Liberty lost one of its finest advocates this morning. Rose Director Friedman died of heart failure in Davis, Calif. She was thought to be 98.
Rose was best known as the wife of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, who died in 2006. But Rose, an economist herself, was Milton’s intellectual partner. Together, they co-authored the international best-seller “Free to Choose” and other books. Together, they taught the world important lessons about economics and policy. Their life’s work improved the lives of millions around the world, and their lessons will continue to guide advocates of liberty in the years ahead.
The Heritage Foundation presented its highest honor for excellence in advancing the conservative movement, the Clare Boothe Luce Award, to both Friedmans in 1998. Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner praised the couple for “strengthening the foundations of liberty in America and around the world.”
In remarks that sound even more appropriate today, Feulner said:
You, Rose and Milton Friedman, have been second to none in your vigilant, tireless and effective defense of liberty. At a time when it was intellectually fashionable to assert that collectivism was the wave of the future, you steadfastly championed the moral and practical superiority of free markets. At a time when ‘economic’ freedom was widely held to be less important than ‘political’ freedom, you demonstrated that they are, in fact, inseparable. And when others looked to the power of the state to accomplish their social objectives, you reshaped American politics through your advocacy of monetary restraint, deregulation, the volunteer army, school choice and the flat tax.”
One important idea championed by the Friedmans was giving families the freedom to choose the best school for their children. An idea the couple first proposed in 1955, it now benefits millions of children. In 1996, they created the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice in Indianapolis to educate the public about the need to improve education in the United States and to promote awareness of school choice as a promising solution. Heritage, among many other organizations, was inspired by the effort.
In an e-mail this morning to the board and staff, Robert Enlow, Friedman Foundation president and CEO, said of Rose:
Like Milton, she will be sorely missed, not just by us but also by a country that surely could use a good dose of Rose Friedman’s wisdom in the next decade.”
We extend our sympathies to the Friedman children, David and Janet.
Those who knew and loved Milton and Rose Friedman may take comfort in knowing, as friend Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute put it, “Two lucky people are now together.”
Ken McIntyre contributed to this post.