Palmer R. Chitester Fund

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The Palmer R. Chitester Fund is a defunct libertarian-leaning Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation based in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The Fund had three main initiatives:

  • Free To Choose Media, which produces television programs and videos making classical liberal economic and political ideas accessible to a popular audience
  • izzit.org,which produces media for children, sometimes adapting television broadcasts for a school audience[1][2][3]

The Palmer R. Chitester Fund was founded by Bob Chitester, using start-up money provided by a number of charitable sources and named in honor of his father. At the time, Bob Chitester was the general manager of two public broadcasters in Erie, Pennsylvania: the PBS channel WQLN-TV and the NPR station WQLN-FM.

History[edit]

The origins of the foundation lay in PBS's broadcast of The Age of Uncertainty (1975), a 13-part BBC series produced by liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith.[4] The chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was a classical liberal economist, W. Allen Wallis, who had met Chitester in 1975 when he participated in a symposium on "Technology and Society" arranged by Chitester in Erie and learned that Chitester shared his classical liberal economic views.[4] Wallis and Chitester both believed that PBS should produce a classical liberal response to The Age of Uncertainty. Wallis therefore introduced Chitester to his old friend Milton Friedman in early 1977 (shortly after Friedman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences).[4] As a result, Chitester produced a 10-part PBS series entitled Free to Choose, which first aired in early 1980. Friedman also co-authored a book with his wife Rose Friedman to accompany the television series. This book spent 5 weeks at the top of the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers List in 1980.

It was in the context of producing the Free to Choose series that Chitester first organized Free to Choose Media, which became a part of the Palmer R. Chitester Fund. Free To Choose Media continues to produce media describing classical liberal economic ideas to a mass audience. Chitester and Free To Choose Media produced a documentary detailing the life of Milton Friedman, entitled The Power of Choice, which aired on PBS in 2007. Another Free To Choose Media production, entitled The Ultimate Resource (named after the 1981 book The Ultimate Resource by Julian Lincoln Simon) also aired on PBS in 2007. The Ultimate resources has won a number of distinguished awards and continues to run on HDNet. Beginning in 1999, the Palmer R. Chitester Fund provided funding to ABC News reporter John Stossel for his "Stossel in the Classroom" program.[5]

izzit.org[edit]

The organization currently known as izzit.org was initially called In the Classroom Media.[6] Izzit.org provides teachers with materials on current events and other topics for in-classroom use. Izzit.org has used celebrities (e.g. Drew Carey) in some of its productions.

The Idea Channel no longer markets the documentaries produced by Free To Choose Media. Much of the Palmer R. Chitester Fund archival footage now appears on YouTube.

References[edit]

External links[edit]