February 19: Did you know that Georgia had the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate in 2012? Who’s to blame? Greedy bankers? Corrupt politicians? Ignorant homeowners? Find out at the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. on Tuesday, February 19. The Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole keynotes “American Dream, American Nightmare,” an explanation of the forces at play in the housing market in Georgia and in the nation, and how to rebuild the American Dream of homeownership. This event will cost $25 to attend. Find out more at http://tinyurl.com/avnapnh. Register by Friday, February 15, at http://tinyurl.com/7ldaqnk.
Quotes of Note
“If you serve a child a rotten hamburger in America, federal, state and local agencies will investigate you, summon you, close you down, whatever. But if you provide a child with a rotten education, nothing happens, except that you’re likely to be given more money to do it with. Well, we’ve discovered that money alone isn’t the answer.” – Ronald Reagan
“When Alexander the Great visited the philosopher Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for him, Diogenes is said to have replied: ‘Yes, stand a little less between me and the sun.’ It is what every citizen is entitled to ask of his government.” – Henry Hazlitt
“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” – Plato
What’s with the woobies? It’s National School Choice Week 2013! About 3,000 events are being celebrated across the nation, and the highlight in Georgia was a rally Thursday at the State Capitol. Hundreds of students, parents, teachers, education organizations and interested citizens wore their symbolic yellow school choice scarves. See the Foundation’s photogaphs of the event on Facebook. (See Foundation Senior Fellow Benjamin Scafidi’s commentary, “School Choice Week 2013: Much to Celebrate, More to Do,” at http://tinyurl.com/bjflayu.
Head Start behind: The Health and Human Services (HHS) has released definitive evidence that the federal government’s 48-year experiment with Head Start has failed children and left taxpayers a tab of more than $180 billion, the Heritage Foundation reports.
Criminal justice reform
Not a good ROI: Georgia spends $90,000 per year to house each of the state’s youth offenders – more than it costs to house an adult offender. Yet 65 percent of those who are released wind up back in prison within three years.
When civil asset forfeiture is a crime: In a major triumph for property rights, a federal court in Massachusetts dismissed a civil forfeiture action against a family-run motel in Tewksbury. The Institute for Justice and local attorneys brought the case to trial to expose the injustices of civil forfeiture laws that allow law enforcement agencies to pad their budgets by taking property from innocent owners who have never been convicted or charged with a crime. The government had sought to take the Motel Caswell from the family, alleging that the motel facilitated drug crimes. The court found that the owner “did not know the guests involved in the drug crimes, did not know of their anticipated criminal behavior at the time they registered as guests, and did not know of the drug crimes while they were occurring.”
Meanwhile, back home: Georgia law enforcement agencies seize millions of dollars in assets every year from people who are never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Those assets can be sold and the proceeds can be kept by law enforcement. Foundation Editor Mike Klein writes about a new Institute for Justice study, “Rotten Reporting in the Peach State,” that examines what should be done to protect property owners and their rights.
Robert Poole, transportation policy director for the Reason Foundation, was the keynote speaker for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s January 24 Leadership Breakfast on transportation solutions for Georgia. Missed the event? Find a video of his presentation here on the Foundation’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Tolling bellwether: A policy study by the Reason Foundation found that the cost of collecting tolls via all-electronic tolling (AET) should be as low as 5 percent of the revenue collected, not the 25-30 percent of revenue eeded for most 20th-century toll roads. In its major report on alternatives for the Ohio Turnpike, KPMG analyzed the costs of toll collection on that facility. While cash collection consumed 33.5 percent of the revenue generated, transponder-based E-ZPass tolling cost just 4.9 percent of the revenue it generates. (www.ohturnpikeanalysis.com) Source: Reason Foundation
Atlanta is among the nation’s leaders in the ninth Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey for New Geography, which rates 337 metropolitan housing markets. Researcher Wendell Cox found Hong Kong, Vancouver, Sydney, San Jose, San Francisco and London were the least affordable housing; Detroit (metropolitan area, not just the city), Atlanta, Cincinnati, Rochester and St. Louis were most affordable.
Taxes and spending
Social Security needs fixing: This nation cannot afford to wait until Social Security is nearing its projected insolvency date (2033 for its combined trust funds) to make needed repairs, Charles Blahous writes in an analysis for the Mercatus Center: “Well before then the choices will become so onerous that there is little practical likelihood they will be made. One reason is that lawmakers generally try to avoid cutting Social Security benefits for those already collecting them. By 2033, even eliminating all benefits for new retirees would be insufficient to close the program’s deficit, as would the largest payroll tax increase heretofore enacted.”
Tuesday, February 12: Americans For Prosperity Foundation is partnering with one of the nation’s premiere citizen journalism networks, WatchdogWire at The Franklin Center, for a Georgia Citizens Watchdog Summit to provide professional training in investigative journalism. Find out more about this event in Atlanta and register at http://
Thursday, February 21: Baruch Feigenbaum, the Reason Foundation’s Transportation Policy Analyst and a Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, discusses, “Realistic Solutions to America’s Transportation Problem,” from 6:30-7:30 p.m.at the Georgia Tech College of Business in Room 101. The event is sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education and Reason.
Mark your calendar: Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute is the keynote speaker at the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast on Tuesday, March 19.
Media and social media
This Week in The Forum: In Benita Dodd’s “Checking Up On Health” blog, find out about a glossary of terms in the health care law, more money for small companies’ biotech R&D and less for ObamaCare “cost savings,” overworked physicians and how Americans are getting more tech savvy about health care. Find this and other recent Foundation articles and posts on The Forum at forum.georgiapolicy.org/
Foundation in the News: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed on January 29 by Benita Dodd, who wrote that the Georgia Department of Transportation, which has come under fire, has also done many things right – and can do more.
Social media: The Foundation’s latest Quotes of Note, Policy Points, EduFacts and photos are on Facebook! Join more than 1,850 Foundation Facebook fans at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicy for daily updates. Then add to the ranks of more than 850 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Medicaid Expansion: Hand Up or Handcuff?” by Ronald E. Bachman.
Have a great weekend.
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