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Joseph Bast

Joseph Bast is a Senior Fellow at The Heartland Institute. He cofounded Heartland in 1984, serving as executive director then as president & CEO until January 2018. His research and writing focuses on climate change and energy policy.

Joseph L. Bast c.v.

Joseph Bast was the first employee of The Heartland Institute upon its founding in Chicago in 1984. According to a recent telephone survey, among state elected officials The Heartland Institute is among the nation’s best-known and most highly regarded think tanks.

Bast served as Heartland's executive director from 1984 until 1994, as president and CEO from 1994 until July 2017, when Dr. Tim Huelskamp replaced him as president, and as CEO until January 2018, when Dr. Huelskamp also assumed that title. He served as a member of Heartland’s Board of Directors until 2019 and is a Senior Fellow on Climate Change and Energy Policy. 

Bast is the author or editor of 21 books, including Rebuilding America’s Schools (1990), Why We Spend Too Much on Health Care (1992) Eco-Sanity: A Common-Sense Guide to Environmentalism (1994) Education & Capitalism (2003), Climate Change Reconsidered (2009), The Patriot’s Toolbox (2010, rev. ed. 2011, 4th ed. 2017), Rewards (2014), and Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming (2015).

His writing has appeared in the Phi Delta Kappan, Economics of Education Review, Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, The Cato Journal, USA Today, and many of the country’s largest-circulation newspapers.

As president and CEO of The Heartland Institute, Bast was publisher of four monthly newspapers sent to every national and state elected official and thousands of civic and business leaders. Those publications are titled School Reform News, Environment & Climate NewsBudget & Tax News, and Health Care News. Publication of the latter publication was suspended in 2017.

Bast has been recognized many times for his contributions to public policy research and debate, including being named one of “The 88 to Watch in 1988” by the Chicago Tribune and being awarded the 1994 Roe Award from the State Policy Network, the 1996 Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award, the 1998 Eagle Award from Eagle Forum, the 2004 Champion of Liberty Award from the Libertarian National Committee, and the 2016 Edward Teller Award for the Defense of Freedom by Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.

Bast was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Paul E. Patton in 1996, elected a member of the Philadelphia Society in 2002, and has served on the boards of directors of Nomos Press, State Policy Network, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Shimer College, and the American Conservative Union. He left The Heartland Institute's Board of Directors in July 2019.

Prior to being hired as The Heartland Institute’s first employee in 1984, Bast was coeditor of the bimonthly magazine Nomos, and studied economics as an undergraduate at The University of Chicago.

Recent Articles and Publications

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February 7, 2022
By Joseph Bast
Jim Johnston was an advocate for freedom, a fine economist, a philanthropist, and a leader. He was also a good friend.
January 24, 2022
By Joseph Bast, Joseph A. Morris, James Taylor, Howard L. Simons
December 18, 1935 - January 21, 2022
December 2, 2020
By Joseph Bast
Dr. Walter Williams, a distinguished economist and long-time friend and advisor to The Heartland Institute, died December 2. He was 83.
September 17, 2020
By Joseph Bast
The Washington Post continues to make a fool of itself by playing stenographer to the most radical fringe of the environmental movement.
July 1, 2019
By Joseph Bast
The grounds for reversing the Endangerment Finding are robust, and this action is long overdue.
May 30, 2018
By Joseph Bast, Peter Ferrara
Humankind's historic and ongoing use of fossil fuels has resulted in huge benefits for people, wildlife, and ecosystems. Five of those benefits are documented here.
May 11, 2018
By Joseph Bast
Joseph Bast has written a detailed critique of the pseudoscience, false assumptions, and ideological objectives of Greenpeace’s campaign to ban chlorine.
April 18, 2018
By Joseph Bast
The 10 principles provided here, with references for further research and documentation if desired, provide a framework for understanding and promoting sound policies regarding firearms in America.

2018 By the Numbers

See what sets Heartland apart:
82% of state elected officials read Heartland publications
of state elected officials read one or more Heartland newspapers "sometimes" or "always."
45% of elected officials say Heartland led to a change in policy
of state elected officials say a Heartland publication influenced their opinions or led to a change in public policy.
3.2 Million
the number of times Heartland's six podcasts were downloaded in 2018
184 issues
of weekly e-newsletters sent to subscribers across the country
158 events
that Heartland hosted, attended, or spoke at, reaching over 34,000 guests in 2018.
100,000 fans
on Facebook posting and reposting over 1 million times a week