Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Milton Friedman on Health Care

Milton Friedman was one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century.  He popularized the Chicago school of economics and helped turn the University of Chicago into one of the best econ. departments in the world, which it still is today (see rankings page).  He was the author of many books including Capitalism and Freedom and A Monetary History of the United States.  These two famous books, show the dual nature to Friedman's career, his academic writings and his popular writings, or pop economics.  In both of these settings, he was practically unparalleled in his career.

(photo via Ellen Meiselman)

Friedman won the Nobel Prize in 1976 and retired from teaching shortly thereafter.  He focused more on making his ideas impact a broader audience.  He starred in the PBS television series, Free to Choose, with a best selling book of the same name.  He also appeared several times on the daytime television show Donahue, and served as an economic advisor to Ronald Reagan.  He died in 2006.  His greatest contributions to economics in general was the permanent income hypothesis and a lifetime of writing on monetary economics.  Although it is a matter of opinion and not fact, he could easily be called the greatest scholar of monetary economics.

Milton Friedman was well known for his total grasp of economic principles and the quick and understandable way that he had for communicating complex ideas.  So his speeches are really a perfect introduction for students that are interested in economics.  This speech is one that he delivered in 1978 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  It is focused on health care, and he offers many interesting and startling prescriptions to this group of doctors.  It is especially interesting to see how predictive Dr. Friedman has been, and that none of his prescriptions have been taken, although I imagine that he would also predict that as well.

I would say more, but I don't want to "steal his thunder."

1 comment:

  1. Those interested in economics should ask what "Government" refers to in US Health. According to Milton, this means Medicare, etc. Medicare, however, is not the "Government": it is powerless. Rather, the government administration of health is Chicago, not DC. There you will find a staggering bureaucracy of unelected physicians desperately toiling to keep a Communist system of health from collapsing in a Capitalist society.