Saturday, December 02, 2006

The only time Milton and his wife ever disagreed

Milton Friedman was married to his wife, Rose, for 68 years (!) and when he died last week was eulogised by the Economist as the "most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century (Keynes died in 1946), possibly of all of it".  Of course, when two people have been married so long, you really can't credit just one of them for anything -- they were clearly a team, and should be assigned co-authorship to everything they did.

Which is why it's interesting to see this interview they gave to the WSJ last year, talking about Iraq:

Mr. Friedman here shifted focus. "What's really killed the Republican Party isn't spending, it's Iraq. As it happens, I was opposed to going into Iraq from the beginning. I think it was a mistake, for the simple reason that I do not believe the United States of America ought to be involved in aggression." Mrs. Friedman--listening to her husband with an ear cocked--was now muttering darkly.

Milton: "Huh? What?" Rose: "This was not aggression!" Milton (exasperatedly): "It was aggression. Of course it was!" Rose: "You count it as aggression if it's against the people, not against the monster who's ruling them. We don't agree. This is the first thing to come along in our lives, of the deep things, that we don't agree on. We have disagreed on little things, obviously--such as, I don't want to go out to dinner, he wants to go out--but big issues, this is the first one!" Milton: "But, having said that, once we went in to Iraq, it seems to me very important that we make a success of it." Rose: "And we will!"

(The WSJ concludes by noting that Mrs. Friedman had the last word)

[via trunkandbarter and freakonomics]

p.s. Bonus factoid:  Milton was a well-known Reagan fan, but guess who he supported as Reagan's successor?  Donald Rumsfeld (!) [according to the Economist ]

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