In many respects, it could be said that Claremont helped launch the Friedmans’ ideas into the mainstream. In 1958, Milton Friedman, along with F.A. Hayek and Bruno Leoni, gave a series of lectures at the Fifth Institute on Freedom and Competitive Enterprise at what is now Claremont McKenna. According to Professor Arthur Kemp, the lectures from this meeting were profoundly influential. Those lectures became Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, (which Professor Pitney recommends), Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom and Bruno Leoni’s Freedom and the Law. With Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman established himself as the intellectual advocate of economic and political freedom, with Rose, being very much behind and supportive of every thing he wrote. Where Milton went, so went Rose. In awarding Milton Friedman the Presidential Medal of Honor, President George W. Bush joked that the only person who had ever beat him in an argument was his wife.
The Friedmans’ influence on the national culture began at another time of mass unemployment and American pessimism — during the late 1970s. In 1980, Rose and Milton co-wrote a book and a PBS series Free to Choose, that became one of the most influential television shows of a generation. The book sold some 400,000 copies that year alone and the television program average 3 million viewers per episode. (You can watch it all – legally – for free here.) Unsurprisingly, for a school whose motto is that civilization prospers with commerce, Claremont, too, got in on the act. In 1986, the Economics Department screened and discussed four episodes at the Ath. Since the publication of Free to Choose, the Friedmans visited the Ath twice – in 1986 and 1996 – at Claremont. (Unfortunately, the Ath has lost the videos.) They warmly mention Claremont McKenna in both of Two Lucky People and Free to Choose.