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The tribute that vice pays to virtue

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 17 years ago, in 2007, on the World Wide Web.

So it turns out that yesterday was officially proclaimed Milton Friedman Day in the state of California, by executive edict of the Governor. Because, really, what better way is there to honor a libertarian intellectual’s memory than to get a tax-raising, insurance-mandating government windbag to proclaim a day for praising his accomplishments and influence?

I was busy working for a living last night; so I seem to have missed the Spontaneous Demonstration. Well, damn. Maybe I can catch the next big event, like when the USPS issues a Lysander Spooner stamp.

4 replies to The tribute that vice pays to virtue Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Sergio Méndez

    I don´t think it is that ironic Charles. It will have been more appropiate if the “Milton Friedman day” was declared in Chile, since that sort of pinochetean statism was more of his taste.

  2. Rad Geek


    I don’t think that Friedman deserves as much blame for the atrocities in Pinochet’s Chile as is commonly thought on the Left. Not because I buy into the idiotic romanticizing of Pinochet that some so-called libertarians have indulged in, but rather because Friedman’s personal complicity with the regime was actually vanishingly small.

    Friedman commonly gets blamed for the actions of his Chilean students who became active collaborators with, or members of, the regime; but it hardly seems fair to hold him responsible for their activities. Friedman himself was pretty clear, both at the time and in later years, that he condemned the use of political terror.

    He does deserve some personal blame for soft-pedaling the regime in his public statements, and for blurring the distinction between Pinochetean corporatism and genuine free markets in the name of anti-communism. (That latter was a general problem of Friedman’s, connected with his enthusiasm for gradualist transitions out of statism.) I think both of these were signs of both moral and intellectual vice, but it isn’t fair to suggest that he was as enthusiastic about the Pinochet regime as is often suggested.

  3. Dain

    If Friedman is to be blamed for aiding a right-wing regime, he needs to be equally blamed for aiding a left-wing one, as he did in China in 1988.

    Also, we should balance our critique of Friedman with at least SOME mention of Galbraith – his intelletual nemesis – who supported Nehru in perpetuating poverty inducing polices in India.

  4. Dain

    Actually I take back the last part. Nehru was not Pinochet. Bad comparison.

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