Baden is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) in Bozeman, Montana; a think tank dedicated to implementing an economic way of thinking consistent with a society of free and responsible individuals. FREE deals with a variety of policy arenas, most notably environmental policy.
Baden and his wife live in Bozeman; a place they describe as truly magical. Bozeman is now the epicenter for free market environmentalism, and logically so. The town has a unique balance of the conservative Western thought and a natural landscape that requires preserving. Baden explained that the “free market environmental dream team” came together in Bozeman- consisting of Baden himself, Richard L. Stroup, Senior Associate at the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, and P.J. Hill- Senior Fellow at PERC- to lead the way in the New Resource Economics (NRE).
Baden believes that it’s part of the natural order for a people to become “green” as they become more wealthy and educated. We shouldn’t resist this fact, but embrace it. As free market advocates, it’s important to show the environmentalist folks that government is not the answer to our environmental issues.
The recent government shutdown should serve as a wake-up lesson. What was one of the first government functions to go? The national park service. In an economic crisis- which we all know is looming- or a situation of limited resources, we cannot trust the government to manage the land and care for our resources. We must do it ourselves.
But Baden isn’t in favor of a massive privatization of national parks. No, he actually thinks national parks are good- but he believes that the government managing them is bad. He proposes instituting a public trust- no tax money, funded voluntarily by citizens- to manage the national parks. He believes that we should translate entrepreneurship into the national park arena, and he has no doubts that people will step up.
“People like this kind of stuff, and they like to fund it,” he said.
Join us on Thursday, December 12 for a luncheon with Michael J. Lotus, co-author of the book America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century.[Editor's note: The public is welcome to attend Heartland's Author Series events located at One East Wacker, in Chicago's Loop. Tickets and event information can be found on our website here.]