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John M. Olin Foundation

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The John M. Olin Foundation, based in New York, was established in 1953 by John Merrill Olin (1892-1982), inventor, industrialist, conservationist, and philanthropist. "Olin was committed to the preservation of the principles of political and economic liberty as they have been expressed in American thought, institutions and practice."[1] The foundation closed in 2005, after more than two decades of setting the stage for the NeoCon wave of the Reagan era. [2]

"Accordingly, the general purpose of the John M. Olin Foundation is to provide support for projects that reflect or are intended to strengthen the economic, political and cultural institutions upon which the American heritage of constitutional government and private enterprise is based. The Foundation also seeks to promote a general understanding of these institutions by encouraging the thoughtful study of the connections between economic and political freedoms, and the cultural heritage that sustains them."[3]

Contents

Conservative agenda

In 2001, the Foundation gave $20,482,961 to fund various right-wing think tanks including:

"The Foundation also gives large sums of money to promote conservative programs in the country's most prestigious colleges and universities."[4][5][6] and it provided funding support, along with the various foundations controlled by Joseph Coors and family, and Richard Mellon Scaife, to create a chain of anti-environmental, pro-business, legal advocacy organisations.

The Foundation is financed by profits from the Olin chemical and munitions fortune with assets estimated at $90 million, $3 million of which goes to conservative advocacy groups. The Foundation "supported right-wing causes for many years but became more focused on grantmaking after William E. Simon took over as president in 1977." Simon, who had been chosen to lead the Foundation by Olin, was followed by Michael Joyce, who left Olin in 1985 to lead the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. He has since returned to be Olin's president.[7]

Olin had not intended the foundation to "exist in perpetuity, but rather to close its doors by the time those trustees who best knew his philanthropic ideals had retired." Following Simon's death in 2000, the Board of Trustees began to implement a plan to phase out the Foundation over the next few years.

The Foundation currently supports a large number of pledges and is committed to sustain certain core programs past the date of the Foundation's termination. The Foundation no longer considers unsolicited proposals.[8]

Conservative Think-tanks, legal services, astroturfs, etc.

Reflecting on its impact and the future of conservative philanthropy, foundation executive director, James Pierson, wrote that the investment in conservative groups had paid substantial dividends:

"There exists today, in contrast to the 1970s, an impressive network of think tanks, journals and university programs supported by conservative foundations, which are engaged in different ways in promoting the cause of liberty and limited government," he wrote. [9]

Pierson attributes the success of the clique of conservative foundations -- Olin, Scaife, Bradley Earhart, JM and Smith Richardson -- to their willingness to provide long term support of organisations.

"They took the long view, investing to build institutions that might take a decade or more to mature. They also adopted a broad agenda that went far beyond business and economics to include such subjects as foreign policy, law, religion, history and even cultural criticism, " he wrote.

As a result of retirements, deaths and changing focus of conservative foundations Pierson wrote that "the conservative foundation movement that took shape in the 1970s thus seems to have run its course." He worried that unless new conservative foundations are established, the conservative movement may have reached it high tide mark. "The ground gained by conservative ideas in recent decades can be quickly lost if those ideas are not renewed and persistently articulated in public forums. This requires talent, energy--and money," he wrote.

With the Olin Foundation set to close its doors in 2005, Pierson issued a call for "a new generation of conservative philanthropists" to maintain the momentum of the conservative revolution.

Funding

In 1980 the Olin Foundation was one of the funders of the National Center for Legislative Research, a Republican front group set up and run by Paul G. Dietrich, who also ran the Fund for a Conservative Majority on behalf of the Reagan presidential campaign.

Board of Trustees

Contact

John M. Olin Foundation
330 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, New York 10017
Phone: 212 661-2670
FAX: 212 661-5917
URL: www.JMOF.org

External links

  • Bruce Murphy, Neoconservative clout seen in U.S. Iraq policy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel On-line, April 5, 2003.
  • James Pierson, "You Get What You Pay For: Conservative philanthropists invested in ideas, and the payoff was huge", Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2004.
  • Debra England, "Muscular Philanthropy: Tough love and the John M. Olin Foundation", Townhall.com, November 15, 2005.
  • John M. Olin Foundation at Media Transparency
  • Links to John M. Olin Foundation interactive network of friendsters[10]
  • Links to John Merrill Olin's personal network of connections and foundations [11]
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