I missed this interview in the San Francisco Chronicle last week. I am no fan of the 92-year-old Friedman, and consider his influence on the Anglo-Saxon economies entirely lamentable, but it is hard to deny that he is the most influential economist since Keynes. The market triumphalism of the Chicago school of economics was intellectually unrespectable in the 60s; today it is entirely ordinary, the private religion of most business people and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. To those who admire him, he is more an economic thinker: he is the prophet of economic freedom.
Money quote: “Asked why, if Social Security is so terrible, it is the most popular government program in American history, Friedman replied, ‘Well, because why does a Ponzi game work? It’s easy to understand why it’s popular. So far, on the average, retirees have gotten more out of the system than they put into it.’”
Props to Marginal Revolution, one of my favorite blogs, for the link.