Sunday, July 10, 2005

Heartland Institute PolicyBot: Municipal Broadband

The Heartland Institute is a genuinely independent source of research and commentary founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1984. It is not affiliated with any political party, business, or foundation. Its activities are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Heartland's mission is to help build social movements in support of ideas that empower people. Such ideas include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.

Heartland has been endorsed by some of the country's leading scholars, public policy experts, and elected officials. Dr. Milton Friedman calls a "a highly effective libertarian institute." Cato Institute president Edward Crane says Heartland "has had a tremendous impact, first in the Midwest, and now nationally."

Activities of The Heartland Institute are overseen by a 16-member Board of Directors, which meets quarterly. A staff of 22 works with a growing network of Heartland Senior Fellows, including George Clowes (school reform), Wendell Cox (transportation and sprawl), Jim Johnston (energy and regulation), Jay Lehr (science and environment), Maureen Martin (legal affairs), Merrill Matthews (health care), and Conrad Meier (health care).

Two committees provide outside advice and expertise: a Board of Policy Advisors and the Board of Legislative Advisors. The former consists of academics and professional economists who conduct research and participate in peer review of the institute's publications. The latter consists of elected officials who suggest topics and sources of information and sometimes produce model legislation.

The Heartland Institute received funding from more than 1,500 individuals, foundations, and corporations in 2004. Heartland does not solicit or accept grants from government agencies, does not conduct contract research, and does not rely on direct mail to raise money. No individual donor contributes more than 10 percent of its annual budget, and no corporate donor contributes more than 5 percent. Contributions to The Heartland Institute are tax deductible under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

People contribute to The Heartland Institute because they support the positions our authors take and our effectiveness in communicating with elected officials and other key audiences. For more than two decades, Heartland authors have consistently called for ways to empower people by limiting the size and cost of government. We do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors. We have, in fact, a long record of standing behind our research even when it means losing the support of major donors.

For many years, we provided a complete list of Heartland’s corporate and foundation donors on this Web site and challenged other think tanks and advocacy groups to do the same. To our knowledge, not a single group followed our lead. However, critics who couldn’t or wouldn’t engage in fair debate over our ideas found the donor list a convenient place to find the names of unpopular companies or foundations, which they used in ad hominem attacks against us. Even reporters from time to time seemed to think reporting the identities of one or two donors--out of a list of hundreds--was a fair way of representing our funding or our motivation in taking the positions expressed in our publications.

After much deliberation and with some regret, we now keep confidential the identities of all our donors. If you do not approve of this policy, your argument is not with us but with those who would abuse a sincere effort at transparency. We urge anyone who sees the need for objective research and commentary on public policy issues to join us as a Member or donor.


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