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Lawrence Reed

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Lawrence Reed
Reed in 2019
Born (1953-09-29) September 29, 1953 (age 70)
Academic career
FieldPublic policy
School or
Austrian School
Alma mater

Lawrence "Larry" W. Reed (born September 29, 1953), also known as Larry Reed, is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), where he has served as the Humphreys Family Senior Fellow since May 2019. Before joining FEE, Reed served as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland, Michigan-based free-market think tank. To date, he remains Mackinac's president emeritus.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Reed was born and raised in Pennsylvania, United States.

He has cited the 1968 event between the Czechs and the Soviets known as the "Prague Spring", as the genesis for his interest in liberty, and has referred to the Czech cause as a "flowering of liberty". As a result of interactions with FEE in his teen years, Reed became exposed to the ideas of Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and others from the Austrian school of economics.[2]

In 1982, he was the Republican candidate for U. S. Congress in Michigan's 10th district.[3]

Education and appointments[edit]

Reed holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Grove City College (1975) and a Master of Arts degree in history from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (1978).

From 1977 to 1984, he taught economics at Midland, Michigan's Northwood University, serving as chairman of the Department of Economics from 1982 to 1984. While at Northwood, Reed designed the university's dual major in economics and business management and founded its annual "Freedom Seminar".

In addition to his undergraduate and graduate education, Reed was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from Central Michigan University in 1994 and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Northwood University in 2008. Reed is also the recipient of the Grove City College Distinguished Alumni Award.

Long active in Michigan policy, Reed was appointed in 1993 by the state's then-Governor John Engler (R) to the Headlee Amendment Blue Ribbon Commission. The commission was established as part of the state's 1978 "Headlee amendment" for the purpose of limiting local and state government spending.[4] It was officially abolished in 2004 by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.[5]

In 1994, Reed was named to the Secchia Commission on Total Quality Government, a task force charged by Governor Engler to streamline Michigan state government. Engler and many of his administration's officials frequently cited the work of the Mackinac Center as influential in shaping administration policies.[6]

In December 2007, the Washington, D.C.- based Heritage Foundation named Reed as a visiting senior fellow.[7]


Reed's interests in political and economic affairs have taken him as a freelance journalist to 78 countries on six continents since 1985.

Over the past twenty-five years, he has reported on hyperinflation in South America, black markets from behind the Iron Curtain, reforms and repression in China and Cambodia, and civil war inside Nicaragua and Mozambique. Additionally, he spent time with the Contra rebels during the Nicaraguan civil war; and lived for two weeks with Mozambique rebel forces at their bush headquarters in 1991, while the country was engaged at the height of their guerrilla conflict. Among many foreign experiences, Reed visited Cambodia in 1989 with his late friend, Academy Award winner Haing S. Ngor.

In 1986, while traveling with the Polish anti-communist underground,[8] Reed was arrested and detained by border police.[7] Reed's articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Baltimore Sun, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and USA Today, and others.[9][10]

During a 2003 address on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul paid tribute to Reed, acknowledging him as "one of America's leading advocates for liberty", and remarked that Reed's writings "reflect his unswerving commitment to limited government and the free market as the best way to promote human happiness."[11]

Foundation for Economic Education[edit]

On September 1, 2008, Reed became president of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). FEE, founded in 1946 by Leonard Read, has been recognized as the first not-for-profit organization of its kind, familiarizing people with free-market economics. It is FEE's mission to provide people with the "economic and moral" foundations of a free and civil society. As president, Reed hoped to reassert FEE's position as a "mothership" for the freedom movement at large.[2]

According to Reed, "FEE believes a free society is not only possible, it is imperative because there is no acceptable alternative for a civilized people. Our vision for the future is that through education, men and women will understand the moral, philosophic and economic principles that undergird a free society. They will appreciate the direct connection between those principles and their material and spiritual welfare. They will strive to pass those principles on from one generation to the next."[12]

Economic philosophy[edit]

Reed identifies strongly with the Austrian School of economics, and has referred to competition as one of the highest and most beneficial forms of human cooperation.[13]


Reed's 2012 book is A Republic – If We Can Keep It, is a collection of essays by Reed and historian Burton W. Folsom, Jr. that surveys the economic history of the United States and the modern world.[14]

Another of Reed's books is Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty, a bundling of works on the topic of government use of force, previously published in FEE's magazine, The Freeman.[15]

Reed's other books include Lessons from the Past: The Silver Panic of 1893, and Private Cures for Public Ills: The Promise of Privatization, both published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and When We Are Free, with Dale M. Haywood.

In 1981 he wrote the short Great Myths of the Great Depression, which criticised various conceptions about the American Great Depression.[16]

Academic books (authored or coauthored)[edit]

  • Republic – If We Can Keep It (with Burton W. Folsom, Jr., CreateSpace, 2012) ISBN 1572460318
  • Striking the Root: Essays on Liberty ISBN 1890624721
  • Lessons from the Past: The Silver Panic of 1893 ISBN 0910614903
  • Private Cures for Public Ills: The Promise of Privatization ISBN 1572460199
  • When We Are Free, with Dale M. Haywood ISBN 0873590457
  • Reed, Lawrence W. (2016). Real heroes : inspiring true stories of courage, character, and conviction. Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books. ISBN 978-1610171427. OCLC 951506677.


  1. ^ Ludwig von Mises Institute, Blog Archives Archived October 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, accessed November 10, 2009
  2. ^ a b Motorhome Diaries interview on YouTube
  3. ^ "Our Campaigns – MI District 10 Race". www.ourcampaigns.com. November 2, 1982.
  4. ^ Reed, Lawrence (August 4, 2003) The Headlee Amendment: Serving Michigan for 25 Years The Mackinac Center for Public Policy
  5. ^ "SOM Gov". www.michigan.gov.
  6. ^ Goenner, James N. (2011). The Origination of Michigan's Charter School Policy: an Historical Analysis (PhD). Michigan State University. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Mackinac Center for Public Policy Profile, Larry Reed
  8. ^ Reed, Lawrence (October 1, 2009) A Tribute to the Polish People The Freeman Online
  9. ^ Libertarian Party Putting Vermont Back on Track How the Power of Ideas Can Make Change Happen Archived January 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Foundation, The Future of Freedom (November 3, 2009). "Economic Liberty Lecture Series: Lawrence Reed" – via Vimeo.
  11. ^ Paul, Ron (September 23, 2003) Extension of Remarks Congressional Record
  12. ^ "Understanding Economics – With Lawrence Reed". Archived from the original on November 13, 2009.
  13. ^ Reed, Lawrence (September 24, 2009) Ask The Professor Competition: Encouraging excellence in the marketplace Archived November 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine The Fraser Institute
  14. ^ A Republic – If We Can Keep It
  15. ^ Reed, Lawrence W. "Striking the Root". www.mackinac.org. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  16. ^ Reed, Lawrence W. (2011) [1981]. Myths of the Great Depression. Midland, MI: Mackinac Center; Foundation for Economic Education. OCLC 975944242.