Julian Simon a truly great liberal #1

Browsing the web I came across a fan letter from F.A.Hayek to Julian Simon, his junior in age by 33 years, and, of course, in status (Simon never got the Nobel economics prize: he perhaps died too soon for that, but was surely one of the most deserving).

I'll write more about Simon's fabulous work some other time. For now, just savour this praise by Hayek of Simon's work (Source)

URACHSTRASSE 27 D-7800 Freiburg (Breisgau)

March 22, 1981

Dear Professor Simon,

I have never before written a fan letter to a professional colleague, but to discover that you have in your Economics of Population Growth provided the empirical evidence for what with me is the result of a life-time of theoretical speculation, is too exciting an experience not to share it with you. The upshot of my theoretical work has been the conclusion that those traditional rules of conduct (esp. of several property) which led to the greatest increases of the numbers of the groups practicing them leads to their displacing the others — not on “Darwinian” principles but because based on the transmission of learned rules — a concept of evolution which is much older than Darwin.

I doubt whether welfare economics has really much helped you to the right conclusions. I claim as little as you do that population growth as such is good — only that it is the cause of the selection of the morals which guide our individual action. It follows, of course, that our fear of a population explosion is unjustified so long as the local increases are the result of groups being able to feed larger numbers, but may become a severe embarrassment if we start subsidizing the growth of groups unable to feed themselves.


F. A.Hayek