I’ve been very fortunate in being part of two communities of scholars: the community of economists on the one hand, and the community of libertarians on the other. And that combination has been very productive so far as I’m concerned, but I can’t really tell you why. One thing is that it’s very hard for somebody on his own to be sure that he’s thought of all the angles. Discussion among people helps an enormous amount. And particularly able, good people. If you have a person isolated in an environment unfriendly to his ideas and thoughts, he tends to turn bitter and self-directed. But the same person with three or four other people around–it doesn’t have to be a lot of people–will be in a wholly different position since he will receive support from the others.
You remind me of one incident where in a sense the two worlds interacted. Back in the 1960s, my daughter was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr, and I was invited by Haverford, I think it was, to spend three days giving talks on mathematical economics. Absolutely no policy involved, pure mathematical economics. And because my daughter was at Bryn Mawr, I agreed.
After I had agreed, they asked if I would also be willing to give a chapel talk on political matters. I said sure and I gave a title, something having to do with freedom. Then I discovered that chapel at Haverford was compulsory. I wrote to the president and said that I was very much disturbed at giving a talk on freedom to a compulsory audience.
When it was time to go to the chapel, I asked the president, “How do they count attendance?” And he said, “At the beginning of the hour there are people going around in the balcony and looking down. Everybody has an assigned seat, and they count.”
When I got up to talk, I spoke up to the people in the balcony and said that those who were counting attendance, please let me know when they’re through because I don’t like the idea of speaking about freedom to a compulsory audience. I’m going to sit down and give the people who want to leave the chance to leave. And I did. Now, the students hadn’t really thought that I was going to do it and when I did, about one or two people got up to leave and the rest of them booed them because obviously, I was talking on their level. As a result, I’ve seldom had a student audience who were so completely on my side as that group, even though the political atmosphere at Haverford was very much to the left. That’s one of the greatest coups I’ve ever had as a public speaker.
Friedman era, realmente, o cara. O resto da entrevista está aqui.