It is so fortunate that I am not an economist, says Mart Laar, winner of the Washington DC-based Cato Institutes Milton Friedman Prize. I had only read one book on economics Free to Choose. I was so ignorant at the time . . . it seemed common sense to me. I simply introduced [all the reforms] despite warnings from Estonian economists it could not be done. Shades of Mrs Thatcher and the 364 economists there.
Laar had become Prime Minister of the Baltic nation of Estonia once it renounced its subordination to the USSR. He is a jovial, tubby, stubbly, blond gentleman who looks more like a postgraduate student than a retired prime minister with multiple triumphs under his belt. He thought his lifes destiny was to be a history teacher. Laars prize money $500,000 (£280,000, E405,000) from this influential think-tank will free him to write the book he has long wanted to research and publish on the anti-communist partisans who fought on deep in the Estonian woods against the Red Army until the late 1970s.
We hear little of Estonia. Success on a small scale is less newsworthy than bombs or droughts. Put it this way: Estonia outpaces China by every measure of growth and it has a free democracy, the rule of law and a highly critical fre