November 22, 2010
What a year of success 2010 has been! FEE is on the move—in every respect and on all fronts.
Financially, we turned a corner. When our fiscal year ends in March 2011, I expect we will have generated the first positive bottom line in three years and begun to rebuild reserves. Programs are expanding. More students than ever are learning the life-changing lessons of freemarket economics, personal liberty, and moral character development. Additions of young, energetic staff are infusing new levels of professionalism and vitality into the organization.
We are especially proud of sponsoring an impressive schedule of week-long summer seminars for high school and college students. We held seven seminars in three places—Irvington, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; and Estes Park, Colorado—featuring many of the best speakers in the country. The nearly 700 students who participated represented 42 states and 40 countries. But this is about more than numbers; it’s about impact and outcomes. This was sent by a grateful mother of two daughters who attended our program:
“Thank you FEE staff and supporters – My daughters, Kelsey and Mary Kate, attended the seminar at Estes Park last week and they came home completely on fire to pursue the economic principles of a free society! Your program is life-changing and we so appreciate you!”
Your support empowers FEE to pass these principles we hold dear to our next generation of civic leaders, entrepreneurs, and thoughtful, engaged voters. There is plenty of room to grow: We had to turn away 350 qualified applicants for budget reasons. We gathered this level of enthusiasm by relying solely on our website and word of mouth for advertising.
You can see why we are devoted to spreading the word about FEE’s programs. Parents and students alike thirst for ideas about liberty and how a free economy works. Students appreciate our unique way of blending economics with moral character. A free society requires private property, the rule of law, and open markets, but none of those can arise or endure unless people practice high standards of honesty, patience, courage, responsibility, and self-reliance. Character is indispensable—that lesson resonates with our students, but it’s a lesson not being taught in government schools. (For more, visit FEE.org and click on Seminars.)
Visitors to the revamped FEE websites have tripled since last year. FEE has 15,000 Facebook fans generating conversation and bringing in new friends by the hundreds every month. Repostings and reprints of FEE materials and articles from our magazine, The Freeman, are soaring. Just in the past year we’ve seen articles reprinted in the Dallas Morning News, The Daily Reckoning, UnMondeLibre, Reason’s Hit & Run, Libertad Digital, Gizmodo, Indiana Policy Review, the Campaign for Liberty website, and many more.
Large crowds for FEE programs around the country, including our high school debate events, are encouraging evidence of a rekindled interest in the ideas of liberty and free-market economics. In August we held our largest “Evening at FEE” in history at our Irvington, New York, headquarters. Over 170 people gathered to hear me discuss “The Origin, History and Nature of Money.” People are craving more education on the tenets of a free society, and FEE is providing it to them!
In late September FEE launched The Informant, a web-based resource for home-school parents and high school teachers of economics. It supplies recommendations for text materials and curriculum guides while providing a forum for free-market educators to discuss their plans. In this way FEE is able to speak directly with those who instruct young people. We are already receiving excellent feedback on this new resource, including thousands of page views and this endorsement from a home-schooling mother:
“Wow, this is really fantastic. I’ve promoted it to our local home school network. The links, cross-referencing, key topics, skill levels–you couldn’t ask for more! THANK YOU FEE!”
Though I have already mentioned our magazine, The Freeman, I want to share with you some further observations about it. It’s been our flagship publication for half a century and a highly acclaimed leader among free-enterprise journals. No publication has covered the financial crisis from a pro-freedom perspective as thoroughly and as clearly as The Freeman. Issue after issue applied solid analysis to all aspects of the recession and has explained the free-market solution in banking and housing.
Likewise, we have relentlessly offered the case for the free market in health care and exposed the prevalent statist fallacies and proposals. Intellectual ammunition from FEE on these issues has become an important weapon in the arsenal for the pro-liberty side of the debate.
We have jumped on every major political-economic issue with clarity and consistency, while also attending to lesser-known threats to liberty and important episodes in economic history. We keep readers informed of the most important new books of relevance to champions of freedom.
The most respected names in the broad free-market movement grace our pages: Peter Boettke, James Bovard, Richard Epstein, Roger Garrison, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Sandy Ikeda, Israel Kirzner, Wendy McElroy, Gerald O’Driscoll, Ben Powell, Murray Weidenbaum, Lawrence White, Bruce Yandle—not to mention the best of the up-and-coming pro-freedom scholars and writers.
Our regular columnists are an all-star cast and include Charles Baird, Don Boudreaux, Steve Davies, Burt Folsom, David Henderson, Robert Higgs, editor Sheldon Richman, John Stossel, Thomas Szasz, and Walter Williams. All of this comes in the most attractive packaging in The Freeman’s history—and I don’t mean just the print version. The newly redesigned website, TheFreemanOnline.org, attracts hundreds of thousands of readers, who continue the lively debates by posting comments, emailing articles to friends and sharing The Freeman through social networking sites. We launched a Kindle edition in October and it met with immediate and unreserved enthusiasm. Please visit TheFreemanOnline.org at your earliest opportunity! And remember that contributors to FEE of $50 or more receive the magazine for a year.
So there in a nutshell is the good news about our work this past year. But you should know that we practice what we preach in every respect. We don’t think we’re entitled to anything, but we do hope we have earned your support. Ask yourself these questions as you ponder your year-end giving:
- Does FEE stand for what I believe in?
- Has FEE remained faithful and true to the principles of liberty?
- Is FEE’s message really needed?
- Is it critical to America’s future that young people hear about ideas of liberty from FEE?
- Does FEE deserve my support?
I hope you will answer all five questions with a resounding YES! Since our founding in 1946 FEE has relied exclusively on the voluntary, generous, and tax-deductible contributions of friends of liberty everywhere. We can’t do our work without you. Remember, we will never, ever pursue or accept any government funding.
Moreover, it is my hope that you will place great value on these crucial elements that define what FEE is all about:
- Steadfast, principled, and uncompromising: Our message is the same today as it was when Leonard Read founded FEE in 1946;
- Unique, vital, and fundamental: Few other educational organizations aim at reaching the brightest young minds with a message that combines the moral with the economic case for a free society;
- Strategic, inspiring, and future-focused: FEE identifies audiences with the highest potential for future impact, imbues them with a passion for liberty, and stays connected with them as they progress through their careers.
Your generous support now will help us immensely as we prepare the budget for the next year. How many summer seminars should we plan for? How many students can we accept? Those questions are greatly affected by how our supporters respond in the final weeks of the calendar year. Funds permitting, we would also like to produce instructional videos for classroom use, expand the readership of The Freeman, schedule more speakers around the country, and provide educational materials to as many students as possible.
The work of FEE in promoting liberty, free markets, and personal character has never been more critical than it is today. We need your help to reach even more students next summer, when we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of FEE’s commencement of seminars! This year you can pledge support that will directly, profoundly, and indelibly impact the lives of our student participants! I urge you to take a moment and complete the pledge form in the envelope provided. Better yet, you can make your contribution quickly and securely online. Simply go to FEE.org and click on the Donate button.
Liberty—it makes all the difference in the world! Help us spread the word with a contribution today. We would be honored once again to count you as a friend of FEE!
With the deepest appreciation,
Lawrence W. Reed
P.S. – This remark from Benjamin Franklin is especially appropriate for this time of year. It expresses the wishes of the FEE staff for you and your family in this holiday season: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
P.P.S – Don’t forget, anyone within the United States who contributes $50 or more receives The Freeman for one year. And, as an added thank you for your generosity, anyone who contributes $200 or more will receive a copy of one of the following books:
- Frederic Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms
- Frederic Bastiat’s Economic Harmonies
- Ludwig von Mises’s The Free Market and Its Enemies
- Edmund Opitz, ed., Leviathan at War
- Henry Grady Weaver’s Mainspring of Human Progress