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

Featured Video Archive

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

Cornerstone Charter Schools

This video profiles Madison-Carver Academy and Cornerstone Health High School, two public charter schools in the City of Detroit. Both schools make use of blended learning, which allows each student to move at his or her individual pace through coursework.  … more

Spending Cuts: Michigan Politicians Versus Mackinac Center

The Mackinac Center's senior investigative reporter Anne Schieber and director of fiscal policy Michael D. LaFaive capture the inconsistency in Lansing lawmaker's claims regarding spending cuts for taxpayers, in particular the upcoming debate over the gas tax. … more

Game of Thrones' Economics: It's Not All Fantasy

"The game of thrones in general is a game of cronyism because it's all about forming political alliances, especially with people who can make you better off economically speaking," says Auburn University Economics Instructor Matthew McCaffrey. … more

The Power of Nazi Propaganda

From radio and film to newspapers and publishing, the Nazi regime controlled every aspect of German culture from 1933-1945. Through Josef Goebbels' Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, the German state tightly controlled political messaging, promoting deification of the leader—the Führerprinzip—and the demonization of the ubiquitous and duplicitious "racial enemy." A new exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., examines "how the Nazi Party used modern techniques as well as new technologies and carefully crafted messages to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany." Reason.tv's Michael C. Moynihan visited with museum historian and curator Steve Luckert to discuss the role and effectiveness of propaganda in the rise of fascism and what lessons can be drawn from the Nazi experiment in mass manipulation. … more

Top Three Myths about the Great Depression and the New Deal

Historian Stephen Davies names three persistent myths about the Great Depression. Myth #1: Herbert Hoover was a laissez-faire president, and it was his lack of action that lead to an economic collapse. Davies argues that in fact, Hoover was a very interventionist president, and it was his intervening in the economy that made matters worse. Myth #2: The New Deal ended the Great Depression. Davies argues that the New Deal actually made matters worse. In other countries, the Great Depression ended much sooner and more quickly than it did in the United States. Myth #3: World War II ended the Great Depression. Davies explains that military production is not real wealth.; wars destroy wealth, they do not create wealth. In fact, examination of the historical data reveals that the U.S. economy did not really start to recover until after WWII was over. … more

Cost Recovery Fees Allow Cities to Double Tax

Michigan cities are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars by charging law offenders, primarily drivers accused of driving under the influence, for ordinary law enforcement expenses related to their arrest. Some cities charge drivers who don't meet the legal limit of impairment. The practice raises the question, How far will cities go to tax and fine taxpayers? … more

Does Stimulus Spending Work?

After the housing bubble burst, the Bush and Obama administrations turned to stimulus in an effort to "create jobs." Does such spending lead to economic improvement? Prof. Antony Davies examines the data to see how increases in federal spending relate to economic growth from 1955 to the present. The evidence shows that there is no connection between federal spending and economic improvement; instead, stimulus money only increases government debt. After three years of stimulus spending, the unemployment rate remains at 9 percent. "One thing that has changed," Davies says, "is that our government is now $4.6 trillion further in debt than it was before the stimulus efforts." … more

Ending Forfeiture Abuse: How States Can Be Tough on Crime and Respect Property Rights

Civil asset forfeiture is one of the greatest threats to private property rights in our nation today. Law enforcement can take your property without even charging you with a crime.  … more

Should You Need the Government's Permission to Work?

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Michigan has one of the most burdensome licensing requirements. Our state forces people to take classes and pay money to the state for things like painting, floor sanding, cutting hair and low-level carpentry. Few other states require that. … more

Minimum Wage Business Realities

Why do some employers favor a raise in the minimum wage? Profit per employee plays a major role. … more

Shikha Dalmia: 5 Reasons Why Low Skilled Immigrants are Good for the Economy

The Senate's "Gang of Eight" proposed immigration reform plan will likely take a look at how to make it easier for high-skilled immigrants to gain legal status in the United States. Reason Foundation senior analyst Shikha Dalmia gives five reasons why low-skilled immigrants are good for the economy too: … more

CA vs. The Suburbs: Planners, Smart Growth, and the Manhattan Delusion

"One of the things that happens when you force this kind of high-density development is you destroy the very urban neighborhoods that retain the middle class," says Joel Kotkin. "The neighborhoods have to fight this kind of guerilla-style." … more

Roscommon Teachers Break-Up With Michigan Union

Teachers in the Roscommon Public Schools district in Michigan have broken with the Michigan Education Association, the largest union in the state, to form an independent union that is less expensive and more responsive to their collective bargaining needs. … more

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Margaret Thatcher, one of the greatest of the United Kingdom's Prime Ministers (and the only woman), died Monday. She was among the wave of leaders across the world who helped save their countries from socialist and Keynesian economics and made the world a substantially better place for all people, the rich and the poor.

Here is how she went out in the House of Commons - it is undoubtedly how she would want to be remembered … more

Voices of Right-to-Work: The Mackinac Center Investigates

The Mackinac Center's Senior Investigative Reporter Anne Schieber interviews Michiganders, union and non-union, on their feelings regarding the right-to-work legislation which went into effect March 28, 2013. … more

The Fall Of Tam's: How LA Regulated A Burger Stand Out of Existence

Entrepreneur vs. LA's city government: Who will prevail? Watch Reason TV's video above to find out. … more

What Can We Cut to Balance the Budget?

If the U.S. government cut all government services except Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and payments on the debt, federal spending would still outpace revenues. Prof. Antony Davies argues that there are not specific cuts that will enable government to balance the budget. He says, "Nothing less than a redesign will solve this problem." That redesign should begin by determining what the proper role of government is. … more

Union Conservatives On Right-to-Work

The founder of Union Conservatives, Terry Bowman is a Michigan UAW member and is now working on protecting the state's new Freedom-to-Work law. He discusses the challenges ahead and how his organization plans to meet them. … more

Taylor Teachers Fight Union Insecurity Clause

Three teachers from Michigan's Taylor School District say their union sold them out by approving a decade-long agreement to continue taking money from them. Michigan became a right-to-work state in December 2012. The law bans the practice of requiring employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The law takes effect on March 28, 2013. Trying to go around the law, the Taylor Federation of Teachers Local 1085 approved a deal prior to March 28 to lock these teachers into a dues purgatory for the next 10 years. Angela Steffke, Rebecca Metz, and Nancy Rhatigan reached out to the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation for help. They do not want to buy what the union is selling. … more

Adam Neuman was not afraid to put his life on the line; he's certainly not afraid of union bullying. He fought for freedom overseas, and he simply wants to exercise it back home. But the Brighton Education Association and his school district are violating his rights.


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