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Due to modern political trends, the liberal-conservative dichotomy can be misleading. The following is a brief explanation of the Mackinac Center's approach to public policy, the principles which guide our work and why the term "free market" best describes our institute.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy focuses its research on economic policy, broadly defined (see note below). It does not address issues like abortion, censorship, and gambling, which, while very important, are primarily questions of social ethics.

By gaining the support of all who recognize the importance of sound economic policy — whatever their views on social issues — we are able to more effectively accomplish a key objective: to establish a more sophisticated level of political and economic understanding among Michigan citizens and decision-makers.

Modern economic experience demonstrates overwhelmingly that the free market is a powerful engine of economic prosperity. Nations the world over are clamoring to shed the chains of central planning and unleash the creative energy of free men and women. The principles of the American Revolution — individual liberty, limited government, the free market and the rule of law — have become the dominant paradigm of enlightened society.

We see, therefore, a transformation taking place in American politics. The black-and-white division between contemporary liberals (desiring little overnment intervention in personal affairs but extensive government involvement in the economy) and contemporary conservatives (desiring little government involvement in the economy while seeking government restraint on personal affairs) no longer works, if it ever did.

The new economic reality is creating a growing population in the classical liberal tradition: socially tolerant, economically sophisticated, desiring little government intervention in either their personal or economic affairs. Focusing as it does on economics, the work of the Mackinac Center draws support from these classical liberals, conservatives and even moderates. The Mackinac Center staff, directors, and scholars reflect this diversity of viewpoints. It is therefore inaccurate to call the Mackinac Center for Public Policy "conservative."

Today no one calls an American political research institute a "democratic" institute because it has embraced democracy over monarchy. That battle was fought long ago, and democracy is deservedly the winner. We believe that the verdict is also in concerning economic systems, and the free market has won. To play on Churchill's famous quip, the free market system is the worst type of economy, except for all the others. The Mackinac Center works to advance solutions that meet human needs while preserving the benefits of sound economic policy.

We look forward to the day when the myths and fears of free-market capitalism are dispelled, along with the misplaced faith in a benevolent, omnipotent state. By focusing on the actual problems and understanding the proper role of public and private institutions, we can give all Michigan citizens the greatest opportunity for peace, prosperity, and freedom.

(Note: It is important to understand that economics is not the study of dollars and cents; it is the study of human behavior. Economics deals with how we use scarce resources to meet the needs of people in a complex society. Broadly defined, economics includes the incentives and systems used to deliver not just commodities, but also education, social assistance, and other services. It also encompasses a free-market economy's vital political prerequisites, such as respect for private property, freedom of contract and the rule of law.)

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