(Editor's note: This commentary was adapted from a letter Mackinac Center President Joseph G. Lehman sent to Center supporters in August 2009.)
According to my thermometer, summer has finally arrived, albeit about a month late this year. I'll be brief so you can enjoy the remaining warm weather!
It was during the heat of last summer when Jim Vote, a Mackinac Center labor policy intern, discovered the smoking gun that proved that the Michigan Democratic Party and its union allies were behind a supposedly bipartisan plan to reform state government. Our research was the turning point that led to the partisan plan's demise. This summer, Democratic Party head Mark Brewer is openly supporting ballot measures to make it illegal to pay anyone less than $10 an hour for any kind of work, and make it illegal to hire anyone without also paying for health insurance.
Brewer's proposals made national news, further cementing Michigan's reputation as the nation's leading destroyer of jobs. Greg Main, head of the feckless Michigan Economic Development Corp. (motto: 728,100 fewer jobs than when we started in 1999), responded on television, "Companies don't pay a lot of attention to that kind of stuff."
Well, Mackinac Center analysts pay attention to "that kind of stuff" (and so do the employers Main wants to entice to Michigan). Unlike government officials or tax-dependent universities, we have no political masters to fear. Our mission is educational, not political. We're not afraid to stand alone for the right ideas, if necessary, and we'll share the stage with anyone who embraces sound economic principles and limited government, regardless of political persuasion.
Such independence makes us hard to pigeonhole. We've recently partnered with Tom Watkins (the Democrat former superintendent of schools), the ACLU and left-leaning Detroit Free Press Editor Ron Dzwonkowski when they've been right. We've praised Gov. Jennifer Granholm and other members of both parties when they've embraced our ideas, and we've criticized ideas of both parties when necessary. We worked with Jimmy Carter's favorite homebuilder, Habitat for Humanity, to kill costly mandates on new housing that were pushed by private industry.
If you're looking for some summer reading, you might consider a few of our monthly Viewpoint commentaries or one of our periodicals, such as the increasingly popular Capitol Confidential, which details important state policy issues that don't always get the necessary attention from the general media. If your vacation plans include a trip to a second home on one of Michigan's beautiful lakes, you'll definitely want to read The Refuge, a new publication from the Center's Property Rights Network. Teachers and students preparing for a new school year can find plenty of useful information and opportunities to win classroom tools in MichiganScience.
We've never had stronger demand for our ideas, analyses, speakers and educational programs. This short note details just a fraction of the important work we do. Be sure to check back often to learn more about policy suggestions that can turn Michigan around. Happy summer!
Joseph G. Lehman is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and education institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.