Friday Facts: December 7, 2012

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of Note 

“[T]he more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer … [taking] away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence of somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health for support in age and sickness. ” – Benjamin Franklin 

“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.” – Calvin Coolidge 

“My kind of Tory party would make no secret of its belief in individual freedom and individual prosperity, in the maintenance of law and order, in the wide distribution of private property, in rewards for energy, skill and thrift, in diversity of choice, in the preservation of local rights in local communities. Size is not all, any more than economic growth is all. Even efficiency is not enough. People come first – their needs, their hopes, their choice, their values and ideals. We have to understand these first – to be seen to be listening with sympathy and concern. It is important to be able to lead, certainly. But you cannot for long lead people where they do not want to go.” – Margaret Thatcher

Support your Foundation 

With the holiday season upon us, I hope you will consider supporting the Georgia Public Policy Foundation to help us continue the great work we’ve accomplished, with your help, over the past 21 years. With your generous support, we can continue to uphold the Foundation’s motto: “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives” … since 1991. To contribute to our mission of a better Georgia based on free markets, individual responsibility and the rule of law, please go to georgiapolicy.org/get-involved/donate/. Your contribution is tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.  

Events 

January 24, 2013: Just one week after attending the national Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting, Robert W. Poole will keynote, “Moving Georgia Ahead: What’s Coming Down the Pike,” an 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. Poole, a Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, is a co-founder of the Reason Foundation and its director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow. He will provide an update on the outlook for transportation policy, funding and innovation amid fiscal constraints and partisan politics, and outline Georgia’s options for mobility and congestion relief. Registration for this event is $25; register here: http://tinyurl.com/y27h3dk 

Mark your calendar: Upcoming speakers at Foundation Leadership Breakfasts include Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute on February 19, 2013, and Yaron Brooks of the Ayn Rand Institute on March 19, 2013. 

Regulation 

Actions have consequences: Citigroup announced this week that it will cut 11,000 jobs, or about 4 percent of Citi’s workforce of 262,000. Citi nearly collapsed during the financial crisis and took two taxpayer bailout loans. It has been shrinking ever since, shedding units and trying to find a business model that’s more streamlined and efficient. An Associated Press report notes, “Job cuts are familiar in banking today as companies struggle under new regulations and deal with nervous customers and ire from both lawmakers and customers miffed about industry sins that helped cause the 2008 financial crisis.” Read the Foundation’s Issue Analysis on the impact to Georgia of those “new regulations,” in particular, the price controls in Dodd-Frank law’s Durbin Amendment 

Taxes and spending

Happy birthday! The Tax Foundation turned 75 years old this week. This Washington, D.C.-based sister think tank of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has been a consistent champion of lower taxes for Americans and highlights the good, the bad and the ugly among federal, state and local government fiscal policies.

Higher taxes, more shelters: In the 1970s, when the top rate on wage and salary income was 50 percent and 70 percent on investment income, high earners spent much of their time and energy seeking tax shelters, Michael Barone points out in a column in The Washington Examiner. “The animal spirits of capitalists, to use John Maynard Keynes’ term, were directed less at productive investment and more at tax avoidance.”

Higher taxes, higher migration: Cash-strapped states are finding it increasingly difficult to find new sources of revenue. Many states have turned to tax increases to sustain current levels of spending rather than making cuts in various programs. As a result, people have begun to move to different states to avoid the taxation, resulting in a net loss of revenue, says the Fiscal Times. Five states top the list for shrinking populations according to migratory patterns: Illinois, New York, California, New Jersey and Ohio. Illinois? The state has experienced an income tax increase of almost 67 percent, which has residents opting to leave the state.

Health care 

Know when to hold ’em: Georgia Gov. Deal is absolutely correct in refusing to establish a state exchange or expand Medicaid. The federal health care package is crumbling as we speak; Georgia must avoid getting caught holding the fiscal bag. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels made this case recently at a conference at Yale University, describing ObamaCare as likely to be “a nightmare of missed deadlines, public confusion, inconsistent exceptions and dashed expectations. Every claim made for the bill will be shown to have been false: health care costs will go up, not down; government spending and debt will go up, not down; the economy will be injured, not benefited; people by the millions will in fact lose the health insurance they have and like. Indeed, these calamities are already evident.”

Transportation

The streetcars we desire: Think streetcars are the solution to urban public transportation? Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute makes a persuasive argument against them in a Heartland Institute article, “The Streetcar Fantasy.” For example, advocates of the streetcar argue that streetcar operating costs are cheaper than buses because a streetcar can move just as many people as a single bus driver can. But the National Transit Database found the cost of operating one streetcar mile is three to four times higher than operating one bus mile. More importantly, the streetcar does not carry enough people each trip to make up for the costs. Indeed, it costs a lot to maintain streetcars: $1 of maintenance for every $2 spent on operations. Read more here: http://heartland.org/policy-documents/streetcar-fantasy.  (O’Toole is the Foundation’s keynote speaker on February 19, 2013.)

Media and social media

This Week in The Forum: In her “Checking Up On Health” blog, the Foundation’s Benita Dodd shares the latest in stem cell research, Medicaid reimbursements, drug research and wellness programs. Foundation Editor Mike Klein reports that the backlog of state inmates in county jails has been almost celiminated as reforms approved by the 2012 Legislature are implemented. (Expect a vote on new juvenile justice and adult corrections recommendations next week.) Got to YouTube to see  a Pew Center on the States’  video that discusses the criminal justice reforms in six states, including Georgia. Klein also reports on the education front: Who will help the smartest kids achieve the next level, Georgia State Rep. Ed Seltzer asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a conference in Washington. Meanwhile, Michael Horn, Innosight Institute Education Editor, predicts a bumpy road ahead as technology tries to keep pace with the anticipated desire to expanded blended learning.  More recent Foundation articles and posts are on The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.

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Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “What Really Happened in Georgia’s Charter School Vote,” by Brad Alexander.  

Have a great weekend. 

Kelly McCutchen   

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