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Bush Pays Tribute to US Economist Milton Friedman - 2002-05-10

President Bush Thursday paid tribute to U.S. economist Milton Friedman. The Nobel-Prize-winner's free-market approach is central to the Bush administration's trade policy.

President Bush called the conservative economist a hero of freedom whose "towering intellect" has changed the world. "He has used a brilliant mind to advance a moral vision," he said. "The vision of a society where men and women are free free to choose, but where government is not as free to over-ride their decisions. That vision has changed America, and it is changing the world."

Among those gathered to pay tribute to Mr. Friedman ahead of his 90th birthday in July was Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who called him "the most formidable economist" of the 20th century.

In thirty years at the University of Chicago, Mr. Friedman's theories of monetary economics stressed the need for lower government spending to encourage freer growth in the private sector.

As an economic advisor to former-President Ronald Reagan, Mr. Friedman's less-government approach became a hallmark of Republican politics as did his view that economic freedom is an inseparable part of individual liberties.

It is a message embraced by President Bush, who said Mr. Friedman never claimed that free markets are perfect, but even imperfect markets produces better results than what Mr. Bush caled "arrogant experts and grasping bureaucrats." "Milton Friedman has shown us that when government attempts to substitute its own judgements for the judgements of free people, the results are usually disastrous," he said. "In contrast to the free market's invisible hand which improves the lives of people, the government's invisible foot tramples on people's hopes and destroys their dreams."

Mr. Friedman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics in 1976 for his work on monetary policy and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988.

He is in Washington for a dinner at the independent CATO Institute think tank which will present an award in his name as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations.