When I go back and speak to students at Northwood I often say that I was lucky enough to take economics and learn free market thought there and now, I get to live the Northwood idea every single day at work. I’m chief economist and vice president of policy at the American Legislative Exchange Council, where we work with about 2,000 state legislators and locally-elected officials to help give them guidance on what works and what doesn’t work across our 50 laboratories of democracy.

Growing up in mid Michigan, I was very familiar with the background of Northwood and how respected it is within the business community within Michigan, and their great reputation overall. When I learned more about their core philosophy, I saw it was very unique when it comes to American higher education. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from an economics department where you’re not taught marxism and socialism are good ideas, but actually taught the work of Friedman, Hayek and Sowell instead. It’s awfully rare to find an economics program that has a course in Austrian economics. That free-market training really set Northwood apart. Even from a freshman class on economics we were reading “When We are Free” and short essays about common-sense economic policy and learning about how it matters for public policymaking.

It really stuck with me.

Northwood ideas are the principles that I work on every day today at ALEC – free markets, limited government, federalism and the sound economic and cultural principles that set our nation apart from the rest of the world.

It’s a basic American civic duty at least to be educated in an economic way of thinking. You have to understand the type of policies that will make America more prosperous for everyone, regardless if you go into economics or never even read a copy of The Wall Street Journal.

It’s the basic responsibility for civic life in America to be educated to be able to think clearly through the future of our country.

We just need to look at countries around the world that once were free-market, very prosperous countries to know why the education offered at Northwood is important. Reagan would always say freedom is only one generation away from extinction, it must be fought for and nurtured. We can see that when we look at a place like Venezuela. In recent years, we saw the massive human cost of what big-government socialism and communism meant to a country that previously, had been a free market and prosperous, thriving country in a short amount of time.

Not everyone is going to be an economist, but free-market thinking and being able to think clearly about the ideas presented will affect everyone, whether you go into economics, business, education – if you’re looking to balance your own budget for your family or save for the future, you need to know the economics way of thinking.

We see this vast contrast of visions for the future of America – big government, high taxes and more centrally-planned economy on one side, and more of a laissez-faire, free market outlook to bring back and maximize freedom for the individual across the country on the other – you have to have a basic foundation in economics to make a decision between those.

I hope Northwood becomes more and more widely-discovered across the country. It seems like every single day, we’re confronted with yet another big publicly-funded university, using our tax dollars trying to indoctrinate students into left-wing ideology. That is an unbelievable threat to the future of this freedom in America and our way of life here. To combat that, it’s essential that places like Northwood do well, continue to grow and more men and women across the country are really able to fight these ideological and intellectual battles for the future of America.

Jonathan Williams
Alexandria, VA
Executive Vice President, Policy and Chief Economist
American Legislative Exchange Council
Northwood University Class of 2005