Thursday, May 15, 2008

U. Chicago announces Friedman Institute; Norberg demolishes Naomi Klein

It would be an exaggeration to claim that Milton Friedman singlehandedly restored to economic liberalism a sound intellectual footing, but he nevertheless was both the towering giant of postwar economics and the US's foremost defender of liberty in the latter half of the 20th Century.

Today the University of Chicago announced that, to honor his contributions (and, of course, to attract contributions and entrench its prestige), it will establish the Milton Friedman Institute.

Explains Gary Becker, in the University's announcement:
The Institute will build on this important tradition by focusing on research questions that support development of economic models grounded in economic theory and empirical evidence and designed to evaluate a variety of questions related to economic policy.

Nearly as soon as Milton Friedman slipped in the tub, those whose ideologies are incompatible with Friedman's intellectual legacy began to attack it, sometimes with a savage dishonesty that could not have been brought to bear were he here to defend himself. Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, is the prime example.

That Klein distorted history and failed to fulfil the affirmative duties of the scholar is already well-known. Tyler Cowen summed up the trouble with her book in his review. Earlier this week, the Cato Institute released a more extensive, and damning, rebuttal, penned by Johan Norberg. Were Klein an academic, I could say she was headed for ruin, Michael Bellesiles-style. Since she's merely a more industrious version of the common Che Guevara t-shirt wearing, "people before profits"-screaming lout, nothing of the sort will happen, although thinking people will be less likely to take her claims at face value in the future. Joseph Stiglitz is, of course, excepted.

This week's score: 2 for respect for the dead, zero for the radical Left.

No comments: