Georgia Public Policy Foundation
Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians' Lives
Since 1991
Friday Facts: January 10, 2014

January 10, 2013 

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about a man than twenty weeks of campaign rhetoric. Campaign talk tells people who you want them to think you are. How you vote tells people who you really are deep inside.” – Zell Miller

“Americans need to realize that when politicians offer to take care of your needs, that comes with a price you don’t want to pay. At best, you have to deal with their incompetence as we discover they are never as good at running things as their hubris tells them they will be. At worst, you turn yourself into their subject, hardly free to make a move without letting them know.” – Herman Cain

“But the fact is, no matter how good the teacher, how small the class, how focused on quality education the school may be none of this matters if we ignore the individual needs of our students.” – Roy Barnes

Events

January 28, 2014: The deadline is Friday, January 24, to register to attend, “School Choice and Georgia: An Update,” an 8 a.m. Georgia Public Policy Foundation Leadership Breakfast on January 28 in celebration of National School Choice Week. The panel discussion at Cobb County’s Georgian Club features three of Georgia’s leading education experts: Eric Wearne, Jim Kelly and Ben Scafidi. The first 50 people to register for this event will receive their very own school choice woobie – and you can wear it to the School Choice Rally at the Capitol that day! This event is $25 to attend. Find out more at http://tinyurl.com/ovkzx7g; register online at http://tinyurl.com/poode79.

Health care

Did you know? Georgia has more health IT startups than any other state, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Education

Georgia’s K-12 achievement ranks 17th highest in the nation, according to an Education Week report released this week. Although we are making good progress, we still lag some of our neighboring states. Read more here.

The classroom will learn you: Computer giant IBM makes five predictions every year on how technology will change society within five years. This year’s “5-in-5” includes a promising education prediction: “Teachers will work on devices that can monitor and interact with the student and ultimately create a unique persona for each student. Teachers will use that persona, which changes over time, to guide the student on his or her learning path. They will know, through the student’s device, what the particular student is struggling to learn and will provide the right help at the right time.”

Technology

Focus on patent trolls: The Institute for Policy Innovation notes: “In fairness, these trial-lawyer bad actors have also been provided a fertile field for their malfeasance. The litigation they threaten to bring typically takes advantage of low-quality patents – sloppily awarded patents that are vague and obvious, often covering commonsense steps that are performed every day in a number of businesses. Armed with ill-defined patents the bad actors threaten litigation against a broad swath of companies seeking settlements as the companies try to avoid costly litigation. In a word, it’s a shakedown. So, in the end, it’s the patent problem that must be solved.”

Transportation

Why we’re going nowhere fast: Revenues from gas taxes and tolls pay for only about half of state and local spending on roads, according to the Tax Foundation. State and local governments spent $153.0 billion on highway, road and street expenses, but raised only $77.1 billion in user fees and user taxes ($12.7 billion in tolls and user fees, $41.2 billion in fuel taxes, and $23.2 billion in vehicle license taxes). The rest was funded by $30 billion in general state and local revenues and $46 billion in federal aid.

Banking on transit-oriented development: Charlotte, N.C., has developed by far the most concentrated central business district among the newer metropolitan areas, thanks to a strong financial/banking sector. But uptown’s Charlotte’s high employment density has not converted into a transit-oriented business district, as some might have predicted, according to a report by Wendell Cox at www.newgeography.com. American Community Survey data indicate that approximately 87 percent of uptown employees use cars to get to work. Further, more than 90 percent of the jobs in the metropolitan area are outside Uptown.

Taxes and spending

Poverty: In 2012, the federal government spent $668 billion to fund 126 separate anti-poverty programs. State and local governments kicked in another $284 billion, bringing total anti-poverty spending to nearly $1 trillion. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three. Source: Cato Institute

The case for cuts: Replacing the current 35 percent corporate income tax with a more broadly based rate of 9 percent would increase wages for all workers, increase gross domestic product and still produce just as much revenue, according to an op-ed in The New York Times by Joel Kotlikoff. Kotlikoff also maintains that abolishing the corporate income tax altogether would produce rapid and dramatic increases in the level of U.S. investment, output and real wages, making the tax cut self-financing to a significant extent.

Energy and environment

Unintended consequences: On January 1, Los Angeles became the largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags in large grocery stores, citing environmental concerns. Smaller grocers must follow suit by July. About 90 other locales have already passed similar measures. Violations will result in hefty fines. Many grocers plan to sell reusable bags or offer paper bags to customers for a small fee. Unfortunately, a recent study showed reusable bags have their own baggage: health concerns. In San Francisco, hospital emergency rooms saw a major spike in the number of patients treated for E. coli infections; deaths linked to foodborne illnesses increased by a staggering 46 percent in the first three months of the plastic bag ban.

Media and social media

Web site of the week: Visit the Consumer Energy Alliance site, which brings together consumers, producers and manufacturers to engage in a meaningful dialogue about America’s energy future. Its mission is “to help ensure stable prices for consumers and improve energy security.”

YouTube: Become one of the more than 37,500 views on our YouTube channel. View Foundation events at http://tinyurl.com/b7a3mzkAfter the Council on Criminal Justice Reform met this week to approve its final report, the Foundation’s coverage produced six videos. Topics include civil liability protection for employers who hire former offenders, changes to state government hiring procedures that could assist former offenders with public sector jobs and access to food stamps.

Facebook: The Foundation’s Facebook page is almost at 2,200 “likes.” Join us at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicy to view daily policy news, views, updates, Quotes of Note and event photos. Ask your high school or college student to like the Foundation’s Student Outreach Scholarship page on Facebook at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicySOSProgram.

The Foundation’s Twitter account has more than 1,100 followers! Get your Foundation news at twitter.com/gppf. The Forum: Writing about her 10 predictions for ObamaCare in 2014, Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner sees continued deterioration. Find this and more blog posts at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “America’s Longest War: The War on Poverty.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd 

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