Win with words: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is giving away four tickets, valued at $100 each, to attend the Heartland Institute’s Emerging Issues Forum at the Capital City Club in Atlanta on Thursday, August 15. For a chance to win a ticket to the daylong session, tell your Facebook friends what you like about the Foundation and why. (Be sure you “like” the Foundation Facebook page and tag us in your post or share it on our page!) We’ll announce four winners in the Friday Facts next week, so make your case by noon on Thursday, August 8. Remember, if you don’t tag us, the NSA will be able to see you but we won’t!
Quotes of Note:
“We are so fortunate by the accident of birth to be Americans, and having had that good fortune, our primary duty is to make sure our country survives and we stay free. That ought to be the primary objective of every American for the rest of their life.” – Col. George “Bud” Day (February 24, 1925 – July 27, 2013), who was John McCain’s POW cellmate in Vietnam
“It is axiomatic: When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate.” – George Will
“Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday and St. Tuesday will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.” – Benjamin Franklin
August 15: The Heartland Institute’s Emerging Issues Forum is the national organization’s annual daylong event for elected officials, policy analysts and government affairs professionals to confer and strategize about the top public policy issues of the day. Among the topics: Health Care, Education, Tax Reform and Energy. The Foundation will participate in an energy roundtable discussion. Find out more at http://eif.heartland.org/.
August 28: Register now for “Georgia Transportation: The Next Frontier,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at the Georgian Club with Senior Fellow Baruch Feigenbaum, who is a Reason Foundation transportation analyst. $30. Information: http://tinyurl.com/msf7j3z. Registration: http://tinyurl.com/ln9lmhv.
October 11: Register now for the fourth annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which 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. Information: http://tinyurl.com/lma9kpt.
Off-track math: San Diego’s SPRINTER light rail system has turned 5. It serves 15 stations on a 22-mile route. According to Metro Magazine’s April 2013 edition, “The rail line has seen record-breaking ridership in recent months, with averages of over 10,000 passengers per weekday.” Record-breaking? According to a 2007 press release, “The SPRINTER is projected to transport more than 11,000 passengers per day at the end of the first year of service.” Meanwhile, the 12-train system resumed service in May 2013 after accelerated brake wear shut down the system for more than two months.
Other people’s money: The environmental impact statement for the Purple Line light rail proposed for Maryland suburbs predicts that the line will increase congestion, use more energy than the cars it takes off the road, and cost $22 million more per year to operate and maintain than a bus-rapid transit line. The federal government funded the project anyway. Source: American Dream Coalition
Less if by bus: A new study prepared for the American Bus Association Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and the Reason Foundation reveals lower consumer and taxpayer costs and reduced emissions associated with motorcoach travel as compared with Amtrak’s rail system. It found that motorcoach travel is either more effective or on par with Amtrak, but at a fraction of the cost and with little to no public subsidy. Source: Metro Express
Energy and environment
Nothing to brag about: The California Energy Commission’s claim that the state’s tight energy conservation standards have saved countless billions of kilowatts of power and “more than $74 billion in reduced electricity bills since 1975” is being questioned in a new paper. Georgetown University economist Arik Levinson concludes that “around 90 percent of California’s apparent residential electricity savings” can be attributed to factors such as the state’s relatively mild climate, the growth of population in Western and Southern states with hot summers and rising energy demands, and the expansion of household size in California. Source: Sacramento Bee
Nuclear worth it: In a recent op-ed, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols maintains that the benefits outweigh the costs when it comes to nuclear energy, noting that a “low-cost baseload energy is a key to economic growth.” He maintains that nuclear power is a great investment for Southeastern states, especially: “It gives us 24/7 base load power, provides grid stability, serves as a hedge against volatile natural gas prices – and all this without any of the emissions associated with conventional fuels.”
Environmentally sound policy: President Obama could take a leaf out of a book about President Ronald Reagan’s environmental stewardship, notes columnist Jay Ambrose, citing a new book that chronicles Reagan’s approach. “Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle With Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today,” is by William Perry Pendley, who served in the Interior Department under Reagan. Reagan did his research. “The result of all of this was extraordinary environmental protections … and something else,” Ambrose writes. “This president increased energy production, refuting the 1977 prediction of his predecessor, President Jimmy Carter.”
Taxes and economy
A job at any price: With minimum wage workers in several cities geared to strike next week for a higher minimum wage, some may wonder what’s wrong with that. The problem, writes James Dorn in Forbes magazine, is that the minimum wage is unfair to low-skilled workers with little experience because “it prices them out of the labor market and prevents them from achieving the upward mobility that is the hallmark of a dynamic free-market economy.
Price controls: U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the Federal Reserve was not draconion enough in implementing the Durbin Amendment of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, which sets price controls on what banks and credit unions can charge retailers to process debit card purchases, says John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Should the Fed adopt Leon’s interpretation, it will almost certainly result in more bank and credit union fees for consumers,” says Berlau, who highlighted the negative impact on Georgia regional and community banks in a study last year.
Affordable? This week, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens asked U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for an emergency 30-day extension beyond the July 31 deadline to approve the health plans submitted by insurance companies wanting to do business in the state’s federally facilitated health exchange. “In complete contradiction to every promise made by the President with regard to the [law], insurance companies in Georgia have filed rate plans increasing health insurance rates up to 198 percent for some individuals. Georgia consumers cannot afford these massive rate increases,” Hudgens wrote.
Costs versus benefits: Policy-makers focusing on the six-figure price tag of a new drug or technology are overlooking the long-term value that medical innovations can bring — for both patients and the broader economy, Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute writes in Forbes magazine. “Consider the impact of advances in medicine on hospital stays. A European study found that between 2000 and 2008, medical technology cut hospital stays by an average of 13 percent,” Pipes notes.
School choice: In a survey commissioned by the Black Alliance for Educational Options of black voters in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi this year, 85 to 89 percent in each state agreed that government should provide parents with as many choices as possible to ensure that their child receives a good education.
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The Forum: In Checking Up On Health, Benita Dodd writes about new predictions of ObamaCare delays, cancer over-diagnoses and overtreatments, the growing application of apps in health care and what overtime can cost you. Find this 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, “Looking Ahead: More Hurdles for ObamaCare,” by Ronald E. Bachman.
Have a great weekend.
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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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.