The Fraser Institute Think Tank:
non-profit, tax-deductible, charity capitalists?

by J.S. Larochelle, 2005 , updated Sept. 2011


This article is about the open hypocrisy of free market think tanks that preach a 'lone ranger' morality while begging for tax-deductable charity donations; who say they are independent of government while they only survive because of being offically recognized charities under federal government tax law.

See also: Free Market Think Tanks don't practice what they preach (An illustrated guide to charity capitalists).




The two main purposes of nonprofit think tanks are (a) to prevent free market social scientists from openly and publically having to beg for charity or welfare, and (b) to produce propaganda blaming poor people for being unemployed or underemployed.

1) "Why, in a world bounding with possibilities, do so many normal, healthy people, make poor choices that lead to poverty." -- Fraser Institute economist Fred McMahon, ("Poverty is voluntary, so let's end it," op-ed in Vancouver Sun Aug. 9, 2001 and published in the book "Memos to the Prime Minister" )

2) "Donate to the Fraser Institute... Income tax receipts for donations of $10 or more will be issued in accordance with Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) regulations for the eligible portion of your donation.

3) "Mankind achieved civilization by developing and learning to follow rules..." -- Nobel economist F. A. Hayek, "The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism," 1988.

4) "Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man." -- Henry Hazlitt, "Economics in One Lesson," 1962.

5) "I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law." -- Immanuel Kant

If people employed at the Fraser Institute are producing and selling products for a profit, why do they need to ask for donated money?

If a universal law forced everyone to "do as free market economists do" (to have money), the economy would go bankrupt -- even before everyone starved because we can't eat economics.

After all, economists produce thoughts, so if everyone produced more of them to sell, there would be an immediate massive supply glut -- especially if everyone saved all their money (to invest in more productivity).
But free marketers insist their thoughts are scientific and everyone else's fallacies.

In addition, because of industrialization, increasing numbers of social scientists (economists, sociologists, etc.) have jobs producing ideas speculating as to why poor people engage in fallacious thinking -- including why poor people spend their money instead of saving it (so they won't be poor when they lose their jobs).

Of course, it appears to be logical to save as much money as possible. However, another Nobel economist William Vickrey wrote:

"...encouragement to saving is advocated without attention to the fact that for most people encouraging saving is equivalent to discouraging consumption... Equally fallacious are implications that what is possible or desirable for individuals one at a time will be equally possible or desirable for all who might wish to do so or for the economy as a whole," ("Fifteen Fatal Fallacies of Financial Fundamentalism," 1996).

Many people, think cutting consumption and saving money is a good thing. However, if everyone wanted to be a fundamentalist economist and save all their money at the same time our current system of economics would come to a crashing halt.

( This is the same economic system that most people, unless they clearly and emphatically state otherwise, fully support either passively through silence, or actively. )

Not only are "nonprofit" free market economists guilty of not obeying their own rules, they insist the highest crime against "the market" is for governments to give "poor people" money.

Yet in 1967 book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" Martin Luther King wrote, "We have come to the point where we must make the nonproducer a consumer or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of consumer goods... The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other."

Obviously, people employed by nonprofit think tanks need an income to consume with, which is why they ask to be given tax-deductible, charity donations.

In this regard, the American Robber Baron Jay Gould (1836-1892) is infamous (or famous) for saying, "I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." Startlingly enough, this is precisely what is happening for more people are graduating from university and then taking jobs at places such as the Fraser Institute where they produce public policy propaganda condemning "the poor" for being unproductive citizens.

In 1822, James Madison pointed out, "A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both."

In her song Serpentine Ani DiFranco added, "The freedom of the press is meaningless if nobody asks the question." But hardly a day goes by in which the media doesn't use nonprofit think tanks as experts in how to create economic prosperity for all.

QUESTION: Why do people believe employment = money = independence?

7) "The progress of civilization has meant the reduction of employment, not its increase."
-- Henry Hazlitt, "Economics in One Lesson," 1962

8) "The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies warned last year that EI is enabling recipients to drift between seasonal jobs when it should be penalizing frequent claimants and their employers and putting the savings into educational vouchers to retrain workers." -- Globe and Mail editorial, "Just tinkering with EI won't make it better," Oct. 26, 05.

9) "Our influence is being felt, but we cannot do it alone... To remain a source of truly independent thinking, [The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies] depends on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations... AIMS is a recognized charity, you may take full advantage of your donation as a tax deduction."

The economic fallacies in the above statements are so glaring, it seems preposterous to point out that if Hazlitt was right, then the Globe and Mail and AIMS Institute are wasting society's time and money trying to fix the "unemployment" as businesses are trying to save labour costs in any way possible including automation. Moreover, if AIMS knows how to create full employment so people don't need unemployment insurance, why is it a charity organization? But the question everyone should be asking is why would the Globe and Mail's editorialist be citing AIMS employees in regards to public economic policy when they live off of charity donations ?

QUESTION: Could productivity be increased and poverty ended by "eliminating" motherhood?

10) "Productivity may be a notion that only an economist could love." -- Globe and Mail newspaper editorial, Globe and Mail editorial, "Fixing Canada's productivity gap (2)," Nov.7, 2005 Page A16

11) "Poverty in Canada could be virtually eliminated in a generation. The policy prescription is easy. End welfare. Re-institute poorhouses and homes for unwed mothers." -- Fraser Institute economist Fred McMahon, "End poverty by changing the welfare state," Times Colonist op-ed, August 9, 2001 Page A13

12) "And this brings us to the heart of the matter... Why have children at all... especially when there are so many reasons not to do so?" -- Eric Cohen, "Where Have All The Children Gone?," May 2, 2005 (from "The Ethics and Public Policy Center" website)

13) "EPPC [The Ethics and Public Policy Center] is a qualified 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions to EPPC are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law." -- EPPC website

On August 9, 2001, the Vancouver Sun and Victoria Times Colonist published the very same Fred McMahon editorial with the headings, "Poverty is voluntary, so let's end it," and "End poverty by changing the welfare state." (Published in the book "Memos to the Prime Minister" )

Surely, the most disturbing aspect of society today is a mass media that writes about productivity as if poor mothers were a cost to productive taxpaying citizens, and, therefore, that the most economical method of "reducing cost" would be for poor women to stop being mothers. Leading to the next questions.

QUESTION: Does the free-market need consumers?

14) "When the division of labour has been once thoroughly established, it is but a very small part of a man's wants which the produce of his own labour can supply... Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production... The maxim is so perfectly self evident that it would be absurd to attempt to prove it." -- Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations," 1776

QUESTIONS: And why do 'free market' think tanks preach free market doctrines but do not follow them? Why do they beg for charity handouts while berating anything but competition in the free market? Would they survive in the free market without their special state sponsored tax status as charities?

15) "The ASI [Adam Smith Institute] is non-profit. Its effectiveness depends on the voluntary support of people who appreciate its key role in promoting the values of individual freedom, smaller government, lower taxes, deregulation and competition. You too can support these values – and become more closely involved with the Institute’s work – as an Adam Smith Insider. Contributions to the Institute are deductible against US taxes. Bequests and gifts to the Institute are also deductible for Federal estate and gift tax purposes." Note: In 2005 it used to say: "It is imperative that the Institute continues to push for free-market economic and social policies and to do this we need your support. As a politically independent non-profit organisation, we rely upon the support of those that value our work. Adam Smith Institute Subscriber - £10 per month, ASI Executive Membership - £500 per year"

16) "On the free market, everyone earns according to his productive value in satisfying consumer desires. Under statist distribution, everyone earns in proportion to the amount he can plunder from the producers." -- Murray N. Rothbard, "Man, Economy and State," Copyright 2004 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

17) "The Mises Institute exists solely on voluntary contributions. ...joining as a member of the Mises Institute with a tax-deductible contribution of $50" -- The Mises Institute

18) "Donating money to a few of my favorite free-market organizations used to be a pleasant duty, but now I'm literally inundated with demands from hundreds of think tanks and public-policy groups, all vying for my limited funds." -- Mark Skousen, "Too Many Free-Market Think Tanks?," May 2000.

19) "Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell." -- Frank Borman.

20) "The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself." -- Jane Addams.

21) "In the present state of society it appears necessary to go back to first principles in search of the most simple truths, and to dispute with some prevailing prejudice every inch of ground." Mary Wollstonecraft, "Vindication of the Rights of Woman," 1792

QUESTION: Do mothers labour?  

The fallacy in Adam Smith's division of labour is that he assumed women would do the unpaid labour of having babies so 'free marketers' would have consumers to make profits off (instead of going bankrupt). But, obviously, if women stopped having babies (so as not to end up poor and dependent on taxpayers), the world's economy would collapse and the human species would go extinct.

Mark Skousen's website states he has "Ph.D. in economics and a focus on the principles of free-market capitalism" and that he was president of the "Foundation for Economic Education" (FEE), the oldest freemarket think tank in the country." But FEE's website states it's "a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization" and its home page quotes Henry Hazlitt: "Just think how many similar organizations it inspired in other counties."

Clearly people who believe in the free market also believe they must convert everyone in the world. On the Wikipedia website we read, "Sir Antony Fisher (1915 - 1988) was one of the most influential background players in the global rise of libertarian think-tanks... founding the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Through Atlas, he helped establish up to 150 other think-tanks worldwide. The most prominent include... * The Fraser Institute..."

To stop the global spread of the impossible, absurd and unscientific idea that "a free market" must decide life or death, social scientists such as Fraser Institute economist Fred McMahon must be contested "every inch of ground" (as Mary Wollstonecraft put it).

The tragedy is that the Fraser Institute and other farcical organizations mentioned in this article are only the tip of the iceberg of what is the monstrous and cancerous growth of nonprofit, charity capitalism. Finally, all nonprofit think tanks claim to be "independent from government" which is grotesque given they are registered charities.


First published in the Lower Island News-- December 2005, links updated 2011
See also:
Free Market Economic Lies that Kill
And a rant about the fact that groups advocating to end poverty cannot be a charity, but groups attacking poor people like are allowed to be "charities".