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A missing monetarist

(Chris Jones, Theater Loop, Chicago Tribune) You could make a case that the late Milton Friedman, who taught at the University of Chicago for more than 30 years, was the most internationally influential of Hyde Park’s many illustrious residents — current occupants of the White House aside.

The famed, Nobel Prize-winning proponent of the monetarist school of economics was a key architect of so-called Reaganomics, and was revered by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her key macroeconomic advisers. He was talking about school vouchers as early as 1955, a debate that still roils today. And thanks to his journalistic efforts — he had a column in Newsweek for the best part of 20 years — his was a key role in the popularization of such concepts as limited government involvement in economic matters and the veneration of, to use the current term of choice, “job creators.”

Along with his policy-making former students — the so-called “Chicago Boys” — Friedman also had a significant role in Chile in the years surrounding the 1973 coup that ended a democratically elected socialist government and brought the military dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. That’s the most controversial part of Friedman’s legacy, given that Friedman went to Chile and met with a man responsible for killing and torturing his opponents, even though Friedman said that he was a constant critic of that political system, even as he dispensed economic advice to Pinochet’s government. This is the subject of “Chicago Boys,” the new, still-in-development play by Kathleen Tolan, which is part of the Goodman Theatre’s New Stages Amplified Series.

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