Editor, Daily Nexus,
Last week, the Nexus’s resident insufferable economics major Colin Marshall (“Ode to Economist: Farewell Friedman,” Daily Nexus, Nov. 22) was found reminiscing on the life of the late Milton Friedman. While he may find the use of Friedman’s wonderful pencil-based analogies to be a great way to feel superior, a quick assessment of reality will show them to not reflect the real world, just as Marshall’s tribute does not reflect the real Milton Friedman. Marshall can, of course, be given credit for calling Milton Friedman influential. At the University of Chicago, he mentored the Chilean economists who went on to run Chile’s economy after dictator General Pinochet’s coup. He also led the charge in rallying American popular support for Pinochet, using the fascinating argument that complete economic freedom was actually more important than political freedom to ensure that people would be free. Friedman’s students put the Chilean economy through his recommended shock treatment, cutting nearly every conceivable benefit and putting thousands out of work.
Of course, Friedman being the economic genius he was, his plan worked! That is, for less than five years, after which the economy nosedived, even with the strong support of the world’s economic superpower, the good old U.S. of A. Friedman also accepted an invitation from the government of post-Maoist China, and since then, in many ways following his advice, the Chinese government has worked toward a system where millions of poor Chinese live in crowded, unhealthy urban centers where they fuel incredible economic growth, which goes directly to foreign investors and the high-ranking Communist Party members and their family members, who are installed as the few in the country who stand to profit. According to Friedman, of course, average Chinese citizens have nothing to worry about, as their personal freedom is guaranteed by the freedom of the cash flying over their heads. Yes, Friedman was influential. With such wide-ranging influence, it might be hard to think of what to call such a man. Thinking of Benito Mussolini’s conception of fascism as a partnership between the government and corporations, one might be tempted to call him a fascist. I, however, would keep in mind that there is now something else he can be called: one less fascist.