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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.

State Lotteries vs. Truth-in-Advertising

In 1972, voters approved the Michigan Lottery, hoping it would prove a funding windfall for education. Today it does little for schools. But its government sponsors do spend $18 million per year on advertising that denigrates hard work and initiative, while luring money from those who can least afford to throw money away. Michigan should be a trendsetter and get out of the lottery business.

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.

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.