Where I’ve Been

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted here, as virtually all my time this year has been spent on The Center for Economic Accountability, where I’m the president and one of the founding board members.

I’ll keep this site for stuff that doesn’t relate to my work on behalf of transparency, accountability and free-market-based reforms of state and local economic development policy, but for the most part you should be paying attention to the CEA’s website (or Facebook page, or Twitter feed) if you want to see what I’m working on at any given time.

(I’m not quite sure why anyone would, but life’s full of mysteries. Thanks for visiting.)

Op-ed in the Des Moines Register

DMRI’m proud to have co-written an op-ed in the Des Moines Register with John Hendrickson of Iowans for Tax Relief. Iowa’s politicians have gone hog-wild (pun intended) for economic development subsidies, and it’s time for the state’s taxpayers to have the transparency and accountability they need to decide whether or not they’ve gotten a good deal for their money.

Op-ed in The Oakland Press

Oakland PressMy most recent op-ed on economic development ran in The Oakland Press this week. In it, I try to get the reader to think about whether or not the stakeholders in economic development subsidies are generally telling us the truth about what’s going on, and what we should require of them in the process.

New work in Detroit News and Watchdog.org

I had two articles run on the same day today:

The Detroit News ran my op-ed on Dan Gilbert’s new skyscraper in Detroit. The more people understand about the mechanisms and machinations behind the shiny talk of “incentives,” the less they like what’s going on. At some point, we can only hope they hold their elected representatives accountable.

I also covered the dynastic politics in play in Detroit’s Congressional races for Watchdog.org. Prof. Gary Wolfram of Hillsdale College asked an excellent rhetorical question: If this is how we’re going to pick the people who run our government, do we really want them to have that much power over us?

Meeting a Hero

This isn’t necessarily work-related, but I wanted to share it regardless. We use the word “hero” a lot, but I was honored to meet someone whose claim to that word is beyond debate.

ColeThis is Col. Richard Cole, who was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot during the famous “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” raid of 1942. To get America a much-needed victory and reset Japanese strategic calculations after Pearl Harbor, the “Doolittle Raiders” launched bombers that had never before flown from an aircraft carrier on a mission where they had no real expectation of landing at an actual airfield. (Cole’s crew bailed out over China when they ran out of fuel.) They bombed military targets in Tokyo, doing minor physical damage but sending shockwaves through the entire Japanese military and delivering notice that America wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

At 102 years old, Col. Cole is the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders.

I met him because this past weekend, my family and I were honored to be guests at the 93d Bomb Squadron’s centennial celebration, which included a change-of-command ceremony. My grandfather Charles R. d’Olive was a member of the 93d in World War I, when it was a “pursuit squadron” (we call them “fighter squadrons” now), and scored the first victory in the 93d’s history. Today, the 93d is a USAF Reserve B-52 squadron based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

The men and women of the 93d continue to serve in the best tradition of Col. Cole, my grandfather and their brothers in arms. Their legacies are in good hands.

New Article on Right to Work

I have a new article up at Think Freely Media entitled, “Why Shouldn’t I Have the Right to Leave A Union?

I was struck by the way the unions and their allies in Missouri are trying to co-opt the language of individual liberty and thought it would be worthwhile to follow their rhetoric about rights to the logical conclusion. (Spoiler: It’s not where they say it is.)

In San Antonio

I’m at the State Policy Network Annual Meeting in San Antonio this week. Say hi if you see me, or reach out if you’re interested in setting a time to get together.

My one formal responsibility is serving as the mock interview subject for John Kramer’s session on donor privacy. It’s on Thursday at 9:45 a.m., feel free to stop by and watch me play a besieged spokesperson.

Departing the Mackinac Center

When I joined the Mackinac Center for Public Policy roughly a year and a half ago as its vice president for marketing and communications, I described it as my “dream job.” I’d been passionate about liberty and free markets since the early 1990s, but had never had an opportunity to combine my personal beliefs with my professional expertise. The Mackinac Center gave me that opportunity, for which I will be eternally grateful.

The only downside to this dream job was the two-hour commute each way between Mackinac’s Midland, Mich. headquarters and my home in the eastern suburbs of Detroit. While the commute wasn’t always fun, I did find ways to make it worthwhile. It became my time for creative thought, for longer-form phone discussions with colleagues and for catching up on podcasts and audiobooks of all kinds. But at the end of the day, what forced me to regretfully tender my resignation last week was the impact my near-constant absence had on my family. As much as I loved my job, life is too short to miss all the Little League games and family dinners and homework questions for which I was on the road.

I remain a huge fan of the organization and of its people, and will be rooting for it from the sidelines and supporting it however I can. As I wrote in Forbes last month, I know exactly how much good policy matters to the people of my state.