Friday Facts: July 12, 2013

Friday Facts
July 12th, 2013 by Leave a Comment

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July 12, 2013 

It’s Friday! 

The Legacy of Hank McCamish

On June 30 Georgia lost a great leader and a great man. Henry F. “Hank” McCamish Jr. was born and raised in Greenwood, SC, but after graduating from Georgia Tech in 1950 he never left Georgia.   

A successful career as an entrepreneur allowed him to become a generous philanthropist. His leadership and gifts impacted countless charitable organizations and his guidance and mentorship influenced countless lives.

Hank founded the Georgia Public Policy Foundation on October 29, 1991. He had two simple instructions: 1) Always tell the truth and make sure your facts are correct and 2) Focus on the issues and do not attack individuals.

Humble throughout his life, nearly all of his generous work was done quietly and anonymously. He was a true gentleman, a compassionate man of faith and friend to many. We are proud and honored to do our small part in carrying on his legacy.

Events

Mark your calendar: On August 28, the Foundation will host, “Georgia Transportation: The Next Frontier,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon with Senior Fellow Baruch Feigenbaum, who is a Reason Foundation transportation analyst. ($30.) Details soon.

Mark your calendar: The fourth annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum takes place Friday, October 11, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta. Last year, hundreds of Georgia’s legislators, businesspeople and interested citizens attended to hear national policy experts discuss free-market solutions to Georgia’s challenges. Details soon. 

Transportation

Horseless Carriages to Driverless Cars:  Google co-founder Sergey Brin predicts self-driving cars will be a technical reality within five years. An editorial in The Wall Street Journal warns, however: “There are many issues to be solved before fully self-driving cars are available, but the technical issues may be the easiest to resolve. Legal uncertainty, including about liability for accidents, is more vexing.” Already, the federal government has intervened in the three states that have legalized autonomous cars, allowing them to be test-driven but not sold in those states. 

Road diets in Florida: Some roads in Broward County, Fla., will be getting much wider sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, bike lanes buffered from cars and crosswalks with embedded lights, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Other roads will go on a “diet” with narrower lanes or, in some cases, auto lanes will be eliminated to make room for the changes. Read Benita Dodd’s recent commentary, “In Lean Times, Road Diets Leave Slim Pickings for Commuters.”

Lesson for Atlanta: In 2004, Denver approved a plan to build 122 miles of light rail, the Reason Foundation notes. Almost a decade later, only 40 percent of the system is complete, the project is $2.7 billion over budget, and the new completion date is 2044 – if they can find more funding.

Economy

Taxpayers versus public unions: The recent recession left so many Americans struggling that many no longer identify with public workers whose still-strong wages and benefits are paid with tax dollars, the Oakland (Calif.) Tribune reports. As a result, many private-sector workers have little sympathy for San Francisco Bay area transit workers threatening to strike: They make an average of $78,000 including overtime per year, contribute nothing toward retirement and pay a flat $92 monthly for health insurance, yet are demanding a 20.1 percent pay bump over three years. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that drivers and station agents average 40 unscheduled absences each year – absenteeism that cost $30 million last year.

A point worth making: The official yardstick almost always used in assessing joblessness is the civilian unemployment rate, which tracks the overall percentage of workers and job-seekers without work. But this statistical tool seriously disguises and understates the magnitude of the ongoing jobs crisis, according to a commentary by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. He describes it as “utterly incapable of gauging how many should be, or could be, looking for work in the first place.” Today, over 11 out of every 100 men of prime working age are completely out of the labor force – one in nine, fully four times the fraction back in the early postwar era.

Government regulation

Georgia’s biggest prison and jail phone service provider charges $2.70 for an inmate’s local call. In-state long-distance calls are $4.85 per 15-minute call and out-of-state long distance calls are $17.30 per 15-minute call. A Federal Communications Commission workshop this week focused on the policies and costs. It’s high time: The Foundation fought hard for criminal justice reform; family connection is an important part of rehabilitation. But TechFreedom warns that “regulatory activists are pushing the same tired narrative here: the price-controlled public utility model. That model has been tried and failed repeatedly. It won’t fix the real cause of exorbitant prison calling rates: most state prison systems award an exclusive franchise to the payphone provider who offers not the lowest rates and the best service, but the largest kick-back to the prisons. The FCC should ban exclusive franchises and kickbacks immediately – to give competition a chance.”

Health care

While you were away: The Obama administration announced last week – while most people were enjoying the Independence Day holiday – that it will delay the employer mandate for the Affordable Care Ac one year. It also announced that it would significantly scale back ObamaCare’s requirements that new insurance marketplaces verify consumers’ income and health insurance status. Instead, the federal government will rely more heavily on consumers’ self-reported information until 2015, when it plans to have stronger verification systems in place. The best laid schemes of mice and men … this is not.

Media and social media

YouTube: The Foundation’s YouTube channel continues to rapidly grow as a resource for Georgia policy discussions and history.  Among our latest gems:
Our Georgia Legends series in which journalist Bill Shipp interviewed former Governors Carl Sanders and Ernest Vandiver Jr., and former House Speaker George T. Smith. The series includes three videos.
U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas came home to Georgia to receive the Foundation’s 2001 Freedom Award, which was also bestowed in 2001 on Hank McCamish, founder of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Conservative Patrick Buchanan was a keynote speaker in December 1995, ahead of the elections 1996 presidential election.
And in his address on the 94th anniversary of the historic Wright brothers’ flight, then-Congressman Bob Barr wondered whether government concerns would have prevented the historic December 17, 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to make the best use of our resources: http://tinyurl.com/agkm5h5.

We’re heading toward 2,100 “likes” on the Foundation’s Facebook page! Join us at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicyto get daily policy news, views, updates, Quotes of Note and photos. More than 1,000 Twitter followers get their Foundation news at twitter.com/gppf. Ask your high school or college student to like the Foundation’s Student Outreach Scholarship page on Facebook at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicySOSProgram.

The Forum: Benita Dodd blogged about why South Africans will mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, and CDC intervention in Pennsylvania’s attempts to privatize alcohol sales. In Checking Up On Health, she highlights more ObamaCare challenges and shares news on better drugs, organ donation and liver “buds” from stem cells. Find these and other recent posts in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/. 

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “What if the Exchanges Are Not Ready on Time?” by John Goodman.  

Have a great weekend. 

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd  

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/. Become a fan of the Foundation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/gppf.

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Thank you for what you are doing to lead the nation. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is leading the way. This is truly one of the leading lights in the state think tank movement. Excellent ideas. It’s well run. For those of you who are donors I congratulate you on your wisdom and I encourage you to do it and do it more.

Arthur Brooks, President, American Enterprise Institute (2015) more quotes