Bellafante Bashes Milton Friedman's "Free-Market Absolutism," Sees Downside to End of Military Draft

Occasional TV critic Ginia Bellafante reviews a PBS documentary, "The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman," a positive documentary about the renowned free-marketer and Nobel Prize-winning economist. But Bellafante seems more concerned with why the late left-wing economist John Kenneth Galbraith wasn't given more time to criticize Friedman's "free-market absolutism."

"Mr. Galbraith makes a brief appearance in 'The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman,' a documentary on PBS tonight, as the only detractor to Mr. Friedman's free-market absolutism. The film is so unabashedly venerating - it would credit Mr. Friedman with inventing the Hubble Telescope if it could - that it ultimately does its subject a disservice, refusing the spirit of argument that was so obviously Mr. Friedman's lifeblood."

Bellafante sides with the late Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who infamously wrote in The New Yorker back in 1984: "That the Soviet system has made great material progress in recent years is evident both from the statistics and from the general urban scene....One sees it in the appearance of solid well-being of the people on the streets...and the general aspect of restaurants, theaters, and shops....Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast with the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."

Of course, Bellafante makes no mention of that, although it's far more relevant than a left-field canard deepinto her review -her strange, strained criticism of a Friedman idea that should have been quite appealing to liberals: Ending the military draft.

Ken Shepherd at MRC's Business and Media Institute site writes:

"Bellafante wasn't content to bemoan the lack of respect paid to Galbraith. She also found room to parrot a false canard of her own.

"'Though Mr. Friedman's free-choice doctrine contributed to ending the draft in the 1970s, the film takes virtually no note of the cultural and political climate in which he was making his opinions known. Nor does it address one result of the draft's elimination: a military not well represented by affluent men and women who have many choices, but dominated by comparatively disadvantaged ones with far fewer options,' the Times reviewer argued.

But that is flat out false, according to separate studies conducted by The Heritage Foundation and the Pentagon.