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Can Detroit’s Problems Be Corrected by an Emergency Financial Manager?

Making changes to Act 72 would be essential for an EFM to have the necessary tools to deal with the city of Detroit’s management and fiscal problems.

Globalization: What a Wonderful World

Despite Michigan’s recent economic woes, in 2004 it exported $35 billion worth of goods and services to the world, ranking it fourth among the states, up from sixth place in 1998.

Is There a Statesman in the House? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Perhaps we should all take a moment to thank our great-grandchildren yet unborn. If we lack statesmen in this generation, we will still have our disaster relief, our pork and our politics — and they will pay for much of it.

Federal Regulations of Mercury Emissions Appear Adequate

Great Lakes mercury levels are declining, and to the extent that mercury remains a human health threat in Michigan, the federal program is a more sensible first step in addressing it.

Does the Headlee Tax Cap Need To Be Tightened? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

So has Headlee restrained tax and spending growth? The answer is an unequivocal "maybe." In its 26-year history, the cap was exceeded just three times, and only once by enough to trigger a rebate.

Decisions About Great Lakes Drilling Should Be Left to the States

The Michigan Environmental Science Board concluded in 1997, “(T)here is little to no risk of contamination to the Great Lakes bottom or waters through releases directly above the bottom hole portion of directionally drilled wells. …”  The one small risk was contamination at the wellhead, far from the water’s edge. But wellheads, too, are regulated by the state.

"Poor Choices" Yield Better Education

The implications of Tooley’s findings are profound. Opposition to parental choice programs has often hinged on the belief that they would hurt the poor. In the wake of these results from Africa and India, it is difficult to imagine how that belief could be sustained.

An Agenda for the Next Mayor of Detroit (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Real reform can’t be postponed. If Detroit’s decline persists and the city’s financial problems continue, the state may be forced to appoint an “emergency financial manager” to run the city under Public Act 72 — an ignominious end for the mayor and Detroit itself.

Improving Michigan’s Regulatory Environment

If businesses or consumers are forced to spend too much money to obtain a permit or to carry out their business, it is the same as taxing their money away — and sometimes worse, since they lose time as well.

Tuition Hikes at Michigan Universities Demonstrate Need for Reform

Private for-profit schools like the University of Phoenix operate at dramatically lower cost per course, offering a product well-liked by students (enrollments are growing 20 percent annually), taught in comfortable but not opulent surroundings.

Michigan Supreme Court Ruling on “Beachwalking” Erodes Property Rights

The court’s ruling now exposes Great Lakes waterfront landowners to new risks and intrusions. Do the landowners have a duty to make the area beneath the high-water mark safe for walkers or wheelchair users? Can people fish all day below the high-water mark?

Supreme Court Ruling Shows Telecom Regulation Should Be Abolished

The ruling’s outcome is all well and good. Yet the FCC’s distinction between “telecommunications services” and “information services” is, in fact, imprecise and arbitrary — a regulatory invention that has no place in today’s telecommunications market.

The Sound of Freedom

In the summer of 1965, my mother announced one day that she was taking me to see a film called “The Sound of Music.” I knew nothing of it other than that a lot of singing was involved, and to my mind, that was a good enough reason to stay home. I went reluctantly — and was enthralled.

Survey: School Outsourcing Grows

According to Loock, the district went from paying a $100,000 subsidy to the food program to posting a profit of up to $25,000 after Chartwells took over.

Granholm’s Task Force Report: Wrong Prescription, Critical Disease

In the four states with a long-term care insurance partnership program, around 180,000 long-term care insurance policies have been sold — a purchase rate far higher than in other states. Of these policyholders, only 86 have had to resort to Medicaid.

Bad Food at a Good Price!

Imagine a restaurant with second-rate food, surly waiters, slow service and high prices. When the manager sees a customer getting restless, he rushes over and offers a 15 percent price cut.

Responding to Michigan’s Population Slide

No serious analysis can argue that redistributing the tax burden or putting the state deeper in debt so it can pick winners and losers could possibly make Michigan better off.

The Class is Always Keener on Our Own Side of the Street (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Asian students consistently outperformed those in the United States, while their parents downplayed their accomplishments. American parents, unaware of their children’s poor showings, tended to think their children were doing very well.

Catholic Schools and the Common Good

Given Catholic schools’ superior social and academic effects, it would seem sensible to structure education policy so as to make Catholic schooling more readily available, especially to low-income and minority families. We have done the opposite.

Schmeling K.O.’d by Louis! Louis K.O.’d by the U.S. Government!

Even in destitution, Louis remained a symbol of black achievement and American resistance to Hitler. But the American tax code remained a symbol of the strangling of economic wealth and generosity.

Remembering George Sutherland: Defender of the Constitution

So persuasive was Sutherland, and so bad was the NRA, that the Supreme Court voted unanimously that the law was unconstitutional.

Is the Governor’s Water Legacy Act All Wet?

More water is diverted into the Great Lakes than is siphoned out, and groundwater supplies are regularly replenished and remain abundant.

MEGA: 10 Years With Little To Show

MEGA’s attempt to pick winners and losers is a poor substitute for improving the fundamentals of Michigan’s business climate.

To Own or Be Owned: That Is the Question

“Ownership” as a general concept is never at issue in any society. It is neither possible nor desirable to construct a society in which people or the material things they create are not “owned.”

Her Own Personal Autoworld (Viewpoint of Public Issues)

More than 50 years of economic development history in Michigan should be enough to convince us that the economic development emperor has no clothes.

From Hospitals to Tsunami Relief: Lessons of Charles Hackley

Millions of Americans have contributed generously, just as they were accustomed to doing a century ago, because Americans have long believed that people voluntarily helping people is the way civil society is meant to work.

A Fair Comparison: U.S. Students Lag in Math and Science

The notion that America’s public school problems are confined to inner cities, and that our wealthy suburbs produce world-beating high school graduates, is a myth.

Watkins Debacle Shows Need for Basic Education Reforms

If the Michigan Board of Education, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the state Legislature hope to regain any credibility with the public, they must now show that they are serious about helping kids — and not just exiling people who offer straight talk about the system.

The “Payless Payday”

What’s the moral for state leaders today? The lasting and meaningful question is always, “Am I doing the right thing?”

Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Liberty

We cannot know what views Douglass and Washington might hold if they were alive today. But it’s worth remembering that the injustice and racial discrimination they faced in their era were at least as unforgiving as any persecution experienced in America in recent decades.

Creating Clear Signals on Telecom

Telecom firms are understandably reluctant to invest in markets where regulators wield power arbitrarily.

The Great Emigration

If people are the lifeblood of a city, then Detroit is bleeding to death. Staunching the flow will require a dramatic improvement in the city’s schools.

A New Beginning: Ending the Single Business Tax

Only eliminating the SBT and ensuring a bold net reduction in business taxes can begin to trump Michigan’s other handicaps in its economic competition with other states and nations. Even eliminating the SBT and cutting state spending dollar-for-dollar is not impossible; the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has detailed billions in potential state budget savings in areas like Medicaid, education and corrections.

Michigan at the Crossroads

The world economy is relentlessly, ruthlessly competitive. Michigan has no entitlement to a healthy economic future. Unless Lansing finds the courage to abandon “business‑as‑usual,” the state’s economy — and the people of Michigan — will fall further and further behind.

Profit Has a Role in Public Schools

Maybe what’s needed in the public schools is more profit, not less. Think about it: Where is the crisis in public education these days? Is it in the availability of desks, food or computers, or in other areas provided by the for-profit private sector? The crisis concerns the classroom — the part delivered by government, regulated by legislatures and supervised by district bureaucracies.

New Year’s Resolution: A Taxpayer Bill of Rights

At the end of fiscal 2000, Michigan budget officials informed lawmakers that the treasury had received $600 million more than had been budgeted. Rather than return it to taxpayers, state legislators went on a spending spree that included a new polar bear exhibit for the Detroit Zoo.

The Changing UAW

In innovative and very pragmatic new contracts with Ford, Chrysler and leading suppliers Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp., the UAW finally consented to different levels of compensation for members who previously were entitled to the same, famously rich packages.

The Golden Calf of Democracy

In spite of this year’s candidates singing interminable paeans to “our democracy,” America is thankfully not one and never has been. Our founders established a republic, modifying democracy considerably.

Mental Health Care Reform Should Put Patients First

State compliance requirements divert enormous resources toward monitoring the process followed by local mental health authorities, while doing little to measure whether patients in the system actually get better.

Should You Fear School Choice?

For the past 87 years, the Netherlands has enjoyed a universal, nationwide school-voucher program. Dutch high school seniors and recent graduates score first in the world in mathematics, second in science and fourth in literacy.

“Milking the Cow” of State Development Departments (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

We cannot lose sight of the fact that selective favors discriminate against those who do not receive them and distract policymakers from the broader business-climate reforms that would benefit everybody.

Did Anybody Really Know What Time It Was?

“In every city and town,” historian Stewart Holbrook wrote in 1947, “the multiplicity of time standards confused and ewildered passengers, shippers and railway employees. Too often, errors and mistakes turned out disastrously. …”

Why Socialized Health Care in Canada Is Not the Model to Follow

“[Canadian health care] produces inferior age-adjusted access to physicians and technology, produces longer waiting times, is less successful in preventing deaths from preventable causes and costs more than any of the other [health care] systems that have comparable objectives.” — The Fraser Institute of Vancouver, British Columbia

Going Broke by Degree

I have looked carefully at the relationship between economic growth and state spending on universities. I found a strong negative relationship — higher state spending equals lower rates of economic growth.

The Record of “Economic Development” Policy in Michigan

Between 1995 and 2003, Michigan finished 51st among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment growth.

When Politics Trumps Science

There’s no shortage of examples in which public policy has proved deadly when divorced from science.

When Will Conventional Public Schools Be as Accountable as Charters?

Charter schools were created with the idea that “performance will be rewarded and poor performance will be sanctioned.”

Re-regulating Electricity Could Shock Michigan’s Economy

A reversal in deregulation would restrict choice in electricity supply, harming rather than benefiting consumers and the businesses that employ them.

America’s Scientific Leadership Imperiled by Weakened Curricula

As Intel CEO Craig Barrett told Congress, “The sad truth is that the longer our students stay in our schools, the farther they fall behind in math and science.”

Eminent Domain Extremism Runs Into Judicial Brick Wall

Judge Susan Borman delivered a stinging rebuke to government officials who could not show a public necessity for taking over the family’s bridge.

Union Subjects Religious Objector to Modern-Day Inquisition

The MEA is alone among NEA state affiliates in requiring objecting teachers of faith to do anything more than write a letter outlining their basic beliefs.

Lansing Bureaucracy Threatens New Communications Technology

The Michigan Public Service Commission says it wants a “consistent regulatory policy.” Aiming for “consistency in policy usually means protecting special interests.

What Is Real Compassion?

When we expect the government to substitute for what we ourselves ought to do, we expect the impossible and end up with the intolerable.

Cut Train Subsidies to Re-connect Rural Michigan

Michigan taxpayers are shelling out almost $40 per rider on two Amtrak lines, on top of paid fares. No one has explained why it’s worth that much tax money to put a rider on a train instead of a bus or car.

Governor’s Water Scheme Is All Wet

The governor can’t credibly call for improving the business climate and making Michigan more competitive with other states, while at the same time pushing for overregulation.

Jobs Outsourcing: Beneficial Trade by Another Name

Outsourcing greatly lowers our cost of consumption, raises our standard of living tremendously and directly supports many jobs.

Real World Entrepreneur Gives Economics Lesson to Government Officials

Sometimes the most penetrating economic insights come from “real people” in the rough-and-tumble world of small business capitalism.

Wetlands Case Proves Need to Curtail Abuse

The Army Corps of Engineers came up with the “migratory molecule” rule, which says that even isolated wetlands fall under federal jurisdiction because there is a theoretical chance that a water molecule from any location may reach a navigable waterway.

Time to Take Another Look at Teacher Certification

“I was told that I could not be hired because my degree is from outside of the state, because I have no union affiliation, or because it would be ‘too difficult to confirm my credentials.’ These were different ‘reasons’ on different occasions,” related Robinson.

Remembering a Classic, and the Man Who Wrote It

To Smiles, the road to riches was not paved with over-reaching ambition, disregard for others, or cutting corners when it came to matters of truth. It didn’t mean securing favors from government at the expense of the competition.

Sinful Sin Taxes

“Because the profits are so fantastic, we’re now seeing drug traffickers, other criminal organizations, and even terrorists involved in tobacco smuggling.”

Why Are Mighigan's School Districts Borrowing More?

School districts tempted to dodge the demographic bullet with deluxe buildings and beggar-thy-neighbor policies should think twice. Instead, they should work on what really matters: making their education programs better.

Privatize the University of Michigan (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Tuition hikes could actually help those students who truly need help — by enabling the school to offer greater outright gift aid and tuition reductions to students from low-income families, as is often the practice at private universities.

Michigan's Poor: How Much Do Numbers Alone Really Tell Us?

Government school monopolies that typically spend more on failure than most private schools spend on success are, in our inner cities especially, veritable poverty mills.

"Proposal A," 10 Years Later

If the 1994 amendment needs amending at all, it needs it in the form of changes that would increase options for parents and produce greater accountability in the ways that education dollars are spent.

Black History Month: Remembering Ralph Bunche

“There is,” he said, “a steady tendency toward polarization of the white and non-white peoples of the world which can lead to ultimate catastrophe for all.”

Alexander Graham Bell Meets George Eastman

The stumbling blocks for further innovation today come not from entrepreneurs, venture capitalists or the marketplace, but from the regulators.

Let Cintas Workers Make Up Their Own Minds

There is no need to pressure Cintas into a neutrality or card-check agreement. When a majority of Cintas workers are convinced they want a union, they will vote to have one.

Why School Districts Can’t Save on Health Care

The MEA and MESSA have set up an obstacle course that prevents public schools from introducing competition for teachers’ health care coverage or putting reasonable limits on the extent of care.

The Granholm Administration: A Review of Year One

The governor’s handling of a $200 million proposal by Plymouth philanthropist Robert Thompson to build 15 charter schools in Detroit was her biggest leadership failure of the year.

Land Preservation Double-Cross

A slim majority of county commissioners has so far refused to put the millage on the ballot, citing significant unanswered questions about its economic effects.

Lack of Transparency Complicates State Budget Challenge

No one — neither the governor, nor the legislative appropriations committees, nor the heads of 20 state departments can know where all the money is going.

Solving the Organ Donation Crisis Through Incentives

As LifeSharers grows, so does the incentive to become a registered donor: preferred access to an ever-larger pool of donated organs.

The Candy Police

When state governments can tell local school districts what to do with regard to a detail as tiny as whether or not students can buy candy on school grounds, it’s time to question whether local control has become a thing of the past.

How to Make Cities “Cool”

Our state and its city governments would do better to focus on their more important functions (schools, roads and public safety, for example), which are often carried out in ways that are anything but cool.

French Fried by the Welfare State

The French can advance civil society only when they get serious about replacing government programs with private initiative, when discussion gets beyond such infantile reasoning as, “If you want to cut government subsidies, you must be in favor of starving the elderly.”

Air Travel: A Hundred Years of Safety

Rather than scrimp on safety measures to gain short-term profits, airlines have found it even more in their interest to ensure the safety of their passengers. No one makes money by putting passengers in danger.

Eliminate Intermediate School Districts

ISDs have become bureaucracies in search of a mission — funded to the tune of $878 million per year in property taxes statewide — with abuses such as those at OISD as the result.

Don’t Blame Deregulation for the Blackout

In the end, the blackout was primarily the result of failures at the transmission level — the level where almost no deregulation has occurred.

Will Michigan Have its First Unionized Parochial High School?

The risk for parochial and other religious schools in Michigan is that their mission could be undermined by having to cater to union demands.

Michigan’s Primary Land-Use Plan a Failure

By every measure, Michigan remains largely a rural state. More than 18 million of Michigan’s 36 million acres is forestland, a share that has actually grown by 2 million acres in the past 20 years.

A Hard Pill for UAW Members to Swallow

Gettelfinger no longer can shield UAW members from competitive pressure. Instead, the UAW must prepare domestic autoworkers for competition.

Repeal Michigan’s Anti-Takeover Law

Anti-takeover laws … often promote the very harms they are supposed to prevent, while imposing great costs and delays on the shareholders and other stakeholders in the corporations.

Reverse Robin Hoods at the University of Michigan

It makes no sense to hold tuition below market rates if it doesn’t achieve the goal of giving a financial leg up to students from poorer families.

The Headlee Amendment: Serving Michigan for 25 Years

We could have what Colorado has: a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which limits spending growth to population growth plus inflation and requires immediate refunds of surplus revenues above that limit.

The Driving-Point Tax: River of Money Could Corrupt Cops, Courts

Minor offenses aren’t overlooked. For example, a motorist unable to find his or her proof of insurance when requested by a police officer — even if they were, in fact, insured — would be assessed $300.

Lessons from the First Airplane

Just nine days after Langley’s failure, the Wrights took turns flying their carefully designed plane for as long as 59 seconds at Kitty Hawk. The craft cost them about $1,000. It cost American taxpayers nothing.

Ford Did Indeed Have A Better Idea

It was clear to Ford that hard work and entrepreneurial risk-taking were the sources of America’s great wealth. “Our help does not come from Washington, but from ourselves,” he wrote. “The government is our servant and never should be anything but a servant.”

Contract Out School Services Before Laying Off Teachers

The fact that poor-performing private companies have been fired — a point the MEA makes very clear — doesn’t prove that privatization doesn’t work. It proves that it does.

Michigan Unions Continue to Lose Support among Workers

Labor unions should abandon the old, outmoded adversarial model of labor relations and instead study ways they can create a better atmosphere; in which labor and management cooperatively solve problems in ways that promote free enterprise.

Beachfront Property Rights Need Protection

Regulators would do far better … to focus attention on the dumping of raw sewage and chemicals that are triggering abnormal plant and algae growth along the lakeshore.

Frivolous, Trendy Teacher Training in Michigan

“The curricula offered by university education departments are heavy on fuzzy ‘self-wareness,’ ‘multicultural,’ and other faddish or politicized material, and light on the hard knowledge of the subjects that teachers must eventually teach.”

County Police Can Patrol Highways for Less

The state could give grants to county sheriff departments equivalent to 77 percent of the amount it currently spends for road patrols, or $128 million. This would allow sheriff’s departments to hire more deputies, and also boost their overhead to support the expanded operations.

Eagle Sightings Signal Improved Michigan Water Quality

The United States and Canada have identified 14 areas within Michigan’s jurisdiction in which water quality does not support a full range of uses, such as drinking or fish consumption.

Feds Endanger Michigan Ferry Business

How refreshing it would be for the federal government to advise the folks at Lake Express LLC, “If you need money to make money, then go get it the honest way: Prove yourself to your investors and to your customers.”

Remembering Prague Spring

The freedoms aborted in 1968 were won in the “Velvet Revolution” of November 1989 when, sapped of any moral legitimacy or resolve, communist rule and Soviet domination evaporated as millions of jubilant Czechs danced in the streets.

A Way to Ease the Pain of Budget Cuts

By what standard of social justice does the state inflate the wages of workers who would most likely be earning above-average wages without government intervention?

How to Fix the Organ Donation Crisis

Who can calculate the value of a life saved or the improvement in the quality of life of a dialysis patient or of one who is constantly being admitted to hospitals with congestive heart failure?

Gov. Granholm: Profile in Budget Courage

With government at all levels consuming over 40 percent of national income — more than ever before in our nation’s history — now is the time for bold initiatives to re-shape what state government does and does not do.