Friday, December 18, 2015

Liberty’s Most Successful Entrepreneur, an online resource for campus and online education, has just released a ranking of the 50 most influential think tanks in the United States.

From this list, Mr. Chafuen has culled the subset that he considers the “Leading Conservative / Libertarian Think Tanks.”  On the list are the likes of the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institution, and Hoover Institution – each with annual revenues from about $30 million to over $110 million., some of the results are similar, especially the top four free market groups: Heritage Foundation, Cato, Mises Institute and American Enterprise Institute.

Like other rankings, this new effort treats “think tanks as principally in the business of selling their ideas.” But it focuses on social media more than any other previous ranking.

Third on Mr. Chafuen’s subset is the Mises Institute (which I would not necessarily call a “think tank”), with annual revenue below $5 million – found to be more influential than a dozen other entities with budgets as much as 10 times larger.

Mises Institute is the one with the smaller budget ($4 to 5 million), and they can rightly claim that, at least in social media measurements, they provide more “bang for the buck.” In addition to the superb collection of scholarly books and studies in the Austrian tradition, especially by Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and their disciples, Mises Institute sometimes releases provocative articles, defying politically correctness and attracting wide readership.

Yet, on this same list, Mises receives the lowest ratings for average media references per year.  To demonstrate that he “gets it,” Mr. Chafuen notes:

This increases its social media impact, but who is to say that think tanks were only created to influence the academic and policy elites?

Today’s academic and policy elites draw support from the established media, and the established media draws its support from the academic and policy elites.  But with the internet, they are all fighting a losing battle.

Into this battle stepped Lew Rockwell, who founded both the Mises Institute and – certainly two of the most successful libertarian / free market web sites in the world.  Neither of these hold claim to the title of largest think tank or most influential within mainstream media circles, however Lew Rockwell discovered early on the power of the internet to reach a world-wide audience.

Entrepreneur: a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Entrepreneur: Someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced.

I will venture to guess that there is no one within the libertarian / free-market world for whom these definitions of “entrepreneur” are more applicable.  Not for biggest, but for most influential.

If you believe the best chance for the ideas of liberty to spread will come by spreading the ideas of liberty, there is no more effective means to do so than by supporting these two enterprises, each one founded by liberty’s most successful entrepreneur.

Lew Rockwell has earned this label not once, but twice.


  1. I agree with all of this. Lew has been amazingly influential in my life. I thank him and Ron Paul for showing me a much better understanding of the world than I had previously.

  2. Spot on! Lew is the best! He is of unyielding principle.

  3. agree with you, as does Jim O'Connor, in every detail.

    my eyes have been opened and it is Lew, et. al., that have done so.

    1. Michael Badnarik introduced me to Libertarianism, Ron Paul refined my approach to liberty, but the credit goes to Lew Rockwell - his sites challenged me to be a better Libertarian. I can't imagine where we'd be without him.