Editor’s Note: Michael LaFaive is Senior Director of the Mackinac Center Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative and author of 12 major studies on a broad range of fiscal policy issues. A popular public speaker, he is frequently cited in state and national media on tax reform, job creation and state economic development policies. In this article, LaFaive discusses why he joined the Mackinac Center Legacy Society.
How did you become a free-market advocate?
In 1986, I stumbled across a book by Milton Friedman that changed my life and, I hope, the lives of others. It was called “Free to Choose,” and it inspired me to earn two economics degrees and dedicate my professional and personal life to solving public policy issues from a market perspective.
What led you to join the Mackinac Center?
I met Joe Overton, then the Mackinac Center’s vice president, at a Mackinac Center luncheon in 1992, and I volunteered to do some research. That turned into a full study on unfunded federal mandates, which was released in 1993. I loved the work. In 1995, the Mackinac Center offered me a full-time job and I accepted.
What do you like best about your work and the Center?
I have the opportunity to work every day on policy issues that change people’s lives. I know this wouldn’t be possible without our generous donors or if the Mackinac Center weren’t so frugal and effective with donor dollars. I’m known for my own frugality, so I’m grateful that every spare penny the Mackinac Center has ends up in missionary work: educating the public, politicians and the press about the blessings of human liberty and peaceful and voluntary association. That’s one reason I’m sure the Center will use my legacy gift effectively.
You already are supporting free-market principles through your daily work. What made you decide to also join the Legacy Society and include the Center in your will?
I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but you don’t need to be to leave a legacy. My will carves out resources for the Mackinac Center because I want my two young children to grow up in a state that’s rich in opportunity. An investment in the Center is an investment in our kids.
Also, it’s never been lost on me how hard people work to support the valuable things that the Mackinac Center does. I know that an individual’s philanthropy comes after long hours of hard labor, sacrifice and risk-taking. By becoming a Legacy Society member, I get to join the many people I’ve long respected — our contributors.
How does your legacy plan meet your family needs?
My wife, Gessica, is a native of Peru. She and I were married in 2011 and we now have two young sons, James and Thomas. I’ve chosen to structure my legacy gift in the form of a direct bequest to the Mackinac Center as well as making the Center a beneficiary of my life insurance plan. The size of the insurance payout will depend on the needs of my family at the time of my death. Once my boys reach adulthood and are independent, I can increase the size of my direct bequest.
What do you hope your Legacy gift will accomplish?
During my nearly 25-year association with the Mackinac Center, I’ve seen firsthand how quality scholarship and good ideas can improve society. Greater school choice, right-to-work legislation, and the death of two complex and onerous business taxes are just some of the changes I’ve witnessed in which the Mackinac Center has played a role. I know there is more to come. When I’m gone, I believe my gift will help the Mackinac Center defend and advance individual liberty in the Great Lake State just as it does now.
If you would like to discuss a legacy gift that matches your values, please contact the Advancement team at the Mackinac Center at 989-631-0900 or LegacySociety@mackinac.org.