Fred L. Smith, Jr. celebrated his 80th birthday just before the New Year, and his friends and colleagues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – the public policy research and advocacy organization he founded in 1984 – celebrate that milestone with him. This month is also the anniversary of CEI’s founding. In conjunction with these occasions, CEI today published an anthology of representative works from Smith’s long career aimed, to borrow a Fred-ism, at “saving the world.”
Labor of Love: A Fred Smith Story features a set of 11 essays, articles, and book chapters by Smith, chosen and edited by CEI President and CEO Kent Lassman in conjunction with longtime CEI staffers Amanda France and Ivan Osorio. The topics include: a defense of capitalism, the failure of corporations to champion capitalism, values-based communication, lasting Progressive Era wrongs, free market environmentalism, technology as a great democratizer, innovation on the economic frontier, abolishing antitrust, and the virtue of “Ebenezer Scrooge.”
“If there is a Holy Trinity in the gospels of Fred Smith,” said Lassman, “it may be the moral dignity in individual worth, the acknowledgment of powerful disruptions in life due to forces beyond individuals’ control, and the importance of clear, economic thinking about the reality of the world around us.”
Smith’s thoughts on “Cowboys Versus Cattle Thieves” sprang from a book on the lessons learned from the 2001 Enron scandal. “Prudence is best defined as a careful calculation of the risks of change versus the risks of stagnation—and the development of institutions that encourage that careful balancing,” Smith explained. “Note that the cowboys of the Old West were often portrayed as renegades and misfits, yet they played a critical role in policing borderless boundaries—reducing the risks to the cattle herds from wandering and rustling. Indeed, until the advent of barbed wire, the cowboy was the central feature of the risk management landscape, as well as perhaps the most often misunderstood.”
Smith served as CEI president until 2013, at which point he turned his attention to creating CEI’s Center for Advancing Capitalism. He continues to maintain a position on the board. Prior to 1984, Smith served as Director of Government Relations for the Council for a Competitive Economy, as a senior economist for the Association of American Railroads, and for five years as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency. Smith graduated with top honors and holds a Bachelor of Science in Theoretical Mathematics and Political Science from Tulane University.
> View Labor of Love: A Fred Smith Story on cei.org