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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.

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.