November 11: Tickets and sponsor opportunities are available for the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Freedom Award, which honors a notable Georgian. The keynote speaker is John Stossel; the Freedom Award recipient is Dr. Michael H. Mescon, “The Pied Piper of Private Enterprise.” Cobb Galleria Performing Arts Centre Ballroom. $125 per person Early Bird tickets through September 25. Find more information here; tickets here. (Checks accepted, too!)
Then and now: In 1991, when the Foundation was established, the school year typically began closer to Labor Day. By 2001, 72 percent of Georgia students were in class by August 10; today, more than 80 percent are back by August 5.
Quotes of Note
“I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.” – John Rockefeller
“Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken. – Bill Dodds
“Fifteen percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem. This issue ranks third out of nine major issues listed behind taxes and the cost of regulation and red tape.” – William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
There’s money: Over the last decade, infrastructure investment funds have raised approximately $350 billion, which could support global infrastructure projects worth $1.4 trillion, according to the Reason Foundation’s 29th Annual Privatization Report 2016, which suggests that substantial private capital resources are available for U.S. surface and air transportation projects.
What happens in Vegas: In May, Hyperloop One tested its sci-fi-like vacuum tube transportation technology in the desert near Las Vegas. Then it went to Russia to develop the project. Inbound Logistics calls it “probably the right move,” noting: “One look at the struggle of retailers and parcel carriers who want to use delivery drones in the United States will tell you how friendly the U.S. regulatory environment can be to extreme new technologies.”
No ticket to ride: Tuesday was declared “Free Fare Day” on the Atlanta Streetcar System as “a way to express appreciation to loyal riders and offer new customers and visitors the opportunity to try the system at no charge.” As we had warned, streetcar ridership, which was free in 2015, plunged this year after a $1 fare was implemented.
Welfare undermines work: As taxes rise to fund welfare benefits, Nordic countries have seen how citizens’ incentives to work less and capture handouts instead are undermining their economic foundations, Veronique de Rugy writes, explaining the human and social cost of the welfare state.
Business: A well-educated workforce, startup assistance and lower-than-average cost of living placed Metro Atlanta at No. 17 on the list of top 20 metro areas to start a business, according to CNBC Metro 20. The top city is Austin, Texas, while Charlotte, NC, at No. 5, is the top Southeastern metro area. Atlanta was also recently ranked the fifth best city to launch a tech startup.
Maximize opportunity: Economist Walter Williams describes minimum wage law as the “most devastating and difficult-to-change economic conspiracy” because prices all people out of the job market whose skills do not provide the value of the minimum wage. It’s robbing youngsters, “particularly black youngsters, of a chance to get their feet on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.”
Who works most? The American worker averages annually 1,789 hours, at No. 12 among the 32 OECD developed nations. South Korea, Mexico and Greece lead in hours worked. While France has a reputation for a short 35-hour week, Dutch workers work least, with a 1,391 hour-average, preceded by Norway and Germany. Hours are influenced by self-employment (Greece), informal employment (Mexico) and culture: South Korean workers average 2,357 hours per year. Source: 4-Traders.com
Labor Day Blues: Much of the nation has shifted the start of the school year into early August and away from Labor Day. In Maryland, however, the governor issued an executive order this week requiring the school year to begin after Labor Day. Supporters say extending summer vacation by between five and 10 days would increase family time and help small businesses by boosting tourism.
Georgia kudos: Gerard Robinson, American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow, visited Georgia last week to talk to the Foundation and other leaders in criminal justice reform. “One state that has taken a front seat in criminal justice reform is Georgia,” Robinson notes in a report on his visit. He cites “reforms that improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, and reduce taxpayer costs.”
This month in the archives: In September 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “Bringing Health Care Back to the Free Market.” It noted, “When a person consuming a service is not directly paying for it, one does not have a real market. If we want to control health care costs, reform must be aimed at making health care financing as close to a real market as possible.”
Foundation in the News: The Heartland Institute quoted Kelly McCutchen in an article on “private option” Medicaid expansion for Georgia. The Dalton Daily Citizen cited Kelly in an article about a joint legislative committee hearing on rural broadband. The Newnan Times-Herald published Benita Dodd’s commentary on probation; The Baxley News Banner published her commentary on welfare-to-work reforms. The Gainesville Times, Dalton Daily Citizen, Newnan Times-Herald and Marietta Daily Journal cited a Foundation commentary by John Nothdurft and Logan Pike on welfare-to-work requirements.
Have a great Labor Day weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at www.georgiapolicy.org. Join The Forum at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/. Find the Foundation on social media at Facebook, twitter.com/gppf and Instagram.