Michigan Journal of Public Affairs

Continue Reading

Setting the Standards

How subjective choices in a quantitative analysis can radically change policy choices

By Molly Kendall

Most policy makers recognize the inherent flaws associated with cost benefit analyses; they require all costs and benefits to be monetized, they can be incredibly sensitive to small changes in data, and they are often used out of context to justify a wide variety of proposals. However, they remain the primary tool of policy evaluation. Even if estimates are biased, attempting to quantify costs and benefits is critical to understanding whether policies should be enacted and these analyses should be reviewed with a critical lens.

Continue Reading

‘Quality Of Life’ In A 2-Foot Casket

U.K., European Parliament should enact parental rights laws before momentum fades

By Lizzy Balboa

One of the most haunting storylines of the last two years lingers on life support — unresolved and seemingly forgotten. Alfie Evans was 23 months old when the British government condemned him to death. His quality of life, they said, was too low. Alfie was admitted to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital 14 months earlier for seizure treatment and was subsequently diagnosed with an unidentified degenerative neurological condition. For more than a year, he remained in a semi-vegetative state with a blink or a smile as the only signs of life. His physicians attributed the activity to seizures.

Alfie’s family hoped for recovery and requested a transfer to an Italian hospital willing to prolong his life through respiratory operations. Alder Hey blocked the move, asserting that “continued ventilator support is not in Alfie’s best interest.” Given his circumstances, the hospital argued, treatment would be unlawful, “unkind and inhumane.”

Continue Reading

Exploring the Potential of LIHTC Expansion

By Nick Najor

Twenty-first century America finds itself in the midst of a legitimate housing crisis. The Urban Institute reports that for every 100 extremely low-income households, there are less than 30 adequate, available, and affordable housing units. This translates to a national shortage of over 7 million units. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 12 million households now pay more than half of their annual income on housing. The crippling burden of rent has become an increasingly common facet of American life.

One of the most prominent federal policy tools for increasing affordable housing is the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, or LIHTC. Created in 1986, this tax credit encourages private equity investment in the development of rental housing units for tenants making less than a set percentage of a given area’s median income (AMI). The LIHTC program is administered not by HUD, but instead by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Since its inception, it has led to the development of well over 2.5 million affordable housing units and has become the primary facilitator of affordable housing creation in the United States.

Continue Reading

Voting Rights in 2018: A Postmortem

By Katie Grover

Nearly six years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act that required states and localities to “preclear,” or obtain approval from the federal government before making any changes to election procedures. While the Court did not hold the preclearance requirement unconstitutional on its face, it held that the formula used to determine which states are subject to preclearance was essentially outdated, rendering it ineffective until Congress can update the statute. Since then, advocates have documented numerous instances of voting rights erosions (see Shelby County v. Holder).

Continue Reading

School Meal Charge Policies Fail to Meet Recommendations: A Review from One Michigan County

By Christian Mackey


In 2017, national media attention was given to stigmatizing procedures in loaning school meals to students who did not bring a packed lunch, or could not afford lunch from the cafeteria. Deemed “lunch shaming,” these practices include stamping students’ hands, requiring students to perform custodial duties, and providing “alternate meals”.[i] These methods, by design, stigmatize students or keep them from participating in recess, both of which may impact students’ learning and social engagement. Institutional lunch shaming also directly targets students even though they often rely on caregivers’ planning and income for having a meal at school.

Continue Reading

The State of Trade in the World of Trump

Interview with Professor Alan V. Deardorff By Jennifer Chasseur and Will Sims

Alan V. Deardorff is the John W. Sweetland Professor of International Economics and Professor of Public Policy. Alan’s research focuses on international trade. With Bob Stern, he has developed the Michigan Model of World Production and Trade, which is used to estimate the effects of trade agreements. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Labor, State, and Treasury and to international organizations including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Bank. Alan received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Continue Reading

All This Over a Wall? Why #ShutdownStories Should Matter More

By Kara Naseef

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s only.

At midnight on December 21, 2018, approximately 380,000 “non-essential” federal employees were sent home without pay along with tens of thousands of federal contract workers. After twenty-nine days, most have not returned to work. Approximately 450,000 workers are being required to work without pay and workers will likely not be reimbursed even when the government reopens.

Many federal workers continue to post their #ShutdownStories on social media. These stories attempt to draw attention to the troubling impact of political games on American families. In fact, the shutdown is having twice the effects on the economy than the administration initially estimated. Trump said he can relate to those who are not receiving paychecks and claimed that many of them agree with what he is doing. But the latest Marist Poll suggests otherwise.

Continue Reading

The Role of Biofortified Maize in Responding to Northern Triangle Migration to the U.S.

By Rachel Pak

Romulo Gonzalez begins his days early, tending to his maize field on the Southern Coast of Guatemala. He is part of the 31 percent of the Guatemalan labor force that depends on agriculture for their family’s livelihood. Frequent droughts have severely impacted harvests, causing Romulo’s neighbors to struggle to provide enough food for their families. Food shortages have caused many to head for the U.S. border recently, an option Romulo began to consider as well.

Continue Reading

The First Step Act: A State Inspired Effort at Criminal Justice Reform

By Heath Bergmann

As of December 31st, 2016, approximately 1.5 million prisoners were held in United States (U.S.) correctional facilities at the federal and state level. Of these inmates, 188,400 were in custody of the federal government. The Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, commonly referred to as the FIRST STEP Act, provides rehabilitative and transitional services aimed at reducing the rate in which federal prisoners recidivate upon release. The act is an excellent example of policy diffusion, or “the spread of innovations from one government to another”, in which the U.S. government is seeking to replicate the success of its states, the ‘laboratories of democracy’. [i]

Continue Reading