Not So Free to Choose: The Political Economy of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Not So Free to Choose: The Political Economy of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Not So Free to Choose: The Political Economy of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Not So Free to Choose: The Political Economy of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Synopsis

This book is a critical and carefully documented study of the influence of the teachings of economist Milton Friedman on the current administration. Claiming that Friedman's popular writings have exerted a powerful influence on the policies, ideology, and rhetoric of the Reagan administration, the author examines some 300 columns Friedman has written for Newsweek along with his best-selling books, Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose. While conceding that President Reagan has sometimes opposed Friedman's recommendations, the author argues that by examining which Reagan proposals deviated from Friedman's laissez-faire line we can gain insight into the Presidet's real objectives as distinguished from the goals contained in his free-market rhetoric.

Excerpt

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman clearly cannot be characterized as a "defunct economist." Nor can President Ronald Reagan be depicted as his "slave." Nevertheless, Friedman's ideas have been extraordinarily influential in shaping the ideology, rhetoric, and policies of the president and his administration.

Milton Friedman is said to be Ronald Reagan's favorite economist, and for more than a decade the president has been Friedman's favorite politician. Their mutual respect and admiration go back to 1970 when Friedman, while spending a semester at the University of California at Los Angeles as a visiting professor, first met then-Governor Reagan. Friedman was "very favorably impressed," found him a "very serious, thoughtful person--interested in the principles," and found that he "researched them by thinking them through and by reading."

The week following Reagan's election to the presidency, Friedman wrote of the new president . . .

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