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Farmers Getting Angry over "Checkoff" Programs

"Got Milk?" and other agricultural ad campaigns are paid for by farmers through mandatory "checkoff programs," an offshoot of federal price supports run by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Small farmers are increasingly unhappy because checkoff programs cost them more as a percentage of their incomes than they cost large agribusinesses. The best solution to unfair assessments on small farmers is to end federal agricultural price supports.

The Great 9-1-1 Tax Pileup

In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission told states to create cell-locator 9-1-1 emergency phone service and pay for it themselves. Washington miscalculated both costs and capacity, and today only 21 of 83 Michigan counties have even partially implemented this "unfunded mandate." Meanwhile, the overpaid taxes are piling up. The federal government should scrap its plan and allow the private sector to come up with the most reliable, cost-effective 9-1-1 service.

A Good Time to Cut Taxes on Jobs

Washington is keeping most of the revenue collected from employers under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), a tax that is supposed to fund the administration of state unemployment insurance programs. Congress should abolish this tax-which constitutes a direct tax on employment-and hand states back the responsibility of running their own unemployment programs.

Unfair Competition from Prison Labor Requires a Congressional Fix

Federal Prison Industries Inc., a unit of the U.S. Justice Department that uses prison labor to provide goods and services to the federal government, is set to expand its operations into the private marketplace. A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., would rein in FPI's ambitions and protect jobs in crucial Michigan industries, such as furniture production, from FPI's unfair competition.

How Health Care Costs Help Raise Your Auto Insurance Premiums

Most Michiganians would not think to associate the rising costs of medical care with higher auto insurance premiums. But thanks to state laws governing auto insurance, the one has a direct impact on the other. One way policy-makers could keep costs of both medical care and auto insurance down is by introducing market-friendly reforms, such as medical savings accounts, into the health care system.

Two Michigan Towns with the Same Name

All across Michigan are places whose names are rich with interesting but sometimes forgotten history. In the Upper Peninsula, two towns one hundred miles apart were named for the same man: Kipling and Rudyard, after British author Rudyard Kipling. Who he was and how the towns came to honor him is a story worth retelling.

Michigan Taxpayers Feeling the Heat from Government Greed

April 29 is "Tax Freedom Day" for Michigan citizens, the day they stopped toiling exclusively to pay federal, state, and local taxes. This makes Michiganians among the most heavily taxed citizens in the nation, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation.

Proposals for Oil Conservation More of a Threat than Energy Dependence

A spate of proposals for reducing America's "dependence" on foreign oil have followed in the wake of Sept. 11. These proposals are misguided and would do more to undermine American strength, which lies in its economic power and stability, than dependence on foreign oil ever has, or will.

Did Anybody Really Know What Time It Was?

The U.S. government didn't set up America's system of standardized time zones-private citizens did. Until 1883, time was purely a local matter. Then railroad officials set up the current system, to "make the trains run on time." Turns out they performed a service for the rest of us as well-but Detroit resisted the change until 1905, and the U.S. government didn't "approve" the system until 1918.

The Other Meaning of Arbor Day

J. Sterling Morton, who established Arbor Day in 1872, fought protectionist economic policies that allowed lumber companies to deplete forests and charge Americans a "bounty" in the form of inflated prices. As Americans celebrate the holiday this April 26, they should remember this feisty champion of impartial economic policies and small, efficient government.

Bill Would Require Public-Sector Unions to Disclose Finances

A bill in the Michigan House of Representatives would require the state's public-sector unions to disclose their finances to the same degree of detail as publicly held corporations. The result would be stronger unions with less waste and a renewed focus on the workplace concerns of union members.

Michigan Public School Teachers Launch a Non-Union Revolution

Public schools and their employees don't win many battles against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union, the political and financial behemoth that dominates Michigan public education. But recent victories over compulsory unionism in two charter schools could signal a new dynamic in Michigan's public school system.

Free Trade a Sweeter Deal for Everyone

Economists have argued for more than two centuries that protective tariffs and quotas on imported goods make nations poorer. Despite this, the United States continues its policy of sugar protectionism, which costs U.S. consumers nearly $2 billion every year. It's time for Congress to end this costly and wasteful policy.

Great Lakes Drilling: Environmental Threat or Phantom Menace?

In February, the Michigan Legislature voted to ban the extraction of oil and natural gas from beneath the Great Lakes. But sound policy demands facts, and while there may be aesthetic reasons to support a prohibition against Great Lakes drilling, insurance data confirm that the actual environmental risks are remote.

Historic Principles over Government "Historic Districts"

When buildings get to be of a certain age, they often take on historic significance. But is it necessary for that significance to overshadow time-honored principles of limited government, individual liberty, and private property rights? In August 2001, citizens of Owosso, Mich., answered a resounding "no" when they repealed a coercive city plan to regulate private homes of historic significance.

Gladstone, Michigan: A Little Town with a Big Name

The little town of Gladstone, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is named after William Gladstone, one of Britain's greatest statesmen. Over one hundred years after his death, the former prime minister is remembered for his commitment to individual freedom, which continues to provide important lessons for citizens and policy-makers of today.

Good News for the New Year: Americans Living Longer Than Ever

There's good news for the New Year: Americans are living longer than at any time in history-76.9 years, on average. This is testimony to both the vibrancy of nature and the ingenuity of man-and the industrial and technological progress fueled by free minds and free markets.

Government "Condemnation" Power Makes Property Rights Less Secure

Government abuse of its so-called condemnation power has unjustly deprived ordinary citizens of their private property for the benefit of big-league developers.

"Teach for America" Success Points the Way to Teacher Certification Reform

Much has been written on the failure of collegiate "schools of education" to properly prepare future teachers for the classroom. Now a new study highlights the good job that Teach for America, a private teacher program, is doing to place thousands of qualified and talented volunteer teachers in some of the nation's most troubled schools.

Proposed Legislation a License to Kill Competitors for Big Auto Dealers

In the name of "protecting the public," a recently proposed package of bills would require small-time "curbside" auto dealers to obtain a state license before they could sell cars. But instead of protecting the public, licensure laws are often used by larger businesses as a way to raise barriers to new competitors and restrict consumers' choices.