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Charter Schools: A Reform That Deserves Support

An audit that found flaws in Michigan charter schools suggests the need for more education reform, not less.

Changing Michigan's Constitution: An Idea Whose Time has Come

Other states are racing past Michigan in improving education by giving parents freedom to choose schools. A Universal Tuition Tax Credit and constitutional amendment can keep Michigan from lagging behind.

Private Sector Schools Serve the Difficult-to-Educate

Nonpublic schools and organizations are helping thousands of students with special needs, laying bare the myth that private schools only "skim the cream" and leave the toughest kids to the public schools.

Term Limits Are Constitutional

Michigan citizens voted in favor of term limits in 1992 but lawsuits may derail the referendum-if the courts choose to recraft the state's constitution.

Michigan and the Fantastic Federal Fur Failure

In 1822 the nation's first experiment with a federally subsidized industry-the Michigan fur trade-showed how entrepreneurs can succeed where government fails.

Michigan Cigarette Policy Ignores Lessons of History

Since Michigan tripled its cigarette tax in 1994, smuggling has become big business in the state, exactly as it was before in Britain and Canada. Michigan can learn from their history.

Why Does the Michigan House Want Schools to Waste Money?

Outsourcing noninstructional duties saves money and improves quality for schools and taxpayers, but the Michigan House of Representatives voted to make doing this more difficult and costly for the state's school districts.

Corn Flakes and Greatness

From "dim-witted" dropout to one of the century's wealthiest Americans, Will Kellogg reminds us that personal and economic freedom encourage great achievement from even the most unlikely individuals.

Union Racial Discrimination is Alive and Well

Unions have a long history of petitioning government for special protections from competitive nonunion industries. The result has been a kind of institutionalized racism.

A Free Market in Electricity: Will Michigan Get It Right?

With Michigan on the verge of embracing choice in the electricity market, one big question remains. Will competition be killed in its cradle, or will consumers realize the benefits of a free market?

A Grand Rapids Success: Helping the Homeless Help Themselves

Goverment antipoverty programs can provide a check, but not the incentive and nurturing to change a life. Mel Trotter Ministries is an example of how the poor are better helped by private charities.

Let's Swap the Income Tax for a Sales Tax

The onerous federal income tax system is anti-jobs, anti-savings, and anti-worker. Replacing the IRS with a national sales tax would be an improvement.

Tocqueville and the Michigan Mosquito

Vicious insects and their wetlands habitat once threatened to make Detroit the "Malaria City" instead of the "Motor City." Does today's wetlands policy balance human health and economic needs?

Does Michigan Tax Itself Enough for Roads?

A federal "level of effort" test would return money to states based on state tax and spending levels. States with high taxes and wasteful spending would be rewarded most.

Road Reforms Are Critical to Michigan's Infrastructure

Michigan's rough roads need more than money. The governor's plan would use existing funds more effectively, but the proposed gas tax increase should be offset with other tax cuts.

Joe Louis vs. the IRS

The heavyweight champion's toughest opponent was not a boxer; it was the IRS. Louis' tragic story shows why we should replace the current income tax with a low, flat rate.

Competition is Coming to the Electric Power Business

Electric power deregulation is a world wide trend. Industry lore has it that rate payers demanded monopolistic utilities, but the reality is that utilities themselves lobbied for special monopoly protection.

The Difference Between a Fire and a Flood

The North Dakota flood of 1997 and the great Michigan fire of 1881 inspired vastly different forms of generosity: one based on politics and the other founded in compassion.

Michigan Should Enforce the Rights of Workers

Most union workers are unaware that they can not be forced to pay for their unions' political, social, and ideological activities. The state should help workers understand their rights.

Herbert Dow, the Monopoly Breaker

A spirited Michigan entrepreneur finds himself in an international trade war. He fights back with his own resources instead of asking for government help.

Lessons from Down Under

We can learn from how the Kiwis "down under" restored economic growth and productivity after decades of failed statist policies in New Zealand.

Temporary Workers and Pushbutton Unionism

Thousands of temporary workers choose not to join unions. Should the law force them to do so? The answer may wipe out a nearly $1 billion Michigan industry.

EPA Rules Are Bad News for Michigan

Proposed federal rules on air particles too small to measure would restrict millions of citizens' use of cars, lawn mowers, fireplaces, and even backyard barbecues.

What Segregation Did to the Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers paid a heavy price for resisting racial integration in the 1950s. Market competition, not quotas, eventually drove the team to add talented black players.

Flatten the Tax Before It Flattens Us

Simplifying the tax code to require a single, flat rate would charge the economy with billions of dollars in productivity now wasted on tax paperwork.

Getting Our Money's Worth in Reading Instruction

Educational fads have failed to improve reading skills in over twenty years. Instead of increasing subsidies to the status quo, the current budget could be spent on more fruitful teaching methods.

Property Rights Protect the Environment Better Than Politics

Some environmental groups are protecting thousands of acres of natural treasures not by lobbying for more regulations, but by buying the land they want to preserve.

650-Lifer Punishment Is a Crime

Michigan's harsh "650-Lifer" drug law is costing the state a fortune, restricting judges' discretion, and targeting many of the wrong offenders.

Minimum Wage Hurts Jobless by Making Work Illegal

No legislature can make a person worth more by making it illegal for job providers to that worker less.

Welfare Reform Means More Private Sector Involvement

Can government reform welfare alone? Private business has the unique ability to match people with jobs, and private charity can provide the personal, compassionate attention government programs lack.

Bridging the Racial Gap

A great Michigan builder benefited from a company that cared more about his skills than his skin color. Fred Pelham's experience illustrates the wisdom of rising above racial discrimination.

Lakefront Property Owners Told, "Look, But Don't Touch."

Property rights on the Upper Peninsula's Crooked Lake are being regulated away by the lake's biggest land owner-the federal government. This takes the "bad neighbor" concept to a new low.

A Case Where Local is Better than State

"Friend of the Court" is a county government function involved in administering child support payments. A congressional mandate may require this local government function to be centralized at the state level. Is this good policy?

What is Real Compassion?

Is it a mark of compassion to favor government aid programs for the poor? A look at the effectiveness of these programs and the traditional meaning of compassion help us tell the difference between those who just talk about compassion and those who actually practice it.

Let's Get the Facts Straight on Charter Schools

When charter school legislation was first introduced, critics charged that these relatively independent schools would be elitist, or even racist. Demographic statistics of actual charter school enrollment tell the real story.

Should Good Relations with Employees Be an Unfair Labor Practice?

Employee Involvement programs to improve the workplace are under attack from organized labor. Should it be illegal for workers and their companies to discuss topics of mutual interest?

An Economic Lesson From Michigan's Early History

Michigan's early state-run railroads and canals were such colossal failures that the citizens demanded a constitutional prohibition of state-run firms. This set the stage for Michigan's world-class lumber, carriage, and automobile industries.

High Time to Reverse Low Standards in Higher Education

Blame for the decline in literacy is often hung on K-12 public education. However, the university system that teaches the teachers should be made accountable for its contribution to K-12 educational problems.

New Energy Tax is Bad Economics and Faulty Science

One of President Clinton's first actions was to propose an energy tax. This destructive tax proposal could be resurrected, but it is based on unsound economics and dubious science.

What is Corporate Responsibility?

What does it mean for a firm to be a good corporate citizen? Are generous benefits, family-friendly policies, and earth-friendly practices enough, or are there also responsibilities to customers and shareholders?

Pre-Existing Condition Mandate is Unhealthy Policy

By forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, a proposed Michigan law may make health insurance harder to get, not easier.

More Juvenile Justice, Fewer Excuses

Our 97-year-old juvenile justice system sends the message to young criminals that the law has no teeth. Until young people are held responsible for their actions, the rebounding teen population will be accompanied by another surge in violent youth crime.

Union "Salt" Poisons the Well

Some unions "salt" nonunion firms by forcing them to hire union sympathizers or even paid union organizers in an attempt to force them to unionize. This abuse means higher prices for consumers and loss of freedom for nonunion firms and their workers.

Cutting Taxes to Raise Revenue

Are income tax cuts voodoo economics or an economic jump-start? History tells us what Coolidge, Kennedy, and Reagan learned when they slashed income taxes.

Exploring Medicaid Options

Michigan's Medicaid program has ballooned into a $4.5 billion giant. Medical savings accounts are a promising way to treat poor, disabled, and elderly people fairly and relieve Medicaid of the burden of providing long-term care for the middle class.

Let's Get Moving on the Roads

Everyone agrees that Michigan's crumbling roads need to be fixed. The state needs to make road repair a higher priority, continue recent cost-saving and efficiency measures, and adopt other recommendations that apply market forces and sound economics to road funding.

Can Michigan Keep Its Status as a Leader in Education Reform?

In Michigan, the same constitution that reads the "means of education shall forever be encouraged" is also the nation's strictest in forcing parents who choose an alternative to the public school system to pay twice for education. A tuition tax credit plan would provide some relief and address some of the flaws of a voucher system.

Teen Challenge: Kicking Two Bad Habits

Two addictions eating away at American life are drugs and government. A remarkably successful Muskegon organization fights drugs without a dime of taxpayers' money and helps kick both bad habits.

Cherries-More or Less?

Michigan leads the nation in tart cherry production. Some producers are lobbying the government to limit future production. Artificial controls on cherry production will retard development of new cherry markets and products essential to the industry's growth.

Grover Cleveland: Could He Be Elected Today?

Historians usually give high marks to American presidents who expand the frontiers of government. Democratic President Grover Cleveland worked tirelessly to limit government and expand individual liberty in the late 1800s. Could he win election today with that philosophy?

Ford Did Indeed Have a Better Idea

Henry Ford's automobile helped Michigan change the world. Without government assistance or mandates, he doubled workers' wages and reduced their hours. The result was lower cost and better quality for Ford and consumers.

Would You Like to Buy a Lighthouse?

Michigan's lighthouses are sadly deteriorating under government ownership, but the law prohibits their sale to private owners. A policy of selling the lighthouses to those who have an incentive to preserve them could save these fascinating pieces of Michigan history.

Toward a Civil Society

Government consumes 41 percent of personal income-an indication that ours is an increasingly political society. Restoring civil society means seeking more to solve our own problems and looking less to government.

End the War Between the States

States are battling one another with arsenals of corporate welfare that use public money to attract select new factories and businesses. These counterproductive and discriminatory incentive programs should be replaced by more broad-based tax cuts and government reforms.

Wanted: A Line Between Public and Private

Most people think government should do some things, but not every thing. Expanding government programs for things like "job creation" and "economic development" blurs the line between public and private.

The Arts: Too Important to Depend on Politics

Legislation to create tax-levying "cultural districts" would make art more of a political decision and less of a personal one. The arts can and should be supported privately, as increasingly demonstrated by Lansing's WKAR public television and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Wheeling Electricity in Michigan

A plan to allow electric power competition in Michigan will lower the cost of manufactured goods for businesses. The plan should be extended to all electricity consumers, including residential.

Success Stories from Oakland County

County government innovations in Michigan's second-largest county are saving money and improving public services for more than 1.1 million residents.

Michigan's Privatization Revolution

Almost every duty of local government has now been privatized, somewhere in Michigan. Privatization is emerging as a bipartisan, good-government initiative. Communities can benefit by merely considering the privatization option.

Public Housing Requires Private Management

Management of Detroit public housing is a disaster for residents, neighbors, taxpayers, and city officials. Private management of public housing has improved conditions for residents in other major cities.

Kids Hope Is Changing Young Lives

Kids Hope USA links church volunteers with at-risk public school students. The program is a proven alternative to government programs which offer a distant and artificial substitute for real compassion.

Do Michigan Exporters Really Need State Help?

Export subsidies are an example of corporate welfare that benefits a few at the expense of the many. Well over 99 percent of Michigan exports are made without the help of this special favors program.

Juvenile Justice Requires Juvenile Responsibility

Shocking juvenile violent crime trends will not reverse until local communities are given wider latitude to ensure certainty of punishment and other deterrents to criminal behavior.

Real Reform in Takings Law

Michigan land owners receive no compensation if the government causes partial, but not total, devaluation of their property. Other states have adopted fairer compensation laws that Michigan should consider.

The Electric Car Seduction

Alternative fuel subsidies and mandates distort the market signals that help make new technologies successful in the first place.

An Oasis of Good in a Desert of Despair

Burdensome rules on government grants to a Detroit church divert resources from helping people to satisfying bureaucrats. Government should encourage more private giving, not try to replace it.

Remembering "The Real McCoy"

Michigan black inventor Elijah McCoy's 52 patents helped the trains run efficiently and on time. The market rewarded his brilliant ideas and helped him overcome racial discrimination.

The Quackery of Equality

"Free people are not equal and equal people are not free," is a profound truth that politicians forget when they try to force economic equality through punitive taxes and restrictions. Michigan's former inheritance and intangibles taxes are examples.

The Salvation Army's War on Poverty

The Salvation Army has been waging war on poverty since long before the government declared its own war on poverty thirty years ago. A new city of Detroit ordinance makes it more difficult for the Salvation Army to help hungry and homeless people at its twenty Detroit shelters.

The Morality of Hiring Striker Replacements

Is the hiring of workers to replace striking employees a moral decision, a business concern, or both? A look at the inherent rights of workers and freedom of contract resolves the matter easily.

Michigan Needs Discussion of Right to Work

Some consider freedom of choice a serious threat to organized labor. Michigan law denies many workers the right to choose whether or not to support a labor union. The twenty-one states which guarantee this freedom to choose through right-to-work laws also enjoy greater economic growth, job creation, and real wages.

A Visit to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen

If welfare as a government entitlement ends, private institutions will play a larger role in helping needy people. Detroit's Capuchin Soup Kitchen is an excellent example of meeting needs through private, voluntary cooperation.

Should Bargains Be Illegal?

When a customer is sued by a former supplier because the customer found a better bargain with another company, whose side does the law tend to support? A Michigan firm finds itself in this situation.

The Price We Pay for Government Work

If state employees are underpaid, it is not because they are paid less than private-sector workers. The documented wage and benefit gap between Michigan's private and public sector is significant and growing.

Does the Constitution Still Apply in Kalamazoo?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects our homes against unreasonable searches. A Kalamazoo city rental inspection ordinance runs afoul of this provision, and helps create an unusual alliance.

Welfare Pays Better than Work

Some Michigan welfare recipients make the only logical economic choice when they stay on welfare rather than find work that pays even $9 per hour.

Markets Provide Clear Signals for Telecommunications

When firms compete, costs tend to go down and product quality tends to rise. When regulators enter the marketplace, operating under a different set of incentives, price and quality trends tend to work against the consumer.

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.

The Children Are More Important than the System

An initiative to provide Michigan public school students and parents greater choice in school selection would benefit students and schools. Opponents of school choice defend the existing system and status quo, and find themselves opposing freedom instead of helping to make it work.

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.