But Megan McArdle continues to patiently explain facts about the life of Milton Friedman to a bunch of people (see her comments) who refuse to get the point and who draw the ridiculous conclusion that because Milton Friedman met with Augusto Pinochet for less than an hour and advised him to institute liberalized economic policies, Friedman is somehow responsible for the fact that Pinochet’s regime killed innocents. Oh, and the ridiculous anti-Friedman argument is repeated in response to the fact that Friedman gave advice to the Chinese government advocating market liberalization along the lines of what was found in Hong Kong (again, see Megan’s comments)–with, once again, a lack of causation between the giving of economic advice by Friedman urging market liberalization and the human rights abuses that the Chinese government has been responsible for.
Of course, it really doesn’t take much to understand that Friedman’s less-than-an-hour meeting with Pinochet urging market reforms and his urging of similar reforms to the Chinese leadership had precisely nothing whatsoever to do with human rights abuses in Chile or China. Indeed, absent the kind of reforms that Friedman urged, life in those two countries would have been even more terrible because grinding poverty would have accompanied human rights abuses.
A thought experiment: Do readers believe that the same people who object so vociferously to the fact that Friedman gave economics advice to the Chilean and Chinese governments are also willing to take Barack Obama to task for his argument that “we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to our enemies,” even though a lot of those “enemies” are themselves dictatorships? Because if you do believe that, there is a bridge in Brooklyn that is just waiting for you to go and get a loan from a bank to purchase it.