Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending the annual California Hall of Fame ceremony.
Every year, the Governor presents our state’s highest honor to a group of Californians past and present who have made a lasting contribution to the fabric of the Golden State in business, arts and culture, science, public service, and civic activism.
This year’s awards ceremony was no exception. Among the honorees were Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg, San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas, legendary vintner Warren Winarski of Stags Leap Wine Cellars, and NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Plunkett (who I had the pleasure of meeting and taking a photo with afterward).
After the ceremony, I started thinking that PRI should set up a hall of fame someday honoring legendary free-market thinkers. Below are my 3 proposed nominees for the inaugural class of the Free-Market Hall of Fame. Much like the California Hall of Fame, my honorees are a mix of household names and those working in the trenches, those who have achieved legendary status and those who continue to inspire changemakers.
Each has and continues to have an impact on free-market ideas in the Golden State.
Any free-market hall of fame would surely include the legendary Milton Friedman. As the author of the seminal work, Capitalism and Freedom and through his work as a trusted advisor to both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, he inspired generations of policymakers to embrace the free-market. With his “Free to Choose” book and documentary series, he’s probably more responsible for making free-market economics popular and understandable than anyone else. In his later years, Friedman (and his wife Rose) moved to San Francisco, and became a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
“The father of supply-side economics,” Arthur Laffer and his famous “Laffer Curve” illustrating the relationship between taxes and government revenue was a major influence on President Reagan’s economic and tax policies. He also inspired the historic taxpayer protections in Proposition 13, which immediately lowered property taxes for hard-working Californians and have kept them reasonably low for generations. In his recent years, as the author of the PRI book, Eureka: How to Fix California, he has continued to champion free-market reforms to restore California’s golden luster.
I decide to stick close to home in selecting PRI’s Wayne Winegarden as my final nominee for the first class of my free-market hall of fame. Earlier this year, Wayne produced a very important work with Niles Chura called Beyond the New Normal. He makes the case that America can return to the days of regular 3 and 4 percent annual growth rates if policymakers embrace free-market tax and spending policies. Congress and the President are clearly listening as the final push toward tax reform includes some of the ideas that Wayne puts forward in his series. Wayne has also produced widely-read studies on California’s pension crisis, and will release two important studies in 2018 on electric car subsidies, and how we can attract high-demand industries back to California.
Tim Anaya is communications director for the Pacific Research Institute.