Milton Friedman: Free-Market Economist, Up by His Bootstraps (documentary/PBS)





Milton Friedman, arguably the most influential economist of the 20th century, died in November at 94, and today the world is commemorating him. In celebration of what has officially been named Milton Friedman Day, universities, political institutes and online discussion groups around the country will conduct debates and pay tribute to his legacy.

What this at least partly seems to suggest is that liberals do not sanctify their own with quite the same verve as their conservative counterparts. One of Mr. Friedman’s greatest rivals, the Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, died about six months earlier, in April, and Americans have yet to bear witness to a similar pageantry.

Mr. Galbraith makes a brief appearance in “The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman,” a documentary on PBS tonight, as the only detractor to Mr. Friedman’s free-market absolutism. The film is so unabashedly venerating — it would credit Mr. Friedman with inventing the Hubble Telescope if it could — that it ultimately does its subject a disservice, refusing the spirit of argument that was so obviously Mr. Friedman’s lifeblood.


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