Thank you Ed Feulner for your service to the Mont Pelerin Society
"I asked Leonard Liggio, who first met Ed here, in Hong Kong, during a trip tied to the 1978 MPS meeting to help me with his recollections. Leonard, who can’t be with us physically, is here in mind and spirit. He gave me a long detailed and rich document that would take me most of tonight to read.
As most of us, Ed has used these meetings as unique opportunities for networking. Leonard recalls that the next time he saw Ed, during the regional meeting in Stockholm in 1981, Ed asked him to join the academic advisory council of the US Information Agency. Ed might recall that Leonard did not last long as advisor to a bureaucracy. He and others resigned in protest for the way they treated our good friend and MPS member Robert Riley.
[Ed also recruited Leonard to teach a course for Congressional staffers on the history of legal institutions, using Harold Berman's Law and Revolution. This led to dean Henry Manne to invite him teach a course at George Mason’s Law School which continued for two decades. A testimony to the productivity of Ed Feulner’s networking.] [I skipped this for the sake of time]
In his role as an historian, Leonard credits Ed Feulner, as do most who have occupied its presidency, for helping preserve and strengthen the society. Not easy. Recall that to the surprise of Feulner, Milton Friedman proposed to dissolve the society because the battle for sound economics had been won (soon after Nixon imposed price controls). [A testimony to the dangers of forecasting, even for Milton.]
At the 1996 MPS meeting in Vienna, Ed Feulner was elected president and Liggio replaced him as treasurer, a position Feulner resumed in 2000 after the Santiago meeting. With other presidents of the MPS Feulner played a part in the effort to record the History of the Mont Pelerin Society, written by Max Hartwell. If there are many more chapters to write in the history of this society, it is mainly thanks to Ed’s leadership and dedication. We all need to wish luck and wisdom and pledge support to his successor.
For those of us in the think tank world, Ed has played an immense role. Seconded by Bridgett Wagner and an outstanding team, he always offered his advice as a manager and as a leader with extreme generosity. He started as an intern at the IEA, in London, and later, when in 1977 IEA’s founder Antony Fisher decided to start what is today the Manhattan Institute, he offered the job to Ed. He accepted but Heritage made a bigger offer and the rest is history.
He also plays an important role in several grant giving foundations as trustee of among others of the Scaife and the Roe Foundations. When another prestigious member of this society, Sir John Templeton, created his foundation, which has been so generous to many of us, he listed Feulner along Adam Smith, Mises, Hayek, Friedman, Bill Simon, and Fisher, as authors that should serve as guide. Ed Feulner is the only person listed in the statutes who is still alive.
Ed has also reached out to the larger crowd, when he left the presidency, Heritage had 600,000 members. He carefully selected the year-end essays which are sent to 10,000 allies helping them learn the fundamentals of the freedom philosophy.
In one of his MPS presidential essays, Ed quoted extensively from John Paul II, especially the first words of his Pontificate “Be not afraid.” By his actions and works Feulner taught us to not be afraid to spread the truth, which in our case, an in Ed’s words, not being afraid of engaging in the quest to develop ”a comprehensive philosophy of freedom, for a political, social, and economic order that best protects the mind, the soul, and the rights of the individual.”
To this great man of faith, family, nation, and of the liberal world, a big Thank You. Onward!" Alex Chafuen on behalf of the Mont Pelerin Society, August 31, 2014, Hong Kong