Friday, March 16, 2007

Politics Aside

I have finally gotten around to reading the new Ebenstein biography of Milton Friedman. Here is a quotation from Milton that I particularly like:
“The role of the economist in discussions of public policy seems to me to be to prescribe what should be done in light of what can be done, politics aside, and not to predict what is ‘politically feasible’ and then to recommend it.”
So now, when I advocate raising gasoline taxes and cutting income taxes, and my conservative friends tell me that the plan is politically unrealistic, that the government will just keep the extra revenue instead of cutting income taxes, I can quote Milton.

The biography is good, but it is too much of a hagiography. Milton comes off as a bit too perfect to be human. By the way, here is Brad DeLong's review of the book.