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It’s True: One Million Dollars to a Young Steady Statesman

by Brian Czech

Advancing the steady state economy takes money! Yes, there’s a tinge of irony there, but only a tinge. Money gets spent in growing, steady state, and degrowing economies. The question is, who spends it and on what?

For example, we all know Wall Street isn’t lining up to spend it on CASSE or the broader steady state movement.

Well, a new day is born. One Dick Smith has stepped to the plate and offered “$1 million to go to a young person under 30 who can impress me by becoming famous through his or her ability to show leadership in communicating an alternative to our population and consumption growth-obsessed economy.” We might call such leadership steady statesmanship.

Dick Smith is searching for a true steady statesman.

Who is Dick Smith? He was the Australian of the Year in 1986, the founder of Australian Geographic, and an Ambassador for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. Evidently he’s a good fellow who made a lot of money in retailing and publishing, then turned it toward good causes instead of conspicuous consumption. A 21st century William Wilberforce, of sorts.

Here’s what Smith has to say in introducing his Wilberforce Award: “It has become obvious to me that my generation has over exploited our wonderful world – and it’s younger people who will pay the price. Like many people my age, I’ve benefited from a long period of constant economic and population growth – we are addicted to it. But sooner or later this consumption growth will have an end. We appear to be already bumping against the limits of what our planet can sustain and the evidence is everywhere to see.”

Thank goodness someone who was so immersed in the world of economic growth didn’t have their common sense drowned. “The evidence is everywhere to see,” indeed! Here’s a fellow with not only the sense to recognize the problem, but also the guts to acknowledge it. But he doesn’t stop there; he puts his money where his mouth is.

At CASSE, we encourage the younger generation (many of whom are CASSE members, volunteers, or signatories) to go for it! Practice your steady statesmanship and win the Wilberforce Award. We’ll be thinking of ways to help, but like Dick Smith, you’ll need plenty of sense and guts. You’ll be devoting a lot time, with no guarantee of compensation, and you’ll have to expose your efforts to public scrutiny to take home the prize.

Even if you don’t win, though, you can take pride in your public service. At CASSE, we may even issue an award or two of our own.

Meanwhile, may the best steady statesmanship win!

Read more about the Wilberforce Award.