[Photo of Dr. Burton W. Folsom]

Dr. Burton W. Folsom

Senior Fellow in Economic Education

Dr. Burton Folsom Jr. is a history professor at Hillsdale College and senior fellow in economic education for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He currently serves on the Mackinac Center’s Board of Scholars, and from 1994 to 1999 was the Center's senior fellow in economic history.

For the Mackinac Center, Folsom has authored dozens of widely reprinted articles about Michigan's rich and varied past as well as a 1997 book, Empire Builders: How Michigan Entrepreneurs Helped Make America Great. His other books include Urban Capitalists: Entrepreneurs and City Growth in Pennsylvania's Lackawanna and Lehigh Regions, 1800-1920 (1981); The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America (1991), now in its sixth edition; New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America (2008); and FDR Goes to War (2011), which he co-authored with Anita Folsom. He also has edited two volumes, The Spirit of Freedom: Essays in American History and The Industrial Revolution and Free Trade. His work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines including The Detroit NewsThe American Spectator, and The Wall Street Journal. He blogs at BurtFolsom.com.

Folsom received his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pittsburgh.

Would You Like to Buy a Lighthouse?

Michigan's lighthouses are sadly deteriorating under government ownership, but the law prohibits their sale to private owners. A policy of selling the lighthouses to those who have an incentive to preserve them could save these fascinating pieces of Michigan history. … more

Remembering "The Real McCoy"

Michigan black inventor Elijah McCoy's 52 patents helped the trains run efficiently and on time. The market rewarded his brilliant ideas and helped him overcome racial discrimination. … more

Are Michigan's History Textbooks Reliable?

When history texts are poorly written, students are merely bored. But when they are distorted and biased, students may act on false ideas and live out a lie. How reliable are Michigan's history texts at presenting the past in ways which are well organized, accurate, clear, and free of bias? In this study, four Michigan history textbooks are analyzed and reviewed against these criteria. The reliability of these texts is especially important since Michigan history is a required subject for Michigan fourth graders, and it is studied by many junior high and high schoolers too. Parents, teachers, and school officials will find this study a valuable tool for making the best choices for their students. 28 pages. … more

Enviromania in the Textbooks

Environmental problems exist, but some Michigan textbooks make exaggerated claims and teach children that the world is near destruction. Twisting facts is bad enough, but it may be worse to subject our children to unfounded fears and pressure to save the planet. … more

Farm Subsidies: The Courage to Say No

Farm subsidies drive up food prices for the poor and subsidize many millionaire farmers. The problem seems intractable today, but exactly 100 years ago a Michigan man mustered the integrity and courage to deal with this very issue. … more

The EPA's Toll on the Mackinac Bridge

A $50 million unfunded EPA mandate requires that the Mackinac Bridge be repainted inside of a tent. This is a premier example of an unfunded mandate the governor should resist. This piece of research generated enormous statewide attention. … more

Is Your County Losing in Arts Subsidies?

Most Michigan counties are net losers in the grab for public arts dollars. The claim that government spending on art produces a special "multiplier" effect is spurious. The bottom line: Art is too important to be dependent on government. … more

Catching Speeders: Cops or Cameras

New technology makes it possible to ticket speeders with cameras, radar, and computers-and no cops. Should it be allowed? There are many pros and cons. … more