Category: Issues

By Harold Brown The Summer Olympics came to Atlanta in July and August 1996, and some people are still talking about it, as I observed at a recent forum. Nothing about the events’ winners and losers, of course, but about the environmental ramifications. Cars stayed away from downtown in droves. Ridership on public transportation was reported up 250 percent. The media hailed the experiment in reducing traffic, pollution and asthma. Even the Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division saw it as a successful, if brief, solution to Atlanta’s air pollution problem: The agency still has a separate Web page devoted to ozone readings during the Games. While the EPD seems to offer half-hearted support, it and the federal Environmental… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd My trip downtown never was the mythical five miles barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways. It did, however, once use up a good part of the day. That B.C. (before cars) memory came flooding back recently as I read a couple of reports trumpeting the benefits of public transportation. An Oakland (Calif.) Tribune story headlined, “Trains, boats beat cars in transit race to airport,” reported that a team of transit riders beat a team of drivers in a morning commute competition. And in a Sierra Club report, “Missing the Train: How the Bush Administration’s Transportation Proposal Threatens Jobs, Commutes, and Public Transit Ridership,” the environmental group declared federal funding for public transportation inadequate, noting that… View Article

DNR Stay Rule Could Encourage Growth To Go

By Benita Dodd After two years of planning, Gadget & Gizmo Inc. is eager to set up its Southeast regional headquarters in Georgia. All that stands in the way is the air emissions permit it needs from the state Environmental Protection Division. And a little hiccup called the Stay Rule, which essentially gives any third party that appeals the permit within 30 days the ability to hinder the company’s plans indefinitely. Jack Smith, a farmer in Carroll County, has applied for a water withdrawal permit. He needs the permit in time to get his irrigation system installed in order to obtain a bank loan next year based on the anticipated harvest value. “If that permit is issued but there is… View Article
By Benita Dodd Within the next few months, Georgians across the state will never again be able to water more than three days a week. State officials, working to foster a culture of conservation, called it “a very big step” for water conservation when the board of the Department of Natural Resources approved rules for permanent statewide outdoor water use restrictions. Promoting a culture of conservation is a noble goal. Excluding agriculture, Georgia’s average daily per-capita water consumption is estimated at 168 gallons compared with a national average of 153 gallons. Our population is growing in leaps and bounds; we’re feuding with the neighbors over who gets what water, and new reservoirs are almost as scarce as hen’s teeth. Steps… View Article

The New Consumerism

By Greg Scandlen Winston Churchill is reported to have said, “America can always be counted upon to do the right thing, after all other possibilities have been exhausted.” Nowhere is that more true than in health care. For decades we have tried everything else. We have diced it and sliced it, put it in the blender and poured it out. We’ve tried wage and price controls, centralized planning, government programs of every stripe, uncountable rules and regulations, all to deliver to Americans the health care services they need and want at an affordable price. Only now are we getting around to the idea that works so well in every other part of our economy – allowing individual consumers to spend… View Article
By Harold Brown The picture of air pollution, asthma and other respiratory diseases has been imprinted as a clear image on the minds of Georgians, especially in metro Atlanta. High ozone days bring on warnings to people subject to asthma and other respiratory conditions to curtail their outdoor activities. Newspaper descriptions reinforce the image, reporting that, “When ozone builds up, it literally takes some people’s breath away. It can fill emergency rooms with gasping asthma patients and send coughing joggers toward home.” So commuters are encouraged to carpool or ride MARTA, while government agencies devise strict regulations to reduce air pollutants and protect public health. What could be clearer this month, which is Asthma Awareness Month and the start of… View Article

Charter Schools in North Carolina

Proponents of school choice argue that charter schools improve the quality of education. Opponents retort that they just waste education dollars. A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that charter schools did improve school quality in North Carolina. In 1996, North Carolina had no charter schools. By 2000, it had 91 charter schools that enrolled 14,899 students, about 1 percent of the state’s total public school enrollment. To determine whether these charter schools accomplished anything, the authors used end of year test scores for grades three through eight from North Carolina’s statewide testing program. They found: Charter school competition raised the composite test scores in district schools, even though the students leaving district schools for the… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Prescription drug costs represent 11 percent of total U.S. health care spending, according to the most recent federal data. This relatively small portion of our health care spending, however, has enormous potential to save lives and reduce overall health care costs. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on ways to enhance the role of pharmaceuticals in keeping people healthy, elected officials are in danger of chasing illusory savings via failed regulatory schemes such as price controls. It is by now an often-repeated fact that the 80/20 Rule applies to health care: 80 percent of the cost is driven by just 20 percent of the people. These individuals most often suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart… View Article

Georgia Needs the Option of Interbasin Transfers

By Benita M. Dodd At least as misunderstood as the possibilities for water permit transfers in Georgia are the necessities of interbasin water transfers, in which water is moved from one river basin to another. Interbasin transfers, which currently involve six of Georgia’s 14 river basins, started out as a matter of Georgia topography. As counties were populated, especially in North Georgia, cities developed on higher ground near a surface water supply. Often, the high ground was a ridge separating two river basins. The city drew water from one basin and served residents living in both, and the water did not always make its way back to its source basin. Sometimes the intake system was in one basin and the… View Article

Forcing Firms To Keep Jobs Stateside Could Hurt Georgia

By Benita Dodd Efforts to thwart outsourcing of jobs and services abroad have reached at least 14 states, including Georgia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While well intended, legislation that forces jobs to remain in the United States will prove a shortsighted attempt at micromanagement that backfires on government, policymakers and ordinary Georgians.It’s difficult to spot the silver lining when blinded by outrage over American jobs “lost” offshore, but greater harm is done at home when we hinder business from seeking cost-effective options abroad. When U.S. companies site jobs abroad, they do so to save money and improve profits. Such cost efficiency leads to American jobs saved, not lost. The lower cost of doing business is a… 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