– January 3, 2020

There’s good reason to be excited for the new year. All signs point to a serious revival of the ideas that undergird a free society. AIER can lead the way. 

As the end of the year approached, I received a note from a highly respected scholar and organizer who has made a huge difference in the world of ideas for the last half century. He has vast experience as a participant and observer of the pro-freedom movement in academia and public life. What he told me in private thrilled me, and humbled me as well. 

He said that in all his years of work, he has never seen an organization more poised to inspire fundamental social change than AIER today. Why? We have attracted amazing writers. We are publishing new and legacy books. We are holding events all over the world, and getting literature in people’s hands. We are inspiring and educating people daily, never with some condescending strategy but with an earnest desire to tell the truth. 

That all sounds simple but, oddly, it’s the rarest thing in our times of hyper-partisanship and fake news on all sides. A politicized academia doesn’t help. And these days, academia can count on media elites to both popularize and enforce the new socialist-style orthodoxy. And even if they are not socialists, the number of intellectuals out there with grand ideas on how to use the monstrous states strewn throughout the world are legion. Whether it is addressing climate change, redistributing wealth, breaking up countries, stopping free trade, or regulating every good and service, everyone has some state-based plan to sell. 

There has to be a better way, and there have to be idea makers out there pushing them to a new generation. 

Edward C Harwood founded AIER to be an independent voice. It remains so today. And this has never been more essential. What we need is a new paradigm of thought that gets us away from centralized management of society and has a new appreciation for the importance of markets. We have the commitment, the facilities, the talent, and the gigantic legacy of this institution to provide AIER with the necessary intellectual capital and public credibility to undertake the arduous task of reviving traditional liberalism as an idea. 

No question that the ground seems to be shifting beneath our feet. Every public opinion poll shows that the political parties are losing respect in tandem. Government has never been less popular – and I consider that a good thing. There is renewed interest in trying something different from top-down planning. Meanwhile, markets are doing well despite every attempt to shut them down. What we need now more than ever is a vigorous and convincing voice advocating solutions that uphold freedom as a central idea. 

I will conclude with a thank you to all our writers, readers, speakers, and donors for showing confidence in our work.

Edward Peter Stringham

Edward Peter Stringham is President of the American Institute for Economic Research,  Davis Professor of Economic Organizations and Innovation at Trinity College, and Editor of the Journal of Private Enterprise. He is editor of two books and author of more than 70 journal articles, book chapters, and policy studies. His work has been discussed in 15 of the top 20 newspapers in the United States and on more than 100 broadcast stations including MTV. Stringham is a frequent guest on BBC World, Bloomberg Television, CNBC, and Fox. Rise Global ranks Stringham as one of the top 100 most influential economists in the world. He earned his B.A. from College of the Holy Cross in 1997, his Ph.D. from George Mason University in 2002. His book, Private Governance: Creating Order in Economic and Social Life, is published by Oxford University Press.  

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