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Then and Now
My, how we’ve grown: In 1991, the year the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, there were 1,350 public schools in 185 school districts with 1.2 million students and 68,000 teachers, according to federal statistics. The latest data show 181 districts contain more than 2,400 schools, 1.7 million students and 109,000 teachers. The staffing surge is even more remarkable at the administration level, as Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi points out here.
February 17: Register now for, “Georgia Criminal Justice Reform: Looking Ahead, Staying Ahead,” an 8 a.m. Foundation Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The keynote speaker is Judge Michael P. Boggs, co-chairman of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. Information here; register here.
Quotes of Note
“Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind.” – Henry Grady Weaver
“The end of segregation is one of the greatest triumphs for racial equality. But it was more than that. It is also a triumph of the free market. That’s because the economic incentives of capitalism are fundamentally at odds with racist laws. Money, after all, is colorblind.” – Fred L. Smith
“It’s no secret why deficits are shunned. Take-away politics – raising taxes, cutting popular subsidies and handouts – is unfriendly. People deplore deficits, but they don’t deplore the programs and tax breaks that create the deficits.” – Robert Samuelson
It’s not about the money: “Although D.C. schools spend nearly $30,000 per student each year, more than a third of students fail to graduate,” the Cato Institute reports. “In a test to determine whether high-school students were college ready, only 10 percent of D.C. students met proficiency standards in math, and just a quarter met the reading standards. Meanwhile, a study found that students participating in the D.C. scholarship program were 21 percentage points more likely to graduate than students who remained in the D.C. public schools.
Opportunity: If you know someone ages 14-26 who can benefit from an education in economics, let them know about FEE’s upcoming seminars. Find out more here.
Welfare work requirement: In an Oregon welfare reform pilot program in the 1990s, applicants for welfare benefits were told they would have to work for their benefits. About a third walked out, saying if they had to work they’d find their own job. Their departure allowed social workers to focus on those who really needed help, especially those who had lost job skills, were pregnant, struggled with substance abuse, etc. Requiring able-bodied people to work for welfare benefits isn’t punishment; it’s a way to reinforce that you don’t get something for nothing.
Criminal justice reform
Vindicated: Lyndon McClellan earned a victory in federal court after it was ruled that the IRS would have to pay attorneys’ fees, costs and interest related to the civil forfeiture of his bank account. The IRS seized his entire bank account in July 2014 because he deposited funds in amounts under $10,000. The Institute for Justice took on Lyndon’s case and, in June 2015, the government finally returned Lyndon’s money but refused to reimburse his expenses or interest.
MARTA rail expansion: Foundation Senior Fellow Baruch Feigenbaum writes in an Issue Analysis on a proposed 11.9-mile expansion of MARTA rail, “Given the high cost of expansion of rail and the corridor’s low population and employment densities, a bus rapid transit/express bus line using SR 400’s soon-to-be-constructed express lanes would be a much better option.”
Autonomous vehicles: The Competitive Enterprise Institute warns that overzealous regulators and legislators could stifle advances in “driverless” vehicles.
Costly care: ObamaCare’s mandated plans have priced many Americans out of health coverage altogether. As Devon Herrick points out, “Insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product. A high-risk pool or a health status-based tax credit would be a better way to assist individuals with health concerns. The market needs the flexibility to allow people to purchase coverage that meets their needs and their budget.”
Scope of practice: Occupational licensing laws include a “scope of practice,” the tasks that professionals are allowed to perform. As Edward Timmons writes in U.S. News and World Report, “While it makes sense that only a brain surgeon should perform brain surgery, some of these laws appear to exist predominantly for medical doctors to preserve their market share. Although there are a number of factors contributing to rising health care costs, turf wars between competing health care providers are certainly not improving the situation.”
Legislation: A bill under consideration in the Senate would facilitate direct care arrangements between doctors (much like a health club membership) by clarifying that they are not considered insurance, while the House is considering “Right to Try” legislation for “patients who have terminal illnesses do not have the luxury of waiting until an investigational drug, biological product, or device receives final approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration.”
This month in the archives: In February 2006, the Foundation published, “Georgia Hairbraiders Entangled in Regulatory Excess.” It noted, “Occupational licensing has stretched from highly specialized professions such as law and medicine to professions for which the justification of entry barriers is virtually nonexistent, such as interior decorators, casket retailers and even florists.”
Foundation in the news: The Marietta Daily Journal covered the Foundation’s National School Choice Week event.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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