The Friedman brand

The University of Chicago has recently announced the creation of a Milton Friedman Institute. I think David Warsh, as usual, got it right when he reads this move in the context of the academic race for resources:

The allocation of resources among the departments of a university is a perennially sensitive matter, and the institute would give Chicago economists (and, to some extent, their crosstown compatriots at Northwestern University) a large source of off-balance-sheet funding for visiting scholars, post-docs, and researchers. In other words, it might confer the same out-of-sight advantages as does the presence of the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., for Harvard and MIT.

To siphon the cash, Chicago needs a recognized and alluring brand. Enter FriedmanTM, like margarine, universally loved and hated.

The final report, see here, arguing for the creation of the Institute states:

This connection of the proposed institute to the legacy of Milton Friedman’s intellectual contributions provides a special opportunity to recognize the distinguished place held by Friedman at Chicago and throughout the world.

But like anything worth having, there is a competition for it. An industry has arisen around the name and legacy Friedman, there is Free to Choose Media, there is even a Milton Friedman Day. And like any rock star, Friedman will become the T-shirt, the poster, and the merchandising.

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5 thoughts on “The Friedman brand

  1. Your picture of Friedman, as you know, refers to the TV show Free to Choose.
    It’s a very funny moment where he demonstrates how the price system made thousands of people collaborating to make a pencil, although they might hate each other.
    You can watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6vjrzUplWU

    Another funny thing : go here and watch Arnold Scharzenegger’s speech about Friedman and Free to Choose.
    http://www.ideachannel.tv/
    He is talking “as if” he had read and understood Friedman.
    A great example of the power of Friedman’s methodology.

  2. I had seen the Scharzenegger intro some years ago, when it was still on YouTube.

    On the “real” Arnold S. let me share a joke. I heard this from an STS person whose unit once briefed the governator on subjects of risk in new technologies and how the state of California might frame the emerging industries. Arnold listened blank faced to most of the presentation, until the subject of cloning came up. He stopped the speaker and announced “I know all about cloning. I was in a movie about it.”

  3. I was in the Chicago campus (in the history department) a few weeks ago and my friend was saying that there was a protest against the Milton friedman institute. From what I have understood, several academics from the University were petitioning against it.

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