The events of this past year have caused many people to reconsider the way our government and society works. I’ve had an unusual vantage point, simultaneously studying at a government-funded university and interning at a privately funded institute.
As a student, I was told time and time again exactly how I was supposed to write, the format I was supposed to use, and the position I had to take. I saw a pattern developing, as most professors would only allow perspectives they agreed with. More often than not, this aligned with a left-leaning political ideology.
While this gave me the opportunity to better understand arguments I was not familiar with, I was not able to develop my own political perspectives and preferences to the same extent.
Conversely, my experience at the Mackinac Center has shown me what it is like to work with a group that values individual opinions. Rather than rejecting new ideas, we actively seek them out and explore their potential.
Experiencing a lack of ideological freedom, compared to working in a more open and autonomous environment, has reinforced my support for an unrestricted exchange of ideas, a critical element of a free society.
This is a key reason free-market economies consistently outperform centrally controlled ones. A free-market system allows individuals to share their ideas, collaborate and experiment. They don’t have to conform to the opinions of those in power. When individuals err in a marketbased system, the impact is relatively small, and the correction is swift and sure. When government officials err, on the other hand, the consequences can be devasting and long-lasting.
Our state’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic shows the dangers of top-down control. It has helped me see why groups like the Mackinac Center — and the people who support them — are so important.
It is not enough to believe that our freedoms will last forever without actively protecting them. We all have a role to play, which is why I am so grateful that this internship has given the chance to start out in mine.