[Photo of Lawrence W. Reed]

Lawrence W. Reed

President Emeritus

After serving as President for the Center’s first two decades, Lawrence W. (Larry) Reed, became president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland-based research and educational institute on September 1, 2008. The Center's mission is to equip Michigan citizens and other decision-makers to better evaluate Michigan public policy options and to do so from a "free market" perspective.

On September 1, 2008, Reed assumed the presidency of the Foundation for Economic Education, headquartered in Irvington, New York. In this article, FEE: A Lighthouse for Freedom, FEE's history and importance were highlighted by Reed.

Reed holds a B.A. degree in Economics from Grove City College (1975) and an M.A. degree in History from Slippery Rock State University (1978), both in Pennsylvania. He taught economics at Midland's Northwood University from 1977 to 1984 and chaired the Department of Economics from 1982 to 1984. He designed the university's unique dual major in Economics and Business Management and founded its annual, highly-acclaimed "Freedom Seminar." In 1982, he was a major party candidate in the general election for the U. S. House of Representatives from Michigan's 4th district. He moved to Boise, Idaho in 1984 to direct a policy institute there before moving back to Michigan to head up the Mackinac Center in December 1987.

Under his leadership, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has emerged as the largest and one of the most effective and prolific of over 40 state-based "free market" think tanks in America. He served a term as president and 15 years as a member of the board of directors of the State Policy Network, a national organization whose membership consists of those state-based groups.

In 1994, Reed was invited to give the Commencement address to the graduating class of the Colleges of Education, Health, and Human Services and Extended Learning at Central Michigan University (CMU) before an audience of 6,000. CMU conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Administration. In 1998, Grove City College (his undergraduate alma mater) bestowed upon him its "Distinguished Alumni Award." In 2008, he delivered a Commencement address to an audience of 3,500 at Northwood University and received a second honorary doctorate, Doctor of Laws.

In the past twenty years, he has authored over 1,000 newspaper columns and articles, 200 radio commentaries, dozens of articles in magazines and journals in the U. S. and abroad, as well as five books. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, among many others. Reed's most recent book is Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty. Since 1978, he has delivered more than 1,000 speeches in 40 states and 15 foreign countries, including one at Peoples University in Beijing, China.

Reed's interests in political and economic affairs have taken him as a freelance journalist to 69 countries on six continents since 1985, including five visits to Russia, five to China, four to Nicaragua, three to Poland, five to Kenya, and others to such places as Cambodia, East Germany, Mozambique, Haiti, Japan, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Greece, Italy, Australia, Slovenia, Croatia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Malaysia, Vietnam, Iceland and New Zealand.

From firsthand experience, he has reported on hyperinflation in South America, voodoo in Haiti, black markets behind the Iron Curtain, reforms and repression in China and Cambodia, the recent stunning developments in Eastern Europe, and civil war inside Nicaragua and Mozambique. Among many foreign adventures, Reed visited the ravaged nation of Cambodia in 1989 with his late friend, Academy Award winner Dr. Haing S. Ngor; recorded an authentic native voodoo ceremony in a remote region of Haiti in 1987; traveled with the Polish anti-communist underground for which he was arrested and detained by border police in 1986; interviewed presidents and cabinet officials in half a dozen nations; spent time with the contra rebels during the Nicaraguan civil war; and lived for two weeks with the rebels of Mozambique at their bush headquarters in 1991, at the height of that country's devastating civil war.

Reed was elected in 1994 to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) in Irvington, New York -- one of the oldest and most respected economics institutes in America and publisher of the journal, The Freeman, for which he writes a column entitled "Ideas and Consequences." In 1998, he was elected chairman of FEE's board of Trustees and reelected chairman in 1999 and 2000.

In 1993, he was appointed by Governor Engler to the Headlee Amendment Blue Ribbon Commission. In 1994, he was named to a task force of the Secchia Commission on Total Quality Government, which was charged by Governor Engler with the mission of streamlining Michigan state government.

In December 2007, he was named Visiting Senior Fellow with the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

His spare-time interests include reading, travel, flyfishing, hiking, skydiving, and animals of just about any kind.

Grover Cared

Great Values, Great Movies

In “The Patriot,”Mel Gibson’s character expresses skepticism about the American Revolution with a question that seems especially poignant today, when our own homegrown government takes more of our earnings in taxes than George III ever imagined possible: “Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away?" … more

The Final Phase of the Great Depression

Melville W. Fuller: A Model Chief Justice

A Supreme Court To Be Proud Of

The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller did not stretch either the law or the Constitution beyond what the words said. When the justices found law to be in conflict with the Constitution, they usually sided with the latter, because liberty under the rule of law was their highest priority. … more

The First Phase of the Great Depression

Are We Biased?

Africans Whom Westerners Should Heed

Is There a Statesman in the House? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Perhaps we should all take a moment to thank our great-grandchildren yet unborn. If we lack statesmen in this generation, we will still have our disaster relief, our pork and our politics — and they will pay for much of it. … more

Shepherding Freedom

Governing by Network: The New Shape of the Public Sector

Transforming Michigan

Where’s the Beef?

The Sound of Freedom

In the summer of 1965, my mother announced one day that she was taking me to see a film called “The Sound of Music.” I knew nothing of it other than that a lot of singing was involved, and to my mind, that was a good enough reason to stay home. I went reluctantly — and was enthralled. … more

A Der Spiegel Interview with James Shikwati

A Dispatch from Mongolia

The Sound of Freedom (Long Version)

Remembering Reagan

The Inspiring Story of Thomas Clarkson

This essay is dedicated to three of Thomas Clarkson’s spiritual heirs: two longtime friends and superb historians, Robert Merritt of Waterford, Conn., and Burton Folsom of Hillsdale, Mich.; and Dr. Hans F. Sennholz, a great economist and teacher who instilled a passion for liberty in many thousands of students over four decades at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College, my undergraduate alma mater.

—LWR … more

Socialists at War

Freedom and the Organ Shortage

Lansing must embrace basic reform following the Watkins debacle

Government, Poverty and Self-Reliance: Wisdom From 19th Century Presidents

This essay is an edited version of a speech originally given by Lawrence W. Reed, president emeritus of the Mackinac Center, at the inaugural conference of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College in April 2005. … more

To Own or Be Owned: That Is the Question

“Ownership” as a general concept is never at issue in any society. It is neither possible nor desirable to construct a society in which people or the material things they create are not “owned.” … more

Watkins Debacle Shows Need for Basic Education Reforms

If the Michigan Board of Education, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature hope to regain any credibility with the public, they must now show that they are serious about helping kids — and not just exiling people who offer straight talk about the system. … more

Michigan at the Crossroads

Profit Has a Role in Public Schools

Maybe what’s needed in the public schools is more profit, not less. Think about it: Where is the crisis in public education these days? Is it in the availability of desks, food or computers, or in other areas provided by the for-profit private sector? The crisis concerns the classroom — the part delivered by government, regulated by legislatures and supervised by district bureaucracies. … more

From Arbroath to Austin

The Golden Calf of Democracy

In spite of this year’s candidates singing interminable paeans to “our democracy,” America is thankfully not one and never has been. Our founders established a republic, modifying democracy considerably. … more

Did Anybody Really Know What Time It Was?

“In every city and town,” historian Stewart Holbrook wrote in 1947, “the multiplicity of time standards confused and ewildered passengers, shippers and railway employees. Too often, errors and mistakes turned out disastrously. …” … more

Honoring John and Ranny Riecker

Mongol Khan-Quest

Pivotal? Probably Not

Free Markets Blossom in Vietnam

Democracy Isn’t Nirvana

The True Meaning of Patriotism

Bob Lyons, R.I.P.

What Is Real Compassion?

When we expect the government to substitute for what we ourselves ought to do, we expect the impossible and end up with the intolerable. … more

Why Limit Government?

No More Czars, Please

Remembering a Classic, and the Man Who Wrote It

To Smiles, the road to riches was not paved with over-reaching ambition, disregard for others, or cutting corners when it came to matters of truth. It didn’t mean securing favors from government at the expense of the competition. … more

The Trade Deficit: Much Ado About Nothing

"Proposal A," 10 Years Later

If the 1994 amendment needs amending at all, it needs it in the form of changes that would increase options for parents and produce greater accountability in the ways that education dollars are spent. … more

Alexander Graham Bell Meets George Eastman

The stumbling blocks for further innovation today come not from entrepreneurs, venture capitalists or the marketplace, but from the regulators. … more

The Granholm Administration: A Review of Year One

The governor’s handling of a $200 million proposal by Plymouth philanthropist Robert Thompson to build 15 charter schools in Detroit was her biggest leadership failure of the year. … more

Solving the Organ Donation Crisis Through Incentives

As LifeSharers grows, so does the incentive to become a registered donor: preferred access to an ever-larger pool of donated organs. … more

French Fried by the Welfare State

The French can advance civil society only when they get serious about replacing government programs with private initiative, when discussion gets beyond such infantile reasoning as, “If you want to cut government subsidies, you must be in favor of starving the elderly.” … more

Remembering Grenada, Two Decades Later

Destruction Is No Blessing

The Headlee Amendment: Serving Michigan for 25 Years

We could have what Colorado has: a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limits spending growth to population growth plus inflation and requires immediate refunds of surplus revenues above that limit. … more

Lessons from the First Airplane (Long Version)

Lessons from the First Airplane

Just nine days after Langley’s failure, the Wrights took turns flying their carefully designed plane for as long as 59 seconds at Kitty Hawk. The craft cost them about $1,000. It cost American taxpayers nothing. … more

Eulogy by Lawrence W. Reed

Muskegon ferry loan shouldn't be granted

Winners Never Quit, and Quitters Never Win

How We’ll Know When We’ve Won

Freedom or Free-for-All?

The Poverty of the United Nations

Feds Endanger Michigan Ferry Business

How refreshing it would be for the federal government to advise the folks at Lake Express LLC, “If you need money to make money, then go get it the honest way: Prove yourself to your investors and to your customers.” … more

Remembering Prague Spring

The freedoms aborted in 1968 were won in the “Velvet Revolution” of November 1989 when, sapped of any moral legitimacy or resolve, communist rule and Soviet domination evaporated as millions of jubilant Czechs danced in the streets. … more

Knowing the Real Impact of Government

Long-term Rx for state budget

Lock in Savings with Prison Privatization

A Lesson from Great Britain

For a visitor to give every exhibit the attention it deserved would have required 200 hours in the building. … more

Does Holland, Michigan Need 'Living Wage'?

Sales Tax on Services Is Bad Policy

Reviewing the Engler Tenure

No governor in recent Michigan history has done more to lighten the state tax burden than John Engler. Michigan has made more progress in this regard than any other major state. … more

Hopes for the New Year

Reflections at Year-End From The Mackinac Center for Public Policy Staff

The holiday season and the end of a year is a time of reflection and introspection. In that regard, I recently asked the Mackinac Center staff three questions:
Which freedoms mean the most to you and why?

What fruits of freedom do you treasure the most and why?

What is it about the work we do at the Mackinac Center that gets you excited, motivated, and passionate?

The answers reveal much about the things our staff members hold dear, especially our institutional commitment to freedom, without which it would not be possible to freely celebrate the holidays as we do in America. I have assembled the answers below. For brevity’s sake, I have added very little narrative and in any event, the comments speak well for themselves.
Visit our "Current Comment" feature again on December 30-January 2 when we post the responses of our staff to the question, "What are your hopes for 2003?"

----Lawrence W. Reed … more

A Green Light for Choice

The Forgotten Robber Barons

To Plunkitt, taking from some and giving to others was a key ingredient in the recipe for reelection. He saw nothing wrong with it, morally or otherwise. Using the political machine to bestow benefits and buy votes came quite naturally to him. … more