Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, more than nine in 10 U.S. households had a landline (93.3 percent) for phone service. Today, 96.3 percent of households have phone service, but nearly half of those households (47 percent) have dumped their landlines for wireless service only.
Happy Birthday Hayek! Nobel economist Friedrich Hayek was born 117 years ago this week. His explanation of how “local knowledge” or decentralization is superior to central planning is relatable given our continued top-down regulatory approach in the Internet Age, where local knowledge can be shared easily (Yelp, FaceBook, etc.):
If we can agree that the economic problem of society is mainly one of rapid adaptation to changes in the particular circumstances of time and place, it would seem to follow that the ultimate decisions must be left to the people who are familiar with these circumstances, who know directly of the relevant changes and of the resources immediately available to meet them. We cannot expect that this problem will be solved by first communicating all this knowledge to a central board which, after integrating all knowledge, issues its orders. We must solve it by some form of decentralization.
Quotes of Note
“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” – John Adams
“The U.S. has counted on the Internet as one of the few drivers of economic growth in recent years. The future of the Internet is in great doubt now that so much depends on Washington getting out of the way.” – L. Gordon Crovitz, “How to Kill the Internet”
“One of the greatest threats to mankind today is that the world may be choked by an explosively pervading but well camouflaged bureaucracy.” – Norman Borlaug
Pride of ownership: Lake Oconee Academy High School, located in Greensboro, Ga., made the top 10 in the state’s latest academic rankings. The Foundation is proud to have played a role in the creation of this charter school almost 10 years ago.
Energy and environment
Good news I: Every five years, the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization issues its Forest Resources Assessment. The latest report finds that even as the world population increased and the global economy expanded, the overall rate of deforestation fell by half between 1990 and 2010, a trend likely to continue.
Good news II: Thanks to economic growth, Agronomist Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has calculated, “If during the next 60 to 70 years the world farmer reaches the average yield of today’s U.S. corn grower, the 10 billion [people] will need only half of today’s cropland while they eat today’s American calories.” Source: Scientific American
Guide to the Issues 2016, compiled by the Foundation, is now available online. Each I chapter includes principles for reform, facts on the issue, background information and, in most cases, positive solutions to the challenges facing Georgia.
By the numbers:
11 – Georgia tied California for 11th best K-12 high-speed broadband connectivity in the nation. Georgia has 95 percent of all public schools with “the fiber connections needed to meet bandwidth targets.” Source: EducationSuperHighway
14 – Georgia ranks 14th among the top 15 states that generate 70 percent of the U.S. total of zero-emission power (nuclear, hydro, solar, wind and geothermal). Thanks to nuclear energy, Georgia generates 28.4 percent of its power from zero emission sources, while California and Texas generate 34.5 percent and 18.3 percent. Source: Energy Information Administration
28 – Georgia’s rank in the nation on combined state and local cell phone tax rates (9.22 percent) Source: Tax Foundation
Taking on water: The 23 co-ops created under the Affordable Care Act started with $2.4 billion in startup and solvency loans from the federal government. Twelve of these nonprofit insurers shut down after losing millions of dollars and learning they were getting far less than expected through ObamaCare’s risk corridor program. The remaining 11 co-ops lost a combined $400 million last year. Now, the federal government is facilitating state bailouts for them. Source: Heritage Foundation
Scuttled: America’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, sold plans in 34 states this year but plans to participate in only a “handful” of exchanges next year. With 795,000 beneficiaries, the company indicates it will lose $650 million in the exchanges this year – over $800 per enrollee. Source: NCPA.org
Playing games with taxpayer funds: Local governments take huge risks in bankrolling sports stadiums. An April expose in Bloomberg Businessweek on the Atlanta Braves was headlined, “The Braves Play Taxpayers Better Than They Play Baseball.” In Patriot Post, Dan Gilmore wrote: “As much as sports team owners think cities are made of money, that’s money that could have gone to policing, maintaining roads or funding projects that will actually grow the city.”
Millennial myth: It turns out young people do want to drive. As the Reason Foundation’s Bob Poole notes car buying is surging among millennials, contradicting a 2014 paper from the Public Interest Research Group claiming young people were no longer attracted to automobiles so more money should go to transit.
This month in the archives: In May 2006, the Foundation published, “Congress Overdue for a Fiscal Spring-cleaning.” It noted, “Our fiscal house has escaped a thorough cleaning for years while those entrusted with the nation’s purse strings keep playing as if all’s well.”
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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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.