Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas To Honor Milton Friedman

WSJ.com – The Man and the Message
I would love to meet Milton Friedman. Along with Jefferson and Reagan he’s one of my heros and my role model for domestic policy. I can’t think of any other figure who has had a larger impact on the United States in the last fifty years and he still has an active mind, now into his nineties. He’s even been married to the same woman for around seventy years. That’s quite an achievement all by itself.

Mr. Friedman has been on my mind lately because the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas will pay homage to the Nobel laureate’s life and work today and tomorrow, with a conference titled “Free to Choose: Economic Liberalism at the Turn of the 21st Century.” Mr. Friedman and wife Rose, his collaborator, will attend.

Gov. Schwarzenegger confirmed what we at the Dallas Fed have come to believe: Mr. Friedman’s message of economic freedom is more compelling and relevant than ever in an era of high economic transition, rapid technological change, and globalization.

Shortly after becoming president of the Dallas Fed, I wrote Mr. Friedman with a monetary policy question, and he was very generous with his time, as he has been on several occasions since. There’s always a lot to gain in Mr. Friedman’s wealth of wisdom — not just for central bankers like myself but for all Americans.

Mr. Friedman’s famous maxim about the impossibility of free lunches, for example, reminds us that there are costs and trade-offs in everything we do, and we should look at what the alternatives are and who picks up the tab. Mr. Friedman recognized the power of free enterprise to create wealth and jobs, while warning that what Gov. Schwarzenegger calls “the heavy fist of government” will bring nothing but stagnation. On the academic side, Mr. Friedman forged a consensus for a monetary policy to stabilize prices and keep inflation low.

Most important, Mr. Friedman made economics a moral matter as well as one of productivity, jobs and growth. Economic freedom, he tells us, is every bit as precious as the other freedoms we hold dear.

He has worked tirelessly for capitalism and economic freedom. Ideas that were considered radical thirty years ago are commonplace now because of his persistence. It seems to me the best thing we can do to honor Professor Friedman is heed his words against the enemies of progress, namely the anti-globalization crowd.

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