Friday Facts

 

 

 

It’s Friday!  

Quotes of note
– “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.” – George Bernard Shaw
– “Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain
– “A general State education is a mere contrivance for molding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mold in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government … in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.” – John Stuart Mill, 1859

Events
August 16: The Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts its inaugural Civil Justice Forum, a daylong discussion on the importance of civil justice reform in Georgia and how to repair the legal system’s barriers to business growth and economic development. The event, at Loews Atlanta Hotel, 1065 Peachtree St. Northeast, Atlanta, includes an observation of worrisome litigation trends and the costs to business; a look back at the history of civil justice reform in Georgia; an assessment of reforms in other states, and an analysis of how Georgia can makes its laws equitable to all parties. Registration and information is available at www.gachamber.com/civil_justice_forum_2012/.
September 21: Registration is open for the third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on Friday, September 21, at the W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta. Past events have featured Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. Registration for this daylong event, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $100. Register at http://weblink.donorperfect.com/legforum.
October 16: Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher turns 87 on October 13. The Foundation marks the birthday of this remarkable leader with a Policy Briefing Luncheon and Book Forum with Thatcher advisor and longtime friend John Blundell, who is author of, “Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of The Iron Lady.” This event is at the Georgian Club. Registration is $60 and includes a copy of Blundell’s book. Register by Friday, October 12, at http://tinyurl.com/7ldaqnk. Seating is limited; register early!

Taxes
Giving context to the federal income tax: The Tax Foundation explains. “Imagine a society with five people, where the two richest people pay all the taxes, the middle person pays nothing, and the two poorest people actually have a negative tax rate, meaning the rich are paying them through the tax code. Then any cut in the tax rate will disproportionately benefit the rich guys. This is the federal income tax code, in a nutshell. According to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), the top 20 percent of households pays 94 percent of federal income taxes. The bottom 40 percent actually have a negative income tax rate, and the middle quintile pays close to zero.” The article’s two charts paint the picture well.
– The CBO finds that progressivity, or redistribution through the income tax code, is at a record high. The OECD finds that we have the most progressive income tax system in the industrialized world.

Transportation
Fact vs. fiction: Funding challenges leave little doubt that moving transportation in Georgia will require policymakers to increase public-private partnerships (PPPs). The Reason Foundation and Buckeye Institute recently co-published a study laying out 10 myths and facts on transportation and PPPs. One myth is that PPPs involve the “sale” of roads to private interests. The fact is that some partnerships involve short-term contracts to design, build and finance a road or bridge. Others involve leasing existing government-run toll roads to private investor-operators. The long-term toll concession still involves only a long-term lease, not a sale. Myth: Government loses control of public assets in PPP deals. Fact: A strong, performance-based contract spells out all responsibilities and performance expectations. Failure to meet those exposes the contractor to financial penalties, and in the worst-case scenario, termination of the contract. Read more here: http://tinyurl.com/8nlkgpx.

Education
Who’s in charge? The debate in Georgia is over who should have say in the establishment of a charter school. Thirty-two states have alternative charter school authorizers (other than local education agencies). They include independent chartering boards, state education agencies, higher education institutions, municipalities and not-for-profits. These alternative authorizers have authorized almost half (48 percent) of the charter schools in the United States.
Leg up or handout? Higher education policy has shifted in recent years away from traditional loan and direct subsidy programs (such as Pell Grants) toward the use of various tax credits and deductions. This shift in policy has a number of distinct disadvantages that make it counterproductive and damaging to the functioning of the government’s budget, warns Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation. First, tax credits and subsidies undermine market forces and can actually cause price inflation for the very thing they are intended to make more affordable. (Think health care and housing.) Second, the proliferation of tax credits threatens to result in social ills when it eliminates workers’ tax burden altogether. Read more at http://tinyurl.com/9qb2oqf.

Health care
Government cell: A recent decision by a federal trial court gave the Food and Drug Administration the latitude that the agency has long sought to regulate our cells as drugs. It could put the brakes on one of the most promising areas of medical research. At issue are cells taken from our own bodies and then re-implanted with the purpose of treating medical problems. The most inspiring work involves adult stem cells. Source: The Wall Street Journal
Skin in the game: An Indian researcher has perfected a remarkably simple technique that uses a person’s own cells to help restore skin color in cases of hypopigmentation, including from vitiligo, leucoderma, after laser tattoo removal or dischromia on burn scars. Melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin, are taken from a healthy area and transferred in a suspension onto the damaged skin. This process can be carried out in a clinic in one to three hours, according to Dr. Sanjeev Mulekar, who learned the procedure in Sweden in 1995 before improving on it. Perhaps one day it will reach the United States: Detroit’s Ford Hospital is only just beginning clinical trials.

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Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, Banking on Land Banks is Banking on Trouble,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen

 

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