September 16: Health Connect South 2015 takes place at the Georgia Aquarium. The daylong program highlights health collaborations and innovations throughout the Southeast, with a special focus on the ebola response. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health Public Health and former Chairman of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, is a featured speaker. Go here to register.
October 15: Register by TODAY for the Early Bird Discount rate of $100 to attend the Sixth Annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly on Thursday, Oct. 15. Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, is the keynote speaker. The theme is, “Wisdom, Justice and Opportunity.” Details here. After today, registration is $125 per person. Register here. Sponsorships are available; contact Benita Dodd.
Quotes of Note
“If, with their own money, Tesla and its customers want to revel in electric cars, that’s wonderful. Nobody should object. But why should taxpayers subsidize their hobby as if some vital public purpose is being served?” – Holman W. Jenkins Jr.
“Anyone looking to educate voters about how the private sector works better than the government might want to consider offering trips to Disney World. Compare the company-run lines at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park with the government-run security lines at the Orlando International Airport, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that a free market works better than a government monopoly.” – Ira Stoll
“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” – Martin Luther King
Balance of power: A Mercatus Center analysis finds legislative sunset reviews “provide an opportunity for part-time legislatures to have more control over the regulatory functions of the state and guarantee that regulations and enforcement agencies are not unduly influenced by the executive branch or special interests. Sunset reviews also provide the people of the state – through the legislature – with a voice in policies that have been unduly influenced by special interests and the executive branch.”
Energy and environment
Ban littering, not plastic bags: “Plastic Bags are Good for You,” is the title of a fascinating article by Reason magazine. Plastic bags are being banned by some governments, which cite climate change, pollution, litter, etc. Yet, according to a Keep America Beautiful Survey, all plastic bags – of which plastic retail bags are only a subset – are just 0.6 percent of visible litter nationwide. In the District of Columbia, a 2008 analysis prepared found that plastic bags were only the third-largest contributor to litter in the river, after food wrappers and bottles and cans.
Solar picnic table: The University of Georgia is now among the college campuses with a solar picnic table/charging station, a 530-watt contraption. As Macon resident Doug Deal calculated: “Let’s assume that’s what we get all the time while the sun is shining (we won’t). That’s 1kW hour every 2 hours. That’s 12 cents of power. Each day if we overestimate with 12 hours of peak noontime, clear sky sunshine, that’s $1.44 a day or about $500 a year. The payback on a $13,000 table is 26 years if you grossly overestimate the power produced, ignore the time value of money, discount maintenance and vandalism, and assume the efficiency doesn’t degrade over time.”
Adding solar: Some policymakers are calling for a 700 percent increase in solar generation under the Clean Power Plan, which would equal 112 gigawatts of new solar capacity, according to the American Action Forum. For comparison, the Topaz Solar Farm in California will produce 550 MW of solar power in an area covering 9.5 square miles. “If this project were a representative sample, 112 GW of solar power will consume an area of land roughly 1.5 times larger than Rhode Island. It’s debatable if the nation can easily free up that much land to devote to solar in the next four to five years.”
Honesty: In a 2006 Foundation commentary, we wrote: “Essentially, we fibbed to our students and their families, telling them that most can read well when, in fact, most of them cannot. We told eight out every 10 fourth-grade students that they were proficient readers, while the folks at NAEP – generally regarded as the best of the best – found that about three out of four could not read at grade level.” It took too long, but Georgia is now aligning its testing cut scores to its strong standards so parents will have an honest assessment of their children’s performance.
This month in the archives: In September 2005, the Foundation published, “Taxpayers Have Rights, Too.” It pointed out: “If Georgians can protect themselves with a tax and expenditure limit on government, lovers of liberty and limited government will have something to smile about.”
Foundation in the media: The Columbia County News-Times published E. Frank Stephenson’s commentary on Georgia gas prices. The Buena Vista Journal published Benita Dodd’s commentary, “What Happened to the ‘Public’ in Public Schools?”
The Forum: In “Checking Up On Health,” Benita Dodd writes about toothbrushes and other #Firstworldproblems, and a #Thirdworldcrisis. Also, read the Free State Foundation on, “Taking on Bill Maher: Who benefits from the sharing economy?”
Have a great Labor Day weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.