On September 30, the Competitive Enterprise Institute presented its 2020 Julian L. Simon Memorial Award to Dr. Steven Horwitz, Director of the Institute for the Study of Political Economy and Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise at Ball State University.
While the award presentation has traditionally been a part of CEI’s Annual Dinner, this year it was carried live on video because of safety concerns due to the COVID-19 crisis. Nevertheless, the program included a lively discussion with Dr. Horwitz and CEI President Kent Lassman, on Julian Simon’s legacy, and what his lessons can teach us today.
The online event featured both a live presentation of the award and discussion, as well as excerpts from an interview recorded at Dr. Horwitz’s home.
In addition, to mark the occasion, CEI published an essay by Dr. Horwitz in which he reflects on Simon’s many insights.
Rather than seeing people as primarily consumers of resources, like little Pac-men chomping our way through the world, Simon’s vision was that people were first and foremost producers. We add more value to the world than we consume, a point that is true not just of population growth through birth rates but of immigration as well.
But, the critics might say, if we look across the world, there isn’t a clear correlation between population, or population growth rates, and economic progress. How can Simon say that population growth is good? What’s missing, of course, is that for population growth to get translated into economic progress we need liberal institutions. It’s those institutions that enable human beings to be primarily creators of value and not just consumers of resources. We always have to eat. The question is whether we are able to produce enough food to feed the population.
There’s more. The full essay is well worth reading.
Videos of the award presentation and the stand-alone interview are below.