Category: Issues

Kelly McCutchen Anyone who’s dined out with a group of colleagues and made the mistake of agreeing beforehand to split the check evenly has experienced the sticker shock of a higher-than-expected bill. It starts when someone who normally wouldn’t order dessert if he were paying his entire check decides to splurge, rationalizing that the additional cost – split several ways – really isn’t that high. The problem, unfortunately, is that most people in the group tend to think the same way. Pity the poor responsible fellow who still had to pay his share of the large bill but didn’t get any dessert! That rationale explains, too, why government tends to get bigger year after year and spends more of taxpayers’… View Article

Broadband Access in Georgia

By Morgan Smith  Summary Increasingly, Georgia residents and businesses rely on the Internet as a tool for communication, information, commerce and entertainment.  Internet usage has become a common feature of everyday life, and the growing demand for higher speed access – “broadband” service – is one visible indicator of the Internet’s enormous popularity. Recognizing these trends, both state and local officials frequently emphasize the importance of making broadband available to all areas and populations within the state.  In the abstract, public sector initiatives to expand broadband service seem well-intentioned.  Gaps in access can create explicit and implicit costs for individual consumers and communities as a whole. But such programs should accurately assess the true magnitude of current service shortfalls, particularly… View Article

Maine strategy no prescription drug solution

By Nina Owcharenko The United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision (PHRMA v. Walsh) to allow Maine Rx, a Maine government program requiring prescription drug discounts, to move forward.   While the Court’s decision focused on matters of law, and not policy, health policy makers at the federal level and in every state of the Union should resist accepting this as an endorsement of policy and instead re-evaluate the real effects such a government pricing proposal would have on the delivery of health care.   Unintended Consequences of Maine Rx Under the Maine Rx program, states would provide prescription drugs at a discount to residents who are without coverage by requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide a rebate similar to… View Article
By Sara Pilzer Any official who visits a Georgia river, stream or creek after a heavy rain understands why Brant Keller is a wanted man. Keller is director of the Griffin Stormwater Utility. The city of 24,000 is Georgia’s first local government to implement a practical – and successful – solution to one of the state’s most serious challenges in meeting federal water quality standards: stormwater runoff. The problem, according to the state Environmental Protection Division, is that “Residential, commercial and industrial development has directly affected natural resource areas and wildlife habitats by replacing natural cover with impervious surfaces like asphalt and concrete.” “Rivers and streams are affected by erosion and sedimentation, stormwater runoff and municipal and industrial discharge.” The… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd There’s not a single good reason for Asthma Awareness Month. There are, in fact, more than 20.3 million good reasons, all of them Americans who report currently suffering form asthma. And among them are 6.3 million children. Marking World Asthma Day on May 6, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson acknowledged asthma as “one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States.” He announced federal grants would fund innovative community-based disease prevention and control programs. The Environmental Protection Agency marked the day differently, announcing a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an air-quality forecasting tool. “The 31 million Americans with asthma, including 9 million children, will breathe… View Article
By Johnny Isakson Federal income tax policy drives the financial decisions of business and individuals alike. It always has, and it always will. Tax reductions spur the economy. They always have, and they always will. This month, the United States House of Representatives will act on President Bush’s economic stimulus-and-growth tax reduction proposals. I fully support the president’s proposals and the additions included in the recommendations of the House Ways and Means Committee. These recommendations properly address three key factors essential to economic prosperity: consumer purchasing power, individual and corporate investment, and job creation. The president’s acceleration of the 2006 income tax reductions to 2003 will immediately increase the purchasing power of every taxpaying American citizen. The average American family… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen If you owned stock in telecom companies last year, you probably learned a lesson about the risks of investing in the technology sector. These risks point to the need for caution as residents and leaders of Lowndes County review recent proposals for local government to enter the technology business. Much of the support for the proposed Valdosta Telecommunications Network (VTN) is based on a concern for high prices, particularly for broadband (techno-speak for fast) Internet service. An article in the Valdosta Daily Times reported that Lowndes County residents and businesses would save more than $80 million by entering the telecom business based on a recent study. This sounds enticing, but residents would be wise to remember the… View Article

End Health Care Discrimination: Give Cash a Chance

By Kelly McCutchen The customer with cash is often rewarded with a discount, but try paying cash for your next doctor’s visit and you most likely will pay up to twice as much as everyone else. It’s not that doctors don’t like cash. They are simply caught up in the crazy Rube Goldberg machine that we call our modern health care system. When managed care organizations establish their provider networks, they are often able to negotiate steep discounts from the providers’ standard rates. By setting their standard rates higher, doctors and hospitals are able to increase their discounted payments from managed care organizations. These standard rates, inflated far above the actual cost of service, are the prices that everyone outside… View Article

How New Car Dealers Put the Brakes on Competition

By Morgan Smith I.          Summary It has been four years since Georgia legislators enacted broad changes to the state laws that regulate the relationship between auto dealers and car manufacturers. The changes have created significant benefits for auto dealers by insulating them from new forms of competition – such as direct sales to consumers from car manufacturers and online retailers. The new rules also expanded some existing protections that restrict how car manufacturers can interact with dealers in key aspects of their business. Georgia’s 1999 regulations have created a less competitive market environment, which imposes excess costs on consumers, car manufacturers and online retail competitors. The expanded restraints – such as the prohibition on non-dealer sales and strict relevant market… View Article
By Morgan Smith Trudging from dealership to dealership to kick the tires on the new car you’re thinking about buying is nothing new for Georgians. Even in the facilitating age of the Internet, the Georgian whose heart is set on that Toyota Camry or VW Jetta still must do a lot of driving around town to check out dealers’ competing offers. Ever wondered why? It’s called “Relevant Market Area” or RMA. No matter how populated the area, whether it be crowded metro Atlanta or little Statesboro, Georgia’s established new-car dealers have wangled a little-known law that allows them to prevent any same-brand competitor from setting up shop within eight miles in any direction of an existing dealership. And if that… View Article

I thank you for what you do. For 15 years you’ve been researching and writing on issues that matter. You take on tough questions, you apply innovative thinking, you push for action, and you do it all without regard to politics.

President George W. Bush more quotes