ECONOMIA Y SOCIEDAD EN INTERNET
10 de Mayo, 2002

BUSH, FRIEDMAN Y CHILE

(Nota de JP. Estuve ayer Jueves 9 de Mayo, de 10 a 12am, en una extraordinaria ceremonia titulada "A LIFETIME OF ACHIEVEMENT: Milton Friedman at 90". Fue organizada por la Casa Blanca para honrar a Milton Friedman con ocasión de que cumple 90 años el 31 de Julio. Tuvo lugar en el Presidential Auditorium (room 450) del Eisenhower Executive Office Building, contiguo a la Casa Blanca. Conversé con el Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld, quien me comentó mi corbata Adam Smith; con el Pdte. de la Reserva Federal Alan Greenspan, quien me confirmó que conserva mi libreta de AFP; con el Profesor de la U. de Chicago y Premio Nobel Gary Becker, quien en su discurso tuvo la generosidad de destacar la creación del sistema de AFP y señalar mi presencia en la ceremonia; y, por supuesto, felicité a mis amigos Rose y Milton Friedman. Aquí va el magnífico discurso del Presidente George W. Bush. Me sentí muy orgulloso de ser chileno y de haber participado en la revolución de libre mercado en nuestro país).


It's an honor for me to be here to pay tribute to a hero of freedom, Milton
Friedman. He has used a brilliant mind to advance a moral vision: the vision
of a society where men and women are free, free to choose, but where
government is not as free to override their decisions.

That vision has changed America and it is changing the world. All of us owe
a tremendous debt to this man's towering intellect and his devotion to
liberty. So it's my honor to welcome you all to the White House.

I appreciate Larry Lindsey, and I want to thank him for his leadership and
his friendship. I want to welcome Rose Friedman, as well. I'm so honored
that the Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld, has joined us, as well as the
Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz. I want to thank the Chairman
for being here. Chairman Greenspan is a steady influence on our country; and I appreciate your leadership. I want to welcome Dr. Gary Becker, Professor at the University of Chicago, also a Nobel Prize winner.

Milton Friedman has shown us that when government attempts to substitute its own judgments for the judgments of free people, the results are usually
disastrous. 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.

He has never claimed that free markets are perfect. Yet he has demonstrated
that even an imperfect market produces better results than arrogant experts
and grasping bureaucrats. But Milton Friedman does not object to government controls solely because they are ineffective. His deeper objectives flow from a moral framework. He has taught us that a free market system's main justification is its moral strength. Human freedom serves the cause of human dignity. Freedom rewards creativity and work, and you cannot reduce freedom in our economy without reducing freedom in our lives.

As Milton Friedman has written, "I know of no society that has been marked
by a large measure of political freedom, and that has not also used
something comparable to a free market to organize the bulk of economic
activity." This viewpoint was once controversial, as was Milton Friedman,
himself.

When he began his work, the conventional wisdom held that capitalism's days were numbered. Free market systems were thought to be unsuited to modern problems. Today we recognize that free markets are the great engines of economic development. They are the source of wealth, and the hope of a world weary of poverty and weary of oppression.

We have seen Milton Friedman's ideas at work in Chile, where a group of
economists called the "Chicago Boys" brought inflation under control and
laid the groundwork for economic success.

We have seen them at work in Russia, where the government recently adopted a 13 percent flat tax with impressive results.

We have seen them at work in Sweden, which has adopted personal retirement accounts.

We have seen them even at work in China, where the government conceded long ago that Marxism was, in their words, "no longer suited" to China's
problems.

These are extraordinary developments. They demonstrate that the rest of the world is finally catching up with Milton Friedman. (Laughter and applause.)

Yet Milton Friedman has done more than defend freedom as an abstract ideal.
He has creatively applied the power of freedom to the problems of our own
country, and in the process he has become an influential social reformer.

Milton has shown us how freedom can enhance our national security. He is the intellectual godfather of our all-volunteer army. He argued that America
could rely on the dedication of soldiers who serve in armed forces of their
own free will -- and he was right. We have recently seen the quality and
idealism and skill of the all-volunteer army. Those who serve our country by
choice are serving it with honor.

Milton Friedman has also shown us how freedom can foster educational reform.
For many years, he has been a tireless advocate of school choice as a way of
empowering parents and improving the performance of our schools. Educational reform advances when parents have the information and the authority to push for reform. And there is no greater authority than a good alternative. Poor children in America need better options when they're trapped in schools that will not teach and will not change. (Applause.)

In all of these issues and debates, Milton Friedman has argued with
consistency and courage, and trademark bluntness. His ideas have influence
around the world. And by his strength of conviction, he has served his
country with distinction. And it has been recognized as such -- after all,
he received the 1976 Nobel Prize for Economics, and in 1988 he was awarded
the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 1938, Milton Friedman married Rose Director, an outstanding economist in
her own right -- and the only person known to have ever won an argument with Milton. (Laughter.) Half a century later, Milton and Rose Friedman published a joint memoir called, "Two Lucky People." There's no doubt that Milton and Rose Friedman have been lucky. But not as lucky as America. We're lucky that their parents chose to immigrate from Europe. We're lucky they gave them the love and encouragement they needed to be bold and to succeed.

We're lucky that Milton Friedman flunked some of his qualifying exams to
become an actuary -- (laughter) -- and became an economist, instead.
(Laughter and applause). We're thankful for those tough exams -- (laughter)
-- but not nearly as thankful as we are for the lives and talents and
intellect of Milton and Rose Friedman.

May God bless them both, and welcome. (Applause).

 

 

 

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