– “I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” – Benjamin Franklin
– “Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want of bread.” – Thomas Jefferson
– “Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year. ” – Victor Borge
The economy and taxes
– Christmas will cost 9.2 percent more this year over last year, according to the 2010 PNC Christmas Price Index, which annually tallies the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas. According to the 27th annual survey, this year’s price tag is $23,439, or $1,974 more than last year. This is the second highest jump ever and largest percentage increase since 2003 when the index rose 16 percent. That comes on the heels of a modest 1.8 percent increase a year ago. PNC blamed it on high gold commodity prices, which raised the cost of five golden rings 30 percent, and higher benefits and wages for entertainers.
– Fifty-six percent of likely U.S. voters in a Rasmussen poll favor an agreement that extends the Bush tax cuts for all Americans for two more years, cuts the Social Security payroll tax rate for one year and renews long-term unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months. Just 29 percent oppose the deal and 15 percent are not sure about it. In a Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans support the deal. A CNN poll in November reported that just one third of Americans said that tax cuts should be extended for all Americans, regardless of how much they make.
– Who’s paying the taxes? The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 47 percent of Americans pay no taxes. And the Tax Foundation found that the top-earning 5 percent of taxpayers (adjusted gross income over $159,619) paid far more than the bottom 95 percent. The top 5 percent earned 34.7 percent of the nation’s adjusted gross income, but paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes.
– About jobless benefit extensions: Investor’s Business Daily opines on the damage that unemployment benefit extension is doing to the economy: “Why are so many jobs going begging when so many Americans are begging for jobs? Because many don’t have to take them – thanks in part to 99 weeks and counting of unemployment benefits.” And columnist Michelle Malkin reminds Americans, “There is no such thing as a ‘free’ government benefit. Ask small-business owners who are footing skyrocketing bills for bottomless jobless benefits.” Source: Investor’s Business Daily
– Mission creepy: There’s a whole summit in February for the feds “to help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem” and organize a “research agenda.” Organized by the doyenne of mission creep, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup consists of EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health. (Here’s a local, private-sector solution: Contact your local pest control company.)
What’s happening at the Foundation
– Join The Forum, an interactive community of Georgians discussing the issues of greatest concern with the Foundation’s experts. Register and start the discussion athttp://forum.georgiapolicy.org/.
– The merits of merit pay: More Texas teachers stayed put and students saw a slight jump in their test scores at schools where teachers received performance-based pay in the first two years of a $400 million state program, a study indicates. More than 200 school districts participated in the voluntary District Awards for Teacher Excellence program, the Dallas Morning News reported. Source: Edweek.org
– Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Water Policy-makers Flooded with Proposals and Solutions,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend.
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As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.