Robert Burns | Poetry | Scottish Poetry Library

Russ Roberts: That's interesting. I think it's mainly a difference between the public, the media, and then academia. So, I think the public and the media have been respectful of Friedman, more or less, partly because of that credential he has: the fact that he was a U. of Chicago professor; eventually he has the Nobel Prize. But, among fellow academics, there was--a lot of people thought he was a kook, thought he was crazy, thought he was dangerous, and hated him for his policy positions. I'm curious how--let me rephrase this. Your views on Ayn Rand's philosophy do not come through in the book. Which is a tribute to your scholarship and your even-handedness and your role as a historian. I think you can read this book and have no idea what Jennifer Burns thinks of Ayn Rand. And, I'm not going to ask you now--you can talk about it if you want--but I'm more curious about the social aspect of it. Which is: I'm curious how your friends and family reacted to the fact that your book is pretty even-handed. Because, I suspect, like you said: there are plenty of people out there, you know and love who--a few of them don't like Ayn Rand; I bet a lot of them don't like her. And--what was their reaction to the book? And, what was the reaction academically and among historians?

If ever a poet understood the character of his nation, he was Robert Burns

Jennifer Burns: So, you know, like many ideologues, she really trained her fire not on the other side but on this sort of false flag that people who she felt were semi-on-her side but not enough. So, the problem with Hayek--you know, if you read and other works--he is talking about, 'How can we do national health insurance? How can we do unemployment? How can we do all this stuff while preserving the free market system?' And she just thought that was like the opening wedge of, you know, taking phrase, of the road to serfdom. Right? If you said you needed these things in addition to capitalism, that was, for her, really problematic. Friedman, in particular pamphlet--they use the word 'rationing.' They talk a lot about the word 'rationing.' And they were using it both in the context of the war, in which there was actual rationing of goods during WWII. And then they were also using it in the economic sense in which a market can be said to ration goods by price, because you need x amount of dollars to get the good--


Scottish Love Poems by Robert Burns - Heart o' Scotland

Scottish Love Poems by Robert Burns

Jennifer Burns: Um, interesting. I think what I was getting at in that is a sort of this sort of figure of ridicule, public figure of ridicule. And I do know that there is a little more granular in Friedman [?]. There was, you know, probably a decade or so in his professional life when he was seen to have sort of turned away from the more interesting work in economics and really gone backwards. And then eventually I think he'll kind of re-emerge as a force to be reckoned with that people have to deal with even if they are still dislike his politics. So, um, I guess I'm going to put an asterisks by that right now. I still think that when Friedman sort of appeared on TV and the media, you know, he was treated as serious economist with serious ideas. And some of the coverage of Rand is just very ad hominem, attacks, how she looks, what she says, her accent--the people around her, 'We're [?], this whole thing is a joke. Oh my God, how did we get here?' Like, I don't think you see, or I haven't seen in the media that coverage of Friedman, yet. I've seen him presented, even when he's presented negatively, it's sort of a dangerous foe we have to watch out for. Not a ridiculous person that it's unbelievable people take seriously. And that's a lot of the tone of coverage of Rand in the '1960s, is really noticeable for that.