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A Brighter Future for FEE

 

The future suddenly looks much brighter for The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). The venerable libertarian institution, founded by Leonard E. Read in 1946, appointed Dr. J. Brooks Colburn as its new Interim President on October 21, as part of its efforts to refocus on its original mission: to educate people who want to improve themselves by learning about liberty.

 

Not long ago, the future didnít seem so bright. When Mark Skousen became FEE president in 2001, he promised, amid much self-produced fanfare, to turn the institution from a quiet haven for serious students of serious ideas, to an attention-seeking, noise-making, state-friendly club for the mindless masses. In short, he wanted to water down the message to spread it among more people.

 

As a former FEE intern, I was concerned about what was happening to the organization that had played a vital role in my own intellectual development. My concern turned to alarm when Mr. Skousen went so far as to invite America ís favorite fascist, Rudy Giuliani, to be the keynote speaker at a dinner for FEE Trustees and donors.

 

So I wrote an article about it, ďA Great Institution In Freefall,Ē and posted it on this website.

 

Within hours, I began receiving e-mails from around the world in response to my piece. I heard from present and former FEE Trustees, staff, and interns; supporters and old friends of Leonard Read; individuals in academia (from professors to department heads); businessmen; captains of industry; writers; and talk show hosts, among many others. Almost all said the same thing: we agree.

 

Mr. Skousen published a reply within hours of the appearance of my article, and his wife also attempted damage control on FEEís web site.

 

Because there was more to say, I followed up with another piece shortly thereafter, and yet another after that.

 

All of this did not go unnoticed by FEEís Board of Trustees. As I later learned, my articles were distributed to each one of them. As it turned out, most of them were less than enthusiastic about receiving the ďhonorĒ of Rudy Giulianiís presence as wellóand about Mr. Skousenís agenda for FEE generally. Presumably the people who read my piece and threatened to withdraw their financial support from FEE had some influence upon them as well.

 

Thus, in October, the Trustees decided that FEE needed to get back on the track Leonard Read wanted it to be on. They cancelled the Giuliani event, and fired Mr. Skousen.

 

Still, with some help from his friends, Mr. Skousen had the Giuliani event on his own, and got the desperately desired photo-op that cost him his job.

 

 

Iíve been told by various sources who are in a position to know, that my articles played a role in setting these events into motion. If thatís true, then Iím glad I could be of service to the cause of liberty, and to the institution to which I owe so much.

 

And, as a writer, Iím encouraged to know that the power of one manís pen can, in fact, make a real difference in the real world.

 

I donít know much about Dr. Colburn, apart from what is posted on FEEís site. But Iím sure if FEE keeps on as it has always kept on (save for a brief aberration or two), it will continue to reach young minds looking for truth and, through the impact of its own simply delivered words, continue to make the world a better place.

 

ó J. H. Huebert

December 15, 2002

 

 

© 2002 J. H. Huebert