affiliated with the University of Chicago
. He is probably the most widely known proponent of monetarism
, a philosophy of economics
that maintins that the only thing the government
can and should do in the economy is maintain monetary policy
, such as setting the prime lending rate
, as opposed to engaging in active fiscal policy or regulation. He is often cited as one of the intellectual advocates of minimal government libertarian
Unfortunately, this 'minimal government' 'libertarian' seems to have conveniently forgotten that ideology at several points, especially when he lobbied Nixon to send the CIA, that hotbed of government restraint, into Chile to militarily overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvatore Allende.
And of course, like most believers of monetarism, this profession of distaste for government intervention does not extend to situations where the intervention in question would benefit some corporate power, such as de-subsidizing whatever corporation he happens to be consulting for at the time.
So personally, I think Milton Friedman is better described as 'evil Authoritarian corporate wanker,' rather than the relatively more benign libertarian.
In any case, Friedman was especially popular in the 70s for being one of the first prominent voices urging the end of Social Security as an entitlement. At the time, people weren't used to hearing this sort of opinion from a short, nerdy, and very conspicuously semitic professor.
The novelist Rick Moody had the following quote about Friedman in his book The Ice Storm, which I think sums him up in a great way:
"He was a man who worked tirelessly to further the interests of the kind of people who wouldn't think of letting him into their country club."