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My work consists of three related skills: conducting research into public issues, writing about them, and editing the work of others to their work look good. The topics have included many aspects of domestic policy, and most of the time I write about state and local policy rather than national policy. If you need someone to write, edit, or ghostwrite an op-ed or report for you on one of these topics or a related one, I’d love to talk to you about it. Please send me an e-mail. You can find me at “John” at this domain name.

Research portfolio

Writers, managers, and many other people require data in their work. I’ve collected data on behalf of grant-making foundations, trade associations, web developers, think tanks, and others. Do you need help finding out something about personnel policies in public schools, alternatives to incarceration, or a knotty detail of government? I have collected data on these topics and others

Editing portfolio

If you’re a good writer, you know the value of a good editor. You may need someone who can tighten up a verbose product, apply an edge (or tone it down), look for those instances in which your mind worked faster then your fingers, and of course, apply a fresh set of eyes to a text that you’ve wrestled with for far too long. If you’re just starting out writing for public consumption, you might need someone to serve as a coach. I can do that, too.

My editing work has primarily been in the field of public policy. The documents I have edited have ranged in length from 250 words (four or five short paragraphs) to 28,000 words (over 50 pages). They’ve needed everything from casual proofreading to substantial changes in both the wording and the structure of the document. On occasion, the changes have been so substantial that I have ended up serving as a ghostwriter. So whether your text needs a look-over or some major revisions, I might be able to help.

Due to the nature of the work I do, I can’t list my editing clients on a public website such as this. But I can tell you the kind of documents I have edited. I can send you a CV with some of those details, if you’d like. Email me with my name (John) and the domain name of this site.


Education: Charter schools; Standardized tests; Student achievement; Teacher pay; University funding; Voucher programs; Weighted student funding

Fiscal policy: Alternative budget proposals (blueprints); Federal income tax; Tax limitation measures

Health care: Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”)

Workforce policy: Right to work


Education: Are we getting our money’s worth?; Preparing students for college; School choice; Speech codes on campus; Teacher pay

Fiscal policy: Internet taxes; Municipal bonds; Sin taxes; State bonding projects

Health care: Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”); Medicaid

Regulation: Occupational licensing

Telecommunications: Municipal Wi-Fi

Transportation: Toll roads


Writing portfolio

The bulk of my work has been in writing. Here is a list of some of the op-eds, reports, and other publications I have written. All documents are in PDF, unless indicated by an asterisk (*).

Direct mail

Fundraising letters to existing donors
Fundraising letters to prospective donors

Economics and Economic Development

2009: October

Do Stadiums Bring Economic Growth?

New stadiums, contrary to claims of their backers, do little to spur growth. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2008: September

Where the Immigration Debate Meets My Snowboard Instructor

A law that had let willing companies and customers do business was scotched in the immigration debate of 2007. The implications will be felt over time. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2008: July

Does “Love Thy Neighbor” Require a Minimum Wage Increase?

An archbishop calls for increasing the minimum wage. A priest disagrees. The difference illustrates the value of sound economic thinking. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2008: May

Wal-Mart and Economic Change

A new WallyWorld is coming to town. Does that mean the death of small business? Some businesses die but others are born. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.


Funding Public Parks through Private Incentives

States use private-public partnerships, friends groups, differential pricing and other techniques to make sure that parks are not neglected. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (August).

Immigration Debate Creates Strange Bedfellows

Do low-skill immigrants help or hurt the economy? Think tanks square off. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (July).

Challenges to Achieving the American Dream

A new report says that generation-to-generation income growth is reversing. What should policymakers do about it? Saint Paul Legal Ledger (June).

Reforming Welfare Reform

Some welfare clients need more time to prepare for work. Others need to take work, even if it’s unpaid. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (June).


Responding to Michigan’s Population Slide

Michigan’s losing ground to the rest of the country. Its business climate doesn’t help. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (July).

Trying Too Hard to Be Cool (*)

Michigan’s officials are chasing after a fade that has already faded. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This commentary ranked #21 on the list of the most 25 popular daily commentaries published by the Mackinac Center during 2005 (March).

Knowledge Clusters and Entrepreneurship as Keys to Regional Economic Development

Businesses that draw on similar bodies of knowledge tend to cluster together. Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. (Note: File is 2MB!)


Cities Need Less Government, Not More (*)

Tax Increment Financing? How about modest government instead? Mackinac Center for Public Policy (May).


2012: January

Expanding Educational Opportunities in Kansas Through Online Learning

This report published by the Kansas Policy Institute offers an introduction to some of the key benefits of and questions surrounding online learning.

2010: December

Costs Run Amock

College tuition soars at a rate far exceeding general inflation, causing financial strain to taxpayers and students alike. Let’s start looking at administrative bloat to start with. Letter published by the Topeka Capitol Journal.

2010: November

Can “Waiting for Superman” be a Teachable Moment?

It’s time to run schools for the benefit of children, not adults. Published by the Daily Caller (html version).

2010: September

Kansas K-12 Spending and Achievement Comparison

This annual report published by the Kansas Policy Institute looks at spending and achievement of Kansas schools, using the latest available data.

2010: April

What Do We Want from Education?

The Kansas Supreme Court chided the Legislature for not adequately funding a “suitable” education for all students. It’s time to let recognize that what’s suitable for one student may not be suitable for another. A report published by the Kansas Policy Institute.

2009: September

A Call for Meaningful Performance Evaluations of Teachers

Even though teachers are vital to a child’s education, school districts offer only perfunctory performance evaluations, says the New Teacher Project. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2009: July

Will Technology Help Transform Moribund Learning Institutions?

Since the 1930s, new technologies have been heralded as the means of transforming learning. Will they now transform schools? Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2009: June

Public School Leaders Have Lots to Learn, Test Results Indicate

Results from the long-term NAEP tests (modest improvements, doubling of spending) are met with defensiveness in the education establishment. Kansas City Star.

K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas: 2008 Edition

A review of recent spending trends in Kansas shows that spending soars while achievement, at best, lags. Report for the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

What the DC Schools Can Teach Kansas

A scholarship program in the District of Columbia that offers educational opportunity to children is a victim of politics. Kansas Liberty. Also published by the Hays (Kan.) Daily News.

2009: May

Don’t strangle charter schools

While charter schools have done some good things across the nation, they’re hampered in Kansas by an overly strict regulatory environment. Kansas City Kansan

2009: April

Scholarships Could Help Autistic Kids

Kansas should join the states that give scholarships to children with autism. Colby (Kan.) Free Press

Decisions on Teacher Tenure Should Not Be Automatic

The National Center for Teacher Quality says praises Kansas for its mentoring law for new teachers, but says it should use some objective criteria to judge teachers before giving them tenure. Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

Proposed Legislation Could Help–Or Hinder–Charter Schools

Minnesota is a leader among charter public schools. Will the Legislature cripple these important schools? Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2009: February

School Innovations From Across the Nation

Twenty-two states offer some form of school choice through vouchers, tax credits, or a charter school law that allows for organizations other than school districts to oversee charter schools. Policy Report, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

Finding Room for School Choice

The Florida Legislature’s auditor says that a school choice program saves money. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

A Bad Report Card for Our Schools

A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality gives Minnesota a D+ for its policies on recruiting good teachers and getting rid of bad ones.. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2009: January

When School Districts Join Forces, Taxpayers Win

School districts already purchase some services and goods together. They should look for additional opportunities. Kansas City Kansan.

2008: December

More School Spending Isn’t Improving Results

A new report on increased spending by Kansas schools shows no gain in student test scores. Wichita Eagle.

Education in an Obama Administration

What does Arne Duncan, the new secretary of education, think about key issues in education? Kansas City Kansan.

2008: November

How to Save Money and Promote Happiness

School choice programs save taxpayer money. Kansas City Kansan.

2008: October

Scholarships Overturn Parent’s Apathy

Giving parents school choice encourages their involvement in their children’s education. McPherson (Kan.) Sentinel.

Universal Preschool is a Classic Case of the Perils of Good Intentions

Do preschool programs help some children? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that a universal preschool program is justified. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2008: September

A Warning About Preschools–From One of Its Advocates

A leading advocate of preschool programs warns that their benefits won’t scale up to all children. Kansas City Kansan.

2008: August

Performance Inflation in Kansas Schools?

Kansas assessments, compared with national ones, inflate the performance of schools in the state. The Legal Record (Olathe).

Does Kansas Grade Itself on a Curve?

Three recent reports suggest that Kansans have an overly optimistic view of their schools’ performance. Policy Report, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2008: July

Class is NOT Dismissed

The school year hasn’t changed in over 100 years. It’s time for families to have more options to select alternative calendars. Kansas City Kansan.

Low Graduation Rates in Dodge City

Education Week says that fewer students graduate in Dodge City than commonly thought. Dodge City Globe.

Traditional Education is Not Enough

The official graduation rate in Hays public schools is inflated. Hays (Kans.) Daily News.

What the Auditor found–and didn’t–about MN charter schools

Charter schools as a group do as well as traditional schools. For some students, they do better. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2008: June

School’s Out, but Learning’s Still In

Schooling and learning aren’t always the same. Use the summer to help your children learn. Kansas City Kansan.

Complacency is Not an Option: Why Kansas Needs to Drop Its Dropout Rate

A database produced by Education Week suggests that dropout rates in Kansas are underreported. A Policy Report, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2008: May

Disruptive Changes Will Invigorate Education

Every so often, an industry will be tossed upside-down by technological changes. The time will soon come for education. Kansas City Kansan.

From “A Nation at Risk” to “Cities in Crisis”

If you live in one of the nation’s 50 largest cities and attend public school, your chances of graduating on time as essentially a coin flip. As Colin Powell says, that’s a catastrophe. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2008: April

Plato’s Republic on the Plains

Universal preschool is the rage. Kansans should be wary of adopting it, however. Policy Report, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2008: March

Minnesota No. 1 for charter schools

One report gives Minnesota high praise for its charter school laws. Another gives it the No. 1 ranking for achievement. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

Be Wary of Supplanting Parental Responsibility with Public Programs

Universal preschool programs sound attractive, but violate some principles of the proper ordering of institutions. Osage County (Kan.) Herald-Chronicle.

Home Schooling in California and the Good Society in Kansas

A court’s ruling on homeschooling prompts the question: Whose children are these anyway? Kansas City Kansan.

2008: February

Pre-K Offers False Hope

The biggest problems in education are in middle and high school. So why is pre-K the next big thing? Kansas City Kansan.

Business and Education

The popularity of for-profit universities and tutoring companies shows that the profit motive is compatible with education. Look at the various tutoring companies in the country. Pittsburgh (Kan.) Morning Sun.

2008: January

School Choice Promotes Accountability

Does school choice mean that schools are not accountable? Hardly. Kansas City Kansan.

2007: December

K-12 Spending and Achievement in Kansas: 2007 Edition

This policy report presents trends in enrollment, spending, and student achievement for public school districts in the state of Kansas. Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

Spending and Achievement in Wichita: 2007 Edition

This policy report presents trends in enrollment, spending, and student achievement in Kansas’s largest school district. Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

States Grading on a Curve

Two recent reports suggest that states are taking liberties with No Child Left Behind standards. How is Kansas doing? Hutchinson (Kan.) News.

If We Remove Schools from the Culture Wars, Maybe We’ll Find Better Schools

Opponents of school choice say that public schools are vital to promoting school unity. But the record is far less sanguine. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

California Dreamin’

Lots of upscale communities in California underperforming schools, demonstrating, among other things, that even the middle class needs school choice. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2007: November

“No Child” Leading to Grade Laxity

In their response to No Child Left Behind, states are practicing grade inflation. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2007: October

Does Educational Choice Threaten Community Stability?

Having a community can be a good thing. It doesn’t require–and isn’t necessarily built from–having a single option for schooling in town. Kansas City Kansan.

2007: September

Open Doors for Gifted Students

When we force gifted students into one-size-fits-all schools, we all lose. Kansas City Kansan.

Is Small Beautiful? Evaluating Classroom Size

A major study used to support smaller classes is seriously flawed. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

Will “No Child Left Behind” Be Left Behind?

The federal law, while unpopular, has its uses and will be renewed in some form. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2007: August

Virtual Schools a Good Option

A new option for virtual schooling is good for students in southwest Kansas. Letter published by the Garden City Telegram.

2007: July

Public Pre-K: Proceed with Caution

The advocates of public funding of pre-K programs neglect the methodological limitations of their favored studies. Shawnee Dispatch (Shawnee Mission, Kan.).

Virtual Schools: For Some, the Future of Education

What are virtual schools, and who could use them? A policy report from the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2007: May

Home Schooling Contributes to Public Education

Who are home schoolers? They’re more diverse than you might think, and they contribute to public education. Kansas City Kansan.

Science Doesn’t Support Claims About Preschool

If you want a science-backed school reform, try competition among schools, not expensive preschool programs. Wichita Eagle.

Tutoring Options: A Good Feature of No Child Left Behind

No Child Left Behind offers tutoring, and hope, to poor families. So why are schools fighting it? Dodge City Globe.

When Going to School Means Going Online

Online learning, including virtual charter schools, is valuable for students and communities. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

Spending and Achievement in Kansas: A District-by-District Review

Some school districts in Kansas spend a lot more money than others to bring students to proficiency. Policy paper published by the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2007: April

It’s Time to Start Asking Hard Questions

We do students no favors when we back away from holding schools accountable. Salina (Kan.) Journal.

All-day K and Pre-K: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Early childhood education is all the rage. But universal pre-K is a weak solution to the problems of public schooling. Paper published by the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2007: March

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Utah becomes the first state to enact a universal (statewide) school voucher program. Dodge City Globe.

2007: January

No Relationship Between Spending and Achievement

More money means a better education? Not quite. KSSmall.Biz

Prize-Winning Economist Left his Mark

Milton Friedman’s views on economics, once reviled, have gained great currency. Will his support of school vouchers achieve the same? Salina (Kan.) Journal.

Kansas Schools Chief

Kansas needs a new education chief. Experience in a bureaucracy is useful. A fresh approach is better. Letter published by the Kansas City Star.

Future of education require “tough choices”

A new report on the skills of the American workforce calls attention to the need for major changes in government-run education. Kansas City Kansan.

2006: December

Charter School Primer

How does Kansas charter school use and law measure up against the experience of other states? What are charter schools like? This policy paper for the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy answers these and other questions.

A New Year’s Resolution: Look at Charter Schools

Institutional arrangements matter. The law in Kansas is not favorable towards charter schools, which should be a valuable part of a public education system. Chanute (Kan.) Tribune.

An Economist’s Life Shows the Power of Academic Scribblers

School choice may be the most far-reaching legacy of Milton Friedman. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2006: November

The Education Commissioner and the Admiral

Not every school leader needs to be a former teacher. Dodge City Globe.

Charter Schools Offer Variety of Options, Possibilities

Charter schools are an underappreciated element of education improvement. Girard (Kan.) Press.

2006: September

The 100 Percent Solution

In looking at ways to educate children in poverty, lawmakers should look at a proposal called the 100 percent solution. Letter to the editor, published by the Kansas City Star.

Are you getting more from your public schools?

Spending is up. Achievement is … less than outstanding. Pittsburgh (Kan.) Morning Sun.

Is School Investment Paying Off?

School spending increased over 60 percent between 1993 and 2004, yet one in four students drop out and fewer than half are proficient. We’re distributing the money and it doesn’t seem to be working very well. Wichita Eagle.

Is More Funding an Accomplishment?

Public officials who increase spending on schools don’t accomplish anything, contrary to the commendation of newspaper editorials. What counts is not funding amounts, but school achievement. Letter to the editor, published by the Johnson County (Kan.) Sun.

Who’s being punished?

In discussing the standards used to administer No Child Left Behind, some people worry about punishing school districts. Shouldn’t we be concerned about punishing children who suffer in poorly performing schools? Girard (Kan.) Press.

2006: August

K-12 Spending and Performance in Kansas: 2006 Edition

What has happened to student enrollment and school spending? What is the relationship between spending and achievement? Policy Report, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

Fund Students, Not Consolidation

The Wichita Eagle calls for more school district consolidation. What is needed, however, is a look at the “100 Percent Solution,” and funding students. Letter to the editor published by the Eagle.

School’s in Session, and the Laboratories of Democracy Are Open

One size fits all? Not when it comes to the different ways in which states are delivering education to K-12 students. Kansas City Kansan.

2006: July

More Than Sex and Evolution

Debates on education focus on sex ed and evolution. But there are many issues of school performance that need addressing.

2006: June

Don’t Play Games with Proficiency Standards

When states report much higher rates of student proficiency on their own tests than on the nation’s report card, you’ve got to wonder if some gamesmanship is at work. Pittsburgh (Kan.) Morning Sun.

Give Charter Schools Room to Grow

Charter schools can be a valuable component of the school landscape–if they aren’t smothered by overly restrictive laws. Dodge City Globe.

2006: May

Education Rife With Politics

Complaints that politics interferes with education misses an important point: when schools are run by governments, politics is inevitable. Girard (Kan.) Press.

Say it isn’t so! Examining Education Myths

Girard (Kan.) Press, Kansas City Kansan.

Facing Our Fears About Competition

Answering some common objections to the use of competition among schools. Kansas City Kansan.

2006: April

Online Service Gives Data on Education (poor image quality)

The Kansas Department of Education unveils a new tool for consumers. Kansas City Kansan.

2006: March

Competition Delivers Improved Student Performance: Findings from Voucher Experiments

Public voucher and private scholarship programs show that giving students options improves their performance. Policy paper of the Flint Hills Center.

Does Competition Work in Education?

Results of randomized studies involving scholarships and vouchers suggest that competition among schools promotes student achievement. Anderson County (Kan.) Review.

Kansas Needs More Fragmentation, Not Consolidation

Dodge City Globe.

2006: January

Above Average: Good Enough to Forestall Reforms? (PDF image may load slowly)

Above average isn’t good enough. Kansas City Kansan.

Charter Schools Work

Charter schools work well for some families. If Kansans wish to advance the cause of education rather than protect particular school systems, they should expand the roster of authorities who can grant charters to new schools. Letter to the editor published by the Topeka Capitol-Journal.

Why Kansas Must Improve Its Above-Average Test Scores

One oft-cited objection to using competition and choice to reform education: “We’re above average.” But don’t let averages fool you: only 3 in 4 students graduate on time, and only 1 in 3 achieves a proficient or better score on most standardized tests covering math, reading, and other subjects. Policy paper written for the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2005: December

School Consolidation: An Ineffective Way of Improving Education

Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s worse. Policy paper. Published by the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

Kansas Justices Should Learn from Texas Court

The highest court in Texas says that “more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students.” This simple yet overlooked principle should guide efforts at reforming education. Also important is the court’s notice of the suggestion that competition can play an important part. Wichita Eagle. The Girard (Kan.) Press published a longer version–“A Recent Court Decision Speaks Sense on Education”– which is available in PDF here.

2005: November

Bring Competition

The Kansas State Board of Education should be commended for looking into vouchers. Letter to the editor published by the Wichita Eagle.

What is Public Education?

Is the goal of public education the maintenance of a school system, or the education of children? Anderson County (Kan.) Register.

2005: October

An Open Letter to the Education Commissioner

Kansas has a new education commissioner. He can advance education by helping the public understand the financial status of the state’s unified school districts (“Public schools”), as well as their performance. Olathe (Kan.) News.

School Audit Reveals Less Than You Think

A recently released report disappoints. Wichita Eagle.

2005: September

It is Possible to Spend Too Much on Education (*)

Without competition, how do we know we are spending the right amount? Kansas City Small Business Monthly. Alternate version: Girard (Kan.) Press (PDF).

Elections are a Poor Way to Change Schools

Elections are a poor substitute for consumer choice. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

2005: August

How About a Little Competition?

Improving education will come through competition. Salina (Kan.) Journal. Note: poor image quality; loads slowly.

2005: July

Competitive Sourcing

Employee leasing can be good for school districts. Article written for Michigan Privatization Report, published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Spending Level Fine

Do schools in Kansas need more money? Consider that after-inflation spending increased 22 percent from 1993 to 2004. Letter to the editor, published by the Lawrence Journal-World.

2005: June

School Funding is a Political Question

Take politics out of education funding? Impossible. Wichita Eagle.

True Costs of Education Unknown Without Consumer Feedback

Cost studies that take a noncompetitive environment as given are by nature incomplete.

2005: April

Facts About Education Spending: Arkansas City

Facts About Education Spending: Blue Valley

Facts About Education Spending: Dodge City

Facts About Education Spending: Lawrence

Facts About Education Spending: Salina

Facts About Education Spending: Shawnee Mission

Facts About Education Spending: Topeka

Facts About Education Spending: Wichita

Letter to the Editor (PDF) of the East Wichita News addresses some complaints raised by the superintendent of USD 259 Wichita in response to this report.

2005: March

Facts About Education Spending in Kansas

Per-pupil, inflation-adjusted spending increased 22 percent from 1993 to 2004. Policy brief, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

2005: January

Add Choice, Not Just Money, to Education

Wichita Eagle.

New Reports Enhance School Accountability

A new reporting tool shows promise for enhancing school accountability, if it’s done right. Wichita Independent Business Association newsletter.

2004: November

Kansas Needs More Charter schools

They’re not the only solution, but they are part of it. Wichita Eagle.

2004: October

Fewer Students = More Money

School districts have fewer students to serve. So why do they get more money? Viewpoint published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

2004: September

What Judge Bullock Should Have Learned From Judge Clark

Money can buy a lot–but not necessarily education success. Policy brief, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

School Board Self-Help

School boards that ask for more money ought to look at extravagant conference costs first. Viewpoint published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

2004: August

Be Smart When Spending on Education

It’s not enough to spend more on education; how it is spent is equally if not more important. Wichita Eagle.

2004: July

How Good are Public Schools in Kansas?

Kansas schools are better than average–but is average good enough? Policy brief, Flint Hills Center for Public Policy.

Environment and Natural Resources


Popular, Yes but There is a Dark Side to Ethanol

What’s wrong with political support for ethanol? Plenty. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (October).


Government Policies Make Gas Situation Worse (*)

Gas prices too high? Look at government restrictions on drilling and refining. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This was the ninth-most widely read daily commentary for the year 2004 published by the Mackinac Center. (June)


Why Energy Conservation Efforts Fail

Attempts to conserve energy are overcome by increased demands for energy. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (October).

Government: Budgets, Mission, and Federalism

2012: September

The Cost and Benefits of Minnesota’s Proposed Photo ID Constitutional Amendment

Would requiring citizens to present a photo ID before voting represent a financial burden on local governments? Not according to this report, which was written with two other authors for the Center of the American Experiment. In fact, the photo ID requirement could actually lead to cost savings, especially if it becomes the impetus for using electronic poll books.

2009: August

Privatization and the Contract City

Cities are contracting out public functions to private contractors. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2009: July

The Centralization of Politics

Recently the largest revenue stream for state governments were transfers from Washington, D.C. That’s bad for sound public policy. Saint Paul Legal ledger.

2009: June

Time to Phase out LGA

Government-to-government transfers inflate spending and reduce accountability. Saint Paul Legal ledger.

2009: May

A Good Time for a Pause in State Spending Spree

Households are cutting back their spending. State governments should too, and put a pause on a trend which has seen state spending growth exceed personal income growth for decades. Saint Paul Legal ledger.

2009: March

Where in the U.S. Does “Freedom Ring”?

A survey of the 50 states finds that New Hampshire is the most free state. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2009: January

Study Suggests Diminishing Returns From Public Spending

Minnesota spends a lot on state and local government, but how well has it used the public sector to improve education, health and other measures of well-being? Not too well: It ranks 45 out of the 50 states. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

Private Initiative in a Detroit Neighborhood

When government failed a Detroit neighborhood, residents stepped up. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.


Surprise! Conservatives Can be Generous, Too

Are people who favor a restrictive role for government misanthropes? Not if you measure their charitable giving. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (December).

We’re Number 19! Or is it 5?

Should you buy more government just because you can afford it? Saint Paul Legal Ledger (May).


This Little Piggy Went to Market

Exposing wasteful government spending is a good day’s work for some groups. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (July).

Public Pension Funds Are a Ticking Time Bomb

Politicians and public sector unions produce bad policies that leave taxpayers with $340 billion in unfunded liabilities. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (March).

Can we Open the Policy-driven ‘Locks’ of Life?

Public policies governing health care, education and transportation currently “lock” citizens into situations that hinder the common good. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.


Right-Sizing Military Infrastructure (*)

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process shows the importance of political infrastructure. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (March).


Michigan’s Budget Deficit Calls for Structural Reforms (*)

A budget crisis is a perfect opportunity to look at structural reforms. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Offshoring State Services Benefits Michigan (*)

Government services are for the public good–and that requires getting the best value for the dollar. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

AFL-CIO Says: Union Rules Hurt Us

Union-only requirements for public projects hurt taxpayers–and in one case at least, union workers. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This was the tenth-most widely read commentary for the year 2004 published by the Mackinac Center.


Your Tax Dollars at Work, part one

Some government spending is necessary. Some isn’t. Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Your Tax Dollars at Work, part two

Examples of questionable spending are not hard to find. Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Your Taxes at Work (MP3, 3mb)

Radio interview with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, 3 minutes long.

Government-run Enterprises


When Government Competes Against Citizens

When local governments undertake commercial citizens, everyone loses. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (July).


Government-run Broadband: Still a Bad Idea

Is broadband access a public good? Not exactly. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (August).

Please don’t buy me a Betamax

A Minnesota city discovers that municipal Wi-Fi can put residents on the bleeding edge. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (February).


Government should stay out of Wi-Fi

Due to financial and technological risks, among other concerns, government should avoid running broadband service. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (February).


Cities that Cry Poverty Should Sell Their Money-Losing Ski Areas (*)

Governments that want more tax revenue ought to make some cuts first. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (July).

DNR Contracts Out Management of Ski Area

Government does good, and contracts out a non-essential commercial enterprise. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (April).


No Business in Snow Business

Given the challenges of the day, operating a ski area is the least of Michigan government’s worries. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (October).

Health Care


Time to Shrink the Wedge in Health Care Costs

Taking health care policy in the wrong direction will cost the nation and Minnesota dearly. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (September).

Arizona Lawmakers Push Back Against Federalized Health Care

The Arizona legislature has gone on record against federalized health care. will other states follow? Saint Paul Legal Ledger (July).

Who Owns Your Health?

States can promote, or inhibit, your ownership of your own health. Which states are best–and worst? Saint Paul Legal Ledger (March).


Look Out for Myths About Government-Provided Health Care

What you know about health care policy may not be so, according to Sally Pipes, who has seen government-run health care up close in Canada. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (December).

U.S. Census Bureau: Number of Uninsured Declines

When is good news actually bad news? When it means that more people have to depend on government. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (September).

Yet Another Expansion of MinnesotaCare?

A legislative panel says “let’s expand subsidized insurance.” There are smarter steps to take, though. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (January).

Consumer-focused competition needed in health care

Regina Herzlinger asks “Who killed health care?” and says that supply-side changes are required. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (January).


Missouri Leads Way on Health Insurance Reform

A new law in Missouri gives new opportunities to small-business employees. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (October).

A New (Old) Approach to Health Insurance

A new census shows that use of health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance policies is growing. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (May).

American Health Care Policy Needs “The Cure”

David Gratzer, a doctor from Canada, explains why the U.S. needs more capitalism. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (February).

Jury is Still Out on Consumer-Driven Health Care Plans

This brief introduction to consumer-driven health care notes that it still has a long ways to grow. Published by the Saint Paul Legal Ledger (January).


Difficult Choices Ahead for Health Care Policy

One in 12 adults over 45 know how expensive long-term care is. Are you one of them? Published by the Saint Paul Legal Ledger (December).


Oklahoma Policy Blueprint 2004

Chapters on health care and SoonerCare. Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. (The file is for the entire 47-page report, most of which was written by others).

To Improve Health Insurance Access, Repeal Guaranteed Issue

A well-intentioned regulation is making health insurance unaffordable–and unavailable. Maine Public Policy Institute.

Empower Patients, Not Bureaucrats

A plan to increase the government rolls by raising cigarette taxes takes Oklahoma in the wrong direction. Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Veterans’ Woes Illustrate Problem with Government Health Care (*)

Michigan VA patients suffer due to the nature of government-run health care. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.


Mandates Cause Uninsurance

When politics determine what insurance covers, special interests benefit but the public loses. Maine Public Policy Institute.

Insurance Market in Critical Condition

The market for traditional, individual insurance is all but dead in Maine. Why? Maine Public Policy Institute.

Medicaid Expansion is (Still) the Wrong Solution

Add more people to Medicaid? Try some other reforms first. Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Illinois Needs Medicaid Reform

Taking out short-term loans to pay pharmacists is a sign of deeper trouble. Illinois Policy Institute.


Two Promising Alternatives for Controlling Health Care Costs

Health Reimbursement Arrangements and Medicaid vouchers could improve budgets and health care. Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Are Medicaid’s Benefits Too Healthy?

Taxpayers shouldn’t buy better health care for others than they get for themselves. Do they? Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Making Health Care Healthy Again (*)

Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) lead the way to increased consumer choice–and a better health care system. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. (The version that resides for now on the web site of the Mackinac Center has a graph that is not included in the link above.)


Learning From a Football Star

Jack Kemp, former football star, member of Congress, cabinet official and VP candidate, taught us much about the moral imperative of expanding the possibility of economic opportunity to everyone. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (May 7, 2009)

John Paul II: Affirming the Importance of Refuge from the State (*)

Pope John Paul II was a hero for human freedom against oppressive government. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (April 2005).

Regulation, Politics and the Law


Making a Federal Case out of Blogging

The FTC wants to regulate bloggers. Doesn’t it remember “freedom of speech?” Saint Paul Legal Ledger (October).


The Second Legal Revolution

One libertarian lawyer wants to use state constitutions as a tool for restraining government. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (December).

When Politics Corrupts Money

Do companies try to buy influence through campaign contributions? Certainly. They pay protection money. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

Please Spare Us from a “Professional” Legislature

Full-time, professional legislatures do more–and impose greater tax and regulatory burdens–than part-time, citizen legislatures. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.


Wine Protectionism (*)

The Supreme Court strikes a blow for interstate commerce and consumer choice. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (December).

The Verdict is in: Private Juries Hold Promise

Private mediation firms are a constructive alternative to a clogged court system. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (December).


Lock in Savings With Prison Privatization (*)

The private sector can outperform government offices, even in running prisons. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (February).

Supercenters–and Shoppers–Under Attack (*)

Don’t like megastores, such as Wal-Mart SuperCenters? Then don’t shop there. But some people actually think that banning them would be a good idea. Mackinac Center for Public Policy (June).


Keeping Internet Free Can Help, Not Harm Community

Fear of the social implications of Internet use fuel calls for regulation. But such calls overlook the good that the net can provide. The Heartland Institute (November/December).



Should the Rich Pay More?

Raising taxes on high-income earners looks attractive, but has moral and political perils. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2006: November

Think tanks debate ‘Taxpayers Bill of Rights’

Groups across the country take stands for and against a tax limitation measure. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.

2005: October

It’s About Choices

A taxpayers bill of rights reinforces the importance of making hard choices for good policy. Letter published by the Topeka Capital-Journal.

2004: October

Tax Cut Stories Miss the Picture (*)

Newspapers that focus on the downside of government service reductions overlook the benefits of tax cuts. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This was the most widely read essay of the Mackinac Center’s daily product, “Current Comments,” for the year. (October)

2004: September

Bill of Rights Allows Voters to Put Lid On Taxes

A Taxpayers Bill of Rights offers many benefits to state residents. As published by the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times.

2004: June

Cigarette Taxes Should Have Gone Up in Smoke (*)

Michigan missed an opportunity, and incurred real costs, by raising cigarette taxes. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

2004: April

Growth’s Limit No Threat to Government

A Taxpayers Bill of Rights is consistent with democratic principles. Published by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Written for the Taxpayers League of Minnesota.

Social Security Reform–Detroit News (*)

A number of articles on the subject, published by the Detroit News.

2000: January

Save the Internet from Death by Taxes

The growth of e-commerce has state officials running scared and calling for enhanced taxing authority. Here’s why they should not have it. The Heartland Institute.

1999: March

Reforming Social Security

Social Security is Broken. Here’s how to fix it. The Heartland Institute.

Transportation and Land Use


Minnesota Roads are Safe, but Congested

A review of the nation’s highway systems shows that Minnesota urban interstates are the second-most congested in the nation, behind only those in California. Saint Paul Legal Ledger.


Transit Systems Should Raise Fares

Rising fuel prices are putting transit systems in the red. The solution is not to keep fares artificially low. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (August).

Teardowns on a Tear?

A larger house may be coming to a street near you. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (February).

Housing Policy Perils

Regulations on local land use increase housing prices–in Seattle, by 44 percent. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (February).


Making Political Gains Out of Tragedy

It’s far too easy, early, and wrong to use the I-35W bridge collapse as a reason to raise taxes. Minneapolis Finance and Commerce (August).

Everything You Wanted to Know About Bridges

The Federal Highway Administration has an extensive database of information about the nation’s bridges. But leave it to a solitary hobbyist to turn that information into something that citizens can easily use. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (August).

Subsidizing the People Who Need it the Least

Transportation officials issue a new report. They get some things right, but the emphasis on mass transit could mean increased subsidies to the people who need them the least–commuter rail riders. Saint Paul Legal Ledger (April).


Snow in Chicago Teaches Lessons About Property Rights (*)

Why do neighbors feud over patches of shoveled street? Lack of property rights. The Heartland Institute (February).

Various issues in public policy


Progress & Ideas, Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Though listed as “contributing author,” my role was more that of a copy editor.

Intellectual Ammunition, The Heartland Institute

As managing editor of Intellectual Ammunition (a now-defunct publication), I performed copy editing, and also wrote the editor’s letter for each issue from September 1999 through August 2001. The file above contains those letters.

Copyright (c) 2016, John R. LaPlante