May 23: Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, keynotes “Telling the Human Story,” an 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast at the Georgian Club. This event is co-hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Georgia Center for Opportunity. $30. For more information and registration, go here.
Quotes of note
“Our freedoms depended on our having independence, independence in the wage packet, and independence of the Government. … If you rely always on a Government for your wage packet, then the source of your independence to fight that Government has gone.” – Margaret Thatcher
“Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices.” – Thomas Paine
“The federal government faces a long-term, unsustainable fiscal path based on an imbalance between federal revenues and spending. While addressing this imbalance will require fiscal policy changes, in the near term opportunities exist in a number of areas to improve this situation, including where federal programs or activities are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative.” – Government Accountability Office
Energy and environment
Over the top: Thanks to heavy rains, Lake Lanier’s level is above full pool for the first time in more than two years. Lanier’s level on Wednesday was 1071.79 feet; full pool is 1071 feet. The last time it was that high was in March 2016, before the region hit a dry spell. Source: AccessWDUN
Parks: Celebrating National Park Week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2017 resulted in a $35.8 billion benefit to the nation’s economy, nearly $1 billion more than 2016, and supported 306,000 jobs. In Georgia, 7.4 million park visitors spent about $384 million in local gateway regions. These expenditures supported a total of 5,930 jobs, $188 million in labor income, $317 million in value added, and $550 million in economic output.
Peer review: The Environmental Protection Agency aims to improve science and transparency in developing regulations, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced this week. “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end,” Pruitt said. “The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of the rule-making process.” Source: EPA.gov
Buyer beware: The city of Atlanta launched its rooftop Solar Atlanta Program this week, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported. The pie-in-the-sky goal is to “convert all municipal operations to 100 percent clean energy by 2025.” An article in Forbes notes that between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent; for wind turbines, it declined by 50 percent. Yet electricity prices increased dramatically in places that deployed significant quantities of renewable energy. “If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?” asks author Michael Shellenberger.
Going down: The 2017 Federal Register contained 61,308 pages, the lowest count since 1993 and a 36 percent drop from President Obama’s 95,894 pages in 2016, the highest level ever recorded. That’s according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s “10,000 Commandments,” an annual snapshot of the federal regulatory state.
Long overdue: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this week proposed updates to its payment programs that make health care more patient-driven. To empower patients, health care organizations would have to provide greater pricing transparency and access to records.
Moving up: Georgia ranks 11th in the nation for its economic outlook in the 2018 edition of “Rich States, Poor States,” published annually by the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s an improvement over last year, when Georgia was 17th, but the state is still trailing neighbors Florida (No. 6) and North Carolina (No. 7).
No Waze? The Waze real-time traffic app has been blamed for jamming side streets as motorists work around congested highways. Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore issues a timely reminder that Waze is not the problem. “Cities and states are not adequately managing their transportation systems and so they experience severe congestion; things don’t work the way they’re supposed to, including neighborhood streets,” says Moore. “It’s not really the app’s fault, it’s the congestion’s fault.”
No driver: The city of Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County is planning a $2-million, 1.4-mile, self-driving shuttle project. The goal, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “isn’t to taxi people around, or to relieve traffic congestion, or to be greener. It’s to fuel economic development, officials said,” and to serve as a functional testing site. It will operate in a dedicated, reversible lane on Technology Parkway.
Charter school deserts: The Fordham Institute highlights a new study that reveals the nation’s areas of relatively high poverty where there are no charter schools. It found 39 of 42 charter states have at least one “desert” each, and the average number of deserts per state is a worrying 10.8. Fordham’s takeaways: The charter sector needs to move beyond city boundaries, and some charter states must address policy and practical barriers that keep charter schools from locating where needed.
This month in the archives: In April five years ago, the Foundation published, “Slow Going, But Georgia’s Moving on Tackling Congestion.” It noted, “Fortunately, beyond the Gold Dome, transportation policy has been chugging along – and in at least one way – in the direction the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s “Plan B” sought: a HOT lane network.”
Foundation in the news: The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer published Kyle Wingfield’s column on the Criminal Justice Reform Council. The Brunswick News published Kyle’s column on health care and free markets. Georgia Congressman Doug Collins’ commentary on federal criminal justice reforms was published by GeorgiaPol.com. Benita Dodd’s commentary on the 2018 legislative session was published by Metro Atlanta CEO and 10 other CEO newsletters (Albany, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Middle Georgia, Newnan, Rome, Savannah and Valdosta CEO).
Social media: The Foundation’s Facebook page has 3,329 “likes.” Our Twitter feed has 1,846 followers and there are 663 Instagram followers. Find the Foundation on social media at Facebook, twitter.com/gppf and Instagram.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Hands-off Government Requires Hands-on Responsibility,” by Kyle Wingfield.
Have a great weekend.
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/.
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a driving force for market-based solutions to policy challenges. The work done by this outstanding organization is making a real impact on the future of Georgia. I personally consider the Foundation a primary source for policy ideas. All Georgians are better off because the Foundation is helping lead the critical policy debates in our state.