Milton Friedman: How Should we Evaluate The Man Responsible For The Worst Ever Idea Unleashed Upon Humanity?
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The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist
The words above were by the British economist —John Maynard Keynes.
And several years later, those words are powerfully true as the very day he uttered them.
When it hits us that the entire world of 8 billion people have been in the vice-like grip of one man’s idea, only then can we begin to realize and appreciate the scale of damage wrought upon humanity by Milton Friedman.
To make sense of all this, we need to step back in time for a minute.
Much of Western Europe is seriously destroyed in a war which brought the world to the very brink of destruction. The highly militaristic Germany and Japan were determined to bring everyone under their control and if it weren’t for the combined efforts of the Russians and the United States, the outcome would have been vastly different.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had been elected for an unprecedented fourth term, had grand plans to announce initiatives which would help the poorest and the most vulnerable in society but dies before the bill goes to the senate.
Harry S. Truman takes over, launches the Marshall Plan, which helps Germany, Italy and France to recover economically.
The new geopolitical reality would need a novel economic paradigm.
Enter John Maynard Keynes.
The British economist was the dominant intellectual of his time and his ideas found their way into the Bretton woods agreement which was to shape the economic affairs of the post-war era:
The Bretton Woods system required countries to guarantee convertibility of their currencies into U.S. dollars to within 1% of fixed parity rates, with the dollar convertible to gold bullion for foreign…