Your Monday Morning Rhetoric Check

Mon, 16 Jun 2008 14:16:42 +0000

Senator Obama's announcement last week that Jason Furman would join his economic team as economic policy director set off the unfortunate spate of criticism from the Left that he's not Left enough on labor issues. I figured the last thing Jason needed was a defense from an occasional right-of-center policy opponent. (The most thoughtful one is here, with links to others from those with left-of-center credentials.)

The most hysterical commentary I've read comes, surprise, from Naomi Klein in The Nation, where Furman's appointment is taken as further evidence that Obama is "thoroughly embedded in the mind-set known as the Chicago School."<!--break--> There is presumed guilt by association with Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, Chicago Business School Professor Austan Goolsbee, and, of course, Milton Friedman.

We should be very clear about Friedman's views on labor. Thanks to the miracle of Google, that's very easy. Below is the video of Chapter 8 from the television series based on Free to Choose, "Who Protects the Worker?"

The similarity between Friedman and Furman is that they both understand price theory. Normative policy prescriptions would find little overlap. Quite apart from showing how ridiculous the Klein piece is, the video is an interesting reminder of how longstanding some of our current policy debates are, particularly when the conversation goes to immigration.