[HALIFAX] — Today AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley announced that, for the second year in a row and the third time in five years, the Institute has been honoured by the international think tank community. AIMS is once again on the short list for one of the prestigious Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Awards, this time for the book Road to Growth, by the Institute’s former Senior Policy Analyst, Fred McMahon.
The Fisher Awards commemorate the life and work of Sir Antony Fisher, (a founder of the prestigious Institute for Economic Affairs in London, England) by recognising excellence in public policy think tank publications. The panel of judges for the Fisher Prize includes Nobel Laureate James Buchanan, former New Zealand High Commissioner to Canada, Maurice McTigue, former Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Martino, world-renowned economist and teacher, Israel Kirzner, and many other prestigious figures. Winners will be announced in San Francisco, California on 2 May 2001 in the presence of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and his wife Rose.
Fittingly, Road to Growth arose out of the circumstances of Atlantic Canada where, despite heroic policy measures by government, economic growth has remained anaemic for decades. AIMS decided to help to break the region out of this dead end by scouring the world for examples of other previously lagging economies that had turned themselves around and become powerful generators of prosperity.
The economies chosen for the book — Ireland, Holland, Georgia, Massachusetts and Michigan — appear on the surface to have little in common. And yet, as the Introduction to the book notes:
As different as their circumstances were…, a certain number of common factors unite their happy experience with significant economic progress. They saw that trying to prop up dying industries was a mug’s game. Public debt needed to be brought under control, taxes lowered, and excellent value offered in public services when measured against the taxes paid. Politics needed to be banished from decisions about where and how to invest, whether in public infrastructure or private industry. Work incentives needed to be improved by reforming social welfare. Profitability in the private sector needed to be improved. And costs, including labour costs, needed to be kept keenly competitive. The sum of these measures was a policy environment in which business had every reason to invest and build productive capacity, while workers had every reason to work hard and build their job skills. As the capital investment grew and workers became more skillful, real wages rose along with tax revenues, and a virtuous circle was created. Growth bred more growth, success bred more success.
A foundation in Montreal approached the Institute to do a second printing of the book, and distribute it to every elected official, economic organisation and media opinion leader in the country. Analysts at AIMS also wrote a series of articles that popularised some of the book’s themes, and held a very successful conference in Halifax (also called “The Road to Growth”) that brought people from many of the jurisdictions treated in the book to talk directly to a Canadian audience about their successes and problems.
The result was a tremendous growth in references to the book and the principles that it illustrates, not only in the media, but in policy speeches by public figures. It is clear that Road to Growth ignited a policy debate of truly significant proportions within the country.
AIMS first won the Fisher Award in 1997 for its first book, Looking the Gift Horse in the Mouth. It won again last year for its study Operating in the Dark: The Gathering Crisis in Canada’s Public Health Care System. This year will be the first time that AIMS is in competition in the “Established Institutes” category for the Award. This means that AIMS’ work will compete with publications of institutions that are more than five years old.
For further information, please contact Brian Lee Crowley, President of AIMS, (902) 499-1998