Simon’s ultimate resource quote

March 2, 2007 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Climate change, Economics, Engineer, Engineering | Leave a comment

Hi John,

Simon might have described my type thus:

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 benefit and inevitably benefit the rest of us as well.

What Julian L. Simon did not see was that his beliefs in unlimited resources and unlimited population growth facilitated by technological progress and increasing wealth are based on fallacies. The Earth is a finite resource no matter how economic models choose to define it as infinite. Furthermore, his attitude effectively promotes treatment of engineers as present-day slaves and their intellectual property as a commodity to be traded. His economic model values only those ideas that engineers submit in accordance with his rules for increasing wealth at minimum cost.

Many engineers are skilled, spirited, hopeful and free, and they will exert their wills and imaginations for long-term causes and humanitarian projects they believe in.

Preventing engineers from contributing their expertise to the climate challenge by refuting scientific research, as Steven Milloy does, and by discouraging investment in long-term climate change solutions, as your favored economists do, undermines Simon’s own argument.

P.S. Update on 7 April 2007 after finding here the Simon quote I chose:

Human life has become a commodity. In their 1996 report, “The State of Humanity: Good and Getting Better,” writers Julian L. Simon and Sheldon Richman declared our species better off in just about every measurable material way, asserting that “[o]nly one important resource has shown a trend of increasing scarcity rather than increasing abundance: the most important and valuable resource of all—human beings. There are more people on earth now than ever before. But if we measure the scarcity of people the same way we measure the scarcity of other economic goods—by how much we must pay to obtain their services—we see that people are becoming more scarce even though there are more of us.”


Simon and Richman conclude their article with the following statement: “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 benefit and inevitably benefit the rest of us as well.”

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