Friends of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy know that our work focuses on Michigan's economic issues, but they also know that we are always eager to share what we’ve learned about operating a successful think tank with like-minded groups. That’s because a victory for liberty and sound policy in one place — be it our state, another state or another country — is a victory for us all that can be leveraged into more successes everywhere.
One of the ways the Mackinac Center assists our friends is through our semiannual leadership conferences, which are crafted for staff and executives of free-market think tanks in the United States and abroad. The conferences are widely acclaimed for the strategic planning, fundraising, communications and management principles they impart, and the 16 conferences we’ve sponsored to date have drawn attendees from 44 countries, just as many states and every continent but Antarctica.
Among our favorite "graduates" of these conferences is the current prime minister of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia. He is busy transforming the Mongolian economy from repressive socialism to the private property and capital of free markets. His efforts are now receiving a boost from one of the world’s newest free-market think tanks, the Individual Initiative Institute, founded last year by yet another graduate of our leadership conference, Orgodol ("Orly") Sanjaasuren.
Earlier this month, some friends and I visited Mongolia. In addition to attending meetings with the prime minister and experiencing Mongolia’s sights and sounds, I delivered a version of my speech "Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy" to an audience assembled by Orly’s institute. The details of this trip, complete with photos, appeared in the July 28 Midland Daily News.
I am pleased to share a letter just received from Orly, the text of which is reproduced below. It prompts me to suggest to our friends and readers that you consider supporting Orly’s institute. Even a small contribution can do a great deal of good when it’s managed by an energetic, passionate and capable young man like Orly Sanjaasuren. If you’d like to help, his contact information appears below. For the next 10 days, Orly will be traveling — no doubt spreading the good word about liberty, as always — so have patience if you don’t hear back from him immediately.
Mr. Orgodol Sanjaasuren
Individual Initiative Institute
P.O. Box 24/612
Tel: (976) - 99118425
Fax: (976) -11-319870
To: Lawrence W. Reed
Date: July 27, 2005
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
It was my great pleasure and honor to attend the Leadership Conference at the Mackinac Center in October 2003. I will always be indebted to our good friend and Prime Minister Elbegdorj Tsakhia (friends call him "E.B.") for strongly advising me to attend the conference. It was an eye opening event for me!
My experience at the Mackinac Center helped me develop and solidify my belief system and put me on a course to create the Individual Initiative Institute one year later. Previously, I was trying to convince people as a lone individual without any formal structure or organization. I might well have become a partisan activist of one of the political parties and thereby deliberately ruin(ed) my own personal values. When I met with EB and introduced my ideas about how to improve the banking and financial system and broaden the access to finance in Mongolia to empower people and build their own dream life, he said I should go to America and to the Mackinac Center.
Upon my arrival, I developed deeper roots with my friends in the States, learned how to create a better environment through the power of good ideas, and made many new friends such as you and your colleagues. Finally I was encouraged to form a non-partisan, independent, free market think tank — the Individual Initiative Institute. We were proud to host you as our first foreign speaker, and your "Seven Principles of Sound Public Policy" speech was well-attended and extremely well-received. Of course, the most difficult problem was and is initial and operational financing, especially in a country like Mongolia with less than USD 500 GDP per capita, and more than 36 percent of the population living on less than one dollar a day. But that really necessitates why we need a free market think tank in this country. Mongolia can become a free market model for Asia and the world, and I thank you for helping us in that direction.
Since forming the Individual Initiative Institute we have become a public voice, an idea generator, and initiative promoter. We believe every small and big success would not happen without initiative.
It was a great support and honor for us to host your lecture in Mongolia. You made our institute well respected through your excellent speech and all the support from the very beginning.
We are planning to communicate more free market ideas, promoting a policy to respect personal integrity, property rights, rule of law, and economic freedom. Thank you for helping us to tell the world about the good things happening in my country which, not so long ago, was repressed by decades of communist rule.
Orgodol (ORLY) Sanjaasuren
The Individual Initiative Institute
Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.