Steve Horwitz: Fighting Inequality Through Free Market Economics

Dr. Steve Horwitz wants to know how so many of us got so rich.

Yes, that likely includes you.

As an economic historian, Horwitz asks that you avoid comparing yourself to your neighbors. Sure, they might have a fancier car in the driveway and a few more square feet under their roof. Instead, he asks that we compare ourselves to our peasant ancestors.

The vast majority of humanity has been poor for millennia, he said. “That’s our natural state.”

But in the last 200 years, according to Horwitz, much of the world has experienced incredible economic progress.

Before you fire off an angry tweet, Horwitz doesn’t dismiss that poverty exists in the developed world, the United States included. He just asks that those of us leading relatively comfortable lives, free of hunger and violence, practice an “attitude of gratitude.”

“Those questions about how and why prosperity happens and how we bring it to the rest of the world, those are where my interests and my expertise and my passion are.”

Horwitz is Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise and director of the Institute for the Study of Political Economy in Department of Economics in the Miller College of Business. He earned his doctorate at George Mason University in 1990. Prior to his arrival at Ball State in 2017, he taught for 28 years at St. Lawrence University in New York, where he is professor emeritus.

Much of his research focuses on the effects of what Horwitz calls the liberal order. Not liberal in the sense of American politics, but liberal in the international sense. This means political and cultural systems that promote private property, free markets, financial exchanges, competition, rule of law, sound money, and an ethical system that values seeking profits.

His presentations on global inequality and the intersection of politics and economics have been featured throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, and South America. He reaches an even broader audience through frequent guest appearances on radio and cable TV programs.

Horwitz has written extensively on Friedrich August Hayek and Austrian economics, monetary theory and history, and American economic history. His most recent of three books is Hayek’s Modern Family: Classical Liberalism and the Evolution of Social Institutions.

Through his research and public appearances, Horwitz conveys an optimistic message while acknowledging the challenges that remain. The great wave of prosperity that brought much of the world out of poverty skipped over areas. In researching the causes of prosperity, Horwitz hopes he can bring those regions along for the ride.

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