Celebrating the Impact of Milton Friedman

Dr. Christopher Douglas presents on Milton Friedman's contributions to economic theory and public policy.

On July 29, two days before what would have been Milton Friedman’s 104th birthday, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Northwood University Forum for Citizenship & Enterprise joined hundreds of organizations around the country to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Nobel Prize-winning economist. 

For the tenth anniversary of the celebration, the Mackinac Center and Northwood invited Dr. Christopher Douglas to speak at a luncheon in Midland, Michigan. Douglas is an associate professor in the department of economics at the University of Michigan-Flint and a member of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy Board of Scholars.

The luncheon began with a presentation of a letter written by Friedman and donated to the Center by the Rogers family. Douglas followed with a presentation that he called “The Lasting Contributions of Milton Friedman.” While Friedman’s most popular contributions to public debate include school choice and tax reform, Douglas discussed the works for which he received the Nobel Prize: the permanent income hypothesis, monetary economics and the expectations-augmented Phillips curve. 

The permanent income hypothesis directly opposed the prominent Keynesian idea that people make consumption decisions based on their current income. Friedman, instead, asserted that people make purchases based on how much the expect to earn.

He also made a mark in monetary policy. His book “A Monetary History of the United States” sparked major change in the economics community. Finally, his work on the Phillips curve disputed the conventional wisdom of the day that governments can manipulate the economy to produce full employment with low inflation. 

Milton Friedman’s labor laid the foundation for much of the freedom movement. Today, think tanks and activists, including the Mackinac Center, still use his work to argue for limited government.