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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.

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.