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Steven Horwitz (1964-2021)

Yesterday brought the terrible news of Steve Horwitz’s death. Diagnosed a few short years ago with multiple myeloma, he fought this cancer aggressively and with aplomb. Alas, the cancer too quickly stole his life – the life of a splendid member of that most engendered of species, namely, superb and scholarly economists who both wish to, and excel at, communicating clearly with the general public.

Steve was also a wonderful human being.

Steve is a former student of mine; he excelled in a graduate course in Industrial Organization that I taught. I forget which year exactly; it was either 1987 or 1988. But I can tell you exactly where in the classroom Steve sat and engaged so creatively with the material. Steve was also a friend and co-author. Less than a year ago he and I – actually, mostly he – co-wrote this piece for the Detroit News in opposition to mask mandates.

Like many in Steve’s wide circle of friends, I’m still digesting this tragic news. Being on the road until late tonight, I will delay until later this week further and more complete reflections on Steve and his important legacy. For now, I share this note from yesterday from Institute for Humane Studies president Emily Chamlee-Wright and, below that, a link to Pete Boettke’s post on Steve.

To the Good People of Mercatus and IHS,

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I convey the sad news that Steve Horwitz died early this morning from complications related to his battle with myeloma. Steve’s family was with him when he passed, and he was not in any pain at the end.

There is so much to say, and yet, words fail me. They are inadequate to express what Steve meant to the Mercatus-IHS community and they cannot provide the comfort I so desperately wish I could offer Sarah and the family. But three things need to be said.

First, Steve was equal parts mind and spirit and he brought the fullness of that balance to his work. The sharpness of his intellect was only matched by the depth of compassion he felt for those who are least free. Steve was driven to do more and think more and write more and teach more because he had an abiding conviction that the ideas of a free society are the key to every human being having the opportunity to create, contribute, find joy, and thrive.

Second, Steve was deeply, passionately, madly in love with his wife Sarah. (Young Hearts, take note of their example. It would be hard to do better.) Sarah is part of our community too. She has asked for some time before corresponding, but in the weeks and months to come, we will be an important source of support and strength for her, so don’t hold back. If you have a story to tell, she’ll want to know how Steve touched your life.

Finally, and here’s a lesson for us all, Steve left it all on the field.  There’s no more important work we can do than to advance the ideas that underlie the good society. Steve believed that to his core and lived that commitment right up to the end. The best way to honor Steve is to emulate his example.

Steve, we will miss you, my brother.


P.S. When it feels appropriate to do so, I will share information about opportunities to celebrate Steve’s life. In the meantime, you can read more about Steve’s story here. https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/stevehorwitz


And here’s Peter Boettke on Steve.