April 24: Matt Candler, founder and CEO of 4.0 Schools, keynotes, “School Choice: Big Gains in The Big Easy,” the Foundation’s 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. This event is open to the public and is $25 to attend. Find out more at http://www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=12626. Register at http://bit.ly/1lmETV5.
May 7: Foundation Members who register by April 15 get a discount rate of $159 to attend “Health Reform 2.0: The Great Debate,” the first face-to-face debate between two of the nation’s most influential health care experts: John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a key thought leader for free market solutions and Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, who has been a key resource to most every Democratic presidential nominee during the last 20 years. The conference is hosted by the Institute for Healthcare Consumerism at the Galleria Centre in Cobb County. Registration covers Day 1, including the debate and opening night reception. Find out more at www.theihccforum.com/2014-ihc-forum-and-expo/.
Quotes of Note
“The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence.” – Adam Smith
“Through the Enabling Act (1933), whose formal name was “A Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich,” Hitler gained the power to enact laws with neither the involvement nor the approval of the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament. The Enabling Act destroyed any remaining local autonomy. The bottom line is that it was decent Germans who made Hitler’s terror possible – Germans who would have never supported his territorial designs and atrocities.” – Walter Williams
“The tax code oddity that may have the most destructive influence on America might be the fact that if you buy private health insurance, you pay more tax than if your employer buys you a plan.” – John Stossel
Free at last! Tax Freedom Day is the day on which Georgians have collectively earned enough to pay off the total federal, state and local tax bill and start working for themselves. It arrives tomorrow (April 12), ranking Georgia 34th in the nation. Last year, it arrived April 9. Tax Freedom Day 2014 is three days later in 2014 for the nation as a whole, too, arriving on April 22. Americans will spend more on taxes in 2014 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined. Last to pay off government is Connecticut (May 9) and first is Louisiana (March 30) Source: Tax Foundation
Inflated infrastructure: A 2005 Cato Institute paper, “Liberating the Roads,” cited former Federal Highway Administration head Robert Farris’ estimate that Washington’s role in transportation adds 30 percent to costs. Federal transportation policy is not solely about transportation: Environmental, labor and “buy American” requirements are among the mandates that inflate costs. By Farris’ tenure in the late 1980s, Washington was already imposing expensive transportation regulations, and many have since been strengthened by the Obama administration. Source: The Atlantic Cities
Expect more delays: A bat-killing fungus has been confirmed at 12 sites in Georgia so far, WABE radio reports, and “Currently scientists have no way of stopping it from spreading to more.” Last year, it was reported that the presence of endangered Indiana bats was delaying 58 road projects in Georgia – and possibly another 50 – and costing taxpayers millions of dollars. What will the feds do next?
Denied a living: The Atlanta street vendors, still without vending permits despite a court ruling in their favor, protested this week outside Turner Stadium. The Foundation pointed out in October last year that the City of Atlanta was ignoring court orders to issue the permits that enable vendors to legally sell their wares.
Up, up and away: Like the bird the team’s named for, the cost of the Falcons’ new stadium is soaring even before the first piece of soil is turned over. The city of Atlanta, state of Georgia, Georgia World Congress Center and Atlanta Falcons announced the $948 million retractable-roof stadium in December 2012. On Wednesday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, said the cost has risen to nearly $1.3 billion – a 37 percent increase! Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Wrong motivation: MARTA announced this week it is increasing bus and rail service beginning in May. “The improved economy with stabilized fuel prices makes driving alone more attractive,” CEO and General Manager Keith Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have to make using the bus and the trains more attractive. That’s why we’re adding service and buying new buses and more technology and these sort of things.” Kudos to MARTA for understanding the need to improve service. Scarce dollars should be a reminder to focus on needs versus wants.
What’s more deadly? Stephen Fleming of Georgia Tech shared an interesting Tweet this week on light rail versus passenger cars. Using the 500-plus page National Transportation Statistics, Fleming calculated there were 22.6 deaths per 100 million miles involving light rail compared with 1.1 deaths involving passenger cars.
Energy and Environment
Recycling: Do you get glares over what you put in the trash? Daniel Benjamin, senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Council (PERC) explains what’s smart and what’s silly to recycle in a new video at Learn Liberty. (Hint: Recycle aluminum cans.)
Big enough to fail: The size of the U.S. power grid puts the country at risk for widespread power outages, Marina Koren writes in The National Journal. She quotes physicist David Newman, who likens it to a sandpile. “Sandpiles are stable until you get to a certain height. Then you add one more grain and the whole thing starts to avalanche,” Newman said. That “one more grain” could be an attack on the grid.
Landfill space: The United States today has more landfill capacity than ever before, according to PERC. In 2001, the nation’s landfills could accommodate 18 years’ worth of rubbish, an amount 25 percent greater than a decade before. In fact, total land area needed to hold all of America’s garbage for the next century would be only about 10 miles square.
Paying more for gasoline? Fuel in Georgia already is selling at above $3.50 per gallon. Prices are expected to climb higher, according to the Energy Information Administration. Production costs are higher, demand is down in both the U.S. and China, and the price of ethanol is rising. By the end of March the spot price of a gallon of ethanol exceeded the price of a gallon of reformulated gasoline by more than $1.00. Source: 247WallSt.com Media
Web site of the week: At http://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/ you can become one of the more than 2.7 million readers of Imprimis, the free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College dedicated to educating citizens and promoting civil and religious liberty. The content of Imprimis is drawn from speeches delivered to Hillsdale College-hosted events, both on-campus and off-campus.
YouTube: We’re closing in on 46,000 views on the Foundation’s YouTube channel!
Social media: The Foundation has 2,237 “likes” on Facebook and 1,166 Twitter followers!
The Forum: UGA Professor Jeffrey Dorfman points out that minimum wage policies proposed by the Obama administration benefit the federal government more than the targeted workers.Read this and other recent posts at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Tax Policy Trails the Campaign Trail,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is something that I am proud to be a part of today. The research conducted by education groups like yours is invaluable in helping form opinions and allowing people to reach conclusions that ultimately help them make the right decisions.