Foundation for Economic Education
|Founded||March 7, 1946|
|Founder||Leonard E. Read|
IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt
|Method||literature, lecture, academic scholarship|
|President Lawrence W. Reed, Executive Director Carl Oberg|
(FYE March 2013)
|Mission||"... to inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society."|
|Part of a series on|
The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is an American nonprofit educational organization which promotes the principles of laissez-faire economics, private property, and limited government. FEE says its mission is "to inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society." According to Gary North, formerly FEE director of seminars and a current Ludwig von Mises Institute scholar, FEE is the "granddaddy of all libertarian organizations."
According to its website, "FEE is constantly focused on providing high school and college students with the inspiration, education, and networking they need to become effective advocates for liberty and the free-market system."  FEE publications include The Freeman (a monthly magazine) and various pamphlets and libertarian texts.
FEE was founded in 1946 to promote free-market economics, with financial backing provided by the William Volker Fund. The founding documents of FEE said: "The job of economic education must be undertaken now while those who appreciate the value of liberty are still in a position to support it."
In its first years, FEE opposed the Marshall Plan, Social Security, and Minimum Wages, among other American social and economic policies. In its programs, FEE supported the advocacy of its free-market views with evocations of Christian morality alongside economic efficiency. Referencing the influence of religion on the economic policy proposals of FEE, board member Jasper Crane stated, "we are going to be beaten if we rely entirely on the argument of dollars and cents."
The initial officers of FEE were Leonard E. Read as president, Henry Hazlitt as vice-president, and chairman David Goodrich of B. F. Goodrich. Other trustees on the FEE board have included wealthy industrialist Jasper Crane of duPont, H. W. Luhnow of William Volker & Co., and Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society. Read served as president from 1946 until his death in 1983. Perry E. Gresham followed his friend Read as president in 1983. The presidency of FEE from 1983 to 1984 was held by John Sparks Sr., from 1984 to 1985 by Bob Love, from 1985 to 1988 by a series of acting presidents, then from 1988 to 1992 by Bruce Evans. After retiring from Grove City College where he taught economics, Hans Sennholz served as president from 1992 to 1997. Before serving as Chair of the Department of Economics at George Mason University, Donald J. Boudreaux served as president from 1997 to 2001. Economist, investment analyst, professor and author Mark Skousen served as president from 2001 to 2002. Author and professor Richard Ebeling served as president from 2003 to 2008. Economist, author, and professor Lawrence W. Reed became the current president in 2008.
In one FEE publication, founding president Leonard E. Read compared the threat of the U.S. government's economic interventions to the enslavement of black Africans in the United States: He wrote,
There would be no tigers in zoos if they remained as ferocious as when first captured...There never would have been any Negro slavery in the United States had the Negroes remained as intractable as when first taken from their African habitat. But, like the tigers, most of them soon lost consciousness of a freedom greater than the enslavement into which they were plunged. They became accustomed to their lot and, for the most part, accepted it.
The tiger and the Negro are in no way singular in this respect. We note on every hand this same easy and willing accommodation to the status quo, regardless of how onerous it may be. Americans who only a few years ago screamed like wounded apes at some intervention by government today may give that very same intervention their approval. Indeed, you can hear them exclaim, "How could we possibly do without it!"
Murray Rothbard credited FEE with creating a "crucial open center" for a libertarian movement. During his extended graduate studies at Columbia University, Rothbard was influenced by FEE co-founder Baldy Harper and his opposition to government. Friedrich Hayek saw FEE as part of the inspiration for the formation of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947. FEE provided a financial subsidy to the Mont Pelerin Society. Early in the Mount Pelerin Society's history, Hayek did not like having so many members from FEE. According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), FEE is number 47 (of 60) in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States".
FEE briefly occupied two rooms on the 30th floor of the Equitable Building in Manhattan at the time of its founding. It moved to a location in Irvington, New York shortly after its founding. In 2014, FEE sold its Irvington headquarters, transferring its main offices to Atlanta, Georgia.
The FEE describes its mission as to "inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society." FEE offers a variety of programs for high school, college, and graduate students. Since 1946 FEE has also sponsored public lectures by various thinkers, including Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, Walter Williams, F.A. "Baldy" Harper, and William F. Buckley Jr..
In 1945 du Pont executive Jasper Crane, along with Alfred Kohlberg, started a capital campaign for the organization. After contributions from J. Howard Pew, Inland Steel, Quaker Oats, and Sears enough funding was available for FEE to start publishing The Freeman in 1950.  FEE publishes books, articles, and pamphlets both on paper and digitally that the foundation considers classic works on liberty. These include the notable publications I, Pencil: My Family Tree by Read, The Law by Bastiat, Anything That's Peaceful by Read, Planned Chaos by Mises, Industry-Wide Bargaining by Wolman, Up from Poverty: Reflections on the Ills of Public Assistance by Sennholz, and The Virtue of Liberty by Machan.
- Internal Revenue Service 2012.
- "Charity Rating". Charity Navigator. Also see "Quickview data". GuideStar.
Total Revenue: $2,552,877; Total Expenses: $2,699,377 [FYE March 2011]
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- Read was the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce executive director from 1938 to 1945.
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The original officers were David M. Goodrich, chairman of the Board (he was then also chairman of the board of the B. F. Goodrich Company); Leonard Read, president; myself, vice-president; Fred R. Fairchild, professor of economics at Yale University, secretary; and Claude Robinson, president of the Opinion Research Institute, treasurer. [The] sixteen [original] trustees ... included H. W. Luhnow, president of William Volker & Company; A. C. Mattei, president of Honolulu Oil Corporation; William A. Paton of the University of Michigan; Charles White, president of the Republic Steel Corporation; Leo Wolman, professor of economics at Columbia; Donaldson Brown, former vice-president of General Motors; Jasper Crane, former vice-president of Du Pont; B. E. Hutchinson, chairman of the finance committee of Chrysler Corporation; Bill Matthews, publisher of the Arizona Star; W. C. Mullendore, president of the Southern California Edison Company.
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- Phillips-Fein 2009, p. ii; Hamowy 2008, p. 62; Schneider 2009, p. 47; Lichtman 2008, p. 160.
- ISSN 0016-0652; OCLC 1570149
- Phillips-Fein 2009, p. 115; Hamowy 2008, p. 62; Schneider 2009, p. 47; Lichtman 2008, p. 160.
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