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RU serious, Milton Friedman?


Last night Rutgers University, where the first college football game was played in 1869, won the biggest game in its history and the biggest college game in the NY metropolitan area since the Army-Notre Dame showdowns at Yankee stadium in the late 1940's. Since the stadium is 10 minutes from my home and I received my Ph.D. from Rutgers, I have been a season ticket holder for the last 10 mostly dreary seasons--one of the few regular occupants of Section 116 in Rutgers Stadium.

Thus did I passed up the the opportunity to scalp my pair of $20 end zone seats for $200-$300 and attended last night's game. It was the most exciting sporting event I ever attended and the unending crowd roar was so loud I could not even hear my friend seated or rather standing--since no one sat the entire game--right next to me.

This is where Friedman comes in. He is an alumnus of Rutgers College, having studied there in the 1930's under Arthur Burns, who, alas, persuaded him to change his major from mathematics to economics. Besides bashing Mises, Rothbard and the Austrian school in general, Friedman's other hobby during his retirement years has been fronting a campaign to get Rutgers to drop big-time sports.

Friedman is the biggest name on the self-proclaimed Committee of 1,000 composed mainly of a hundred or so left-wing Rutgers professors and disaffected alumni who want Rutgers to downgrade its sports programs and pour more taxpayer money down the rathole of politically correct "educational programs."

The latest alumni magazine featured an interview with the nonagenarian Friedman in which he blathered on about the incompatibility of big-time sports and education. As the consummate economistic Knightian Friedman has absolutely no "feel" and no respect for the efficiency of socially grown traditions and institutions like college sports, which emerged and evolved in an era when government had little involvement in higher education. Furthermore in the past few years small colleges all over the country have been starting or reinstating football programs as a way of bolstering male enrollment and this has turned out to be a highly successful strategy.

Friedman's anti-social committee of politically correct educationists was on the ropes after the Insight.com bowl invitation the football team received last year. Hopefully RU's win last night put the final nail in its coffin.

Joseph Salerno is academic vice president of the Mises Institute, professor of economics at Pace University, and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

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