Reason Podcast

Meet the New President of the Foundation for Economic Education, America's Oldest Free Market Think Tank

Raised in Lithuania during the final years of the Cold War, Zilvinas Silenas wants to bring libertarian ideas to young people in the 21st century.


In the beginning, there was the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

Founded in 1946 by Leonard Read, FEE is the oldest free-market think tank in the United States and one of the most storied. Its long-running publication The Freeman introduced generations of high school and college students to the ideas of capitalism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism. FEE published the massively popular essay "I, Pencil," which explained how capitalism coordinated all the disparate activities necessary to bring complex goods to market, and gave voice and support to economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman at crucial points in their careers.

On today's podcast, Nick Gillespie talks with Zilvinas Silenas, who recently became the 11th president of FEE. A native of Lithuania, he formerly served as the head of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, whose successes included creating an economics textbook currently being used by 80 percent of Lithuanian high schoolers. Silenas talks about his childhood growing up during the tail end of the Cold War, his plans for FEE, and what he sees as the primary challenges for libertarians in the 21st century.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.