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State Budget Is Business as Usual

The just-concluded budget saga demonstrates that the real priority is to preserve the government status quo, quite literally at all costs.

School Boards Empowered to Save Insurance Dollars

The real answer to reducing the cost of health care for teachers and school employees is for school boards to utilize the advantages of competition.

Water Agreement Not Right for Michigan

It would be bad for this state and bad for the Great Lakes were Michigan lawmakers to ratify Annex 2001 in order to placate the other Great Lakes states.

Supreme Court Decision Complicated, But Correct

Ironically, the Michigan Supreme Court is being criticized for a “political” result when that result comes from applying the long-recognized standing doctrine that is meant to keep the courts from engaging in political activity.

Budget Savings Can Replace Recent Tax Hikes

In the short term the need is for immediate savings to allow repeal of the destructive $1.3 billion tax increase adopted as the capstone to this year’s state budget debacle.

Tax Increases Harmful to Michigan’s Health

The budget agreement that passed in the dead of night on Oct. 1 will raise taxes on Michigan residents, businesses and service providers to the tune of $1.358 billion for the coming fiscal year.

Governor and Legislature Appear Unable To Judge Priorities

Sadly, however, the Legislature has ignored judicial recommendations that would promote meaningful long-term change.

The Love of Power vs. the Power of Love

I resolve to learn more about the principles of love and liberty so that I can convincingly defend them against the encroachments of power.

Sweet Home Alabama

If the trend of the last five years holds, a majority of right-to-work states will have higher per capita disposable incomes than Michigan by 2010, at which point Michigan will be the real right-to-work-for-less state.

The Not So Good Life

By the standards of the last century, air quality today is excellent — notwithstanding the claims of environmental activists.

Used-Car Dealer Regulations Kill Small Businesses

This law authorized a regulatory taking of the livelihoods of hundreds of small business owners who can no longer use their property in the way they had done previously.

Survey 2007: School Support Service Privatization Rises

Competitive contracting continues to be a popular management tool for improving services and for saving money, which can then be reinvested into classrooms. All indications are that it will continue to grow in popularity.

Workers’ Paychecks Need Further Protection

In order to prevent misuse of nonmembers’ money, right-to-work laws or an end to compulsory unionism is needed. Paycheck protection laws are better than nothing, but they certainly are not optimal public policy.

School Support Service Privatization: Getting it Right

Done right, privatization remains an effective management tool for school districts across Michigan.

Time to Reform Teacher Compensation in Michigan

Under the system defended by unions, an excellent teacher, whose students demonstrate significant learning gains, earns the same amount as the teacher who clocks in and then checks out.

Intermediate School Districts: Innovations that are Past Their Prime

A far more substantive reform would be for Michigan to join a cadre of states that provide specialized services by giving parents greater options.

Michigan Needs Environmental Science Board

The MESB consists of an executive director and nine members appointed by the governor. The board has no paid staff and all members serve voluntarily.

Money Well Spent?

When government employees are involved, there is a case to be made that agency fee is something that ends up costing taxpayers.

What Really Determines School District Spending?

Professional advancement in a bureaucracy comes from increasing one’s budget, not from achieving more with less as it does in the private sector.

The Tax Hiker's Shopping Guide

If state lawmakers and the governor consider Michiganians more than mere cash cows, they should stop reading the “Tax Hiker’s Shopping Guide”...

Say YES! to Right to Work!

Today’s labor markets look nothing like those of 75 years ago.

Court Ignored Sound Science in Carbon Dioxide Ruling

Consensus is actually antithetical to the proper conduct of scientific inquiry.

Paying More to Protect the Privileged

The dirty little secret is that Michigan pays too much for the government it gets.

Fast-Growth States Have Lower Taxes — Not More Grads

The 10 states with the lowest tax burdens are growing at an average rate of 2.6 percent — almost double Michigan’s growth rate and 34 percent faster than the national average.

Taken For a Ride

It bears noting that any park or other amusement facility that must rely on tax dollars, rather than private investment, is by definition not viable and thus unworthy of taxpayer support.

Bigger Taxes or Smaller Government — Let the People Decide

Many suspect that the political establishment has elevated government and school employees into a privileged class to be protected at all costs from economic changes that affect everyone else.

State of Michigan: Best-Run or Best-Protected?

The yearly cost of policing the state’s highways could be reduced by more than $60 million by switching state police patrol duties to local sheriff’s deputies.

Renaissance Center Brought No Renaissance

Despite all of the glitz and lofty rhetoric associated with major building projects, people continue to flee the city.

Road Funding: Time for a New Direction

The best option for finding new road money is for the Legislature and governor to get serious about spending a lot less on things in state government that are far less important.

Doom for Whom?

When politicians and their lieutenants prophesy doom if spending is cut, it pays to question what they define as “doom,” and for whom.

Legislators: Listen to Detroit Parents

Parents and community groups must play an important role in increasing support for charter schools.

A Movie No One Should Miss

Wilberforce endured and overcame every obstacle imaginable, including ill health, death threats, derision from his colleagues and defeats almost too numerous to count.

The People’s Power: Defending Representative Government

The arguments both for and against the OFIS rulings indicate that these decisions involve a genuine policy debate — something that should, under the Michigan Constitution, be decided in the Legislature.

From Worst to First: The Best Business Tax is None

For every dollar that employers must pay in corporate taxes to the state, they have one dollar less to disburse as wages to workers or as investment in growth.

Stop Punishing Michigan Investors

What’s unique about state business taxes is the manner in which they target a narrow and highly desirable group — persons willing to invest in the state.

Property Owners Hit by Regulatory Takings Deserve Compensation

Regulatory takings occur when the government enacts a regulation or law that diminishes the value of the property but does not take ownership.

Time to Get Serious About School Employee Pension Reform

Private-sector employers are realizing defined-benefit systems like MPSERS do not serve today’s aging and mobile workforce.

The AFL-CIO Picks the U.N. Over the Constitution

How we interpret our labor law, or any other law for that matter, is for us to decide, not a foreign dictator or world body.

Bold Changes Needed in State Permitting

Even if a company or individual can bear the cost, they may not be able to afford the time delays associated with agency demands for new data.

Public Bans on Private Actions

Liberty is more often eaten away one small bite at a time than by one big gulp.

Arrest Pontiac Police Costs

Reforms need to be made that take Pontiac beyond the point of simply keeping its fiscal head above water.

How the Late Great Detroit Statler Lives On

“Life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow human beings a little more, a little better service.”

Environmental Doomsayers Can Breathe Easy

This welcome news is yet another reminder that prognosticators of eco-catastrophe are off the mark.

Get Rid of the Labels

Ideas worth supporting are those that are tested and found worthwhile because they produce results, not rhetoric.

An Unhealthy Policy Prescription

Romney’s plan will allegedly perform the miracle of covering all of Massachusetts’ 555,000 or so uninsured residents without new taxes or a government takeover of health care.

Survey 2006: School Outsourcing Continues to Grow

With savings of this magnitude, it is not surprising that superintendents are investigating privatization.

Jazzing Up Civil Society

Gretchen Valade improved Detroit’s cultural scene with her gift, just as tens of thousands of Americans have done with their own contributions to countless organizations and enterprises.

Michigan Dithers on Medicaid Estate Recovery

Michigan is the only state that has not implemented estate recovery in some form, despite the fact that the requirement has been on the books for more than 10 years.

Seeking Opportunity

There are many reasons people move, but it is probably easiest to sum all of them up with one word: opportunity.

Why Did Free Gas Create a Public Stink? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

With gas so plentiful and cheap, some Ohioans came to think it shouldn’t have a cost at all.

Why Colorado Matters to Michigan

Similarly, the K-16 Proposal in Michigan would cost more and accomplish less than its advocates are sharing with Michigan taxpayers.

The Property Rights Fight Since Kelo

While federal reform efforts have stalled, Michigan residents are well placed to prevent the government from cynically confiscating the property where they live, work and worship.

Character Makes the Difference (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

You can’t choose your height or race or many other physical traits, but you fine tune your character every time you decide right from wrong and what you personally are going to do about it.

Federal-Mogul Lesson: Get Rid of the SBT and Fix the Fundamentals

What will it take before government understands that gimmicks don’t work, and that only fixing the fundamentals of our business climate through broad-based reforms will?

Double-but-Nothing: More Education Spending Hasn't Yielded Better Results

Our educational institutions usually do not create incentives for instructional improvement by rewarding effective teachers and sanctioning ineffective ones.

Making State Agencies More Accountable

Agencies and commissions have become so used to having free reign that they broadly construe their mission even where the Legislature only gives a particular agency or commission a limited task.

42 Days of Infamy? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

We can speculate, however, that a worker might sign a public petition at the request of a friend, but vote another way when protected by privacy.

Great Values, Great Movies

In “The Patriot,”Mel Gibson’s character expresses skepticism about the American Revolution with a question that seems especially poignant today, when our own homegrown government takes more of our earnings in taxes than George III ever imagined possible: “Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away?"

Averaging Our Way to Average (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

The proposed mandate would substantially weaken the limited influence parents have in the current system.

An Alternative to Green Orthodoxy (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

There is an alternative to embracing Green Orthodoxy. Few states or school districts have actually evaluated the veracity and impartiality of environmental curricula.

How To Replace the SBT With Nothing (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Here’s how to save $1.855 billion by injecting competition into government operations, providing public employee fringe benefits comparable to (generous) Private-sector plans and eliminating non-core functions.

Protecting Art From Politicians

Using tax dollars to fund artistic pursuits is not in the best interest of Michigan citizens.

Michigan’s Russian Roulette

The governor’s five-year plan does not include reducing the cost of producing goods and services in Michigan — something that would attract industries trying to compete globally. Instead, the plan is built around the 21st Century Jobs Fund and other state programs that substitute central planning for the market process.

Change To Win What?

Organized labor has moved well beyond its core mission of championing workers’ issues to financing and promoting a range of policies and groups that have nothing to do with labor.

A Supreme Court To Be Proud Of

The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller did not stretch either the law or the Constitution beyond what the words said. When the justices found law to be in conflict with the Constitution, they usually sided with the latter, because liberty under the rule of law was their highest priority.

Banks and Credit Unions: The Unlevel Playing Field

Banks, especially small and mid-sized community banks, have been consistently losing market share to credit unions because the latter enjoy status as nonprofit financial cooperatives for tax purposes.

Government Broadband: Unnecessary and Unfair

More often than not, municipal broadband ventures have saddled taxpayers with unwelcome debt or otherwise failed to deliver promised results.

Government Golf: Unfair Competition Hurts Business, Taxpayers

As citizens and taxpayers, we should be asking ourselves: Is golf one of the legitimate functions of government?

Hope in State Graduation Standards Misplaced (Viewpoint on Policy Issues)

Given state bureaucrats’ lack of success implementing the law’s one existing requirement, we should not place much hope in an additional mandate to fix public education or improve the economy.

Public Pension Plans Need To Reflect Reality

When it comes to defined benefits, corporations and municipalities have seen the warning signs and are changing course to avoid getting burned. Public school employee unions and their allies in Lansing would be wise to do the same.

Michigan Landowners To Be Heard at U.S. Supreme Court

Congress has effectively entered into land-use regulation, a domain traditionally left to state and local government. Worse, Congress delegated its authority to the Army Corps of Engineers, whose employees, whatever their expertise, never face the crucible of an election.

Can Detroit’s Problems Be Corrected by an Emergency Financial Manager?

Making changes to Act 72 would be essential for an EFM to have the necessary tools to deal with the city of Detroit’s management and fiscal problems.

Globalization: What a Wonderful World

Despite Michigan’s recent economic woes, in 2004 it exported $35 billion worth of goods and services to the world, ranking it fourth among the states, up from sixth place in 1998.

Insurance Demagoguery Drives Rates Higher, Not Lower

Like all such proposals, the only thing these bills would do is make insurance unavailable at any price.

Is There a Statesman in the House? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Perhaps we should all take a moment to thank our great-grandchildren yet unborn. If we lack statesmen in this generation, we will still have our disaster relief, our pork and our politics — and they will pay for much of it.

Federal Regulations of Mercury Emissions Appear Adequate

Great Lakes mercury levels are declining, and to the extent that mercury remains a human health threat in Michigan, the federal program is a more sensible first step in addressing it.

Does the Headlee Tax Cap Need To Be Tightened? (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

So has Headlee restrained tax and spending growth? The answer is an unequivocal "maybe." In its 26-year history, the cap was exceeded just three times, and only once by enough to trigger a rebate.

Decisions About Great Lakes Drilling Should Be Left to the States

The Michigan Environmental Science Board concluded in 1997, “(T)here is little to no risk of contamination to the Great Lakes bottom or waters through releases directly above the bottom hole portion of directionally drilled wells. …”  The one small risk was contamination at the wellhead, far from the water’s edge. But wellheads, too, are regulated by the state.

"Poor Choices" Yield Better Education

The implications of Tooley’s findings are profound. Opposition to parental choice programs has often hinged on the belief that they would hurt the poor. In the wake of these results from Africa and India, it is difficult to imagine how that belief could be sustained.

An Agenda for the Next Mayor of Detroit (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Real reform can’t be postponed. If Detroit’s decline persists and the city’s financial problems continue, the state may be forced to appoint an “emergency financial manager” to run the city under Public Act 72 — an ignominious end for the mayor and Detroit itself.

Improving Michigan’s Regulatory Environment

If businesses or consumers are forced to spend too much money to obtain a permit or to carry out their business, it is the same as taxing their money away — and sometimes worse, since they lose time as well.

Tuition Hikes at Michigan Universities Demonstrate Need for Reform

Private for-profit schools like the University of Phoenix operate at dramatically lower cost per course, offering a product well-liked by students (enrollments are growing 20 percent annually), taught in comfortable but not opulent surroundings.

Michigan Supreme Court Ruling on “Beachwalking” Erodes Property Rights

The court’s ruling now exposes Great Lakes waterfront landowners to new risks and intrusions. Do the landowners have a duty to make the area beneath the high-water mark safe for walkers or wheelchair users? Can people fish all day below the high-water mark?

Supreme Court Ruling Shows Telecom Regulation Should Be Abolished

The ruling’s outcome is all well and good. Yet the FCC’s distinction between “telecommunications services” and “information services” is, in fact, imprecise and arbitrary — a regulatory invention that has no place in today’s telecommunications market.

The Sound of Freedom

In the summer of 1965, my mother announced one day that she was taking me to see a film called “The Sound of Music.” I knew nothing of it other than that a lot of singing was involved, and to my mind, that was a good enough reason to stay home. I went reluctantly — and was enthralled.

Survey: School Outsourcing Grows

According to Loock, the district went from paying a $100,000 subsidy to the food program to posting a profit of up to $25,000 after Chartwells took over.

Granholm’s Task Force Report: Wrong Prescription, Critical Disease

In the four states with a long-term care insurance partnership program, around 180,000 long-term care insurance policies have been sold — a purchase rate far higher than in other states. Of these policyholders, only 86 have had to resort to Medicaid.

Bad Food at a Good Price!

Imagine a restaurant with second-rate food, surly waiters, slow service and high prices. When the manager sees a customer getting restless, he rushes over and offers a 15 percent price cut.

Responding to Michigan’s Population Slide

No serious analysis can argue that redistributing the tax burden or putting the state deeper in debt so it can pick winners and losers could possibly make Michigan better off.

The Class is Always Keener on Our Own Side of the Street (Viewpoint on Public Issues)

Asian students consistently outperformed those in the United States, while their parents downplayed their accomplishments. American parents, unaware of their children’s poor showings, tended to think their children were doing very well.

Catholic Schools and the Common Good

Given Catholic schools’ superior social and academic effects, it would seem sensible to structure education policy so as to make Catholic schooling more readily available, especially to low-income and minority families. We have done the opposite.

Schmeling K.O.’d by Louis! Louis K.O.’d by the U.S. Government!

Even in destitution, Louis remained a symbol of black achievement and American resistance to Hitler. But the American tax code remained a symbol of the strangling of economic wealth and generosity.

Remembering George Sutherland: Defender of the Constitution

So persuasive was Sutherland, and so bad was the NRA, that the Supreme Court voted unanimously that the law was unconstitutional.

Is the Governor’s Water Legacy Act All Wet?

More water is diverted into the Great Lakes than is siphoned out, and groundwater supplies are regularly replenished and remain abundant.

MEGA: 10 Years With Little To Show

MEGA’s attempt to pick winners and losers is a poor substitute for improving the fundamentals of Michigan’s business climate.

To Own or Be Owned: That Is the Question

“Ownership” as a general concept is never at issue in any society. It is neither possible nor desirable to construct a society in which people or the material things they create are not “owned.”

Her Own Personal Autoworld (Viewpoint of Public Issues)

More than 50 years of economic development history in Michigan should be enough to convince us that the economic development emperor has no clothes.

From Hospitals to Tsunami Relief: Lessons of Charles Hackley

Millions of Americans have contributed generously, just as they were accustomed to doing a century ago, because Americans have long believed that people voluntarily helping people is the way civil society is meant to work.

The “Payless Payday”

What’s the moral for state leaders today? The lasting and meaningful question is always, “Am I doing the right thing?”