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November 26, 2006

The Passing of a Stranger

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

What better place to read the obituary of Milton Friedman than in the Wall Street Journal? I sat down and tried to understand this giant who had the greatest influence on economic policy in the 20th century.

"Arguably, the greatest economist of the 20th century, he won the Nobel Prize 30 years ago" stated the newspaper. I hate the word "arguably." In the writer's mind, either he is or is not. I think writers should take a stand and be able to back up their opinions and not argue within themselves. I mean, these people must really be torn with ulcers and depression if they can't decide where they stand on any subject.

Oh? Back to Milton. I wonder what his wife called him. Millie? Rose helped him write many books which I have never read and have no intention to pursue. I don't read anything that does not have a foldout in the middle.

Okay, let's get back to Mr. Friedman. The Swedish Academy, in awarding the Nobel Prize stated "achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy." Then, for the rest of us, the WSJ states "In layman's terms, the Swedish Academy credited him with nothing less than shredding the Keynesian consensus."

Did you know the new James Bond film opened a week ago? I don't care what the reviewers say, I like Bond films. The action, adventure, women and exotic locales of each film are fun, a great escape and have absolutely nothing to do with the Keynesian consensus.

Right, Milton. Isn't one of "The Simpsons" characters Milton?

"Friedman's was a lonely voice in arguing for the importance of the money supply in economics." Isn't economics about money? I mean, if they don't study money in economics, what the hell do they study? Peach cultivation?

They also credit Milton with helping end the military draft, giving birth to the free school lunch idea and wanting to legalize drugs. I was part of the '60's and I remember George McGovern, Gene McCarthy, Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Kennedy; but some how Milton Friedman escapes my burned out hippie mind. Maybe he ran with Richard Nixon as Vice President? Or was that Milton Agnew?

Milton also wrote a column for the WSJ, "Why Money Matters," and his lead "The third of three episodes in a major natural experiment in monetary policy that started more than 80 years ago is now coming to an end."

Boy, he timed that right. Drops dead at the end of the series. The article is two huge columns long with three graphs and a table. Did you know there will be a Taurids Meteor Shower in Honolulu tonight? Thunderstorms in New Guinea?

"First he had shown that men are no fools. People spend money in accordance with their income expectations over the long term."

>From the Salisbury, Maryland paper: "The holiday season kicked off this week when dozens of consumers with need for the must-have-the-coolest thing braved torrential downpours and tornado warnings for a $500-$600 toy and $60 for a single game. .Playstation 3."

Rest in Peace, Milton.

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