By Pierre Lemieux
Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of the death of Milton Friedman. I am using this occasion to bear witness to the influence the Nobel economist had on my intellectual development as it had on the opinions of countless others. (See, for example, the testimony of my co-blogger David Henderson.)
When I was a graduate student at the University of Toronto at the turn of the 1970s, Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 1962) appeared as a suggested reading on our microeconomic theory reading list, after countless required articles. One of my classmates (who has since become a pillar of the Canadian academic establishment, if I am not confusing him with some other classmate) probably echoed the conventional wisdom among students in the Department of Political Economy when he warned me, “Don’t read that, he is a fascist.” I followed his advice, as any good leftist would.
A few years later, though, I bought and read the book with a green cover, which is still on my bookshelves. (I took a picture of it for the featured image of this post as the stock picture supplier we use has nothing for Milton Friedman!) Although I had already become rebellious towards the socialist vulgate, I remember that Capitalism and Freedom was a shock. Friedman had clearly demonstrated to me, and helped me formulate, what should have been obvious to an economist: individual liberty is on the side of capitalism, not of socialism.