Quotes of Note
“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier.’” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
“Sometimes we are content to try to change ourselves with New Year’s resolutions to do better in some respect. Changing ourselves is a much more reasonable undertaking than trying to change other people. It may or may not succeed, but it seldom creates the disasters that trying to change others can produce.” – Thomas Sowell
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
January 28, 2014: The deadline is Friday, January 24, to register to attend, “School Choice and Georgia: An Update,” an 8 a.m. Georgia Public Policy Foundation Leadership Breakfast on January 28 in celebration of National School Choice Week. The panel discussion at Cobb County’s Georgian Club features three of Georgia’s leading education experts: Eric Wearne, Jim Kelly and Ben Scafidi. The first 50 people to register for this event will receive their very own school choice woobie – and you can wear it to the School Choice Rally at the Capitol that day! This event is $25 to attend. Register online at http://weblink.donorperfect.com/SchoolChoiceandGeorgia. (Call Benita Dodd at 404-256-4050 if you have problems registering.)
Will ObamaCare – federal health insurance – reduce ER visits? Oregon’s health study that found Medicaid coverage had no effect on patients’ health outcomes has also released findings that Medicaid increased the probability of using the emergency room by 20 percent and the number of ER visits over the 18-month period by about 40 percent. Source: Oregon Health Insurance Experiment
Energy and environment
Has the lightbulb come on yet? January 1 signaled the dawn of a new era, one in which tougher efficiency standards render 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs obsolete. The new standards put an end to the Edison creation’s century-long run as America’s favorite light and, as stock runs out, will force consumers to turn to newer, more efficient technologies when replacing a burnt-out bulb. “Energy efficient” is not necessarily “cost-effective,” as Paul Chesser pointed out in a recent commentary.
Research on the rocks: The aim of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition was to prove the East Antarctic ice sheet is melting. Its Web site spoke alarmingly of “an increasing body of evidence” showing “melting and collapse from ocean warming.” Instead, rescue ships and a helicopter, all belching substantial carbon emissions, have had to be mobilized to pluck the 74 aboard the Russian icebreaker MV Akademik Schokalskiy from their plight, stuck in what appears to be, ironically, record amounts of ice for this time of year. Source: The Australian
Drill here, drill now: Sixty-seven percent of registered voters support more offshore drilling for oil and 77 percent support more domestic production, according to a Harris Interactive poll conducted for the American Petroleum Institute. Moreover, out of 1,002 respondents, 89 percent said that expanded on and offshore oil and gas natural gas production “could help strengthen America’s energy security” while 87 percent believe increased production “could lower energy costs for consumers.” For these reasons, nearly 90 percent of Americans said, more oil and natural gas production would help our economy. Source: Breitbart.com
Restricting renewables: Hydropower has a conversation rate of 90 percent, compared to an average of 50 percent for other forms of electricity generation. But federal regulations are making it difficult for cities to take advantage of small-scale hydropower, according to a Mercatus Center report. Small-scale hydropower differs from large-scale hydropower: River water is diverted into a pipeline and carried through a turbine, which powers a generator and produces electricity. These small systems have big potential, but license-seekers sometimes have to obtain permits from up to 25 different agencies.
In defense of free markets: A disappointed John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis responds to the pope’s criticism of “unfettered capitalism,” noting: “Although ‘unfettered capitalism’ doesn’t really exist in the world today, the closest thing to it would probably be Hong Kong. … The success of Hong Kong fits a pattern. In general, countries with more economic freedom have higher standards of living, longer life expectancies and more prosperous lives by almost any measure. Further, the greater the degree of economic freedom, the higher the standard of living of those at the bottom of the income ladder. Economic freedom is also associated with more equality of income.”
Or you could call it reducing a subsidy: One of the many items that Congress neglected to address before wrapping up its year was the tax benefit for millions of commuters who use mass transit. Starting Jan. 1, the monthly amount that commuters can set aside before taxes to spend on mass transit dropped from $245 to $130, which for some heavy users could mean several hundred dollars in higher costs in 2014. Source: Washington Post
Media and social media
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The Forum: Find the latest blog posts at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.