- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

There seemed to be a consensus among the 1,800 celebrants at the 25th anniversary of the proudly nonpartisan Cato Institute at the Washington Hilton & Towers on Thursday night.
It went something like this: Any group that baffles Republicans and Democrats alike must be doing something right.
Cato's ability to infuriate members on both sides of the political aisle was duly noted by many of the guests, who included Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao; Sens. George Allen, Virginia Republican, and Phil Gramm Texas Republican; former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III ; ABC News correspondent John Stossel, humorist P.J. O'Rourke and syndicated columnists Linda Chavez, Walter Williams and Tony Blankley.
Mr. Blankley particularly credited the iconoclastic think tank for remaining true to its libertarian beliefs.
"That's the role of any ideology: Make a case for the policy so persuasively that mainstream groups buy into it," Mr. Blankley said.
Case in point: the group's efforts on behalf of Social Security reform, starting in 1979. The item stirs considerable thought in the Bush administration.
"There's always a struggle between freedom and power," Mr. Blankley said of the group's individualistic mantra. "There's always a need for Cato to advocate for freedom."
Cato president and co-founder Edward H. Crane praised his group's hustle while adding that plenty of work remains.
"Where is the dignity in an educational system that forces parents to send kids to schools that don't teach and may be violent?" Mr. Crane asked.
The boisterous gala took a somber tone on the posthumous honoring of British economist Peter Bauer with the first Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Mr. Bauer, who theorized that government intervention in economies kept Third World nations from thriving, died a week before the ceremony.
"He was consistent and persistent in presenting ideas that were not popular but were correct," said Mr. Friedman, who received a hero's welcome.
John Blundell, the director of the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, accepted the award on Mr. Bauer's behalf. The $500,000 prize will go to Mr. Bauer's estate.
At a packed pre-dinner reception, a crush of guests in tuxedos and summer-influenced gowns celebrated separately from a private VIP bash, although the long lines at bar stations didn't distract from revelers' appreciation of the night's honoree.
Wall Street Journal editorial writer John Fund applauded Mr. Bauer's prophetic ability to show how centralized aid to poor nations "retards their growth."
"Just like welfare reform, [his policies] were seen as heartless and cruel," Mr. Fund said, even though they promised a break in the poverty cycle through free trade.

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