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Voluntary Unionism Puts Interests of Students and Teachers First

Unions routinely thwart needed education reforms by spending large amounts of cash coerced from unwitting teachers. If unions had to voluntarily earn teachers' support, they would spend more time serving their members instead of playing politics.

Parents Should Have More Options When Schools Commit Academic Fraud

Too many Michigan school districts are committing academic fraud by failing to deliver the quality education they promise. If parents could choose the schools their children attend, fraudulent schools would have to improve or lose customers.

Prohibition-Era Law Is Example of Nanny State at Its Worst

It's time to repeal an outdated state liquor law that does nothing but give monopoly status to in-state producers, raise prices, and limit choices for responsible Michigan consumers.

A Mixed Message to Children: Say "No" to Drugs, but "Yes" to Ritalin?

Every school day, millions of American children are given a powerful drug called "Ritalin" to combat a disorder known as ADHD. But many experts say Ritalin is not the way to help children learn better.

New Year's Resolutions for Michigan's New Legislature

Here are seven New Year's resolutions Michigan's new Legislature can make to ensure greater prosperity and opportunity for all citizens.

Does Giving Government Unlimited Power Really Protect the Environment

The Michigan Legislature recently gave the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality carte blanche to impose staggering fines on property owners for alleged environmental violations. This is a terrible idea given the department's past abuses.

Failed E-Business Deal Underscores Futility of State Economic Planning

Leaders of government "economic development" programs attempt to guess which companies will thrive and create new jobs. But the complexities of the marketplace make it impossible to predict which firms succeed and which fail.

Teacher's Case Shows How Union Workers Can Re-Direct Dues to Charity

A Livonia teacher recently won his bid to send his union dues to charity as an alternative to funding the union's political and moral agenda, which he opposes on religious grounds.

Coming to Terms with Term Limits

Contrary to what some observers are arguing, it is far too soon to declare Michigan's experience with term limits for public officials a failure.

Schools Should Stand Behind Their Diplomas

More districts should follow the example of Grand Rapids-area Rockford Public Schools, which guarantees that its graduates possess basic skills by requiring them to pass competency tests before receiving their diplomas.

The "Patients' Bill of Rights": Get Two Lawyers and Call Me in the Morning

The "patients' bill of rights" being debated in Congress would only encourage costly litigation but do little to improve Americans' access to affordable, quality health care and insurance.

As Values Collapse, Government Grows

Promoting ethical values such as honesty, respect, and personal responsibility ought to be a top priority for freedom-loving Americans. The alternative is a nanny state that passes ever more laws to restrain citizens' poor behavior.

Government Should Withdraw from Attempts to Ban ATM Fees

Government bans on unpopular automatic teller machine transaction fees could deprive consumers of the valued convenience of accessing their bank accounts virtually anywhere.

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 regulations.

Opposing Judicial Philosophies Court Michigan Voters

Voters must decide in November if they want a state Supreme Court that interprets the law as passed by the Legislature or one that "makes" law by imposing its justices' policy preferences on Michigan citizens.

A Connecticut Yankee in Bankruptcy Court

Mark Twain handled his bankruptcy at age 59 the old-fashioned way: He worked hard and repaid his debts in full. Today, too many Americans have found a new way: file for bankruptcy and avoid financial responsibility.

When "Local Control" Means Control of the Locals

A proposed amendment to the state constitution, billed as a way to limit state interference in local affairs, would actually lead to costly litigation and greater government intrusion in the lives and businesses of Michigan citizens.

Hypocrisy on School Choice Sends Wrong Message to Kids

Many Michigan legislators and public school teachers choose to send their children to private schools, raising the question: Why shouldn't school choice be extended to all the state's citizens?

Policy Makers Must Remember That Incentives Matter

People respond in powerful ways to economic incentives and disincentives. Public officials must keep this in mind when crafting or revising tax, welfare and other policies that either reward or punish responsible behavior.

Separating State from Church

"Separation of church and state" watchdogs applaud when courts keep religion out of public schools, but where are they when the state presumes to dictate the curricula of religious seminaries?

European Observations on U.S. Public Education

American education would improve if the monopolistic U.S. government school system imitated the many European countries that encourage a competitive educational marketplace between both public and private schools.

Judging How Justices Are Chosen In Michigan

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the proper response to those who wish to change the way Michigan Supreme Court justices are selected.

Time Is Money: Give Michigan Workers a Flexible "Comp-Time" Law

Rigid, Depression-era labor laws should be revised to allow more flexible employment arrangements for America's changing workforce, which increasingly includes women with young children.

Counting the Cost of Prescription Drug Price Controls

Those who argue that price controls will make prescription drugs more affordable ignore lessons from Canada and other countries, where such measures have led to poorer quality health care.

What I Learned in Public School

Choice and competition are the keys to improving education for all students, says a successful businessman and elected public school board member.

Student Fees: Freedom of Speech or Forced Subsidy?

College student groups should earn their financial support voluntarily, rather than relying on mandatory "student fees" coerced from the whole student body.

Toward a Civil Society

(The Mackinac Center first published a version of this commentary in July 1996. As the 2000 presidential election approaches, its re-issuance is especially timely.)

Mandatory Reporting of Medical Errors: Sound Prescription or Policy Malpractice?

Proposed new government mandates on doctors and hospitals could actually harm patients by making care less accessible.

A Reform Idea for Detroit Schools: Charter Them!

Converting Detroit's public schools into charter schools would free parents, students, teachers, and principals from a paralyzing education bureaucracy and allow them to take responsibility for making their particular school work.

Progress vs. Pessimism: Environment Doing Better Than Most Realize

The most recent government data on the environment show that, far from being threatened, Michigan's environment has steadily improved since the first Earth Day 30 years ago.

Limited School Choice Is Improving Michigan Public Schools

Competition for students within the public education system is prompting many public schools to embrace reforms that they might not otherwise have tried.

Keep the Internet Tax-Free!

A plan supported by Governor John Engler would invade consumers' privacy and severely hamper the fledgling Internet economy that is leading the way to growth and prosperity.

The Census: Inquiring Minds Want to Know . . . A Lot

The U.S. constitution requires the federal government to conduct a national head count every 10 years, but many Americans are wondering why census officials ask so many nosy questions.

Are Americans Tax Slaves to the Government?

Americans today are in desperate need of relief from punishing taxes, which consume an incredible 38 percent of the average family's gross income.

Socialized Medicine Leaves a Bad Taste in Patients' Mouths

Canada's socialized health-care system ensures that everything-including hospital food-becomes fodder for political battles. U. S. policy makers should resist calls to further socialize America's market-oriented health system.

Don't Raid Michigan's Unemployment Fund to Pay for Family Leave

President Clinton wants states to use unemployment compensation to provide paid leave for parents staying home to care for their newborn children. Lawmakers should instead allow workers to negotiate "comp-time" arrangements to handle family needs.

Farm Worker Legal Services Encourage Law of Unintended Consequences

Two government-funded programs aimed at helping Michigan farm workers are actually working together to make it harder for poor laborers to find housing.

Lower Taxes, Less Regulation Key to Twenty-First Century Economy

For Michigan to compete in the twenty-first century economy, policy makers must continue to cut taxes and remove regulatory barriers to the information-based businesses of the present and future.

Government "Economic Development" Handouts Rob Peter to Pay Paul

One state program is using tax dollars to lure an out-of-state firm to Michigan to compete with third-generation, family-owned Koegel Meats of Flint.

Fear of Segregation Is No Argument against School Choice

Private schools, which parents choose, offer more racially integrated student populations than do public schools, where students are assigned based on where they live.

Where Are the Omelettes?

Freedom brings the greatest human happiness and prosperity, as the bloody history of Russia, Cambodia, and other centrally planned societies shows.

Celebrating Free Enterprise and One Hundred Years of Kodak Moments

With the introduction of his Kodak Brownie camera in 1900, entrepreneurial genius George Eastman put photography within reach of average Americans for the first time.

Land Trusts: A Private Solution to Protect Michigan Farmland

Dozens of private land trusts are helping to preserve 70,000 acres of Michigan wetlands, wildlife habitats, scenic views, forests, and farmland.

Defeated Watershed Proposal Would Have Drained Taxpayers' Wallets

Michigan property owners should beware of continuing efforts to raise their taxes in the name of "watershed management."

Leave Internet Access to the Market

Government "forced access" proposals would stifle innovation, limit competition, and raise prices in the growing market for Internet access.

What Is Real Compassion?

The original meaning of the word emphasizes personal involvement with the needy, not impersonal and ineffective government programs.

EPA's Bad Science Targets Michigan Farmers

Federal anti-pollution edicts based on faulty data could threaten the state's agriculture industry.

Deauthorization: The Union Workers' Trump Card

Private-sector workers can hold an unresponsive union accountable by voting to withhold their dues payments.

MEGA: Real Jobs or Smoke and Mirrors?

One state program takes credit for 74,000 jobs, but a closer look reveals its claims to be greatly exaggerated.

Shattering the Myth of the "Glass Ceiling"

Women are said to be held back from positions of corporate leadership by a discriminatory "glass ceiling," but factors other than sex discrimination help account for fewer female executives compared to males.

Economic Freedom, Not Government Favoritism, Brings Jobs to States

Companies base their decisions about where to create new jobs not on government programs that offer them selective subsidies or tax credits, but on the overall freedom of a state's business climate.

Why Punish Senior Citizens Who Want to Keep Working?

The Social Security "earnings test" discourages senior citizens from working past age 65 by decreasing their benefits if they do. Why do this at a time when employers are desperately seeking experienced workers?

Anti-Jitney Laws Take People for a Ride

Detroit and other cities that outlawed "jitneys"-low-fare transportation service providers-at the urging of higher-priced taxi and bus companies should repeal their bans and let jitneys legally serve poor citizens who need a ride.

The Crash of 1929: Could It Happen Again?

The 1929 stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression caused widespread suffering in Michigan. Could such economic disaster happen again today? Only if government pursues the disastrous policies of the 1920s and 1930s.

School Choice Has Been Tried — And It Works!

Allowing parents greater freedom to choose the schools their children attend will lead to educational disaster, claim defenders of the status quo. But examples of school choice in modern-day and historical America show otherwise.

Time to Repeal the Politically Correct Toilet Law

In 1992, Congress banned the standard 3.5-gallon toilet in favor of "water-saving" 1.6-gallon toilets. Seven years later, it is clear the new toilets not only don't flush properly-they don't even save water.

Organ Donation: Saving Lives through Incentives

Medical demand for transplantable organs in Michigan far exceeds the number of people willing to donate them. An incentive-based system that encouraged more people to donate organs could save thousands of lives each year.

A Ferry Tale of Two Cities: Lansing and Muskegon

Does it make sense for Michigan taxpayers to subsidize a Wisconsin-based Lake Michigan ferry business so that it can unfairly compete with an unsubsidized, Michigan-based, ferry service?

Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act: Will Common Sense Prevail?

Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act mandates that artificially high union wages be paid for all state-financed construction projects. Repealing the law would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in unnecessary construction costs each year.

Economic Freedom among the States: How Does Michigan Compare?

A recent report ranked the 50 states according to how much economic freedom each government allows its citizens to enjoy. How free are Michigan citizens?

Privatization Brought Ecorse, Michigan, Back from Bankruptcy

Michigan's first-ever bankrupt city government was a tragic example of mismanagement and unaccountability, but privatization of numerous city services put the Detroit suburb of Ecorse back on the path to financial health.

"Jobless Ph.D. for Hire: Will Teach Students Who Cannot Afford College"

Permitting Ph. D.s to provide instruction for college credit in independent, off-campus settings would ease the glut of underemployed doctoral degree holders and make higher education much more accessible to poorer students.

One of the Century's Major Books: Kirk's The Roots of American Order

Michiganian Russell Kirk's quarter-century-old book, The Roots of American Order, has become one of the most important explanations of America's unique rise to greatness and warnings of the erosion of her freedom and prosperity.

School Employee Unions Oppose School Choice to Protect Their Turf

A study of union membership rates among Michigan public, charter, and private, school teachers reveals that unions have powerful political and financial incentives to oppose school choice proposals.

Ernest Hemingway and Art Subsidies: A Farewell to Alms

The one-hundredth anniversary of famous author and former Michigan resident Ernest Hemingway's birth serves to remind us that art is too important to depend on government.

Cost of Government Goes Up While Costs of Living Go Down

Government taxes, spending, and regulation gobble up roughly half of the average American's earnings. Lawmakers must work to rein in Leviathan's out-of-control growth.

Picking Winners and Losers with Tax Credits is Unnecessary and Unfair

The state's four-year-old MEGA program discriminates against many businesses when it doles out tax credits to a few favored companies. The legislature should eliminate this costly, unfair, and ineffective program.

Detroit's Reform School Board Would Be Wise to Privatize

Detroit should join Chicago, Philadelphia, and other big-city school districts to contract with private firms to save money and improve the quality of such support functions as busing, custodial, and food service.

Disability Discrimination: Good Intentions Can Produce Bad Law

Laws intended to help disabled people find and keep jobs have encouraged anyone with a personal problem to file frivolous lawsuits in the hopes of winning huge cash awards from employers.

Are High School Economics Textbooks Reliable?

A review of the 16 most-used high school economics textbooks in Michigan reveals that many contain gross errors and dangerous myths about the market economy and the proper role of government.

Taxation by Litigation Threatens Every American Business

The Clinton administration that is contemplating a new lawsuit against tobacco companies is the same administration that has denied veterans' requests for coverage of diseases thought to be related to smoking.

No Taxation Without Respiration!

Over time, eliminating the estate tax would actually increase federal revenues above current levels.

What's Wrong with the Progressive Income Tax?

President Franklin Roosevelt proposed a 99.5 percent marginal tax rate on all incomes over $100,000. After that proposal failed, Roosevelt issued an executive order to tax all income over $25,000 at the astonishing rate of 100 percent.

"Living Wage" Law Is Public Policy at Its Worst

The people who push these cockamamie ideas never seem to ask why any employer would hire someone at $8.23 if that person's services are only valued in the marketplace at, say, $5.00.

State "Teacher Bill of Rights" Is Needed

Schools are not factories, teachers are not line workers, and students are not widgets. The factory model of labor relations-with its legalized compulsion funded by forced dues-has failed Michigan's teachers as well as its students.

Which Is Better: Cutting Income Tax Rates or Increasing the Exemption?

In addition to lowering your current taxes, cutting the tax rate would also reduce the penalty on earning additional income. Lansing would now take only 3.9 percent of it.

Detroit Admits Problem; Now It's Time to Deal with It

Mayor Archer has blamed his troubles on the fact that he "inherited a dysfunctional city." But after six years at the helm, he can no longer avoid either the tough decisions that must be made or the responsibility for not making them.

Note to Michigan Municipalities: A Tax Is Not a User Fee

The Michigan Supreme Court affirmed that the voters intended to place limits on taxes and governmental expansion.

Intuition and Good Intentions Are Not Enough to Help Disadvantaged Workers

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the minimum wage harms the very workers whom we want to help-unskilled, inexperienced teenage workers and disadvantaged minorities.

Worried to Death

Do not call your Congressman and ask him to make the world safer; call your airline instead and book a flight. These days, on an airplane is probably the safest place you can be.

Saginaw Children's Zoo: From Privation to Privatization

"Before privatization," said one zoo worker, "we were just basically trying to keep the animals alive. Now we can really care for them."

Can Mayors Solve School Problems?

A recent Detroit Free Press poll showed that 77 percent of Detroit parents support amending the constitution to allow for tax credits for tuition at nonpublic schools. Parents seem to be saying they would rather pick their children's school than pick the politicians who run the schools.

George Washington's Unimpeachable Character

Congress advised General Washington to feed his troops by having them steal food from farmers. Instead, he promised to hang any soldier caught stealing food. Such theft might have solved a short-term problem, but it failed Washington's character test.

Must Teachers Be Certified to Be Qualified?

Second only to parental involvement, teacher quality dramatically affects student academic success. By relaxing certification requirements, Michigan can actually increase the quality and energy of teachers in the profession

Working Works in State-Based Welfare Reform

One important lesson from the many reforms in Wisconsin, Michigan, and elsewhere is that those programs that emphasize work placement over training have better results.

Black History Month: The Crusade of Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth criticized those blacks who were living "off the govern-ment." "Get off the government and take care of [your]selves" she urged them.

IMF Bailouts: Foreign Aid or Recovery Delayed?

The International Monetary Fund 's efforts to bail out failing foreign economies with American tax dollars harm not only those economies but also Michigan workers whose jobs depend on exported goods.

School Elections Should Be in November

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

A Grand (Hotel) Lesson in Free Enterprise

The International Monetary Fund 's efforts to bail out failing foreign economies with American tax dollars harm not only thoseeconomies but also Michigan workers whose jobs depend on exported goods.

Trying to Define a Foreign-Made Car Will Drive You Crazy

The UAW and other unions routinely urge Michiganians to "buy American," but the growth of the global economy has forever blurred the lines between "foreign made" autos and those "made in the USA."

Paycheck Protection: First Aid for Michigan Workers

A law known as "paycheck protection" would shield Michigan employees' union dues from unauthorized expenditures and allow the state's nearly one million union workers to keep more of what they earn.

Could Charter Schools Mean Fewer Educational Choices?

Charter schools offer parents greater choices, but they shouldn't be the only available choice. Tuition tax credits would help offset the unfair competitive advantage that tax-funded charter schools enjoy over tuition-charging nongovernment schools.

Russell Alger and the Spanish-American War

One hundred years ago, former Detroit lumber baron and U. S. Secretary of War Russell Alger signed the treaty ending the Spanish-American War. Historians agree that Alger made a much better businessman than bureaucrat.

School Choice for Whom: Government or Parents?

Bridgeport parents Ed and Becky Kohlhoff wanted their four-year-old son Justin to join his brother in neighboring Birch Run's schools, but their home district refused, preferring to keep Justin-and the state subsidy for educating him.

Global Warming: Mother Nature Is Still In Charge

Global warming alarmists want to impose burdensome energy restrictions on U. S. citizens, but scientists disagree over the role human use of fossil fuels plays in the earth's climatic changes.

Better Debt Policy Can Help Schools Earn Voters' Trust

Michigan school districts that want to pass bond issues for needed building projects often face skeptical voters. Adoption of sound guidelines for debt issuance would help assure voters that their money would be wisely spent.

Class Size Reduction is Expensive

The latest silver bullet to cure what ails failing government schools would bankrupt the state treasury and swell the ranks of teacher unions, but do little to improve student performance.

Politics before Progress: How to Kill Regulatory Improvement

Michigan Senator Carl Levin's efforts to improve the way federal regulations are issued have been stymied by political wrangling. State and local regulatory reform could help Levin's sensible reforms pass at the federal level.

Using Sugar to Wash Down the Pork: The Joe Fordney Story

One hundred years ago, Saginaw Representative Joe Fordney was first elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. His 24-year career shows how protectionist tariffs hurt everyone-even the people they're supposed to help.

Food Irradiation: Markets or Mandates?

Astronauts and people in 28 countries eat food made safer by exposure to small doses of bacteria-killing radiation. Why aren't more American consumers able to take advantage of this potentially life-saving technology?