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Joseph Bast

Joseph Bast is a Director and 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 now serves as a member of Heartland’s Board of Directors and as 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 currently serves on the board of The Heartland Institute.

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

view all by this author
February 12, 2018
By Joseph Bast
This thinly sourced story should not have run. Ed Crane deserves better.
January 17, 2018
By Joseph Bast
“Heartland’s policies allow us to remove problem employees quickly, and certainly faster than HuffPost.” – Joseph Bast, CEO, The Heartland Institute
January 17, 2018
By Joseph Bast
We will put these quotations to good use in our fundraising letters and proposals this year, and for that, we thank the authors.
December 28, 2017
By Joseph Bast
Shouldn’t we try to find ways to solve problems peacefully and voluntarily before we resort to force? Is it really okay to use force to achieve trivial objectives?
July 28, 2017
By Joseph Bast, Matthew Glans
With the collapse of Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare, attention turns to what Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and state policymakers can do to repair a health care system in crisis. The Heartland Institute can help!
July 27, 2017
By Joseph Bast
THERA Coalition Letter
June 8, 2017
By Joseph Bast
For the record, The Heartland Institute has contacted nearly all members of the Trump cabinet. Can any of you explain to me how this differs from the relationship the previous administration had with liberal advocacy groups?
August 17, 2016
By Tim Benson, Joseph Bast
CAFE Standards Sacrifice Lives for Oil

2016 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.
“The Heartland Institute [is] the world’s most prominent thinktank supporting skepticism about man-made climate change.”
The Economist
May 26, 2012
2.4 Million
the number of times Heartland's six podcasts were downloaded in 2017
184 issues
of weekly e-newsletters sent to subscribers across the country
91 events
that Heartland hosted, attended, or spoke at, reaching 14,711 guests
100,000 fans
on Facebook posting and reposting over 1 million times a week