Grant-making efforts by Sir Antony Fisher in Great Britain paved the way for Margaret Thatcher's pro-free market reforms, according to Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill at Philanthropy Daily. She writes: Many tributes have been paid to Baroness Thatcher’s intelligence, fortitude, and statesmanship. And, while these encomia are thoroughly deserved, her successes were not hers alone. Thatcher’s success in changing Britain were in part due to changes in public opinion that preceded her election and may be credited, in part, to Sir Antony Fisher, the remarkable philanthropist who set about to change Britain by changing the views of those we would today call opinion-leaders. Fisher did not set out to be a philanthropist. Serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he became a firm opponent of totalitarianism. Persuaded by economist F. A. Hayek’s argument that British socialism tended to totalitarianism, Fisher visited Hayek to ask for advice about how best to check British socialism. Fisher first proposed that he would enter politics and run for parliament. Hayek, however, convinced him that the best way to fight socialism was to inform opinion leaders about its dangers. Hayek was convinced that opinion leaders -- Hayek called them “intellectuals” -- had tremendous sway over policy.
Category: In The News
Margaret Thatcher's passing yesterday prompted this article in the Raleigh News & Observer focusing on the long friendship between the Iron Lady and North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms: Helms, who represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, once called [Thatcher] “the greatest prime minister in Great Britain since Winston Churchill.” The former British prime minister, for her part, put Helms up there with the late President Ronald Reagan and herself when it came to upholding a principled, conservative approach to government. The two conservatives first met during President Jimmy Carter’s administration during the 1970s, before Thatcher became prime minister, said John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate. Helms befriended Thatcher on that visit, providing office space for her while she was in Washington. He remembered the encounter in his autobiography, calling her an “indomitable woman” and writing: “From the beginning I knew she would be a leader like few the world has seen.” Their friendship lasted until his death in 2008. “They shared the same values,” Dodd said, particularly when it came to what should be done about ending the Cold War. But conservative values were not all the two had in common, Dodd said. “They both came from very humble backgrounds; they were not full of themselves at all,” he said. “They had a good understanding and appreciation of the common man and what the common man’s goals were.” For more on the Jesse Helms Center, read our Achiever Spotlight on Xavier Massey.
The News & Observer's veteran political reporter Rob Christensen writes that Gov. Pat McCrory's hiring of Art Pope as his budget director was "a shrewd move – and not just because Pope works cheap as a $1-a-year man." Christensen contributed this column on Pope, who is also President and Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation: Many people find it difficult to think dispassionately about Pope because he has become such a polarizing figure – knight of the right to his admirers or a somewhat sinister Daddy-Warbucks-Dick-Cheney-string-puller to his critics. But for McCrory, a rookie governor with little Raleigh experience, having Pope at his side during the early months of his administration has been an asset. Consider that McCrory is spending three hours a day preparing his state budget for delivery to the legislature later this month. With the state still trying to shake off the effects of the deep recession, Pope brings a sharp businessman’s eyes to the state budget. Pope, as head of the regional retail chain Variety Wholesalers, is accustomed to competing with retail giants such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart. Pope is also knowledgeable about state government, having served in the legislature and the administration of Gov. Jim Martin, and been a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. He’s also a longtime state policy wonk, who has bankrolled free market think tanks and conservative groups in Raleigh.
WRAL.com's Mark Binker has a lengthy piece discussing nonprofits in North Carolina that contribute ideas to the public policy debate. Binker highlights the Pope Foundation as the principal funding source for right-of-center groups and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation as the principal source for left-of-center groups. He writes: Roughly a dozen groups make up the core of Raleigh's intellectual industrial complex, with a dozen others playing a larger or smaller role as specific issues arise. Although there are exceptions, the most frequently quoted and cited of these groups break down into two families, each with ties to one of two foundations that helps to fund their activities. The Justice Center, Action NC, Progress North Carolina, Planned Parenthood and many other left-of-center groups can trace some part of their funding back to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a Winston-Salem based philanthropy founded as a memorial to the son of a tobacco magnate. A handful of other funders also help bankroll liberal-leaning organizations. Among them is the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, named for the man who founded WRAL-TV and the foundation. His grandson, Jim Goodmon, is both president of WRAL parent Capitol Broadcasting Company and chairman of the foundation's board. However, despite the influence of A.J. Fletcher Foundation and other funders, Z. Smith Reynolds appears to provide the broadest common denominator for Raleigh's family of liberal groups. On the Pope Foundation, Binker writes: The other family, of more conservative public policy groups, is tied together by the John William Pope Foundation. As with the liberal side of the equation, there are other big donors who work with a similar subset of groups to Pope, including businessman Bob [Luddy] and the E.A. Morris Charitable Foundation, but Pope retains the broadest reach. Art Pope, son of the foundation's namesake and McCrory's budget director, is chairman of the foundation. Its allied groups have been much reviled by groups on the political left for years. Much as conservatives say Z Smith Reynolds is funding a network that attacks their political leadership, the Pope foundation is seen as one of the bigger cogs in the Republican message machine. Over the years, Pope has dismissed that criticism. A summary of the foundation's mission says that it supports a network of organizations in North Carolina that "advocate for free markets, limited government, individual responsibility and government transparency." The foundation also supports national groups, including the Heartland Institute, which regularly offers policy experts to reporters covering government stories, and the Federalist Society, a network of conservative lawyers whose North Carolina chapters hold judicial candidate and issue forums. "Generally, there isn’t a requirement that a national public policy group be involved in North Carolina," said Dave Riggs, vice president of operations and programs at the Pope Foundation. "However, we often support national public policy groups that can provide education resources within the state." Riggs, who answered questions via email, did not shy away from the fact that many of the Pope-funded groups are explicitly seen as politically conservative or libertarian. "For the public policy groups that we support, yes, those labels are fair," he said. "We unapologetically support many conservative and libertarian public policy nonprofits, as well as other groups that don’t have an explicit right or left philosophical basis to their education effort." WRAL.com also has a database of profiles on public-policy nonprofits funded by either the Pope or Reynolds foundations.
Andrea Harris, president of the N.C. Institute for Minority Economic Development, credits Art Pope (President and Chairman of the Pope Foundation) and Variety Wholesalers Inc. with saving jobs in low-income, rural areas of North Carolina. Harris is quoted in this news story from The Triangle Tribune, an African-American newspaper (emphasis added): Born in Henderson, N.C., Harris witnessed the closing of Roses Store headquarters. Out of a city that holds about 45,000 people, nearly 6,000 lost their jobs in almost six years. Variety Wholesalers, Inc., where Pope is CEO, saved jobs for the residents. Many of the stores are in minority census track and low-income towns. “We need commercial investments in our neighborhoods that don't sell alcohol and drug paraphernalia. Variety Wholesalers does not sell tobacco, alcohol or guns. Over half the employees are women. Over a third of the managers look like me,” Harris said. “When it comes to Art Pope, I see a different person than what most people see.”
Art Pope, President and Chairman of the John William Pope Foundation, will serve as a co-chair on Governor-Elect Pat McCrory’s gubernatorial transition team. The Associated Press has the details: The top transition leaders are senior chairman of transition operations John Lassiter, a Charlotte businessman, former city council member and close McCrory ally, and transition director Thomas Stith, who works at a private enterprise center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Stith is a former Durham city council member. Other operations co-chairmen are former Rep. Ed McMahan, a Charlotte architect; Raleigh real estate executive Mike Smith and retail company executive Art Pope. McCrory defended the involvement of Pope, who's been a lightning rod for Democrats and liberal groups because his family's companies have given large amounts of money to conservative political groups and his family's foundation often gives to conservative causes. Pope, a former state House member from Raleigh, is "extremely knowledgeable about the operation of state government. And by the way, he has a great relationship with Gov. (Beverly) Perdue also," McCrory said as Pope and more than a dozen other transition members stood behind him at the news conference. For a complete list of transition team members, click here.
Raleigh businessman and philanthropist Art Pope, President and Chairman of the Pope Foundation, has been appointed to serve on a UNC-system advisory committee to “provide vital input in the development of the next five-year strategic plan for the 17-campus University,” according to a news release. The blue-ribbon group includes a variety of leaders in the business, educational, and political sectors from across the state. Read more in this news release from the university system: President Ross and the Board of Governors are working collaboratively to define the University’s strategic directions for 2013-18. These core goals are pivotal in setting current and future priorities, resource planning and allocation, program planning, review and refinement of academic missions, and strategic planning by UNC constituent institutions and affiliated entities. They also must reflect the University’s deep commitment to help North Carolina respond to changing state needs and economic challenges. In support of that effort, this special Advisory Committee chaired by President Ross will help assess North Carolina’s current and future workforce needs and recommend degree attainment goals and strategies that are responsive to those needs and changing demographics. The group may also consider recommendations related to higher academic standards and competencies required for a globally competitive workforce. The Advisory Committee will evaluate relevant data and available information in order to complete its work and make a consensus recommendation to President Ross in January 2013. Before speaking at a Civitas Institute luncheon Sept. 27, Art met with students gathered to protest his appointment to the advisory committee. Here is video courtesy of Civitas: At the luncheon, Art gave his analysis of recent polling data on major issues of the day in addition to races for president, state-level office, and legislature.