Update: Alex Tabarrok emails me, "Bush needs a better fact-checker. Hayek also won the Nobel prize and the Medal of Freedom."
Our first honoree, Dr. Gary Becker, once said, "Many intellectuals, many economists, use obscure language when they write. Sometimes it's a way of disguising that they are not saying a heck of a lot." This economist, however, is different. Gary Becker's many books and articles, and his 19 years as a weekly columnist, have provided -- proved him to be a thinker of originality and clarity.
Dr. Becker has shown that economic principles do not just exist in theory. Instead they help to explain human behavior in fields well beyond economics. He has shown that by applying these principles to public policy, we can make great strides in promoting enterprise and public safety, protecting the environment, improving public schools, and strengthening the family. Dr. Becker has explained, as well, the real value of investing in human capital -- he knows full well that an educated and well-trained workforce adds to the vigors of our economy, and helps raise the standard of living for all of us.
This longtime professor at the University of Chicago has helped train hundreds of talented economists. He has been a wise and challenging presence in the lives of his students, and they remain devoted to him. One close friend said, "A 15-minute conversation with Gary Becker can change your thinking forever." He is without question one of the most influential economists of the last hundred years. With today's honor, he is one of only two persons to have received both the Nobel Prize in Economics and the Medal of Freedom. The other was the late Milton Friedman. And I know that today Dr. Friedman would be very proud of his friend, and student, and colleague, Dr. Gary Becker. Congratulations.