In 1962 Milton Friedman, with his wife Rose, wrote Capitalism and Freedom. The book was rejected by both academia and the media. The ideas in “Capitalism and Freedom” were vindicated in 1980 when the Friedmans published Free to Choose.
As Friedman wrote in his 2002 preface to Capitalism and Freedom, “I documented a dramatic shift in the climate of opinion”. That climatic shift was “[P]artly because the role of government was exploding under the influence of [the] initial welfare state and Keynesian views … That change in the climate had its effect. It paved the way for the election of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States.”
Friedman wrote that Thatcher and Reagan, “Were able to curb Leviathan, though not to cut it down.”
Friedman was a liberal in the classical sense. In the introduction to Capitalism and Freedom he wrote, “It is extremely convenient to have a label for the political and economic viewpoint elaborated in this book. The rightful and proper label is liberalism. Unfortunately, ‘As a supreme, if unintended compliment, the enemies of the system of private enterprise have thought it wise to appropriate its label’, so that liberalism has, in the United States, come to have a very different meaning than it did in the nineteenth century or does today over much of the Continent of Europe.”
According to Friedman, “[T]he intellectual movement that went under the name of liberalism emphasized freedom as the ultimate goal and the individual as the ultimate entity in the society.”
The only thing in Capitalism and Freedom that Friedman said he would change is, “[I]t would be to replace the dichotomy of economic freedom and political freedom with the trichotomy of economic freedom, civil freedom, and political freedom.”
Friedman wrote, “Government can never duplicate the variety and diversity of individual action.” How prophetic given today’s events.
Milton and Rose Friedman created a foundation that lives on to further their ideal of “competitive capitalism.”
The worldwide celebration to remember Milton Friedman, founder of the Friedman Foundation along with his wife, Rose, to advance school choice. “Friedman Legacy Day” is held every July 31, Milton Friedman’s birthday.
This year, the Friedman Foundation is marking Friedman’s 101st birthday with the slogan “Milton 101.”
Although Friedman is credited with popularizing tax reform, prompting the development of an all-volunteer armed forces, and highlighting the importance of monetary policy as it relates to inflation, he and his wife wanted their legacy attached to school choice. In 1955, Milton’s essay titled “The Role of Government in Education” first established the voucher idea, encouraging public education funds to follow students to the schools of their parents’ choice.
Today, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have implemented some form of Milton Friedman’s school choice idea.
A list of “Friedman Legacy Day” events can be found at edchoice.org.