Friday Facts: June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013 

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of Note

“High standards should be used to hold tax-funded schools accountable for delivering educational opportunities to students. This is a worthy goal. But it’s more easily achieved by creating a marketplace of educational services where those who know and care the most about the best interests of children – parents – are the ultimate arbiters of quality. This decentralized and apolitical accountability beats any top-down dictate from the state.” – Michael Van Beek

“Tuesday’s [U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act] came eight months after a presidential election in which African Americans voted at a higher rate than whites. It came when in a majority of the nine states covered by the preclearance requirements, blacks are registered at a higher rate than whites. It came when Mississippi has more black elected officials –  not more per capita; more than any other state.” – George Will

“Thanks to America’s free market system, the average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the United Kingdom. In 1970, the year I was born, only 36 percent of the U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning. Today, 80 percent of poor households in America have air conditioning and 96 percent of poor parents say that their children were never hungry at any time in the preceding year because they could not afford food.” – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas

“‘Fair’ is one of the most dangerous concepts in politics. Since no two people are likely to agree on what is ‘fair,’ this means that there must be some third party with power – the government – to impose its will. The road to despotism is paved with ‘fairness.'” – Thomas Sowell 

Events

Register by Tuesday, July 9, to join the Foundation and education expert Jay Greene in Athens and mark Friedman Legacy for Freedom Day at a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon on July 11 at the Athens Country Club. ($30.) Find out more at http://tinyurl.com/nz9at52; register at http://tinyurl.com/ojcs5fp.

Mark your calendar: The fourth annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum takes place Friday, October 11, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta. Last year, hundreds of Georgia’s legislators, businesspeople and interested citizens attended to hear national policy experts discuss free-market solutions to Georgia’s challenges. Details to follow. 

Transportation

Getting around to roundabouts: A 2003 Foundation commentary proposed roundabouts for Georgia, noting, “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.” This week, an American City and County magazine report gave some statistics: Roundabouts typically reduce injury crashes by 75 percent at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used. They cut overall collisions 37 percent, fatality collisions 90 percent and pedestrian collisions 40 percent.

By the numbers: Georgia’s 2009 gas tax: 12.4 cents per gallon (49th highest). Georgia’s 2013 gas tax: 28.5 cents per gallon (20th highest). Source: Tax Foundation

Energy and environment

Sunshine on solar energy: Why is solar power not used more in electricity generation? The headline on an article in Georgia magazine, the Georgia EMC’s monthly newsletter, points out the obvious: Sunlight is free … solar power is not. “Solar power is being responsibly incorporated into utility scale generation portfolios and at hundreds of small-scale locations throughout the state, but more importantly, all consumers are paying for their utility to keep the lights on whether or not the sun is shining. … Simply put: For every kilowatt of solar panels installed, consumers are paying for almost a full kW of backup generation for when the sun isn’t shining.”

What peak? The authors of “The Limits to Growth” predicted 40 years ago that before 2013, the world would have run out of aluminum, copper, gold, lead, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, oil, silver, tin, tungsten and zinc. Much to their disappointment, despite recent increases, commodity prices have generally fallen to about a third of their level 150 years ago. Technological innovations have replaced mercury in batteries, dental fillings and thermometers. Oil and natural gas were to run out in 1990 and 1992, respectively; today, reserves of both are larger than they were in 1970, although we consume dramatically more. Within the past six years, shale gas alone has doubled potential gas resources in the United States and halved the price. Source: Project Syndicate

Climate disconnect: While President Obama is latching onto global warming policy by executive fiat, the International Energy Agency is admitting that, “Climate has slipped down the policy agenda.” As a seemingly disappointed Reuters columnist put it, “Following the shale revolution, policymakers can no longer count on peaking oil and gas supplies and soaring fuel prices to save the world from potentially catastrophic climate change. As the peak-oil panic of 2008 recedes, it has become clear that there are more than enough fossil fuel reserves to cook the planet many times over.”  

Health care

Affordable? Forty-one percent of small businesses surveyed have frozen hiring because of the health care law known as ObamaCare. Almost one-fifth (19 percent) answered “yes” when asked if they had “reduced the number of employees you have in your business as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act.”  Another 38 percent of the small business owners said they “have pulled back on their plans to grow their business” because of ObamaCare. Source: CNBC.com

Economy

Georgia had the fourth fastest growth rate in the nation in technology-related jobs in 2012, according to the TechAmerica Foundation’s “Cyberstates” report. Georgia ranked fifth in Internet and telecommunication services with 54,600 jobs, fifth in software publishers with 12,700 jobs and 10th in engineering services with 27,200 jobs.

Regulation

At what cost big government I? The growth of federal regulations over the past six decades has cut U.S. economic growth by an average of 2 percentage points per year, according to a new study in the Journal of Economic Growth. As a result, the average American household receives about $277,000 less annually than it would have gotten in the absence of six decades of accumulated regulations – a median household income of $330,000 instead of the $53,000 we get now. Source: Reason Foundation

At what cost big government II: The fiscal gap separating the present value of all future projected federal expenditures –  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare, defense, gassing up Air Force One, servicing existing debt, you name it –  and all future federal taxes and other receipts is a staggering $222 trillion, based on Congressional Budget Office projections. “Anyone in Washington who thinks we can keep pretending that there is no long-term fiscal tsunami heading our way should look at that number – and examine his conscience,” says John Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Media and social media

Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Sunday editorial on June 23, 2013, mentioned the Foundation’s proposed alternative to Medicaid expansion: “This spring, the pro-free market Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Kelly McCutchen wrote that public hospitals are required to care for anyone who shows up in their emergency rooms, ‘regardless of their ability to pay. So even if Medicaid did not exist, taxpayers and citizens would be paying for health care for the poor and uninsured.’ McCutchen suggests that a more efficient alternative is to grant state credits to low-income people that would go toward costs of private health insurance. If people didn’t use the credits, the allocated money would then go to safety-net health care providers. Ideas like these show that states and think tanks are working creatively to increase access to basic health care.” 

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YouTube: The Foundation’s YouTube channel is a rich and rapidly growing resource for policy discussions.  This week, we added two speeches by U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell, who spoke to the Foundation in 1996 about the principles of American freedom and in 1997 about the federal government’s war on middle class America. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been named the new co-host of CNN’s revived “Crossfire program, was at the height of his political career when he spoke to the Foundation in May 1997. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to make the best use of our resources: http://tinyurl.com/agkm5h5.

This Week in The Forum: Benita Dodd blogs about a new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council that chronicles the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s onerous interference in state policy. In Checking Up On Health, she highlights ObamaCare’s doctor shortages, campaign for young people and other implementation challenges. Find these and other recent posts in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/. 

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Forestry Certification Bias Truncates Market Opportunities,” by Benita M. Dodd.  

Have a great weekend. 

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd  

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