Category: Commentaries

By Jim Kelly  Jim Kelly In a recent speech at the National Press Club, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) explained that improving economic opportunities for middle-class Americans is the key issue on which Democrats and Republicans should be focusing leading up to 2016 Presidential election and beyond.  If this is the case, the Georgia Legislature can advance an important piece of the middle class agenda: Increase the annual cap on income tax credits available for contributions to scholarship programs that fund private school options for K-12 students from low- and middle-income families.  Schumer’s speech was a watershed moment. He acknowledged that the Democrat Party has failed to address the ways in which technology and globalization have buffeted the economic fortunes… View Article
Dear Friend, (Don’t you hate those letters that make you wait until the very end to find out what people really want from you? I do! So … As you read this, please know that tomorrow is Giving Tuesday and a good opportunity to support your Georgia Public Policy Foundation.) Think tanks, the early days: I met Jo Kwong of the Atlas Foundation (left) and Joe Lehman of the Mackinac Center at my first State Policy Network conference in 2003. I dug up a photograph over the weekend I’ll call, “think tanks, the early days.” It was taken in 2003 at my first annual State Policy Network conference of state think tanks. In it, I’m flanked by two champions… View Article

U.S. Senate Votes to Oppose Freedom

By Bartlett D. Cleland  Bartlett Cleland Our civil liberties suffered another loss this week when the Senate chose to duck surveillance reform by killing the USA Freedom Act. The legislation would have limited the data dragnet that is currently being used to harvest Americans’ personal information via spying laws. Specifically, the legislation would have ended “bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act” and required the federal “government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.” In addition, all Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) decisions for the last decade that included a significant interpretation of the law would have had to be disclosed publicly, and “Internet and telecom companies would be… View Article

Outlaw Policing for Profit in Georgia

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Back in 1966, Bobby Fuller sang about, “Robbin’ people with a six-gun, I fought the law and the law won.” And rightfully so: Robbery is a crime. But what happens when it’s the law doing the robbing and the law wins? Civil asset forfeiture is supposed to be a process in which law enforcement agencies seize property and cash they have reason to believe were involved in a crime. A spate of stories from around the nation, however, reveals that too often, it’s a matter of “policing for profit:” seizing property and money of innocent people because agencies benefit directly from the proceeds. For years, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Institute… View Article

Time for Truth In Medicare Accounting

By Kelly McCutchen and Patrick Gleason The mid-term elections are in the rearview mirror, but Congress still has a lot of important work to take care of before lawmakers go home at year’s end and the newly elected are sworn in next January. At the top of the “Lame duck” to-do list: Congress must address urgent problems with Medicare – the most costly federal program and largest driver of national debt – or there will be harsh ramifications for seniors and caregivers in Georgia. The first step is to address accounting gimmicks that hide the true cost of Medicare and how much it will grow the debt in coming years and decades. The program currently operates under a phony spending… View Article

What Economics Can Teach Us about Ebola

By John C. Goodman John C. Goodman There are two fundamentally different ways of thinking about complex social systems: the economic approach and the engineering approach. The thinking about Ebola at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reflects the engineering approach. The behavior of everyone else reflects the economic approach. Social engineers see society as disorganized, unplanned and inefficient. The solution? Let experts take over. Social engineers inevitably believe that a plan can work even though everyone who is expected to carry it out has a self-interest in defeating it. Implicitly they assume that incentives don’t matter. Or if they do matter, they don’t matter very much. Economics is the science of incentives. Almost everything interesting that economists… View Article

Making Sense of Georgia’s Labor Market

By E. Frank Stephenson  E. Frank Stephenson Georgians with the misfortune of turning on their televisions confront a barrage of conflicting ads about the state’s labor market. One side would have Georgians believe that labor market conditions are peachy; the other would have us believe the job market is the pits.  Nor are Georgians reading their newspapers immune from the mudslinging. A local columnist recently asked breathlessly, “What has caused our great state to lose more jobs than all other states to the result we now trail all other states in job growth?” He added, “There has not been a time in the history of the state when the job report has been worse, save that of the Great Depression.” … View Article
By Harold Brown Harold Brown, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation You know poverty is losing ground when the rhetoric changes to “income inequality.” Over the past 10 years, The New York Times used this phrase as much as in its previous history. Income inequality is universal and eternal. It goes along with initiative inequality and all other sorts: educational, mental, psychological and physical. If equality were real in any social measure, the first goal would be exceptions – new classes. Humans are a classifying species; classifying people, houses, clothes, hairstyles, even physiques, and surely incomes. Classification both codifies inequality and encourages it. And governments are the primary instigators. Government needs to know how many people are in this category… View Article

Transit Tall Tales and Coping With Too Much Money

Randal O’Toole, The Antiplanner According to pro-rail transit Metro magazine, American cities face a dilemma: The demand for rail transit continues to grow, yet there is a scarcity of federal dollars to pay for it. In fact, most of the things the article says are wrong or, at least, they indicate that cities have too much money, not a shortage. If it weren’t for this surfeit of funds, cities wouldn’t plan ridiculously expensive rail lines that, in most cases, do nothing for transit riders or transportation users in general. This is shown by all of the examples in the Metro article. Los Angeles’ Westside Subway will be less than four miles long yet is expected to cost well over… View Article
(Corrected version to reflect that SPN was established in 1992 and 150 organizations attended the 2014 SPN conference.) By Benita Dodd BENITA DODD When the State Policy Network was established in 1992, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was one of just 12 independent, free-market, state-focused think tanks around the nation. Its leaders could have met in someone’s garage. Twenty-two years later, the movement has grown and flourishes. At the SPN annual conference in Denver last week (September 23-26) 900 attendees from 150 organizations representing all 50 states met to strategize approaches on free-market, limited government solutions to public policy. If you haven’t heard of SPN, the think tanks’ “umbrella,” visit www.spn.org to find out more. You can be sure the… View Article

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