Milton Friedman may well have been the most important economist of the 20th century, even if John Maynard Keynes was the most famous. No small part of Friedman’s achievement was rescuing economics from the pervasive and virtually unquestioned Keynesian orthodoxy that reigned in many places.Just after Friedman's death I caught part of a rerun of his interview from a couple years ago on PBS' Charlie Rose show. At that point he was already into his 90's but was more sharp and articulate than I could ever hope to be.
Ironically, Friedman began his career as a believer in both Keynesian economics and in the liberals’ vision of the world with which it was so compatible. Yet, in the end, no one did more to dethrone both. It is doubtful whether Ronald Reagan could have been elected president in 1980 without the changes in public opinion produced by Friedman’s work in the previous decades.
Friedman made a point I've wondered about for a few years: The best arrangement of power for a balanced federal budget is a Democratic president and a Republican-controlled Congress. (He didn't say anything about how it works out for judicial appointments.) I wonder if that makes what we're about to have the worst. Take it for what it's worth.