Shoulders of Giants

Letter from the executive vice president

In 1945, Antony Fisher, a young World War II RAF pilot, read an abridged edition of F.A. Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.” Alarmed by what he read, Fisher sought out Hayek and announced his plan to go into politics. 

What Hayek told Fisher changed the course of history. (Ironically, Hayek later confessed to having no recollection of the conversation.) Hayek urged Fisher to forgo a political career and to focus instead on ideas. Society’s course, he said, will be changed by ideas — persuade the intellectuals with the right ideas and the politicians will follow.

Fisher heeded Hayek’s advice and became, as John Blundell wrote, the Johnny Appleseed of the free-market movement. Fisher established numerous public policy institutions, including the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, the Fraser Institute in Canada and the Manhattan Institute in New York City. 

One of Fisher’s creations was the Atlas Network, which today serves a network of 400 free-market think tanks in more than 80 countries. 

In order to nurture the liberty movement, the Atlas Network annually confers the Templeton Freedom Award for exceptional achievement among the global think tank community. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is honored to be among six finalists for the 2013 Templeton Freedom Award, for our role in the adoption of Michigan’s right-to-work law. 

The achievements of our fellow finalists are astounding. 

The Centre for Civil Society in India was founded by Parth Shah in 1997, who left a job at the University of Michigan to return to his native India. The institution is recognized as one of the finest think tanks in the world and it leads the charge for education reform in India by promoting choice and innovation. We’re especially proud of CCS’s work as Shah attended the Mackinac Center’s Leadership Conference.  

The Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo, A.C., in Mexico is being recognized for advancing policies to improve Mexico’s prosperity and productivity. Its Mexico Productivity Index is credited with influencing the national discussion about Mexico’s economic policies. 

The Istituto Bruno Leoni, named after the Italian classical liberal thinker, is celebrating its ten year anniversary. The institute’s Liberalization Index annually ranks Italy and other European countries by comparing sixteen sectors and evaluating the cost of excessive regulation, taxation and legal uncertainty. 

If Great Britain has a Tea Party movement, the TaxPayers’ Alliance in London is a ringleader. Launched in 2004, the TaxPayers’ Alliance is “arguably the most influential pressure group in the country” according to The Guardian. The organization’s 2020 Tax Commission and Single Income Tax report are credited with reductions in levies and driving conversation about fiscal reform. 

Ayn Rand famously observed that when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them:  “One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” Our friends at the Texas Public Policy Foundation are reversing that trend through their Right on Crime project. The project promotes alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders and exposes the problem of over-criminalization in the U.S. 

Bravo!