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Michigan Public School Teachers Launch a Non-Union Revolution

Public schools and their employees don't win many battles against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union, the political and financial behemoth that dominates Michigan public education. But recent victories over compulsory unionism in two charter schools could signal a new dynamic in Michigan's public school system.

Free Trade a Sweeter Deal for Everyone

Economists have argued for more than two centuries that protective tariffs and quotas on imported goods make nations poorer. Despite this, the United States continues its policy of sugar protectionism, which costs U.S. consumers nearly $2 billion every year. It's time for Congress to end this costly and wasteful policy.

Great Lakes Drilling: Environmental Threat or Phantom Menace?

In February, the Michigan Legislature voted to ban the extraction of oil and natural gas from beneath the Great Lakes. But sound policy demands facts, and while there may be aesthetic reasons to support a prohibition against Great Lakes drilling, insurance data confirm that the actual environmental risks are remote.

Gladstone, Michigan: A Little Town with a Big Name

The little town of Gladstone, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is named after William Gladstone, one of Britain's greatest statesmen. Over one hundred years after his death, the former prime minister is remembered for his commitment to individual freedom, which continues to provide important lessons for citizens and policy-makers of today.

Good News for the New Year: Americans Living Longer Than Ever

There's good news for the New Year: Americans are living longer than at any time in history-76.9 years, on average. This is testimony to both the vibrancy of nature and the ingenuity of man-and the industrial and technological progress fueled by free minds and free markets.

Government "Condemnation" Power Makes Property Rights Less Secure

Government abuse of its so-called condemnation power has unjustly deprived ordinary citizens of their private property for the benefit of big-league developers.

"Teach for America" Success Points the Way to Teacher Certification Reform

Much has been written on the failure of collegiate "schools of education" to properly prepare future teachers for the classroom. Now a new study highlights the good job that Teach for America, a private teacher program, is doing to place thousands of qualified and talented volunteer teachers in some of the nation's most troubled schools.

Graduation Rates an Imperfect Measure of School Excellence

Policy-makers at all levels of government are enacting policies that require districts to measure student and school performance. But one popular method of measurement, graduation rates, may not accurately reflect either student proficiency or school excellence. The only sure way to know whether schools are providing a quality education is to introduce more choice and competition into the system, so that schools have incentives to improve.

Consumer, Not Corporate, "Greed" Is Ultimately Behind Layoffs

A business writer at one of Michigan's largest daily newspapers recently denounced corporations, blasting layoffs by "heartless" businesspeople who apparently relish giving out pink slips. But corporations do not act in a vacuum: they are merely responding to the demands of consumers, who by buying or not buying certain products determine which corporations stay in business and which fail.

Should D-DOT Work Weekends?

Few people would deny that it's normal to want weekends off work. But generous union contracts that stipulate a strict Monday through Friday work schedule for Detroit Department of Transportation employees ensure the city's bus system is less reliable and more expensive. Poor city services in turn contribute to a poorer city, a smaller tax base, fewer jobs, and ultimately lower wages for city employees, including bus mechanics and drivers.

Proposed Legislation a License to Kill Competitors for Big Auto Dealers

In the name of "protecting the public," a recently proposed package of bills would require small-time "curbside" auto dealers to obtain a state license before they could sell cars. But instead of protecting the public, licensure laws are often used by larger businesses as a way to raise barriers to new competitors and restrict consumers' choices.

State Provision of Internet Access: A Bad Idea Whose Time Shouldn't Come

In November, Gov. Engler announced the state would work to wire all of Michigan, including sparsely populated rural areas, with high-speed Internet cable. But rapidly changing technology and differing demands from consumers make the state's plan redundant at best and harmful to the telecommunications market at worst.

"Preserving" History at Bayonet Point

Preserving historic homes and buildings is a noble and worthy endeavor. But it is best accomplished using voluntary means, not the coercion of government "historic district commissions," which infringe on private property rights and often have the effect of delaying or preventing renovations of important landmarks.

Church's Campaign Against Sprawl May Do More Harm Than Good

The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit has declared that so-called urban sprawl is bad, and the full moral authority of the church will be used to influence the Michigan Legislature to stop it. But church representatives could better serve Michigan citizens by engaging in a substantive, balanced debate and focusing on the programs that earned the church a well-deserved reputation for helping to stem urban decline and foster revitalization.

Gas "Gouging" Brouhaha Ignores Lessons of Economics 101

Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm and other politicians are accusing gasoline stations that raised their prices following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of "price gouging." But basic economics explains the disastrous effects that result when politicians get involved in deciding how much things "should" cost.

Michigan's Prevailing Wage Law Forces Schools to Waste Money

Research shows that Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act of 1965 is a costly piece of special-interest legislation that forces public schools to waste millions of dollars each year on inflated construction costs. Repealing the act-or at least exempting schools from its rules-would make school construction more affordable, save money for use in the classroom, and allow for other improvements to public education.

New Web Tool Enhances Accountability in Michigan State Government

Michigan has a reputation as a "good government" state, with a constitution that encourages transparency and openness in the legislative process. Now michiganvotes.org, a new web site that for the first time posts objective, concise, plain-English descriptions of every bill, amendment, and vote, is enhancing state government's already admirable record of accountability.

Is Michigan Public Education Improving?

Over the past decade, the state of Michigan has laid some important groundwork for improving public education, but the continued lackluster performance of many schools argues the need for more choice and competition in the system.

Let the Punishment Fit the Crime: Re-Thinking Mandatory Minimums

State legislators should reform harsh "mandatory minimum" sentencing laws that limit judges' discretionary powers and dramatically lengthen prison sentences for low-level, often first-time drug offenders-while doing almost nothing to punish the "kingpins" the laws were supposed to target.

Cash-Strapped Motor City Needs a Budgetary Tune-Up

In November, the citizens of Detroit will elect a new mayor to preside over a city steeped in debt, high taxes, and poor services. Regardless of who they choose for this honor, fed-up residents should insist that the new mayor consider privatization of assets and services as a way to give the Motor City the financial tune-up it needs.