Milton Friedman
1912 - 2006

Milton was my mother's brother.  I thought you might like to see a family portrait of the Friedman's from (I guess) about 1920.  My grandfather, Jeno Friedman, died in 1929.  Both he and my grandmother died of heart disease as did my mother.  (Helen and Ruth died of cancer.)  Milton had a heart attack at age 60.  After the heart attack, he had a coronary bypass at the Mayo Clinic.  While recuperating, he received a call from President Nixon who said "I was glad to hear it was your heart and not your brain."

We did not see Milton very often although he did visit us in Rahway on his annual trip from Chicago to his summer house in New Hampshire.  He and Rose drove Judy and me to our hotel after our wedding and we visited with him in his house, CAPITAF (Capitalism and Freedom or was it Capitalism and Friedman?)  in New Hampshire and later at Sea Ranch or in San Francisco.  He was always a gracious host.

As you can imagine, one had a hard time arguing economics with Milton.  He had heard and rebutted any argument you mignt come up with dozens of times before.  All one could do is listen and try to understand his position.  What I learned after awhile was that Milton was a flawless logician, if you granted him his basic axioms all was lost.  In particular, Milton always assumed that man was rational and was much better able to make decisions for himself than was government.  Milton is often portrayed as a conservative but in truth he was a liberterian.  The theme of Capitalism and Freedom was that a free market economy was a fundamental prerequisite for freedom.  By the way, Milton was a statistician before he was an economist.  Four of his statistical papers are reviewed in Math Reviews.  The earliest of these was: A comparison of alternative tests of significance for the problem of m rankings.  Ann. Math. Statistics  11,  (1940). 86--92.

Here are a few of the editorials and op-eds about Milton that I enjoyed.

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial

Larry Summer's OpEd in the NY Times

A Charismatic Economist Who Loved to Argue

From time to time, someone with the name Friedman would contact Milton and claim to be a distant relative.  That was never the case, because the family name was not Friedman although I am not sure what it was.  It might have been Grunspan or something similar.  In any case, Milton's father left Beregszas (Beregova) and moved to Budapest with his half brother (Friedman).  After awhile he became known as "Friedman's brother" so he adopted the name Friedman.  My grandmother's name was Landau and we knew many relatives on that side of the family but I don't recall ever knowing a relative of my material grandfather.