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Welfare Reform: Have We Gone Far Enough?

Welfare programs are one of the most unpopular of government activities. Though Michigan has made progress over the past four years, the real challenge lies ahead: making assistance to the needy a private initiative instead of a government responsibility.

Alice in Mandate Land

Proposed core curriculum from Lansing is more of the same fuzzy thinking that has produced declining achievement scores and increasing functional illiteracy in the schools.

Should Michigan Become a Right-to-Work State?

Labor reform that brings Michigan law up-to-date is not something to be feared. Giving workers freedom of choice in union membership would be a plus for the Michigan economy.

Michigan Schools: Doing More With Less

What financially hobbles our schools is not a lack of money, but a lack of money management. Contracting with the private sector offers a promising solution.

States to Washington: Cease and Desist!

A burgeoning national movement to assert state sovereignty promises to mushroom into a crisis for the federal government if it refuses to live within its constitutional boundaries. Unfunded mandates are at the core of the controversy surrounding interpretations of the 10th Amendment.

Understanding Charter Schools and the Constitution

Public Act 362 of 1993 authorized charter schools and did not violate the Michigan Constitution. Charter schools are a creative way to make changes within public schools. However, luring private schools into the public domain with tax dollars is a danger.

Ax the Package Tax

Advance disposal fees are taxes imposed on containers at either the distributor or the retail level and are likely to add more burdens than they relieve. Managing the waste stream effectively requires a reliance upon markets, not new taxes that make little economic sense.

A Constitutional Convention Wish List

Our state constitution would be improved if it incorporated provisions to restrict the state's ability to dictate terms of private contracts, protect and enhance educational freedom, and limit regulatory "takings" of private property.

The Headlee Amendment: Alive and Well

Though certain initiatives are needed to clarify the law and ensure enforcement, the 1978 Headlee Amendment to the Michigan Constitution has worked reasonably well in limiting the growth of government.

Does Michigan Need a Constitutional Convention?

Michigan voters decide this year whether they want to call a convention for the purposes of revising the state's constitution. The dangers of a general rewrite of our state's basic governing document exceed any potential benefit.

Comparable Worth or Incomparably Worthless?

A comparable worth scheme imposed on the economy would arbitrarily abolish the role of supply and demand in the labor market. Markets set wages better than any artificial, political contrivance could ever hope to.

Not One Cent for Tributes in Lansing

The Michigan legislature regularly spends taxpayers' money on resolutions of tribute for an array of special interests, individuals and groups.

Public Housing: Subsidies or Vouchers?

The moral, economic, and constitutional case for the federal government's involvement in housing is dubious at best, but the way it conducts its housing business now requires changes.

"Discrimination" at Private Clubs in Michigan

What was conceived as a protection for women in Michigan country clubs has become another entry on a long list of meddlesome and ultimately counterproductive restrictions on personal freedom.

Must Teachers Pay for Union "Image Building"?

An effort by the Michigan Education Association to extract an assessment from its members for a public relations campaign runs afoul of Supreme Court decisions protecting workers' rights.

Medicaid Reform: Giving Michigan's Poor a Chance

Privatizing Medicaid through the use of vouchers would reduce state expenditures, improve service quality, and provide greater access to health care for the needy.

A Moving Experience

State regulations exist that stifle competition, protect inefficiency, and encourage movers to "call the cops" on each other. It's time to open the market up to competition and consumer choice.

Beyond Deinstitutionalization: Mental Health Reform in Michigan

Michigan's mental health reforms are relying on creative ways to place patients in compassionate community settings, and cutting loose local governments and private providers from inefficient state-run programs.

Should the Blues Buy the Accident Fund?

The state of Michigan should privatize its workers compensation insurer, but not by selling it to a quasi-public entity that enjoys many government-granted privileges.

Science vs. the Chlorine Scare

Proposals to ban the chemical chlorine represent environmental extremism. Wild claims unsubstantiated by scientific evidence should not become the foundation of our public policy.

Solving Problems in Unemployment Insurance

Two Central Michigan University professors argue that the unemployment insurance system is costly, bureaucratic, out-of-date, and in trouble. One solution is a privatized system of voluntary, tax-exempt Individual Unemployment Accounts.

Biotechnology: From the Blackboard to the Barnyard

Michigan dairy farmers who put cutting-edge research to work on the farm should beware: some people don't think that cows and science make a good combination. Will the public embrace science and economics or emotion and scare-talk masquerading as "environmentalism"?

The Other Educational Choice

Exempting Michigan's public school teachers from the Public Employment Relations Act would resolve the strike issue, remove barriers union policies have erected, and open the door for the advancement of good teachers.

Protecting the Public from Competition

Michigan's bureaucratic regulation of the intrastate trucking industry is not intended to protect the general public from harm. Rather, it is intended to protect existing truckers from aggressive competition in a free market. The sad case of a Grand Rapids company, Federal Armored, proves it.

Charter Schools in Michigan: Unfinished Business

Michigan's recent charter school legislation, a well-intentioned effort to introduce market forces into public education, suffers from stifling rules and regulations.

Confronting Urban Sprawl: How Cities and Suburbs Can Both Win

Detroit and other urban centers need a strategy that will address the urban sprawl problem and offer economic prosperity and growth opportunities to both cities and suburbs. That strategy must include reducing tax burdens and alleviating costly environmental regulations.

The Christmas Eve Hijacking

The Michigan legislature squandered an opportunity to reform education when it arrived at a Christmas Eve "compromise" package that largely reaffirmed the status quo-a watered-down charter school program, limited parental choice, and almost no cost containment.

When Opposites Attract: Public Schools and Private Enterprise

Without additional spending, school administrators can take advantage of private sector expertise, accountability, and cost-effectiveness for public education.

The Most Expensive Lottery Tickets in the Country?

Thanks to a 1937 law requiring state printing be done according to "prevailing wages," Michigan pays one-third more for printing lottery tickets than Indiana, Kentucky, and New York. Repealing it would save taxpayers more than $2 million.

The Rise and Fall of Michigan Cities

Michigan's growth cities during the 1980s were also the ones that taxed and spent the least, while the state's declining cities taxed and spent the most. Detroit's dramatic decline was due in part to a tax burden seven times higher than the average Michigan municipality.

When Local Control Means Control by Locals

The Michigan Education Association claims to support more local control and site-based management but opposes charter schools and choice.

More Spending Not the Solution to School Woes

Per pupil spending and average teacher salary have little impact on student performance. Michigan needs to devote less attention to cash and more to strengthening the role of parents to make progress in improving education.

MESSA: Insurance for Political Power

In more than 300 of Michigan's 524 K-12 public school districts, costly health insurance for school employees is administered by an organization whose practices are secretive and monopolistic.

The Hazards of Cigarette Taxes

When government seeks new revenues, "sin taxes" are among the first proposed. It should be recognized that cigarette taxes are regressive and smokers already pay the full costs of their habit.

Send the Cash, Keep the Change

Genuine school reformers say, "Change the system so schools can work better, and we will be happy to fund them." Unfortunately, many of those in the government education monopoly say, "Send the cash, keep the change."

Charter Schools as Catalysts for Change

Charter schools can transform the culture of public education into opportunities to do things better. Other states have shown they can inspire new ways of thinking about education.

How Well Do Schools Prepare Their Students?

Today, too many students have poor reading and writing skills, little motivation to learn, and minimal ability to reason. When East Harlem, New York, adopted a choice plan, student motivation and academic achievement improved dramatically.

Putting Incentive to Work in Education

The Mackinac Center's innovative Education Credit Account concept encourages schools to work harder and smarter to give parents hope for higher education for their children, whether they choose public or private schools.

Real-life Stories Show Need for School Choice

Proponents of educational choice should not allow the opposition to depersonalize the debate. This commentary cites instances that show how the absence of choice hurts children.

Do Schools Really Need More Money?

Contracting custodial work, busing, and food services can save schools money. If schools paid what most retailers pay for custodial work, they could save over $1 million dollars per year.

Michigan's Economics Knowledge Deficit

Economics is a subject that dominates public policy discussion, but it's being short-changed in Michigan's schools. Sound economics knowledge is a blueprint for a sound economy.

Sales Tax on Services a Bad Idea

Michigan should learn from Florida's failed 1987 attempt to extend its sales tax to cover services. If done, it would disadvantage small businesses which compete with large firms and boost the state's administrative costs.

Privatized Child Foster Care Works for Michigan

Private agencies in Michigan are providing foster care for children that is less costly than that provided by the state. This example of privatization is an important success story.

Cost of Government Day: July 13, 1993

The average American spends over half his time laboring to pay the total price of government spending and regulations. This should remind us that a government that's big enough to give us everything is also big enough to take everything we have.

Airports are Going Private

Since Great Britain sold seven major commercial airports in 1987, airport privatization has taken off everywhere. Neighboring Canada has privatized four of its largest airports. The track record is such that responsible public officials at the federal, state, and local levels can no longer dismiss the idea.

Certificates of Need: Poor Health Care Policy

Michigan's CON law requires hospitals and nursing homes to secure state approval before making certain capital expenditures. This regulation restricts competition, curtails investment, requires costly paperwork, and actually raises operating costs.

NAFTA and the Benefits of Free Trade

Genuine free trade with our neighbors would broaden consumer choice, increase trade and investment opportunities, create new jobs, and make more goods available at lower cost. The North American Free Trade Agreement could be strengthened if its protectionist features were removed.

Tax Cut Plan Avoids Mistakes of the Past

The 1993 statewide ballot proposal known as "Proposal A" had its flaws but nonetheless would have provided tax reductions then, true tax limitation in the future, and predictability of assessments for overtaxed property owners.

The Most Promising Health Care Reform

Medical Savings Accounts would encourage Americans to pay smaller medical bills out-of-pocket. Low-cost, high-deductible insurance could then take care of larger bills. The MSA idea avoids price controls, rationing, and huge tax increases.

An Agenda for Choice and Quality in Education

A brief list of reforms for education includes making state aid "portable" across school district lines, saving money through privatization, empowering local school management, and encouraging teacher entrepreneurship.