CWRU Links
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

AMERICAN ECONOMIC FOUNDATION

AMERICAN ECONOMIC FOUNDATION

The AMERICAN ECONOMIC FOUNDATION was organized in Cleveland by Fred G. Clark in 1939 to promote the libertarian ideals of a free market and limited government. Clark moved the foundation to New York City in the 1940s, where it continued its successful education program to improve economic literacy and to demonstrate the virtues of the capitalist system in the U.S. According to George and his partner, Richard Rimanocsy, the free market made the best economic sense because it was self-correcting, dominated by the customer who was ruthless in his search for the best value, making government intrusion unnecessary. The foundation's economic primer, entitled "How We Live," sold 3 million copies in the 1940s and 1950s, and was used in adult education courses and schools to teach the economics of the marketplace. Clark made more than 200 radio broadcasts to promote his theories, and companies such as General Motors, Inland Steel, and Borg Warner used foundation materials in their industrial communication courses. After George's death in 1973, foundation membership dwindled, and local lawyer, Homer Giles, chairman of its Board of Directors, moved the organization back to Cleveland in the early 1980s. Under his direction the foundation's mailing list grew from about 3,000 to 14,000 in the early 1990s, and plans were made to reprint its treatise, "How We Live," in 7 languages. After Giles passed away on September 30, 1993, the group continued with planned trips to Russia to promote free market economics. However, by 2003, the organization apparently had ceased to exist, maintaining neither a web presence nor a Cleveland phonebook listing.