Socialists in Stockholm literally stood up and screamed when this Free Market economist won the Nobel Prize. Watch this CNBC report. He was frequently heckled when he spoke publicly.
He was a radical libertarian. The New York Times wrote:
As a libertarian, Mr. Friedman advocated legalizing drugs and generally opposed public education and the state’s power to license doctors, automobile drivers and others. He was criticized for those views, but he stood by them, arguing that prohibiting, regulating or licensing human behavior either does not work or creates inefficient bureaucracies.Professor Walter Block remembers Friedman as a perpetual campaigner, someone every libertarian candidate can learn from:
Mr. Friedman insisted that unimpeded private competition produced better results than government systems. “Try talking French with someone who studied it in public school,” he argued, “then with a Berlitz graduate.”
The honor once befell me in the 1980s to serve as Milton Friedman's chauffeur. I drove him around Vancouver, British Columbia during the day of one of his speaking engagements there that evening. The trip was part tourist and part business: pick up at the airport, lunch, a few radio and television interviews during the day, setting up the podium for his evening's speech, etc. I was amazed and delighted at his pugnaciousness in defense of liberty. He would engage seemingly everyone in debate on libertarian issues: waitresses, cameramen, the person placing the microphone on his lapel. He was tireless, humorous, enthusiastic.Like Friedrich Hayek, another towering giant in defense of the Free Market, Friedman was not a consistent libertarian, and unintentionally sowed the seeds of statism. Gary North recalls Friedman's role in setting up income tax withholding, an "emergency" measure enacted during World War II, which has long outlived the emergency and conceals the real impact of government theft. And the CNBC report shows that his "criticism" of Federal Reserve policy, unaccompanied by a clarion call for its outright abolition, has been used by present Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to undergird a claim that another Great Depression will never happen again (because the Fed, thanks to Friedman, is now so much wiser).
Still, Milton Friedman was a superb communicator (unlike most scholars), eager to communicate with those outside academia (also unlike most scholars), and generally unafraid to pursue the implications of Liberty consistently, even when unpopular. The Free Market has lost one of its greatest defenders.