Today marks a century since the birth of Nobel laureate and economist Milton Friedman, who passed away in 2006 at 94.
Born on July 31, 1912, Friedman is ranked as the second most influential economist of the twentieth century behind John Maynard Keynes. The primary difference between Friedman’s free market principles and Keynes’ government guided prosperity is that Friedman’s ideas actually work.
Friedman was a happy warrior, who had a knack for explaining complex economic principles so they could be easily understood, and never gave up fighting for the things he believed in—-including school vouchers. It was an idea he hatched back in the 1950s which he championed along side his wife, Rose, who passed away in 2009. She helped him found the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice in 1996.
The idea was a simple one. If you are going to provide public funds to educate children, it makes more sense to put the money in the hands of the education consumer—parents who have a vested interest in their children—rather than the producer, or schools, who are more adherent to the system than they are to the advancement of the individual.
It’s still as controversial as it was some 30 years ago when he fought for school vouchers and the arguments against them sound very familiar to those of us who spent much of this year battling for school choice here in Louisiana:
Friedman dreamed of a day when all students who couldn’t afford private schools could take advantage of school choice programs. He, of course, never lived to see the statewide expansion vouchers in Louisiana that was implemented this year. This great man deserves a tip of the hat for helping point the way, though, and his birthday seems like a fitting time to do so.
Thanks, Dr. Friedman: