The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is funded solely by freedom loving individuals and organizations that find value in its conviction of free-market principles. For this issue of IMPACT, we hear from Ted Hennig, pictured here with his wife Shelley (left) and his daughters Monica (right) and Julia (far right).
Mackinac Center: Where are you from?
Ted Hennig: I grew up in Redford and Plymouth, Michigan. My father worked his way up the foreman ranks to become a superintendent at Chrysler foundries in Detroit. My mother was a schoolteacher. I’m the eldest of my siblings. I’m currently an oral surgeon with locations in Saginaw and Caro.
MCPP: What shaped your work ethic?
Hennig: The most formative things for me were a result of teachers allowing and encouraging me to excel, coupled with my parents placing me in situations that fostered independence and situations that fostered this style of teaching.
My parents sent me to the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills for a couple of years. This shaped me quite a bit. In first and second grade I was encouraged to work ahead, at my own pace on anything I wanted to work on. It was a sort of Montessori philosophy format. I loved it.
When I was eleven, I bought my first paper route; 35 customers for the Detroit Free Press. The papers were dropped at our curb at 4:30 a.m. My father woke for work about then and would get me up when he left at 5:30 or so. I would do my paper route by myself. Then I had to collect the payment going door-to-door once a week. I would end up making about 15 bucks a week or so back then. Soon it was 70 customers.
These experiences guided part of my work ethic. The harder I worked, the more I got ahead, the more I learned. If I did a nice job delivering the paper in the location the customer wanted, and if I was polite when collecting, I received a better tip. I was rewarded for good customer service.
MCPP: What are your guiding principles in life?
Hennig: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I have a natural right to my own life and how I choose to live it through freedom in the pursuit of my own happiness. I make no demands of others. I have come to recognize these principles through reading of our Founding Fathers’ documents as well as through exploration of the writings of Ayn Rand. Reading both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in my early college years was inspirational and formative. Studying history has been valuable in my understanding of the nature of man.
MCPP: When did you first hear of the Mackinac Center?
Hennig: I read the Future of Freedom Foundation publications, Hillsdale College publications, The Economist, and studied Objectivism on my own and through cassette tapes from the Ayn Rand Institute. I subscribed to The Conservative Chronicle. I listened to Rush Limbaugh when he was first syndicated in the area, although I don’t really listen any more. And somehow, I read some publications from the Mackinac Center. That led to me donating to the organization.
MCPP: What value do you find in the Mackinac Center?
Hennig: The value I find with the Mackinac Center is its clarity of presentation of topics which affect Michigan. I enjoy reading “just the facts” as presented. I find that it dovetails nicely with my philosophy of Objectivism. I enjoy the CapCon publication. The information often helps me to decide my vote.
MCPP: Why have you stayed in Michigan?
Hennig: It’s because of Michigan’s beauty and its Great Lakes. I love the outdoors more than I do the city lifestyle. I have a great deal of family in Michigan. I have traveled all over the country and although I like the open spaces of Arizona and Montana and Idaho, I cannot see myself leaving the Great Lakes. I love the Upper Peninsula and the Mackinac Bridge. I enjoy my alma mater, the University of Michigan. I love the kindness of the people of the Midwest.