Monday, November 27, 2006

Whitman on Friedman

Marina v.N. Whitman, in today's Wall Street Journal, recounts a story about Milton Friedman:

Nearly 30 years ago, my husband and I were guests at a dinner party in the elegant Palo Alto home of Stanford professor Ezra Solomon, who had been my colleague on President Richard Nixon's Council of Economic Advisers. Among the other guests were Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose. Milton was having a fine time baiting the wife of the dean of the Business School, a feminist whose conviction was unleavened by any sense of humor, by proclaiming the foolishness of affirmative action.

"If businesses are forced to hire and train young women, many of whom will leave for marriage and family," he proclaimed, "they should at least be allowed to discriminate in favor of homely women, whose opportunities for marriage are below average." As the dean's wife reddened with fury, I leaned over and said softly, 'Thank you, Milton. I've always wondered what accounted for my professional success. Now I know." Milton, always the courtly gentleman where women were concerned, was speechless.