September 5, 2014
Thursday, September 11, is the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks that forever changed this nation. Aaron Maclean wrote recently for the Washington Free Beacon about his visit to the 9/11 Museum and the artifact that encapsulated it for him: “Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I’m on an airplane that’s been hijacked. If things don’t go well, and it’s not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you, I want you to do good, go have good times, same to my parents and everybody, and I just totally love you, and I’ll see you when you get there. Bye, babe. I hope I call you.”
Quotes of Note
“Under national command and control of the environment for three decades, the central government [in the U.S.] has assumed astonishing power over environmental assets – land, water, air – so that not much of our world is left out of current or potential control of politicians and the bureaucrats who work under their control. We have become much like serfs in medieval England. We are allowed to occupy land and pay taxes on it at the whim of our lords. They can impose so many restrictions on our land that it can become more sensible to abandon it than to try to retain possession. This entails a huge loss of personal freedom, the destruction of economic value, and, of course, dreadful consequences for the environment.” — Donald R. Leal, Roger E. Meiner, Government vs. Environment
Sept. 19: Reserve your seat now at the 2014 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. Speakers include Herman Cain and Clint Bolick and state and national experts in sessions on tax, education and health care reform in Georgia. The theme is “Tearing Down Walls,” in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, with a special segment marking the anniversary. For information and registration, go to www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=3264.
Sept. 22: “Rockin’ The Wall” – about the impact of music on the Fall of the Berlin Wall is sponsored by the Foundation and showing at the Earl Strand Theatre in Marietta. 7 p.m. Reserve tickets online: http://public.ticketbiscuit.com:8001/EarlSmithStrand/Events/213868.
High tax, high migration: A new Mercatus Center study on state migration notes that four of the top 10 population-gaining states – Florida, Nevada, Washington and Tennessee – have no personal income tax. “To put this finding into perspective, consider that there are only nine states without a personal income tax. This relative overrepresentation of the no-income-tax states in the top 10 list may suggest that migrants care a lot about whether or not a state has a personal income tax. The Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on September 19 has a session on tax reform in Georgia. Register here.
Finding funding: There’s a lot of discussion about finding $1 billion for education funding. Earlier this year, we published the answer in, “The Truth Behind the Staffing Surge in Georgia.” From the study: “Had Georgia increased its employment of these administrators and other staff by 41 percent – that is, the same rate as the increase in students, Georgia public schools would have saved almost $1 billion per year in annual recurring savings.”
Kudos: Congratulations to Anish Joseph and Chris Klaus on the founding of NeuroLaunch, a new technology accelerator focused on neuroscience startups. Anish spoke at this year’s Foundation Annual Dinner; Chris spoke at the 2010 Legislative Policy Forum. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
Truth in numbers? Many people see the unemployment rate as the main indicator of the health of the labor market, but David Leonhardt of The New York Times reports that polling, and therefore the unemployment numbers, may be far from accurate.
Up: The historic slowdown in health care spending growth of the past few years will end in 2014, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The reasons: increased coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, an aging population adding to the Medicare and Medicaid rolls and an improving economy. Source: Business Insider
Up (in the air): In July, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that premium subsidies through federally run exchanges were illegal because the Affordable Care Act provides for them only through state exchanges. The Obama administration appealed the panel’s ruling; the court vacated it and a full bench (11 judges) will hear the case again in December. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute said the decision smacks of politics and delays the inevitable: a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Away: The “private option” of the Arkansas Medicaid expansion) isn’t the savior for hospitals that some made it out to be. Crittenden Regional, a rural hospital in West Memphis, announced they will be “closing its doors in early September.” Source: The Arkansas Project
Feds and funds: Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Atlanta recently, proposing an increase in the gas tax and continued federal control of funding. But, as Scott Beyer writes in Next City, federal control is a bad idea and inefficient. One example is light rail systems, “white elephants” in spread-out cities. The nation’s longest light rail system is in Dallas, “a sprawling city that may never achieve a critical mass of riders.” Beyer blames “$70 million in annual federal subsidies.” The rail ridership “has fallen well under initial projections, and used revenue that could have gone toward buses, which are cheaper and better at serving remote, low-income areas.”
Effective bus transit: The average urban area requires 52 miles of rail lines, and the average cost of one mile of rail line is about $100 million, for a total of $5.2 billion. In comparison, the capital costs for a high-frequency rapid bus system would only be $110 million, Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute points out.
Crowdsourcing against congestion: Austin is using commuters’ smartphone apps to gather data to retime traffic lights. The technology will track crowds at events like concerts and football games. “The idea is that lights will dynamically start to be reset based on this new information,” a spokesperson said. Source: Government Technology
Friday Flashback: On September 3, 2004, the Foundation’s commentary was, “Whatever Happened to Free Enterprise?” excerpted from a 1977 speech by Ronald Reagan. “Will we, before it is too late, use the vitality and the magic of the marketplace to save this way of life, or will we one day face our children, and our children’s children, when they ask us where we were and what we were doing on the day that freedom was lost?”
YouTube: Click on the Links to watch the Foundation’s latest event on our YouTube channel, “Unaccountable Government In Action:” View presentations by Paul Atkins and Peter Wallison as well as audience questions. Click on the links for Atkins’ PowerPoint and Wallison’s PowerPoint presentations.
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Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the latest commentary, “Georgia Legislative Policy Forum 2014: A Platform for Reform,” by Benita Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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Thank you for the great work that the Public Policy Foundation is doing across our state setting a wonderful example. I first ran for the Senate in 1994, and the Foundation was that resource I called upon to be a great help to me as we were articulating positions and formulating public policy initiatives. We appreciate very much your leadership and all that you stand for.