Half of the people on Earth are alive today thanks to nitrogenous fertilizers made of and with natural gas.

So why are governments at home and abroad scrambling to cut off humanity’s natural gas supply?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has spent years trying to shut down the Line 5 natural gas pipeline – precipitating an international disagreement that puts the state in conflict with both the Biden administration and the Trudeau government. Other natural gas projects in the United States have been attacked, shut down, or blocked, while investment in oil and gas is also under fire.

A recently released University of Michigan study promotes the alleged economic and environmental benefits of a transition to electric vehicles. But the study’s emphasis on fuel costs vs. overall costs limits its real-world applicability. The claimed environmental benefits of the transition are also questionable, and the policy interventions recommended by the authors fail to solve critical affordability issues.

Michigan’s new Democratic majority wants to end taxation of pensions. And new bills in Lansing promise to do just that over time. But we should ask why legislators want to give preferences to just one type of retirement income.

In 2011, lawmakers replaced the exemption of pension income from the state income tax with a deduction for any time of income for seniors at $20,000 for single filers and $40,000 for joint filers. This meant that couples would pay taxes only on pensions above $40,000 and early retirees would be subject to income taxes until they got to age 67.

It’s becoming almost routine to see headlines filled with dire warnings that Michigan and the Midwest are becoming a “climate haven” – a place to which people can escape from allegedly inhospitable temperatures and disappearing shorelines. The stories describe a nation plagued by worsening storms, increased droughts, colder winters, blazing summer, both higher and lower snowpacks, and a host of other environmental calamities brought on by a changing climate. But the Great Lakes region, we are told, offers shelter for those who have been displaced by the growing threat of climate chaos.

“The past is a foreign country,” novelist L.P Hartley once remarked. “They do things differently there.” In politics, the bounds of the Overton Window change over time and people live with the compromises that those foreigners made. I talk about these changes with long-time Detroit Free Press reporter Dawson Bell for this week’s Overton Window podcast.

Most people can agree that basic functions of government are necessary for an orderly society. Beyond basic functions, however, less is more when it comes to government.

One reason is that government is by nature inefficient.

Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Government has only other people’s money to spend. The person whose money is being spent has only indirect means to influence where government decides to spend it.

There’s no denying that Pete Martel did something bad. In 1994, he pled guilty to armed robbery and assault after robbing a store and firing a gun at police.

If he had hit or killed an officer or bystander, he probably wouldn’t be out of prison today. As it is, he served 14 years.

This article originally appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business Nov. 28, 2022.

After gaining control of both the state House and Senate, Michigan Democrats are already announcing what to expect from the first Democratic trifecta in just under 38 years. One major policy priority: repealing the state’s right-to-work law. They should reconsider, as right-to-work laws are better for workers, for unions, and for the economy.

This article originally appeared in The Detroit News December 14, 2022.

Michigan Democrats have made it clear that they are interested in repealing right-to-work. There are many reasons why they shouldn’t, and one is that doing so could silence the voices of the rank-and-file members of the United Auto Workers.

This article originally appeared in The Hill November 12, 2022.

Flawed energy policies are harming our ability to meet everyday needs. That is the conclusion of a soon-to-be-released paper focusing on the value of fuels such as natural gas with regard to maintaining and improving human health and welfare. Natural gas, explains the report from the McNair Center at Northwood University and Michigan’s Mackinac Center, is a wellspring for America and the world’s energy future.

This article originally appeared in The Hill November 19, 2022.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to be known for creating jobs in Michigan’s all-important auto industry. In October, she proudly declared that “since taking office, we’ve announced 30,000+ auto jobs and counting.” But “announced” is different from “created,” and she’s walking back earlier claims that she has overseen actual job growth.

Green energy policies and government attempts to pick energy winners and losers are creating shortages and increasing energy prices. That’s no surprise. Government officials and progressive greens have been warned for decades that their plans will have this effect.

This article originally appeared in National Review December 13, 2022.

Michigan Democrats are contemplating a repeal of the state’s right-to-work law following midterm elections that handed them control of the state’s legislature for the first time in 38 years. Lawmakers thinking about such a move should reconsider. The law has been a tremendous boon to Michigan’s economy, and it is popular with voters.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s legislature are considering a “paycheck protection” bill which would prevent school districts from withholding dues from employees on behalf of unions. Unions, like almost every other private association, would have to get their dues or fees from workers directly.

For most of the 20th century, environmental concerns centered on water, air, land and habitats, and tremendous improvements were made in the democracies. Interest in these issues in recent decades, however, has taken a back seat to climate change. But with the growing attention paid to so-called “forever chemicals,” these concerns are coming back.

When people are stuck in traffic or do the pothole slalom down a broken road, they ought to wonder whether governments can do a better job of running the roads. Bob Poole thinks they can and has been helping governments improve surface transportation policies for over three decades. Poole is the director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Transportation Fellow at the Reason Foundation, and I speak with him for this week’s Overton Window podcast.

Fewer than half of state voters want lawmakers to repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law, according to two recent polls. One poll was commissioned by the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the other by the liberal activist group Progress Michigan.

School district leaders often turn to private companies to save money and improve support services. The proportion of districts that hire private companies to provide food, custodial and transportation services has increased from 31.0% in 2001 to 69.2% in 2022, according to the Mackinac Center’s survey of school districts.

An associate recently sent me a news release published by the Center for Biological Diversity in January 2022. According to the release, the number of oil and gas drilling permits approved by the Biden administration in its first year “stomps Trump’s by 34%.” My associate wondered how, or if, I had a response to the numbers quoted by the environmental group.

Michigan has yet to recover all the jobs it lost during the pandemic. Its recovery is the ninth-worst in the country, and 25 states now have more jobs than they did when the pandemic began. The incoming Democratic legislative majorities in Michigan will want to help the state add more jobs. One way they can help is to change the way state government taxes business expansion.

There have been underappreciated changes in the state economy. The decline in Michigan’s auto manufacturing jobs speaks for itself.

In 2021, Michigan had 175,745 motor vehicle and parts manufacturing jobs. This remains the most auto jobs of any state. But the number of auto jobs in Michigan is just 37.2% of what the state had at its peak.

Editorial cartoonists can say a lot with few words. And their work has been beloved by newspaper readers for decades. I speak with editorial cartoonist Henry Payne about how it works and the effect cartoons have on the policy debate for this week’s Overton Window podcast.

America’s choice to remain dependent on unreliable foreign energy is costing us. This is true at the pump, where gas prices are hovering around 60% higher than when President Biden took office. It’s also true on our monthly heating and electric bills. Early closures of reliable fossil and nuclear plants, paired with an increased reliance on Chinese-manufactured renewables, expose us to inclement weather and less reliable, more expensive electric service.

It used to be that environmentalists could make a lot of progress by outlawing pollution and hiring bureaucrats to monitor and regulate potential sources of environmental harms. But it’s time to give up this hammer and take up better and smaller tools for the job. At least, that is the idea Todd Myers — the environmental director at the Washington Policy Center — argues for in his new book, Time to Think Small.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has proposed a new, 96-page rule it claims will streamline Medicaid services. The rule’s practical effect, however, would be to make it harder to ensure that beneficiaries are even eligible for the program.

Less is more

Medicaid for all