Julian Simon

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1932-1998

Julian L. Simon––professor of business administration at the University of Maryland , senior fellow at the Cato Institute , and member of the Acton Institute's advisory board––died February 8 of a heart attack at his Chevy Chase home. He was sixty-five.

Dr. Simon is best known for his work in the fields of population growth and resource use. In contrast to the Malthusian predictions of famine and misery from population control advocates, Simon argued that, due to his capacity for creativity and imagination, man is the single greatest resource on the planet. He published scores of books and articles exploring this thesis, including The Ultimate Resource (now The Ultimate Resource 2 ) and Population Matters .

A lively defender of individual liberty, Dr. Simon never passed up an opportunity to point out the moral and practical superiority of the free society over against the failures and follies of the centralized state. Furthermore, all his work was undergirded by sound reasoning coupled with reams of supporting data. He never made a statement not backed up by facts, and he could not countenance the unsupported assertion, the shabbily thought-through argument, and the logical fallacy.

Dr. Simon graduated from Harvard University, where he completed the ROTC program, and later served as a naval officer before receiving an M.A. in business administration and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Business School. He ran his own mail-order firm before becoming a professor. In addition, he is the inventor of the airline overbooking plan, used since 1978 on all United States airlines, which solves the overbooking problem by calling for volunteers instead of bumping people involuntarily.

Survivors include his wife, Rita James Simon, and his two sons, one daughter and granddaughter.

Additional Links:

  • An interview with Julian Simon by Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico that summarizes his views on population growth, the environment, and immigration
  • A delightful article about Julian Simon from Wired magazine with a lively account of his famous wager with Paul Ehrlich.