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"Public Policy Leadership in the Virginia Tradition"

The good old Dominion, the blessed mother of us all.
- Thomas Jefferson


The Virginia Institute for Public Policy is an independent, nonpartisan, education and research organization committed to the goals of individual opportunity and economic growth. Through research, policy recommendations, and symposia, the Institute works ahead of the political process to lay the intellectual foundation for a society dedicated to individual liberty, dynamic entrepreneurial capitalism, private property, the rule of law, and constitutionally limited government. The Institute focuses on public policy issues pertinent to the Commonwealth with an emphasis on the following broad themes:

the People v. the "Anointed"

Freedom is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their "betters."
- Thomas Sowell

Arguably, the greatest fear of our Founding Fathers was that over time power would tend to be concentrated increasingly in the hands of a few. Since the creation of the Republic, there has been a dynamic tension between two groups who hold very different and incompatible visions for this country and its citizens. Early on, this tension was evidenced in the rift between Jefferson and Hamilton. In 1800, it was the key to Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans displacing the Federalists. It was behind Andrew Jackson's veto of the rechartering of the Second Bank of the United States in 1832. Today, this tension is manifested between those who embrace the Jeffersonian vision of the people as sovereign versus those who prefer that popular sovereignty be limited to twelve hours on election days.

It is too simplistic to say the battle is between Democrats and Republicans; too simplistic to say it is between conservatives and liberals. This conflict is between people who want to be free to make life's decisions for themselves, and elitists who believe that they should be entrusted with the decision making for all.

Two hundred years ago our Founding Fathers challenged the divine right of kings to rule and proved to the world that the king, when challenged, had no clothes. Today, at the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, we challenge those who perceive themselves to be our ruling class because over the last 60 years it has become more and more obvious these "intellectuals" have no ideas.

A major portion of our policy research involves redefining the role, scope, and cost of government in a free society.


If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
- Thomas Jefferson

Expenditures for public education have tripled (inflation-adjusted dollars) over the last 30 years, yet it becomes more and more obvious that government schools are failing. Ignoring the evidence that shows little correlation between resources allocated to education and the resulting quality of that education, the political establishment consistently responds to declining standards by throwing more and more dollars at symptoms. The Institute studies the decline of the government school system, whether or not the system can be saved, what factors must be brought to bear if the system can be saved, and whether or not public finance of public institutions is possible in a society that increasingly cannot agree on such basic concepts as right and wrong, good and evil, and what is and is not education.

Capitalism v. Democratic Socialism

There is no third system between a market economy and socialism. Mankind has to choose between those two systems - unless chaos is considered an alternative.
- Ludwig von Mises

Even though Marxism has been defeated as an ideology, today the concept of the "nanny state" has become ingrained in the fabric of our public consciousness. The Institute's mission is not simply to criticize the existing order, but to recreate the vision of the original Sons of Virginia who understood the benefits and blessings of liberty.

Devolution of Power

The powers granted by the proposed Constitution are the gift of the people, and may be resumed by them when perverted to their oppression, and every power not granted thereby remains with the people.
- James Madison

A phrase much in use today, the Institute promotes not only the devolution of power from the federal government back to the Commonwealth of Virginia, but also the devolution of power from all levels of government back to the people. In this regard, the Institute researches the original intent and application of the often neglected Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Philosophy of Law

In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
- Thomas Jefferson

The law is not just what the Supreme Court says it is. Law has meaning. Our founding documents meant to limit governmental intrusion on citizens' liberties, while encouraging republican responsibility. Today, legislators and judges are prone to think that every problem can be solved if only they enact or interpret a new legal rule. The Institute pursues civic discipline and a return to the rule of law by promoting a more restrained philosophy of legislation and interpretation.

Virginia Institute for Public Policy
P.O. Box 1123  •  Abingdon, VA  •  24212
(540) 245-1776