July 31, 1912 – Nov. 16, 2006

"The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom."

Supporters of the free-market worldwide lost a valued and valiant friend when economist Milton Friedman passed away Nov. 16, 2006. The 1976 Nobel laureate helped shape the thinking of several generations about economics on a variety of topics, including, but not limited to, giving parents more say over how and where their children are educated. Friedman believed that the private sector is better organized, more efficient and more consistent than government entities in meeting the preferences of consumers when it comes to education. From that theory grew his support for market competition in education.

Since the inception of the Mackinac Center in 1987, Friedman’s influence, guidance and support have proven invaluable. In 2002, five Center staffers – including President Lawrence W. Reed, Assistant to the President Kendra L. Shrode, Executive Vice President Joseph G. Lehman, Director of Fiscal Policy Michael D. LaFaive and the late Senior Vice President Joseph P. Overton – had the privilege of attending a White House celebration in honor of Friedman’s 90th birthday. As Reed remembers, Friedman stayed true to his fiscally conservative roots, thanking President George W. Bush for his hospitality, and then plainly stating that spending in Washington was out of control.

In 1986, Reed raised $5,000 to help the Polish underground translate, publish and distribute – illegally – Friedman’s 1980 classic "Free to Choose," a copy of which Reed proudly displays today in a glass case in his study.

The Mackinac Center extends its condolences to Friedman’s widow, Rose D. Friedman, the staff at the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, and friends of liberty everywhere.

Following is a sample of the impact Friedman had on the Mackinac Center’s work on a variety of topics over the years:

Mandatory Benefits Aren’t Free

Minimum Wage Causes Maximum Pain

The Universal Tuition Tax Credit: A Proposal to Advance Parental Choice in Education

How Secure is Social Security?

Important Free Market Books

Full Educational Choice

A New Direction for Education Reform

Seven Principles of Sound Economic Policy

Friedman Says Vouchers and Tax Credits Useful Tools to Greater School Choice

Should You Fear School Choice?

Freeing to Choose

An Introduction to the Overton Window of Political Possibilities

The First Phase of the Great Depression

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