Sunday, November 19, 2006

Help!

Consider for a moment NPR's laudatory coverage of Milton Friedman, the economist who suffered for decades from free market rabies, and died on November 16, 2006. Reporting on Friedman makes sense - his bitemarks are all over the Pinochet's Chile, creepy Reaganism, stagnant wages, sweatshop globalism, and compassionate corporatism- but the excesses of NPR might have even made the old guy himself blush. Except for this bit of pro-market criticism - "…they say he took a sensible argument – markets are good; markets are efficient – to an illogical extreme..." - here's a taste of what NPR had to offer on Friedman:

Weekend Edition, Nov. 18, 2006
  • "...the most persuasive advocate for an unfettered freemarket which he believed maximized human liberty...'
  • "...he proposed many ideas that have become accepted, including income tax withholding, volunteer army, and school vouchers..."( someone needs to tell Scott Simon that school vouchers have not become accepted.)
ATC Nov. 16, 2006
  • "He promoted liberty in all human spheres...."
  • "...did the most to promote human freedom around the world during the twentieth century."
  • "...displayed the sly humor that disarmed even some of his intellecual foes."
  • "...was also a policymaker with his finger in all sorts of pies."
  • "He was consistently for freedom."

For those wanting a little antidote to such overkill, be sure to see the following links that were featured on Cursor.org: Wall Street Journal (far more informative than anything on NPR), Greg Palast, CounterPunch, and Znet.

1 comment:

bluetaco said...

I've read a lot of the encomiums about Friedman and I'm frankly quite disappointed, though hardly surprised. In all of my reading Friedman (from his work in macro on the natural rate of unemployment, on lifecycle consumption functions and origins of the Great Depression) I have yet to come across anything that wasn't either 1) stunningly obvious; 2) true, but only the most circular sense; or 3) actually wrong once you delved into the empirical evidence more carefully (i.e. without any ideological axe-grinding in mind). And all this is even when one accepts his incredibly limited understanding of the term "freedom". And to me, his advising a butcher like Pinochet puts him beyond the pale. All this praise is not surprising, though, when one considers that he spent his whole career building a "scientific" basis for the established order, comforting the powerful and undermining the attempts of the many to buffer the shocks of unfettered capitalism. The kid glove treatment by NPR is to be expected, I'm afraid.