Commentary

What the Mackinac Center is Thankful for in 2019

Freedom, fairness and fiscal responsibility

Our staff — and readers — live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world at the most prosperous time in human history. And it’s not just economic prosperity that counts. From a global perspective, the United States has a strong rule of law, low political corruption and sturdy protection of rights for individual speech and private property. Collectively, Americans have a lot to be grateful for.

As an institution, the Mackinac Center also has a lot to be thankful for on the policy front. The following is a summary.

Fiscal policy

Environment policy

  • Fracking technologies have allowed America to become the world’s leading producer of clean, low-cost natural gas.
  • The development of new Generation 4 nuclear technologies will allow for the production of abundant, emissions-free, reliable and affordable electricity.
  • Private conservation efforts ensure the protection of important natural areas and ecosystems without spending additional tax dollars.
  • Good Neighbor Authority projects help ensure Michigan’s public lands and national forests are being properly managed.

Education policy

  • The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the Espinoza case, giving hope that state Blaine amendments — major barriers to expanding educational freedom — might be struck down in 2020.
  • The state Legislature once again has stood up to defend the principle that some K-12 students should not get less money from the state funding formula simply because their parents choose to send them to a charter school, including an online school.
  • A new state law prevented the Detroit district from using deed restrictions to block a high-performing charter school from opening its doors in a new building.

Labor policy

Criminal Justice reform

  • A new state law requires a criminal conviction before the government can take and permanently keep a person’s assets.
  • Recently passed legislation makes it easier and less expensive for well-behaved ex-offenders to have crimes removed from their criminal record.
  • The passage of “raise the age” legislation means that teenagers will no longer be automatically sent to adult prisons.

So much of our feelings and attitudes depend on how we choose to respond to life’s circumstances. So, as we celebrate with our families, let’s remember all that we have to be thankful for. As H.U. Westermayer said, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”