Saturday, July 22, 2006

Interview with Milton Friedman Interview with Milton Friedman

A charming article by Tuntu Varadarajan in the OpinionJournal titled: The Romance of Economics:
Milton and Rose Friedman: Dinner with Keyes? Yes. War with Iraq? They disagree.
For example:
Sages, of course, have their oddities, and the interview last week--at Mr. Friedman's surprisingly petite office at the Hoover Institution, on the campus of Stanford University--got off to a surreal beginning...Why, I asked him, did he have a map of Belize on his wall? Mr. Friedman turned, looked at the object, and said: "I don't know. I really don't know." Not a good start to the interview, some might say; so I asked, by way of ice-breaker, whether he was keeping well. "Oh, yes!" was the spirited reply. "But my wife has gone through a session of shingles, and she's not quite through it." Here, he paused, and asked: "Have you had shingles yet?"

It cannot be said of too many economists that they "altered the shape of economics." Would Mr. Friedman say--modesty aside--that he was one of them? A long silence ensued--modesty, clearly, was hard to put aside--before he mumbled, as if squeezing words out of himself, "Er . . . very hard to say . . ."

Milton (suppressing a laugh): "I don't think I was ever regarded as 'evil.' " Rose (alluding to the protests that followed him everywhere, especially after he gave economic advice to the Pinochet regime): "It was very difficult to go to the colleges . . ." Milton: "I remember a fellow who came to see me from Harvard or somewhere. . . . He wanted to see 'that devil from the West'!" Rose: "Harvard probably still feels that way!"


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