enjoy the very government support/intervention that you mock.

    You seem to have a misapprehension as to how free trade works. We, the consumers, aren’t bound not to buy products that do not originate in open markets. We’re only bound to buy the best available products in the market we’re in, and we know that the more open that market is, the better off we are as consumers (we’re better off as producers, too, but that argument is significantly more subtle).

    Now, if you want to argue that Toyotas and Volkswagens are better products than Buicks etc. because they come from subsidized markets, that’s another story. :-) But I don’t believe you’re advancing that argument.

  5. Kenneth

    Peter, I was just trying, without success, to put this UK up on the member feed, because I just love your motorcycle intro. 

    You should have had a soundtrack – Born to Run.

  6. Peter Robinson
    C

    Tank tops and Harleys.  That’s me.

    (Kenneth, I’m counting on you to back me up here.)

  7. Pseudodionysius
    Peter Robinson: Tank tops and Harleys.  That’s me.

    (Kenneth, I’m counting on you to back me up here.) · Dec 20 at 9:13pm

    Canary yellow tank tops?

  8. Kenneth
    Peter Robinson: Tank tops and Harleys.  That’s me.

    (Kenneth, I’m counting on you to back me up here.) · Dec 20 at 9:13pm

    And that “Born to Raise Hell” tattoo.  Peter, you’re butch.

  9. Kenneth
    Kenneth

    Peter Robinson: Tank tops and Harleys.  That’s me.

    (Kenneth, I’m counting on you to back me up here.) · Dec 20 at 9:13pm

    And that “Born to Raise Hell” tattoo.  Peter, you’re butch. · Dec 20 at 9:29pm

    Oops, sorry.  It’s Diane Ellis who has the “Born to Raise Hell” tattoo. 

    Yours says, “Kill ‘Em All and Let God Sort ‘Em Out.”

  10. Gödel

    There is never going to be enough time to spend learning from everyone we could, even when we do realize how singular they are. As a computer science student at Indiana University in the 1980s, I didn’t spend nearly as much time with Douglas Hofstadter or Daniel Friedman as I would have liked. And completely unbeknownst to me, Raymond Smullyan was in the Philosophy department.

    But I’m of the belief that sometimes it pleases God to hide the singularity of such individuals from the people around them, perhaps so that they can get some work done. ;-)

    In your case, however, consider this: you were put close to Dr. Friedman to provide the rest of us a lasting digital artifact of his legacy, as you have with so many others, thanks to your interviewing skills and obvious respect for your guests. That’s no small thing.

  11. Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Peter, the motorcycle intro is just… too cute. Aww…

  12. Joe Escalante
    C

    Peter had his Born To Raise Hell tattoo covered up with a Zig Zag man. 

    zig-zag-tattoo-big.jpg

  13. Not JMR

    Looking back, I often wish Milton hadn’t seen his dream disappear before him after Reagan left office. But there are intellectual greats in our era too, not least of which are Hitchens and Epstein.

    Here’s another beauty, featuring Dr. Friedman in his prime.

  14. Jason

    Let me 2x check my post:  As I suspected: I said nothing about constraining consumers regarding a purchase decision:  Check MF at 1:36 of this:

    “Much of what Roosevelt did was unwise, but much of it was necessary.”

    Therefore, gov’t has some necessary role in the economy. This is not to defend the New Deal per se, rather to ask the following question:

    Given that (among other elements of JPN industrial policy):

    1) The Japanese government (for decades) has intervened in the F/X markets (buying USD and selling JPY) to keep their imported products cheaper relative to US made products.

    2) The Japanese government regulates prices for every participant in the auto supply chain, from raw materials providers to suppliers to OEMs. (Here we call this collusion, see Standard Oil, trustbusting, et al.)

    Is it “free trade” to allow US auto OEMs to operate under a union labor framework that dated back to the 1930′s and (for many reasons) added over $1,500 in per unit cost from 1970-2009 to every (GM, F & C) car sold in the US vs. Japanese (and German) competitors?