Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Midland, Michigan – Week 12 – Second to Last

John Gray

Quite a funny week this one. My second to last week. After finishing a project the week before, and with only two working weeks to go, my focus shifted from assisting with VoteSpotter and researching similarities and differences between Australia and the United States. This week I looked at higher education, unions, roads and criminal confiscation laws. The last one of particular interest to me as it’s something that Aaron Stonehouse (Liberal Democrats Member for South Metropolitan Region) has been working on for the last few years in WA. Interestingly, this week SCOTUS delivered a ruling that said civil asset forfeiture, as it’s known in the US, could be unconstitutional if the value of the asset is deemed to be too high. This falls under the 8th amendment that says excessive fines shall not be imposed. This landmark ruling could spell the end of civil asset forfeiture here but time will tell how it plays out. 

This week I managed to check out some places in downtown Midland, as well as some good old fashioned American junk food with my colleagues at the Center. It was also a week for the bi-monthly all-staff meeting so having the place abuzz with everyone there was great. It meant lunch would be provided but not for free. As Milton Friedman once said, there is no such thing as a free lunch so everyone pays $1 to partake; a small price to pay. 

On the weekend I was lucky enough to go skiing with my host family at Caberfae, a 90 minute drive from Midland. While not my first time in the snow, it was my first time skiing but I picked it up pretty quickly. The title if this week’s blog is pretty fitting though, I was always second to last down the bottom, being beaten out by Karen, Jarrett and 6-year-old Grayson, only 4-year-old Reagan getting down slower (still counts). I’m looking forward to my final week, and while it will be sad to leave, I’m pretty ready to come home after three months away. I’ll reflect on that in my next blog.