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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.

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.

How to Make Social Security Secure for More Americans

The president's commission on Social Security warns that benefit cuts, tax increases, or massive federal debt are necessary to keep the system solvent, unless fundamental reforms are enacted. By far the best option for younger workers, minorities, and low-wage earners shortchanged by Social Security is a system that allows them to reap more retirement income by privately investing all or part of their taxes in stocks and bonds.

"Streamlined Sales Tax" Just Another Government Grab for Cash

The National Governors' Association's "Streamlined Sales Tax Project" is being sold as a way to apply existing sales and use taxes to Internet, catalog, and 1-800 number purchases fairly and uniformly. But the project would not only be unfair to out-of-state vendors, it would also result in higher taxes, threaten consumers' privacy, and even open the door to a national sales tax.

Less Government, Not More, Is Key to Academic Achievement and Accountability

A comprehensive new study of Arizona charter schools suggests that proposals to increase government regulation of charter schools in Michigan could stifle, not encourage, student achievement and school accountability.

Private Prepaid Tuition Programs Can Help Make College Affordable

Rising tuition threatens to drive the cost of college beyond the reach of many lower- and middle-income families. But a little-known provision signed into law by President Bush as part of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001 will make affording college a bit easier for many Michigan families.

State Land Use Planning: Less Is More

Elected officials in many states are gearing up to do something, almost anything, about so-called "urban sprawl." But before moving Michigan toward a more centrally planned land-use model, state policy-makers should consider why local governments and the free market are better equipped to deal with local land use issues.

School Funding: Lack of Money or Lack of Money Management?

Proposal A of 1994 dramatically altered the way Michigan public schools are funded, and now many districts are complaining about a lack of money to meet their budgetary needs. But school revenues are up from pre-Proposal A levels, raising the question, "Are there things that districts can do more efficiently in order to better use the resources they already have?"

Michigan Economy Needs to Join the Information Age

For much of American industrial history, Michigan entrepreneurs including Ford, Kellogg, and Dow figured prominently in the emerging U.S. economy. But if Michigan is to lead in the 21st century "information age," then our cities must rid themselves of high taxes, burdensome regulations, and wasteful bureaucracy and begin to think and act like the very entrepreneurial firms they need to attract.

Conserve Gas: Scrap the Ethanol Program

Since the energy crunch of the 1970s, Congress has spent billions of dollars to promote the use of ethanol, a fuel made from corn, as an alternative to gasoline. Almost 30 years later, it is clear that ethanol mandates and subsidies have instead increased the use of gasoline. It's time for legislators to pull the plug on the wasteful and counter-productive ethanol program.

Let's Have Full Disclosure of Union Finances

Under the law, union workers have the right to request a refund of any dues their unions spend on non-workplace-related activities. Unfortunately, lax financial reporting requirements and government enforcement make it difficult for workers to exercise this right. It's time for legislators to hold unions to the same kind of public disclosure standards as corporations, so that workers can know where their dues are going.

Michigan Settlers vs. Malaria, or How the Midwest Was Won

A wet and rainy spring has translated into another Michigan summer full of swarming mosquitoes. But current residents have it much better than their 19th-century forebears did. Early generations of Michiganians suffered terribly from widespread outbreaks of malaria, until thousands of square miles of wetlands were drained to drastically reduce the habitat of the disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Why Not Allow a Market in Vanity Plates?

Michigan, like many other states, allows motorists to purchase for their vehicles "vanity" license plates that carry unique combinations of letters and numbers, such as "GO BLUE." Rather than charging a flat fee for each unique vanity plate, the state should auction plates off to the highest bidder, giving motorists who want the same plate a chance to buy it and raising additional revenues to fund state transportation needs.

Fighting Urban Blight or Trashing Property Rights?

A proposal to fight "urban blight" by enhancing the government's power to confiscate private property is a bad idea.

Navigating the Maze of Michigan's Sales Tax

Michigan's sales tax, first enacted in 1933 during the Great Depression, now contains some rather interesting, if not hard-to-explain, features.

Economic Growth Is Key to Environmental Quality

One of America's most enduring popular legends is that the environment is deteriorating and that economic growth is largely responsible. The facts suggest just the opposite.

Myths of the 1980s Distort Debate over Tax Cuts

The success of President Reagan's tax cuts of 1981-83 must be acknowledged so that debate over future tax cuts is informed by the facts.

An Anniversary All Michigan Citizens Can Celebrate

By an overwhelming vote of citizens, the 1851 Michigan Constitution took the state out of economic development and gave wide berth to free markets and entrepreneurship.

Save a Life, Buy an SUV

Federal government safety data from other studies indicate a lower fatality rate for SUVs than for cars.

It's Time to Give Overtaxed Americans a Break

Taxpayers might make louder demands for relief if they understood that as a percentage of total national income, federal taxes are higher than at any other time in U.S. history.

Future Detroit Mayor Could Learn from Motor City's Past

The mayor made every effort to ensure that Detroit's taxes remained as low as possible.

Market Holds Little Risk for Privatized Social Security Accounts

Declines in the stock market present a challenge to advocates of Social Security privatization, who want to let workers invest their payroll taxes in personal accounts holding stocks and corporate bonds.

Homework Requires Teamwork--Between Teachers and Parents

The evidence is strong that homework improves student achievement, especially when it is coupled with strong parental support.

Canadian Health-Care System Is No Model for Prescription Drug Reform

Canada's nationalized health care system, with heavy costs of its own, is no answer to high prescription drug prices.

Mental Health Parity Could Decrease Access to Affordable Insurance

Government health-care mandates to help the uninsured too often drive up premiums and place insurance out of reach of more people.

A Reminder to Politicians: It's Not Your Money!

As the economy slows, many lawmakers and pundits want to scale back the size of President Bush's proposed tax cuts and "moderate" the cuts already enacted by Gov. Engler and the Michigan Legislature. But politicians happily engaged in budget surplus spending binges ought to remember that those tax dollars rightfully belong back with the people who earned them.

Have Michigan Legislators Learned from California's Mistakes?

As price controls come off this month, Michigan consumers will begin paying the higher, market-level rates for natural gas that the rest of the country has already been paying. State legislators have wisely resisted calls to re-impose economically harmful, California-style price controls, and instead are wisely proposing tax credits and other market-friendly solutions.

Campaign Finance Reform Must Recognize Workers' Rights

As Congress considers various "campaign finance reform" proposals, it should incorporate into any final legislative package the rights of workers not to be forced into paying for their unions' political agendas. "Paycheck protection," which requires unions to obtain up-front written permission before spending dues on political activities, is one way to safeguard workers' rights.

State-Run Internet Job Boards: Wasteful, Redundant, and Unfair

Two state-subsidized Internet job banks not only compete unfairly with taxpaying, private-sector job recruitment firms, but also with each other. The state agencies that run these wasteful and redundant sites should take them down, and leave the business of bringing together workers and employers to private entrepreneurs.

Does Charity Begin at Home-or with Government?

President Bush's funding for private religious charities initiative could undercut the effectiveness and compassionate missions of those charities.

"Urban Sprawl" for Dummies?

Public officials must address the problems that cause people to move from cities to suburbs in the first place: high taxes, burdensome regulations, and poor schools.

Electricity Deregulation

Michigan Policy More Enlightened Than California's

California officials remain in the dark about how to properly deregulate electricity, but Michigan's plan proceeds more smoothly.

Michigan Senator James Couzens's Wrongheaded Opposition to Tax Cuts

Michigan Sen. James Couzens opposed President Coolidge's growth-promoting tax cuts in the 1920s. Proven wrong, he lost the support of citizens and his party. Will Michigan's senators make the same mistake today?

Voluntary Unionism Puts Interests of Students and Teachers First

Unions routinely thwart needed education reforms by spending large amounts of cash coerced from unwitting teachers. If unions had to voluntarily earn teachers' support, they would spend more time serving their members instead of playing politics.

Parents Should Have More Options When Schools Commit Academic Fraud

Too many Michigan school districts are committing academic fraud by failing to deliver the quality education they promise. If parents could choose the schools their children attend, fraudulent schools would have to improve or lose customers.

Prohibition-Era Law Is Example of Nanny State at Its Worst

It's time to repeal an outdated state liquor law that does nothing but give monopoly status to in-state producers, raise prices, and limit choices for responsible Michigan consumers.

A Mixed Message to Children: Say "No" to Drugs, but "Yes" to Ritalin?

Every school day, millions of American children are given a powerful drug called "Ritalin" to combat a disorder known as ADHD. But many experts say Ritalin is not the way to help children learn better.

New Year's Resolutions for Michigan's New Legislature

Here are seven New Year's resolutions Michigan's new Legislature can make to ensure greater prosperity and opportunity for all citizens.

Does Giving Government Unlimited Power Really Protect the Environment

The Michigan Legislature recently gave the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality carte blanche to impose staggering fines on property owners for alleged environmental violations. This is a terrible idea given the department's past abuses.

Failed E-Business Deal Underscores Futility of State Economic Planning

Leaders of government "economic development" programs attempt to guess which companies will thrive and create new jobs. But the complexities of the marketplace make it impossible to predict which firms succeed and which fail.

Teacher's Case Shows How Union Workers Can Re-Direct Dues to Charity

A Livonia teacher recently won his bid to send his union dues to charity as an alternative to funding the union's political and moral agenda, which he opposes on religious grounds.

Coming to Terms with Term Limits

Contrary to what some observers are arguing, it is far too soon to declare Michigan's experience with term limits for public officials a failure.

Schools Should Stand Behind Their Diplomas

More districts should follow the example of Grand Rapids-area Rockford Public Schools, which guarantees that its graduates possess basic skills by requiring them to pass competency tests before receiving their diplomas.

The "Patients' Bill of Rights": Get Two Lawyers and Call Me in the Morning

The "patients' bill of rights" being debated in Congress would only encourage costly litigation but do little to improve Americans' access to affordable, quality health care and insurance.

As Values Collapse, Government Grows

Promoting ethical values such as honesty, respect, and personal responsibility ought to be a top priority for freedom-loving Americans. The alternative is a nanny state that passes ever more laws to restrain citizens' poor behavior.

Government Should Withdraw from Attempts to Ban ATM Fees

Government bans on unpopular automatic teller machine transaction fees could deprive consumers of the valued convenience of accessing their bank accounts virtually anywhere.

The Quackery of Equality

"Free people are not equal and equal people are not free" is a profound truth that politicians forget when they try to force economic equality through punitive taxes and regulations.

A Connecticut Yankee in Bankruptcy Court

Mark Twain handled his bankruptcy at age 59 the old-fashioned way: He worked hard and repaid his debts in full. Today, too many Americans have found a new way: file for bankruptcy and avoid financial responsibility.

When "Local Control" Means Control of the Locals

A proposed amendment to the state constitution, billed as a way to limit state interference in local affairs, would actually lead to costly litigation and greater government intrusion in the lives and businesses of Michigan citizens.

Hypocrisy on School Choice Sends Wrong Message to Kids

Many Michigan legislators and public school teachers choose to send their children to private schools, raising the question: Why shouldn't school choice be extended to all the state's citizens?