A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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VoteSpotter: The Easiest Way to Spot an Important Vote

Michigan legislators vote on hundreds of bills every year. Keeping track of them can seem like a full-time job.

Not any more. VoteSpotter alerts you to important votes, but it doesn't stop there. You can vote on their vote, let them know if you agree or disagree, and share your views on social media. It's the easiest way to spot an important vote.

Click here to download now for Apple or Android! … more

EconPop - The Economics of Dallas Buyers Club

In this premiere episode of EconPop, Andrew discusses the economics of Academy Award winner Dallas Buyers Club. Subjects include public health and safety regulations, crony capitalism and the role of regulatory capture, the emergence of black and grey markets, and commercial exchange as a means for increased social tolerance. … more

Does Capitalism Exploit Workers?

Prof. Matt Zwolinski explains why capitalism actually tends to protect workers' interests. And Zwolinski contends that even if it were exploitative, increasing political regulation and control would actually make the problem worse. Increases in government make citizens more vulnerable to the state. Political officials are tempted to exploit this vulnerability for the benefit of the politically well connected. Unlike free market transactions, which are mutually beneficial, when politics is involved one party's gain usually comes at someone else's expense. … more

Play Ball: President Bush's Opening Pitch at Yankee Stadium After 9/11

Now that baseball season has started, it is worth watching the behind-the-scenes action that took place before President George W. Bush's first pitch at Yankee Stadium in 2001. Watch it in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those serving us today. … more

MEA Lets Two Teachers Out; 8,000 More Not Paying Dues

Coopersville kindergarten teacher Miriam Chanski and Petoskey wrestling coach William "Ray" Arthur sued the Michigan Education Association for not allowing them to exercise their rights to leave the union and stop paying dues. The union threatened to ruin these teachers' credit. Not intimidated, the teachers continued to stand for their rights, refusing to go along with a settlement that would have forced them to keep quiet about being let out of the union. Eventually, the union backed down, allowing the teachers to do what they should have been able to do all along. … more

Mackinac Center on Fox Business: Hollywood Exodus

The Mackinac Center's managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, Manny Lopez, on Fox Business's "Money with Melissa Francis" show discussing film makers' exodus from Hollywood. … more

The MEA Under Oath: 8,000 Teachers Short

In 2013, school districts no longer could automatically collect dues. The MEA, unlike any other unions, gives members just one month to quit: August. Here's the catch: many teachers were unaware of the rule, and have filed complaints against the MEA. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation provides representation and counsel for many of these teachers. … more

The Real 'Truth About the Economy': Have Wages Stagnated?

Prof. Don Boudreaux responds to "The Truth About the Economy," a recent video featuring former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. In the video, one of Reich's key points is that most people's wages have barely increased since 1980. However, when Reich's numbers are examined in greater detail, his claim does not hold up. … more

Remy: Working 9 to 5 (Obamacare Remix)

The new health care law shakes up Remy's employment situation. … more

VoteSpotter: The Easiest Way to Spot an Important Vote

Michigan legislators vote on hundreds of bills every year. Keeping track of them can seem like a full-time job. Not any more. VoteSpotter alerts you to important votes, but it doesn't stop there. You can vote on their vote, let them know if you agree or disagree, and share your views on social media. It's the easiest way to spot an important vote.

To sign-up, click here… more

Does the Minimum Wage Hurt Workers?

The minimum wage sounds nice on the surface: workers earning $8 per hour would certainly be better off if they were earning $12 per hour instead. But economics professor Antony Davies explains that this view of the minimum wage overlooks an important detail: The minimum wage does not force employers to pay a particular wage to every worker; it forces employers to pay a particular wage to every worker they choose to keep. While the minimum wage may be well-intentioned public policy, it often hurts the very workers most in need of our help. … more

New Menu Item at Zingerman's: The Minimum Wage

The well known Ann Arbor deli and gourmet food shop recently raised its lowest wage. Recently, it held a promotional event for government to force others to raise the minimum wage for all businesses, but questions remain if all businesses can afford it. … more

The Gender Wage Gap Is a Myth

The wage gap myth, most recently used by President Obama during the State of the Union Address, states that women make only 77 cents to every dollar that men earn. AEI resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers debunks the bogus statistic. … more

How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers

The NFL raked in over $9 billion in revenues last season and the league is pushing team owners to triple that mark over the next decade.

With the league's overwhelming success, many cities are eager to get a piece of the action, often offering billions in public subsidies to attract (or keep) football in their localities. But with the NFL making record profits, is it right for cities to spend public money on these type of projects? Especially when over half of NFL team owners are ranked on the Forbes billionaire list? … more

Get Konnected with The Kronies Action Figures

The Kronies are in action...Mandating, Tarrify-ing, Inflating, and Boondoggling their way to profits powered by their special konnection to the G-Force. Watch Big-G and his team stomp out competition! … more

The Highland Park Transformation

This is the story of how the Detroit-area Highland Park school district is being transformed from a failing district to an improving one. Under the old system, the school buildings were filthy and filled with rodents. Now, as one of Michigan's first charter school districts, Highland Park schools are clean and fit for learning. … more

Should Michigan Raise the Minimum Wage?

CapCon associate Jarrett Skorup debates the minimum wage at Grand Valley State University.

“Among the most basic laws of economics is if you make something more expensive, you will have less of it,” Skorup said. “Minimum wage laws make hiring someone more expensive, and thus you’ll get less of it.” … more

Disabled Family Sees 300 Percent Increase In Health Insurance Costs Under Obamacare

Obamacare was supposed to help families with pre-existing conditions, not hurt them. But that has not been the case for the Davert Family of Bay City, Michigan. … more

Schools of Choice in Michigan: A Mackinac Center Study

The study measures growth over time and geographic spread, and reveals student and parental preferences the program brings to light. The study finds that SOC participation has grown steadily, with enrollment growing by 144 percent over the past 10 years. … more

Milton Friedman - Collectivism

Despite its dismal track record, collectivism continues to hold appeal for some. Professor Friedman discusses this dynamic. … more

Michigan Teachers Trapped By August Window

Michigan Lawmakers are investigating whether the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, violated the state's new right-to-work law by failing to inform members that they can only quit in August. This year, 1,500 members and agency payers were able to leave, but many were unaware of how to get out. … more

Land Bank Fight in Michigan

Land banks are supposed to help eliminate blight, revitalize neighborhoods and contribute tax dollars. But in Michigan, land banks have been scooping up property for merely the price of back-taxes owned -- and re-selling them to profit themselves. In the meantime, cutting in front of private-sector buyers. … more

Detroit Success Story: Cesar Chavez Charter School

Cesar Chavez school, a charter school in Detroit, Mich., was ranked number two in the Mackinac Center CAP report card for high schools. Teachers and administrators say that their success is based off of faith in the students and flexibility with the teachers. … more

Paraeducator Files Lawsuit Against the MEA

Like many union members, Amy Breza didn't know the MEA demands that all teachers must leave only in August and was unclear of how to opt out of the union. She's suing the union to exercise her right-to-work rights. … more

Michigan Right to Work

"Here in Michigan, it's motherhood, apple pie and the union. There were times in this state's history and in the country's history when the law would turn a blind eye to misdeeds on the part of companies. Well, through the 'New Deal' and changes involving the Great Depression, that didn't just come back to neutral — it completely flipped. Unions developed the power to get people fired from their jobs merely for refusing to support it. The movement began to be distorted in various ways, and so, over the years, the union movement became less and less about workers and more and more about politics." … more

Benefits in Balance

This video describes the findings from a new Mackinac Center study that shows that public sector employee benefits in Michigan exceed the averages reported in the private sector by $5,8 billion annually. … more

Saginaw Teachers Caught by "August Window"

In Saginaw Public Schools, five teachers are caught by the "August Window" from opting out of their union, despite Michigan's passage of a right-to-work law. … more

William Ray Arthur: A Damaged Relationship With His Union

William Ray Arthur has been a public school teacher in Petoskey for over 30 years. After the passage of Michigan's right-to-work law, he wanted to opt-out of his union. Unfortunately, his union is telling him that he can not because he missed the "August Window," a limited one-month resignation time frame. Arthur has turned to the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation for help. … more

Miriam Chanski: Young Teacher Trapped by MEA

Miriam Chanski, a young kindergarten teacher in the Coopersville school district, wished to opt out of her union, the Michigan Education Association, under Michigan's new right-to-work law. The union wouldn't budge, first withholding forms and information and then telling her she missed the "August Window" to opt-out. Chanski has enlisted the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation to protect her worker rights. … more

Michigan Tax Assessor Attempts Interior Home Inspections

A tax assessor in Davison Township said she needed to go inside homes to do her job. She was emboldened by the Michigan Tax Commission which is encouraging such inspections but the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation says the practice violates the Constitution's Fourth Amendment on search and seizure. … more

The Tragedy of Detroit: 'It Didn't Have to Be This Way'

"Detroit developed best when it was bottom-up," says Harry Veryser, economist and professor at University of Detroit Mercy. "When small communities, small parishes, small schools were formed... that's when Detroit prospered."

Veryser, author of It Didn't Have to Be this Way: Why The Boom and Bust is Unnecessary and How Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle, sat down with Reason TV to talk about his experience growing up in Detroit, what went wrong, and how to fix it. … more

Belle Isle Commonwealth

Reason TV visited Belle Isle, an island in the Detroit river that currently functions as a public park. And we spoke to Rod Lockwood, a real estate developer and author who's proposed a plan to purchase the island from the city for $1 billion and turn it into an income tax-free haven for wealthy investors. He says this is Detroit's best opportunity to dig itself out of the hole. … more

Fireweed Universe City

Fireweed Universe City is a community of anarchists squatting in a neighborhood of mostly abandoned houses. While there, we met members of a group known as Free Detroit, an association of libertarians who want to buy up blocks of the city's cheap real estate and create libertarian enclaves. … more

Detroit Threat Management

Detroit Threat Management is a private security firm that provides cheap car-to-front door escorts to small business owners, security details to large companies, free protection to local neighborhoods plagued by violent crime, and self-defense training to Detroit citizens. Dale Brown, one of the founders, sees their service as essential in a city with a crime rate five times the national average. … more

The Mower Gang

Tom Nardone is tired of seeing Detroit's public parks go unmowed by the city government. He thinks that children should have a place to play. So, he hops on his mower and does it himself. Then, he invites others. "I was surprised when the first person showed up. I was like, 'All right. I guess someone's as crazy as I am,'" says Nardone. Hence, the Mower Gang is born.  … more

Operation Compliance: Detroit's War on Small Business

Operation Compliance began with the stated goal of shutting down 20 businesses a week. Since its inception, Operation Compliance has resulted in the closure of 383 small businesses, with another 536 in the "process of compliance," according to figures provided to Reason TV by city officials. … more

Family Farmers Fight Michigan Township For Their Animals

Kelly Vander Kley Hunter and her family have spent the last three years pouring their time and money into building a small hobby farm in Mattawan, MI. Today, they are fighting their local township government in order to keep their farm animals.

"We feel like we're under a microscope. We feel like everything we do, on our own property, we have to get permission from the township," says Vander Kley Hunter.  … more

Teamsters Discriminate Against Dearborn Workers

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is filing a lawsuit on behalf of four city of Dearborn employees against Teamsters Local 214 over the union's misreading of Michigan's right-to-work law. The union recently adopted a policy that would require non-union member employees to pay for the processing of filing grievances. The right-to-work law clearly states that no employee has to financially support a union as a condition of employment. … more

Senate Majority Leader Richardville on Medicaid Expansion Approval

Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) discusses political backlash from vote, why he believes expansion is not "big government" and not commenting on deals he made with the Governor in exchange for approval. … more

Sen. Casperson Discusses Medicaid Expansion Vote

Escanaba State Senate Republican Tom Casperson explains why he changed his vote on Medicaid Expansion from a "no" to a "yes." … more

Medicaid Client in ICU After Being Denied Routine Care

Two women describe how their sister on Medicaid ended up in the Intensive Care Unit for an untreated, abscessed tooth. In 2009, Michigan Medicaid eliminated routine dental care. … more

Tales of Tyranny - The Bert Wasch Story

All Bert Wasch wanted to do was build and live in his retirement home on five acres of land he purchased in rural Thurston County. It was his own personal, humble American dream. Bert asked the County for permission to build and paid the necessary fees. Then, at the last minute, a Thurston County bureaucrat decided that maybe Bert Walsh had a wetland on his property and blocked his permit, leaving Bert to wonder whether he can finish his home before he dies. … more

Michigan Doctor Against Medicaid Expansion

Grand Rapids hand surgeon, Dr. Donald Condit, shares the reasons he's against the proposed Medicaid expansion in Michigan. He explains how low reimbursements don't cover patient health care costs as it is and why Medicaid patients, under expansion, will have less access to specialty care. He believes a better solution would be taking more personal responsibility for health care  … more

North Huron Schools: CAP Success Story

In the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's 2012 High School Report Card, based on our Context and Performance scores (CAP), the number one conventional high school was North Huron High School in Kinde, Mich. Interviews with Kinde teachers and administrators shows a school designed to provide individual support for student's career goals early on, as well as providing a crucial educational role throughout the community. … more

Medicaid Expansion Explained

Avik Roy, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, describes the current state of Medicaid and the consequences of expanding it. … more

How Medicaid & Obamacare Hurt the Poor - and How to Fix Them

Medicaid is the nation's health care system for the poor. It's funded jointly by the federal government and the states. Medicaid is either the first- or second-largest budget item in all 50 states and the program is slated for a massive expansion under President Obama's health-care reform law. Despite the program's huge and growing overall cost, reimbursements to medical providers are so low that many practices refuse to accept Medicaid patients, causing long waiting periods for treatment. … more

Thirkell Elementary: A Detroit Public School Success Story

Detroit Public Schools' Thirkell Elementary was the top-ranked school on the Mackinac Center's new elementary and middle school report card. The Center's report card takes student poverty level into account in order to better examine school performance and is based on four years of student test scores.

Although nearly 90 percent of Thirkell students come from low-income backgrounds, Thirkell regularly posts higher-than average scores on state MEAP tests. Adjusting for student background makes Thirkell's success even clearer.

Parents, teachers and students all say that the warm atmosphere and focus on student learning at Thirkell is due to the leadership from Dr. Clara Smith, the school's principal. "She is a great leader," said Shailiaja Pritchett, a parent and school volunteer, "She demands excellence from everybody." Indeed, Smith's office walls are covered with awards and photos. One wall is papered with thank-you cards from parents and community members.  … more

Calumet High School: CAP Success Story

In the summer of 2012, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy released its Michigan Public High School Context and Performance Report Card.

Calumet High School, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, ranked first of all the high school locations in towns and 8th best of more than 500 conventional high schools. … more

Bin Ban: City Pushes To Ban Select Charitable Collections

Michigan cities, which love to pride themselves on being green, are giving a red light to outdoor recycling bins on private property. Grand Rapids, the latest city to ban the boxes, claims the bins are a source of uncontained trash but the city has not provided any documentation of complaints. Property owners say the recycling organizations have been responsive in emptying the bins. The city will allow outdoor bins on property of businesses that are in the recycling business, like Goodwill and The Salvation Army but others are out of luck. Recyclers say the bans are becoming common place as the recycling industry grows. Grand Rapids will fine violators $100. … more

Public Choice: Why Politicians Don't Cut Spending

Last week, the House of Representatives voted down a farm bill that was projected to spend over $940 BILLION - that's 60 percent more than the previous farm bill passed in 2008. Prof. Ben Powell explains why politicians don't cut spending, as a general rule. Using public choice economics, or the economics of politics, he shows how the political system naturally leads to overspending. … more

Michigan legislators vote on hundreds of bills every year. Keeping track of them can seem like a full-time job.

Not any more. VoteSpotter alerts you to important votes, but it doesn't stop there. You can vote on their vote, let them know if you agree or disagree, and share your views on social media. It's the easiest way to spot an important vote.

Click here to download now for Apple or Android!

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