Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 6, 2022

in Innovation, Myths and Fallacies

… is from page 43 of Julian Simon’s 1996 masterpiece, The Ultimate Resource 2 (original emphasis):

The common morally charged statement that the average American uses (say) ninety times as much X as does the average Asian or African (where X is some natural resource) can be seen as irrelevant in this light. The average American also creates a great deal more of “natural” resource X than does the average African or Asian – on average, by the same or greater proportion as the resource is used by Americans compared with Asians and Africans.

DBx: As Simon argues, resources – including those that we call “natural” and even “non-renewable” – are produced by human ingenuity and effort out of the various atomic and molecular arrangements that are the creations of nature. No atomic or molecular arrangement is automatically a resource. No such arrangement is deemed as, and ensured to be, a resource by nature. For that arrangement to become a resource humans must creatively figure out how to use it to satisfy human purposes, and how to do so in a way that’s worthwhile for humans. Therefore, contrary to our intuition and to common belief, we produce natural resources – and, yes, we produce even those ‘natural’ resources that are labeled “non-renewable” – in the very same way that we produce paper clips, living-room furniture, and bottles of wine.

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