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Teachers as Entrepreneurs in the Classroom

American education is still burdened by the thing that caused the economies of Eastern Europe to disintegrate-central planning that all but obliterates individual initiative and accountability. Private-practice teaching is an innovation that gives teachers more freedom and incentive; provides administrators more flexibility and cost savings; and allows more choice and improved education to students.

Ending the Lawyer Monopoly

A Michigan statute that protects lawyers from competition contributes to sky-high attorney fees that burden the average consumer and prevents many poor people from affording simple legal services.

Competitive Contracting Is the Taxpayer's Best Friend

When government construction projects do not even accept bids from nonunion firms, the taxpayers pay more and nonunion workers are denied employment opportunities.

The Role of Prevention in Health Care Reform

Most Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care reform plans seek to manipulate health care need. Another proposal, medical savings accounts, would encourage injury and illness prevention and would help save Americans $200 billion annually.

A New Approach to Financing Highways

Michigan highway financing goes through "binge" and "bust" cycles that allow roads to deteriorate before new monies are raised. Modern technology may make possible a more equitable and cost-effective "pay-as-you-go" system.

Enviromania in the Textbooks

Environmental problems exist, but some Michigan textbooks make exaggerated claims and teach children that the world is near destruction. Twisting facts is bad enough, but it may be worse to subject our children to unfounded fears and pressure to save the planet.

Lessons from Outrageous Laws

The laws uncovered by the Mackinac Center's Outrageous Law Competition will make you chuckle. Underlying them are two serious lessons which teach us about government's response to crises and the role of special interests.

Lessons from the Mexico Crisis

About 20 percent of Michigan's goods and services are exported to Mexico. That country's recent currency crisis was met with a U.S.-backed bailout. The federal government could do Michigan a favor by getting its own house in order, and not throwing U.S. taxpayers' money at Mexico's failed policies

Farm Subsidies: The Courage to Say No

Farm subsidies drive up food prices for the poor and subsidize many millionaire farmers. The problem seems intractable today, but exactly 100 years ago a Michigan man mustered the integrity and courage to deal with this very issue.

More to Do on Workers' Compensation Reform

Michigan is winning the battle to control its workers' compensation costs. It is time to celebrate that success, and take the next steps for improvement. Progress can still be made in getting the injured back to work and screening out dubious claims.

The EPA's Toll on the Mackinac Bridge

A $50 million unfunded EPA mandate requires that the Mackinac Bridge be repainted inside of a tent. This is a premier example of an unfunded mandate the governor should resist. This piece of research generated enormous statewide attention.

On the Roads Again

Michigan's roads are in poor shape and they need money for repairs. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of Michigan road dollars are diverted to nonroad uses, and are even used to build roads in other states. Cost-saving measures are recommended, along with a call to give roads higher priority without a net tax increase on Michigan citizens. This contains the key points of the Center's comprehensive transportation study, Fixing the Roads.

Who's at Fault for the High Cost of No Fault?

Michigan's no fault auto insurance is among the most expensive in the country. Allegations of price gouging by insurance companies make headlines while a far more likely culprit is costly state mandates.

Block Grants Are Not the Answer

If you wanted something done in your community, would it ever occur to you to send a check to Washington, D.C., so the federal bureaucracy could take a cut before sending back the rest?

Stadium Subsidies Strike Out

Government subsidies for a new Tiger Stadium amount to corporate welfare. Other big businesses have to raise their own private capital-why not baseball? This article makes the philosophical and economic case for private sports facilities.

Is Your County Losing in Arts Subsidies?

Most Michigan counties are net losers in the grab for public arts dollars. The claim that government spending on art produces a special "multiplier" effect is spurious. The bottom line: Art is too important to be dependent on government.

Private Efforts in the Public Interest

A private nonprofit environmental group knows that the free market is the most effective tool for protecting the environment. This is a wonderful success story of voluntary cooperation instead of government coercion.

The Other Side of Tax Deductions

Ironically, taxpayers' cherished deductions and loopholes stand in the way of meaningful tax reform. There is a fairer system that would still provide adequate government revenue.

A New Day for Michigan Schools

Two new laws take effect in April 1995 that will help Michigan's 1.7 million school children and their parents. Will schools take advantage of the newly created freedoms and opportunities?

The Prison Boom: New Options for Michigan

The prison business is booming in Michigan-fifteen percent of the General Fund. Can taxpayers afford the bills that mount from business as usual? Michigan can save hundreds of millions of dollars by trying what other states are already doing.

Washington Should Learn from Michigan's Budget Cuts

Michigan's turbocharged economy is a result of courageous government streamlining and downsizing. If the federal government is serious about "reinventing," it should follow Michigan's blueprint.

MEGA Problems: A New Industrial Policy Bureaucracy

In a stunning retreat from free-market principles, Governor Engler asks Michigan to join the bandwagon of states in which government picks the industrial winners and losers. The MEGA plan will not work, and may have unintended negative consequences.

Catching Speeders: Cops or Cameras

New technology makes it possible to ticket speeders with cameras, radar, and computers-and no cops. Should it be allowed? There are many pros and cons.

Should You Count on Social Security?

Why do more Americans believe in UFOs than have faith in Social Security? Can the system be rescued? Other nations have saved their systems with free-market reforms.

The Language of Federal Mandates

When government forces others to do its bidding without providing the money to pay for it, it is called a mandate. Politicians and bureaucrats try to wriggle out of the responsibility with carefully crafted code phrases. This glossary of "governmentese" will entertain and enlighten.

Welfare Reform: Have We Gone Far Enough?

Welfare programs are one of the most unpopular of government activities. Though Michigan has made progress over the past four years, the real challenge lies ahead: making assistance to the needy a private initiative instead of a government responsibility.

Alice in Mandate Land

Proposed core curriculum from Lansing is more of the same fuzzy thinking that has produced declining achievement scores and increasing functional illiteracy in the schools.

Making Michigan Safe for Investors

Economic progress means enhancing opportunities, promoting capital formation, insisting on fairness in taxation, and keeping good people who create jobs here in Michigan. The onerous intangibles tax works against all these things and should be abolished.

Should Michigan Become a Right-to-Work State?

Labor reform that brings Michigan law up-to-date is not something to be feared. Giving workers freedom of choice in union membership would be a plus for the Michigan economy.

Michigan Schools: Doing More With Less

What financially hobbles our schools is not a lack of money, but a lack of money management. Contracting with the private sector offers a promising solution.

States to Washington: Cease and Desist!

A burgeoning national movement to assert state sovereignty promises to mushroom into a crisis for the federal government if it refuses to live within its constitutional boundaries. Unfunded mandates are at the core of the controversy surrounding interpretations of the 10th Amendment.

Understanding Charter Schools and the Constitution

Public Act 362 of 1993 authorized charter schools and did not violate the Michigan Constitution. Charter schools are a creative way to make changes within public schools. However, luring private schools into the public domain with tax dollars is a danger.

Ax the Package Tax

Advance disposal fees are taxes imposed on containers at either the distributor or the retail level and are likely to add more burdens than they relieve. Managing the waste stream effectively requires a reliance upon markets, not new taxes that make little economic sense.

A Constitutional Convention Wish List

Our state constitution would be improved if it incorporated provisions to restrict the state's ability to dictate terms of private contracts, protect and enhance educational freedom, and limit regulatory "takings" of private property.

The Headlee Amendment: Alive and Well

Though certain initiatives are needed to clarify the law and ensure enforcement, the 1978 Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution has worked reasonably well in limiting the growth of government.

Does Michigan Need a Constitutional Convention?

Michigan voters decide this year whether they want to call a convention for the purposes of revising the state's constitution. The dangers of a general rewrite of our state's basic governing document exceed any potential benefit.

Comparable Worth or Incomparably Worthless?

A comparable worth scheme imposed on the economy would arbitrarily abolish the role of supply and demand in the labor market. Markets set wages better than any artificial, political contrivance could ever hope to.

Not One Cent for Tributes in Lansing

The Michigan legislature regularly spends taxpayers' money on resolutions of tribute for an array of special interests, individuals and groups.

Public Housing: Subsidies or Vouchers?

The moral, economic, and constitutional case for the federal government's involvement in housing is dubious at best, but the way it conducts its housing business now requires changes.

"Discrimination" at Private Clubs in Michigan

What was conceived as a protection for women in Michigan country clubs has become another entry on a long list of meddlesome and ultimately counterproductive restrictions on personal freedom.

Must Teachers Pay for Union "Image Building"?

An effort by the Michigan Education Association to extract an assessment from its members for a public relations campaign runs afoul of Supreme Court decisions protecting workers' rights.

Medicaid Reform: Giving Michigan's Poor a Chance

Privatizing Medicaid through the use of vouchers would reduce state expenditures, improve service quality, and provide greater access to health care for the needy.

A Moving Experience

State regulations exist that stifle competition, protect inefficiency, and encourage movers to "call the cops" on each other. It's time to open the market up to competition and consumer choice.

Beyond Deinstitutionalization: Mental Health Reform in Michigan

Michigan's mental health reforms are relying on creative ways to place patients in compassionate community settings, and cutting loose local governments and private providers from inefficient state-run programs.

Should the Blues Buy the Accident Fund?

The state of Michigan should privatize its workers compensation insurer, but not by selling it to a quasi-public entity that enjoys many government-granted privileges.

Science vs. the Chlorine Scare

Proposals to ban the chemical chlorine represent environmental extremism. Wild claims unsubstantiated by scientific evidence should not become the foundation of our public policy.

Solving Problems in Unemployment Insurance

Two Central Michigan University professors argue that the unemployment insurance system is costly, bureaucratic, out-of-date, and in trouble. One solution is a privatized system of voluntary, tax-exempt Individual Unemployment Accounts.

Biotechnology: From the Blackboard to the Barnyard

Michigan dairy farmers who put cutting-edge research to work on the farm should beware: some people don't think that cows and science make a good combination. Will the public embrace science and economics or emotion and scare-talk masquerading as "environmentalism"?

The Other Educational Choice

Exempting Michigan's public school teachers from the Public Employment Relations Act would resolve the strike issue, remove barriers union policies have erected, and open the door for the advancement of good teachers.

Protecting the Public from Competition

Michigan's bureaucratic regulation of the intrastate trucking industry is not intended to protect the general public from harm. Rather, it is intended to protect existing truckers from aggressive competition in a free market. The sad case of a Grand Rapids company, Federal Armored, proves it.

Charter Schools in Michigan: Unfinished Business

Michigan's recent charter school legislation, a well-intentioned effort to introduce market forces into public education, suffers from stifling rules and regulations.

Confronting Urban Sprawl: How Cities and Suburbs Can Both Win

Detroit and other urban centers need a strategy that will address the urban sprawl problem and offer economic prosperity and growth opportunities to both cities and suburbs. That strategy must include reducing tax burdens and alleviating costly environmental regulations.

The Christmas Eve Hijacking

The Michigan legislature squandered an opportunity to reform education when it arrived at a Christmas Eve "compromise" package that largely reaffirmed the status quo-a watered-down charter school program, limited parental choice, and almost no cost containment.

When Opposites Attract: Public Schools and Private Enterprise

Without additional spending, school administrators can take advantage of private sector expertise, accountability, and cost-effectiveness for public education.

The Most Expensive Lottery Tickets in the Country?

Thanks to a 1937 law requiring state printing be done according to "prevailing wages," Michigan pays one-third more for printing lottery tickets than Indiana, Kentucky, and New York. Repealing it would save taxpayers more than $2 million.

The Rise and Fall of Michigan Cities

Michigan's growth cities during the 1980s were also the ones that taxed and spent the least, while the state's declining cities taxed and spent the most. Detroit's dramatic decline was due in part to a tax burden seven times higher than the average Michigan municipality.

When Local Control Means Control by Locals

The Michigan Education Association claims to support more local control and site-based management but opposes charter schools and choice.

More Spending Not the Solution to School Woes

Per pupil spending and average teacher salary have little impact on student performance. Michigan needs to devote less attention to cash and more to strengthening the role of parents to make progress in improving education.

MESSA: Insurance for Political Power

In more than 300 of Michigan's 524 K-12 public school districts, costly health insurance for school employees is administered by an organization whose practices are secretive and monopolistic.

The Hazards of Cigarette Taxes

When government seeks new revenues, "sin taxes" are among the first proposed. It should be recognized that cigarette taxes are regressive and smokers already pay the full costs of their habit.

Send the Cash, Keep the Change

Genuine school reformers say, "Change the system so schools can work better, and we will be happy to fund them." Unfortunately, many of those in the government education monopoly say, "Send the cash, keep the change."

Charter Schools as Catalysts for Change

Charter schools can transform the culture of public education into opportunities to do things better. Other states have shown they can inspire new ways of thinking about education.

How Well Do Schools Prepare Their Students?

Today, too many students have poor reading and writing skills, little motivation to learn, and minimal ability to reason. When East Harlem, New York, adopted a choice plan, student motivation and academic achievement improved dramatically.

Putting Incentive to Work in Education

The Mackinac Center's innovative Education Credit Account concept encourages schools to work harder and smarter to give parents hope for higher education for their children, whether they choose public or private schools.

Real-life Stories Show Need for School Choice

Proponents of educational choice should not allow the opposition to depersonalize the debate. This commentary cites instances that show how the absence of choice hurts children.

Do Schools Really Need More Money?

Contracting custodial work, busing, and food services can save schools money. If schools paid what most retailers pay for custodial work, they could save over $1 million dollars per year.

Michigan's Economics Knowledge Deficit

Economics is a subject that dominates public policy discussion, but it's being short-changed in Michigan's schools. Sound economics knowledge is a blueprint for a sound economy.

Sales Tax on Services a Bad Idea

Michigan should learn from Florida's failed 1987 attempt to extend its sales tax to cover services. If done, it would disadvantage small businesses which compete with large firms and boost the state's administrative costs.

Privatized Child Foster Care Works for Michigan

Private agencies in Michigan are providing foster care for children that is less costly than that provided by the state. This example of privatization is an important success story.

Cost of Government Day: July 13, 1993

The average American spends over half his time laboring to pay the total price of government spending and regulations. This should remind us that a government that's big enough to give us everything is also big enough to take everything we have.

Airports are Going Private

Since Great Britain sold seven major commercial airports in 1987, airport privatization has taken off everywhere. Neighboring Canada has privatized four of its largest airports. The track record is such that responsible public officials at the federal, state, and local levels can no longer dismiss the idea.

Certificates of Need: Poor Health Care Policy

Michigan's CON law requires hospitals and nursing homes to secure state approval before making certain capital expenditures. This regulation restricts competition, curtails investment, requires costly paperwork, and actually raises operating costs.

NAFTA and the Benefits of Free Trade

Genuine free trade with our neighbors would broaden consumer choice, increase trade and investment opportunities, create new jobs, and make more goods available at lower cost. The North American Free Trade Agreement could be strengthened if its protectionist features were removed.

Tax Cut Plan Avoids Mistakes of the Past

The 1993 statewide ballot proposal known as "Proposal A" had its flaws but nonetheless would have provided tax reductions then, true tax limitation in the future, and predictability of assessments for overtaxed property owners.

The Most Promising Health Care Reform

Medical Savings Accounts would encourage Americans to pay smaller medical bills out-of-pocket. Low-cost, high-deductible insurance could then take care of larger bills. The MSA idea avoids price controls, rationing, and huge tax increases.

Hyping the Head Start Program

The $2.2 billion Head Start program for low-income preschoolers is a successful education experiment-if success is measured by good public relations. Unfortunately for its advocates, there is virtually no evidence that Head Start has any significant, long-term impact on children's lives.

The High Cost of Bad Law

Repeal of Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act of 1965 would end a special interest subsidy and make more funds available for such things as education, mental health, or job creation through a lower tax burden on private enterprise.

Taxing Savings Destroys Jobs

An analysis of Clinton tax proposals concluded that 2.3 million private sector jobs would be lost over six years if certain policies became law.

The Looming Threat to NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement is supposed to reduce government intervention and eliminate trade barriers. Efforts to transform it into a labor and environmental treaty, however, threatened to cancel out its free-trade advantages and prevent its passage by Congress.

An Agenda for Choice and Quality in Education

A brief list of reforms for education includes making state aid "portable" across school district lines, saving money through privatization, empowering local school management, and encouraging teacher entrepreneurship.

Time to Strengthen the Headlee Amendment

The 1978 Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution restricted government spending and taxation and provided important protection to taxpayers, cities and counties. Problems have arisen, however, that deserve the attention of Governor Engler's special commission.

A School Choice Program That's Working

The southern Wayne County town of Wyandotte has implemented a "program of choice" as a result of changes in the law that already is bestowing benefits other Michigan localities would be well-advised to adopt.

Taxes Make a Bigger Difference Than You Think

The next time you purchase something, think of its cost in terms of what your gross earnings have to be in order for you to afford it. In many cases, taxes almost double the cost of goods and services.

Washington Should Kick the Mandate Habit (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Congress has a knack for mandating programs and then dumping the costs on the states. Such unfunded mandates are costing Michigan nearly $100 million in just the Medicaid program alone and, in the process, preempting the discretion of Lansing lawmakers to use scarce funds.

Let's Get Serious About Educational Choice

Irregular school board and bond election dates confuse voters, decrease turnout, and enable narrow special interests to unduly influence public school governance. Consolidating all school elections on the November ballot would alleviate these problems.

Michigan Hurt by Erosion of "Employment-at-Will"

The judicial assault on employment relationships in the free marketplace has burdened Michigan business with costly litigation. We need to restore the freedoms of contract and association in the "employment-at-will" doctrine.

Time to Rethink Unemployment Insurance

The unemployment insurance system extends the very unemployment it is intended to alleviate and taxes stable firms to subsidize unstable ones. It's time to consider alternatives.

Proposed Carbon Tax Would Impose Enormous Costs

A carbon-based fuels tax desired by President Clinton to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would cost thousands of jobs and produce little or no positive environmental effect.

Recycling Makes Sense--Sometimes

Recycling seems to have taken on an almost religious meaning, with the faithful wrongly assuming that "disposable" is bad and "recycling" is good, without regard to costs and disruption of markets.

Medical Savings Accounts Would Control Health Care Costs

Informed patients are better suited to make decisions about the trade-offs between money and health care expenditures. Encouraging personal medical savings accounts would help control today's spiraling health costs.

A Closer Look at Proposals A and C

The two property tax proposals on the November 1992 Michigan ballot provide a glaring distinction: one is a property tax cut and the other is not. Proposal C, despite one drawback, represents the best hope in years for real property tax reduction.

A Defense of Term Limits

Term limitation is no panacea, but it is a needed structural reform that will break the stranglehold of special interests on the electoral process. If politicians know that they must return to the private sector, they will think more carefully about the long-term effects of the programs that they impose upon the country.

The Future of Social Welfare May Be Just Down the Street

Private initiatives in meeting the needs of the poor deserve attention and encouragement. Two such efforts in Michigan, one in Grand Rapids and the other in Harrison, are helping people who were cut from the General Assistance Welfare rolls in October 1991.

Wastewater Should Be a Private Matter

The treatment of municipal wastewater doesn't have to be an expensive duty of local government. In fact, it's increasingly being thought of as something the private sector can handle better and at lower cost, with the city of Alpena, Michigan, providing a showcase example.

Selling Off the Accident Fund

State government's error in taking over a workers compensation insurer in 1989 should be undone by privatization.

Educational Choice Requires New Ways of Thinking

Though educational choice works in countries like Holland and Canada, it is being stymied in the U.S. by the idea that preserving the current system is more important than educating children.

Global Warming: Can Politicians Take the Heat?

Public policy on the environment should not be driven by "bad" science or the absence of good science. Politicians must weigh the evidence and reject emotion, propaganda, and hidden agendas in the global warming debate.

Mixing Government and Garbage

A Michigan House Republican Task Force on Recycling and Waste Reduction proposes a series of interventionist solutions to problems that would not exist if the state weren't already deeply involved in managing solid waste.

Privatization in Michigan Works--When We Let It

Contracting out government services to private sector providers-the most prominent form of "privatization"-is on a roll in Michigan, especially at the local level. With the removal of certain barriers erected in Lansing, it could advance much further.

Dan Quayle: Correct But Not Politically Correct

Vice President Dan Quayle was right to criticize the television show Murphy Brown for promoting the idea that single working motherhood is any kind of model for healthy development of children. All social science points to quite the contrary view.