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Julian Simon on the Ultimate Resource (Forget Peak Oil, Worry About Peak Government)

Best of MasterResource 2009: This post originally appeared on September 5th.

Julian Simon (1932–98) is an inspiration to those of us here at MasterResource and, indeed, the whole capitalist movement. Indeed, it was he who characterized energy as the master resource and human ingenuity as the ultimate resource.

In honor of Simon, I have reproduced some quotations from his works and invite readers to add their favorite in the comment section.

“The world’s problem is not too many people, but a lack of political and economic freedom.”

- Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2 (Princeton, N.Y.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 11.

“There is only one important resource which has shown a trend of increasing scarcity rather than increasing abundance. That resource is the most important of all—human beings. . . . [An] increase in the price of peoples’ services is a clear indication that people are becoming more scarce even though there are more of us.”

- Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2 (Princeton, N.Y.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 581.

“Human beings create more than they destroy.”

- Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2 (Princeton, N.Y.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 580.

“Progress toward a more abundant material life does not come like manna from heaven. . . . My message certainly is not one of complacency. In this I agree with the doomsayers: our world needs the best efforts of all humanity to improve our lot.”

- Julian Simon, “Introduction,” in Simon, ed., The State of Humanity (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995), p. 27.

“Adding more people causes problems. But people are also the means to solve these problems. The main fuel to speed the world’s progress is our stock of knowledge; the brakes are our lack of imagination and unsound social regulations of these activities. The ultimate resource is people—especially skilled, spirited, and hopeful young people endowed with liberty—who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefits, and so inevitably they will benefit the rest of us as well.”

- Julian Simon, “Introduction,” in Simon, ed., The State of Humanity (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995), p. 27.

And here is one Simon-like quotation from outside of the Simon tradition to think about!

“The worst of all forms of pollution is wasted lives.”

- Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Plume/Penguin, 1992, 1993), p. 162.

2 comments

1 Charles Battig { 01.01.10 at 9:08 am }

I nominate Julian’s “Hoodwinking the Nation” ( published 1999) in its entirety.

Happy New Year!

2 Let it glow, let it glow, let it glowInstitute for Energy Research | Institute for Energy Research { 12.24.12 at 8:01 am }

[...] less pollution. Where are the headlines of this stunning negative correlation? Julian Simon’s ultimate resource theory shines [...]

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