Category: The Forum

Commentary: Property Rights, Politics and Policy

By Benita M. Dodd The 2005-2006 legislative term has already seen at least three dozen pieces of legislation that reference eminent domain, the authority of government to take land from a private property owner. Some enable it, justifiably; others would curb it. More will come. Enough red flags are up already, however, to warrant repeating Margaret Thatcher’s warning: “This is no time to go wobbly. We can’t fall at the first fence.” The Legislature’s taking action. So why should Georgia property owners worry? At numerous turns, legislation to restrict government’s power to take private property is being eroded. Vested interests cite the need to remove so-called blight in communities, concerns about holdout landowners in redevelopment projects and about the ability… View Article

A Fine Week for Freedom

By Kelly McCutchen Limited government, free markets and private property are the cornerstones of the American success story, but these freedoms can slowly erode over time: Government involves itself in activities never imagined by our Founding Fathers. Regulations multiply as individual responsibility declines and private property rights are weakened for the “common good.” Legislative study committees have become the unlikely forum for leaders concerned about this silent creep of government. In years past, moving legislation to a study committee in the Georgia General Assembly was the political equivalent of being banished to Siberia, never to be seen or heard from again. It was the honorable way to kill a bill, saving the sponsor the embarrassment of having that bill voted… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd About every six months, veteran journalist Elliott Brack co-hosts a bus tour of his home of Gwinnett County that highlights the history and changing face of one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties. Gwinnett is frequently attacked by activists as a prime example of the out-of-control growth that they demand be reined in across metro Atlanta, the so-called poster child for sprawl. It was no surprise that when Commission Chairman Wayne Hill lost his seat recently after 12 years, slow-growth advocates hailed it as a victory over the pro-growth policies “destroying” the county. So it was refreshing when, from the environment to transportation to the economy, Brack’s 69th semi-annual tour of Gwinnett this month reflected an honest… View Article

Georgia Needs A High-Risk Health Insurance Pool

By Russ Childers An estimated 1 million of Georgia’s non-elderly residents are uninsured; at 13 percent, one of the highest rates in the country. The good news is that fewer than one in 10 of those were uninsured for more than a year, and nearly seven in 10 are employed or the dependent of an employed person. Some individuals choose not to purchase health insurance, but many of the uninsured believe they can’t afford coverage or have not enrolled in public programs for which they qualify. Many Georgians, however, cannot buy health insurance at any price; they do not have access to insurance through their employer and have a medical condition that causes individual insurers to deny them coverage. If… 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

State Needs to Come Around to Roundabouts

By Dan Winn Even a transportation novice observing the graceful traffic flow around Ellijay’s bustling town square in Northeast Georgia would come away mystified that there are so few circular intersections, or “roundabouts,” in the state and the nation. Like Ellijay’s 2-year-old roundabout surrounding a memorial to slain warriors, these traffic devices have a whole lot more than grace going for them. As a more efficient method of moving traffic through most intersections, they have the potential to save this nation millions of gallons of gasoline and millions of hours in commute time, all while reducing traffic deaths and injuries. A roundabout, in its simplest form, is a circle of road that surrounds a raised island in the middle of… View Article
By Ronald Utt Recent projections by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office reveal that the highway trust fund will run out of money during FY 2009. Unless the fund is replenished soon, federal spending on highways could decline significantly as the fund reverts to a spend-as-you-earn basis until a permanent remedy is enacted. Until then, one solution is to re-concentrate the fund’s focus on highway investment and safety by abandoning the many low priority and non-transportation diversions that now encumber the federal program. The soon-to-be-empty trust fund is a direct consequence of recent congressional overspending in excess of the fuel tax revenues that replenish the fund as well as decades of congressional mandates allowing non-highway… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen From an economic perspective, it’s not surprising that health care costs keep rising. Although we may not believe it so, most of us are insulated from the majority of health care costs by a tax code that favors employer-purchased health insurance. We pre-pay the majority of our health care expenses through health insurance. But because employers bear most of the cost of insurance for the average employee, most people have no idea how much their insurance really costs. Employees who complain, for example, when their co-payments for an office visit increase from $10 to $25, often are  oblivious that their annual insurance premium – paid for by their employer – may have increased by $1,000.  Co-payments and… View Article
By Steve Pociask Bankruptcies and layoffs have become commonplace in the information technology sector, particularly for telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers.  The apparent downturn comes despite the promise of deregulation and increased competition that were to bring significant consumer benefits.   At one time it appeared that competition might slowly replace regulation.  Starting with the divestiture of AT&T, competition emerged with the entry of long distance, wireless and cable TV providers, which invested in network infrastructure and vended their services to the public.  Regulators adopted simple price adjustment formulae for local telephone services as a means to automate rate changes, thereby eliminating costly and time-consuming regulatory proceedings, as well as allowing incentives for efficient investment.  The Internet was commercialized with… View Article

Metro Motorists Pay When State Doesn’t

By Benita M. Dodd Driving on metro Atlanta’s roads is reminiscent of that fifties fad in which college students staged elaborate contests to squeeze the most people into a phone booth. Only, for motorists in the nation’s ninth-largest metro area, the congestion is no passing fad; it has become a way of life. Who’s to blame depends on who’s pointing the finger, and the named culprits include: the feds, for freezing new highway spending; “sprawl” – that lifestyle choice in which families opt to live the American dream in subdivisions far from the madding crowd; “anti-automobile extremism,” which leads to unrealistic transportation alternatives that put a hurt on the cul-de-sac crowd, and the metro area’s magnetism, which is drawing more… View Article

Thank you for the great work that the Public Policy Foundation is doing across our state setting a wonderful example. I first ran for the Senate in 1994, and the Foundation was that resource I called upon to be a great help to me as we were articulating positions and formulating public policy initiatives. We appreciate very much your leadership and all that you stand for.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle more quotes