Category: Issues

Wendell Cox Introduction The Oregon portion of the Portland metropolitan area1  has adopted the nation’s strongest so-called “smart growth” policies. Metro, the regional government, has adopted a wide range of policies to fight what is pejoratively referred to as urban sprawl and restrict the expansion of the developed (urbanized) area. Smart growth is also referred to asurban containment. Strategies include an urban growth boundary (UGB), that forbids most urban development on the outside, incentives for “infill” development in older areas, and other measures to increase population densities, especially along corridors served by public transit. Moreover, Metro’s policies are generally opposed to the expansion of highways, and the area has constructed a light rail system that provides services from… View Article
Jefferson G. Edgens Agriculture, forestry and construction activities have a bull’s-eye painted on them! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one could say, has farmers, landowners and carpenters in their regulatory crosshairs. What have these sectors of Georgia’s economy done to deserve EPA’s wrath? According to flimsy water quality reports, they are accused of polluting Georgia’s waterways. Environmental activists have used lawsuits to drive a dubious argument in the guise of cleaner water based on these reports. At the heart of the matter are “pollution caps.” Quite simply, these pollution caps set an upper limit on the amount of pollution allowed in a water body. At first blush, this sounds like a noble idea, but when the science is examined, much… View Article

Deregulation Not to Blame for High Gas Bills

By Shawn Davis Deregulation in the natural gas industry has been an easy target for the media and public policy leaders since legislation introduced competition in the Atlanta Gas Light Company territory in 1997. This sentiment is understandable. Gas marketers have had difficulty getting billing under control, and high gas bills are giving consumers sticker shock, prompting them to complain to the Public Service Commission (PSC), the General Assembly and anyone who will listen. Many consumers have blamed deregulation for the high bills. But the culprit is not deregulation, the PSC or lawmakers. Everyone in the country is feeling the impact of higher prices. If something is to blame, it is the weather’s influence on the guiding principle upon which… View Article

The Myth of Smart Growth

Hans A. von Spakovsky For decades, Atlanta has been one of the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas, and the Atlanta region is projected to have 4.8 million residents by 2025. Atlanta is a comparatively low-density urban area with only one-third the density of the densest urbanized area in the nation. More than 97 percent of travel in the Atlanta region is by personal vehicles, and in the last decade traffic volumes have risen 3.7 times faster than the rate of roadway expansion. Traffic congestion has become severe and the region is out of attainment with federal air-quality standards, causing the federal government to refuse to release transportation funding. The Atlanta Regional Commission’s new Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), the transportation blueprint for… View Article
An Oxymoron for 21st Century Atlanta: More Roads Equal Improved Air Quality Laura Creasy The Atlanta Regional Commission recently released its Regional Transportation Plan, which is the region’s transportation blueprint for the next quarter century. Based on land use and transportation policies specified by the federal government, it identifies $36 billion of transportation improvements ¾ 55 percent of which specifically target transit. However, the ARC projects automobiles will represent 97 percent of all trips in 2025, an ironic admission given the substantial transit investment in the plan. In principle, mass transit could improve the region’s air quality, in addition to relieving congestion. However, the automobile provides an irreplaceable convenience that cannot be ignored, as supported by the decline in transit’s… View Article

Expanding Health Insurance Coverage in Georgia

William S. Custer   There are two primary reasons why the number of Georgians without health insurance is an important public policy issue.  First, there is a public health concern that lack of health insurance may result in sicker, less productive individuals.  Second, health care is not denied to those without health insurance. In fact, they consume a considerable amount of health care resources.  The cost of treating the uninsured is borne by taxpayers, by purchasers of private insurance, by providers, and by local communities.  These costs are not distributed efficiently or equitably. The uninsured face a much different process of health care than those with insurance.  They are much less likely to have a usual source of care, more… View Article

Sales Taxes and the E-Commerce Revolution

Hans A. von Spakovsky Elected officials in Georgia and throughout the country have been expressing their concern over the possible loss of state sales tax revenues as e-commerce grows on the Internet. Georgia State Revenue Commissioner Jerry Jackson told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that Internet commerce represents a future threat to state revenue and that “[a]t some point [it] will begin to have a major impact on sales tax collections.”1  Proponents of taxing Internet commerce believe that online sales are a substitute for “bricks and mortar” retail sales and that state sales tax receipts will decline as e-commerce increases. They also claim that exempting e-commerce from sales taxes is “unfair” to other retail… View Article

Roadless Areas Paved with Politics

Jefferson G. Edgens In October 1999, President Clinton circumvented Congress through executive rulemaking and proposed that 40 million acres of the national forest system be designated de facto wilderness. His goal is to protect the roadless areas within the 192,000,000-acre national forest system, which includes 140 national forests in 37 states. Unfortunately, his plan smacks of political convenience rather than forest protection. In simplistic terms, his plan bans all future road building. However, the president’s agenda behind the plan is far from simplistic. First, President Clinton is using executive directive to establish roadless areas, or de facto wilderness, without going through Congress. Congress sets the tone for resource management with such acts as the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, the… View Article

A Tune Up for Automobile Emission Testing

Kenneth Green There are only so many ways to improve air quality, and in places like Atlanta, where 30 to 40 percent of the air pollution comes from cars, emission systems maintenance of cars and trucks pretty much has to be part of the prescription. The clean air act requires that polluted areas implement automobile inspection and maintenance programs, and the EPA has its idea of what a ‘gold standard’ program looks like. The problem is, EPA’s one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work worth a darn. If traditional annually-test-every-car-at-the-tailpipe programs worked, you’d find more properly maintained cars in areas that ran such programs than you would in areas without them, right? Well, you don’t. If it was just a matter of high… View Article
Eva C. Galambos, Ph.D. For twenty years, Atlanta and Sandy Springs have been at odds about the incorporation of Sandy Springs. Atlanta would like to expand its boundaries north into Sandy Springs, while the residents of Sandy Springs would like to establish their own city. Fulton County, which provides local services in Sandy Springs, has endorsed by resolution the right of the people of Sandy Springs to decide their own future. The expansion of Atlanta to encompass Sandy Springs could occur in two ways: 1) by assent of those to be annexed in a referendum, or 2) by consolidation of Atlanta and Fulton County, also requiring a referendum. A rational approach in this debate should center on which of the… 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