Honoring Freedom’s “Johnny Appleseed”

This year is being coined a “Season of Growth” for the dramatic gains that have been made in school choice. And, indeed, it has been, with school choice programs being enacted or expanded in more than a dozen states across the county, including Oregon. But as we celebrate those fruits and those who cultivated them, we also must recognize their original “Johnny Appleseed.”

Although Dr. Milton Friedman died almost five years ago, his impact on freedom – and specifically on school choice – continues to be recognized by freedom-loving people both in the United States and around the world.

In celebration of Dr. Friedman and the seeds of freedom he planted decades ago that continue to bear fruit, Cascade Policy Institute, in conjunction with the Foundation for Educational Choice, will host the annual Friedman Legacy for Freedom Day. On Friday, July 29th from 3pm to 7pm Oregonians are invited to a Birthday Party and Open House at Cascade’s offices, 4850 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Suite 103, Portland. There is no cost to attend, although RSVPs are requested. Milton Friedman would have been 99 years old at the end of this month, and Cascade is happy to host this event to discuss his influence on human freedom in general and school choice in particular.

Today, Americans are gravely concerned about our country. They’re awaiting solutions to the debt crisis, rightfully worrying about inflation, and trying to improve public education’s performance and costs. In response, Dr. Friedman’s writings and ideas could not be more relevant. From “Capitalism and Freedom” to “A Monetary History of the United States” to “Free to Choose,” Dr. Friedman’s work contains many of the answers Americans are seeking today.

Dr. Friedman once said that “[g]overnments never learn. Only people learn.” How true. If our country’s current crises show us anything, it’s that the American people are learners. They know what works and what doesn’t. That is precisely why they’re opposing an increase to the debt ceiling. It’s why businesses aren’t hiring over concerns of new government regulations. And it is exactly why Americans are standing up for school choice – because they’ve learned it works for them and their children.

But with Dr. Friedman gone, his ideas need new spokesmen – individuals who can eloquently and plainly explain the theories and benefits of free markets. On this July 29, Cascade Policy Institute will be searching for and empowering new “Johnny Appleseeds” who can instill in the hearts and minds of their friends, neighbors, and children the values of freedom and the fruits they can bear for us all.

Steve Buckstein is founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.