July 31, 2012

Today would have been Milton Friedman’s 100th birthday. Among his many accomplishments, Friedman won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 94.

For those who are unaware of Friedman’s work, the place to start would be with his bio on the Nobel Prize website, and you can also read his bio on the Library of Economics and Liberty website. Then move on to his books, Capitalism and Freedom, published in 1962, and Free to Choose, published in 1980. The latter was turned into a PBS mini-series narrated by Friedman. (You can see additional videos here.)

For those familiar with Friedman’s works, well, you are probably marveling at the inherent irony of this post… Let’s just say it relates to perhaps my favorite Friedman quote: “economic freedom is…an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.” The Thrift Savings Plan, with its emphasis on self-empowerment in contrast to other defined (ie, government) benefits, is a powerful embodiment of that economic-political freedom paradigm. Those without golden handcuffs are truly “free to choose.”

I have not been able to find any Friedman statements on the TSP specifically. Given his thought-provoking views on personal accounts, though (think: Social Security), I figure he would have been particularly supportive of participation in the Thrift Savings Plan.