Category: Regulation

By Kelly McCutchenIn these difficult economic times, it’s increasingly important to increase state employees’ retirement security and avoid future reductions in benefits. Yet a new study finds that the long-term investment returns of Georgia’s pension funds trail the performance of nearly every large public fund in the nation. With a January market value exceeding $54 billion, Georgia’s pension funds could be foregoing more than $1 billion in investment returns each year. The study, released in January, was initiated by the Commission for a New Georgia. The goal of its Task Force on State Investment Strategies was “to ensure that our State’s investment entities employ state-of-art policies to enhance the return on investment while remaining prudent and conservative in its… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen  The ongoing debate over how best to finance nuclear power plant construction in Georgia has generated more energy than utilities do. One side argues it will save customers $300 million; the other sees a $575 million cost. It takes a graduate degree in finance to help determine the answer.Too much time has been spent airing the “pay me now or pay me later” dispute, however, while the real risk of a downgrading of the credit rating for the utility involved has gotten short shrift. Yet that’s what would produce the worst possible outcome for consumers. Georgia Power Co. plans to expand its Plant Vogtle nuclear plant outside Augusta by adding two reactors at an estimated cost of… View Article

Competition Drives Cost Savings in Auto Insurance

By Dr. Joseph P. Fuhr, Jr. If one thing stands out from recent news reports on auto insurance in Georgia, it’s that economic regulation and rate review are not needed to protect the state’s consumers from rate gouging.    With nearly 90 auto insurance providers in the state, Georgia consumers enjoy more competition and choice of auto insurance plans than they do for most other goods and services. Where else can Georgia shoppers find so many choices – food, housing, medical care, telephone service? The ability of consumers to shop, choose and switch will lead to overall competitive rate levels with no suggestion of monopoly profits. The state’s auto insurance markets do not show characteristics of natural monopoly, unfair competition or… View Article

The Real Skinny on Obesity

By Harold Brown Our culture makes the simplest problems complex and the simplest solutions expensive. None seem simpler than the cause of obesity and its cure, but nutritionists, psychologists, government and popular culture have made its cure both a complex science and mystical mission. What we learned from nutrition courses a half-century or more ago still holds true today: If we consume more calories than we need, the excess energy is stored as fat. Popular science, however, won’t have it. A study group reporting to the U.S. Food and Drug Agency says, “The problem of obesity has no single cause.” In a nitpicking sense, that is correct. Potatoes, peanuts, hamburgers, ice cream and cake are all causes, as are watching… View Article

Good Intentions on Road to Energy Hell

By Kenneth P. Green It is rare that one finds a policy concept that unites policy-makers not only of the left and right, but between countries, particularly, these days, in the contentious field of energy policy. But there is such a thing, and that unifying idea is the fatal conceit that government planners can outperform free energy markets at finding the sweet spot at which consumer demand for energy is reliably met with supplies reflecting the true costs of production at use. One of the most prevalent mechanisms by which planners choose to exercise their influence over the market is by way of subsidies to various forms of energy. Such subsidies can be transparent, such as when a government gives… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Tired of slow downloads, limited access to broadband, high prices or poor service? You should be concerned. Georgia could easily lose out on billions of dollars of vital investment in telecommunications infrastructure if this state fails to act quickly. Investors seek a return on their investment.  In telecommunications, the best return is generated by offering the “triple play” – voice, video and data. But current Georgia law mandates that a company negotiate a franchise agreement separately with each city before it can offer video services. Eleven states, including our neighbors in South and North Carolina, have already eliminated the outdated and cumbersome process of local video franchises to encourage competition and investment. This scenario is eerily similar… View Article
October 19, 2006   We believe that a statewide video franchise law is critical to Georgia’s future. Telecommuting, telemedicine, virtual schools and other high tech advances hold great promise for a large, rural state like Georgia, but to take full advantage of these technologies we need a more robust telecommunications network. Revenues from Internet service alone do not appear sufficient to support this size of an investment, but Internet services combined with voice and video services offer a much more attractive opportunity for capital investment.   Voice and video are shifting from analog to digital, and everything is becoming bits – nothing but ones and zeros represented by flashes of light. Fiber optic lines carry data, voice and video bits… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen  Telecommuting, telemedicine, virtual schools and other high tech advances hold great promise for a large, rural state like Georgia, but roadblocks to investment will make progress much like driving a Lamborghini on a dirt road. Georgia’s biggest “pothole” is the local regulation of cable television. By ending local television monopolies, the state will lower prices, improve quality, create jobs and spur much-needed investment in rural communities. This adds up to a big win for consumers. Convergence is the new buzzword. Making telephone calls, reading and sending e-mail, checking live traffic and weather conditions or watching television will soon be possible on almost any single device. A multitude of companies would like to provide this “bundled” service to… View Article

No Way to Handle a Fuel Crisis

By Benita M. Dodd  You don’t have to have your ear to the tracks to hear the hullabaloo blaming “big oil” and Americans’ “addiction” to foreign oil for alarmingly high energy prices. Once again, snake-oil salesmen are outshouting reasoned discussions about three-dollar gas.  The clamor from Capitol Hill is one example. Capitalism has become a dirty word. Congressional leaders from both sides are demanding investigations of oil companies for “price-fixing,” “price-gouging” and “windfall” profits. In response, President Bush ordered an investigation into gouging, urged an end to tax breaks for oil companies and suspended deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through the fall. Suspending deposits will keep about 25,000 barrels more a day on the summer market, according to Bloomberg… View Article

Bunker Mentality Won’t Cut Energy Bills

By Benita M. Dodd Hindsight being 20-20, traffic jams became the impetus for transportation solutions as Georgia’s population grew. Fortunately, the state can still pre-empt an energy jam fueled by Georgia’s growing population and economy. Georgia homeowners are hot under the collar over high energy bills: Wasn’t natural gas deregulation supposed to promote competition and cut rates? Why is it that Georgia’s 2005 average residential natural gas rates are higher than the national average and lower only than Florida’s rates among Georgia’s neighbors? Why are Georgia’s 2005 average commercial and industrial rates higher than neighbors Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama? These are reasonable questions, and consumers deserve answers about foundering expectations. Clearly, the higher cost of energy… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.

Former Georgia Senate Minority Leader Chuck Clay more quotes