Friday Facts: June 24, 2017

It’s Friday! 

Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, the highest monthly average residential price of natural gas (August) was $7.36 per thousand cubic feet. Between then and now, the price climbed as high as $20.77 (July 2008); yet in January this year it was down to $8.30 per 1,000 cubic feet. We’re giving credit to new domestic shale discoveries and innovative fracking technology.

Guide to the Issues 2016: Find out what the Foundation proposes on issues such as transportation, health care, education, taxes and more. Currently available online, each chapter includes principles for reform, facts on the issue, background information and, in most cases, positive solutions to the challenges facing Georgia. 

Quotes of Note 

“Giving someone a job now carries with it massive regulatory risk. It is no wonder that employers aren’t able to offer jobs at terms potential workers are willing to take. If we want more people offering jobs, and more people looking for them, the administration and its allies must end their war on work.” – Iain Murray

“Americans combine to give fêtes, found seminaries, build churches, distribute books and send missionaries to the antipodes. Hospitals, prisons and schools take shape in that way. Finally, if they want to proclaim a truth or propagate some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form an association. In every case, at the head of any new undertaking, where in France you would find the government or in England some territorial magnate, in the United States you are sure to find an association.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

Health care 

Foundation Board Member Frank Barron of Rome, Ga., chats with Dr. Leonard Reeves and Barbara Earle of Rome's Faith and Deeds Community Health Free Clinic. See this weeks commentary, "Rome's Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge."
Foundation Board Member Frank Barron of Rome, Ga. (right), chats with Dr. Leonard Reeves and Barbara Earle of the Faith and Deeds Community Health free clinic. See this week’s commentary, “Rome’s Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge.”

Medicaid expansion costs: The federal government projected last year Medicaid expansion would cover 389,000 able-bodied, adult Georgians at a cost of $2.85 billion, or more than $7,300 per person. This week, an analysis by Deloitte funded by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce projects eligible individuals will be 565,000, much higher than expected. That could balloon the cost to more than $4 billion. One of the key problems Medicaid expansion is trying to solve is the cost of uncompensated care that’s bankrupting rural hospitals. Uncompensated care costs were estimated to be less than $2,000 per uninsured person in 2013. Even at $7,300 per person, Medicaid pays doctors and hospitals less than cost. Look for our op-ed on Medicaid expansion in Sunday’s Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Regulation

Government to the rescueAddressing the threat of unlicensed librarians is the job of Georgia’s six-member State Board for the Certification of Librarians. The Augusta Chronicle reports, “The board meets four times yearly to be prepared to review complaints, conduct investigations, hold hearings and mete our punishment like any of the state’s other professional-licensing boards. Only, no one can recall that ever happening.”

Fewer rules, more regulation: Congress delegated power to myriad agencies that often issue “guidance” instead of formal rules, Clyde Wayne Crews writes in Forbes magazine. But while written laws may be fewer, agencies will expand control anyway: “They won’t need a law from Congress, need not bother with notice-and-comment rules, and perhaps can even avoid writing down interpretive guidance, memos and the like altogether.”

Transportation 

Atlanta Streetcar: In a series of articles, the Reason Foundation’s transportation analyst, Baruch Feigenbaum, declares the Atlanta Streetcar “possibly the worst U.S. transportation project ever constructed.” He points out that ridership is 60 percent less than what was projected and half the riders are not paying for it. Further, the economic development projections have failed to materialize. Meanwhile, the city has plans to expand the system. 

Road diets: Writing in California’s Orange County Register, Joel Kotkin denounces Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposals for a “road diet,” which he calls a notion “to make congestion so terrible that people will be forced out of their cars and onto transit. It’s not planning for how to make the ways people live today more sustainable.” We wrote about Atlanta’s road diet. 

Transformative transit: Autonomous transit is just around the corner! The creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, Local Motors, has introduced the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson. It can carry up to 12 passengers and will be on the road this year in several cities. Source: Metro Magazine

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In June five years ago, the Foundation published, “EPA Regulations for Utilities an Expensive Exercise in Futility.” It noted, “Utilities have cut emissions of mercury by about 40 percent. Today, the nation’s power plants are responsible for fewer than 50 tons of mercury emissions per year. Chinese power plants alone emit 400 tons. Natural sources produce up to 10,000 tons.” 

Media 

Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly McCutchen on how much Georgia school spending matters to academic outcomes. 

Social media: This week, the Foundation has 2,975 Facebook “likes” and 1,621 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Rome’s Free Clinic: Community Taking Charge,” by Benita M. Dodd.  

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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