Friday Facts: April 28, 2017

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of note

Foundation President Kelly McCutchen was back at the White House and Congress this week to talk about  state-focused health care reforms with national lawmakers, including Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer, former head of sister think tank the Alabama Policy Institute.
Foundation President Kelly McCutchen was back at the White House and Congress this week to talk about state-focused health care reforms with national leaders, including Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer (left), who is the former head of a sister think  tank, the Alabama Policy Institute.

“Each generation of humanity takes the earth as trustees. … We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.” – J. Sterling Morton

“Your love of Liberty – your respect for the laws – your habits of industry – and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness.”– George Washington (1789)

Hoodwinking Americans is part of the environmentalist agenda. Environmental activist Stephen Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989: ‘We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.’ In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.), said: ‘We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.’” – Walter Williams

Energy and Environment

Arbor Day: Today is Arbor Day. Founded by Julius Sterling Morton, the third Secretary of Agriculture (under Grover Cleveland), Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, with the planting of 1 million trees. In 1936, Georgia had 21.4 million acres of forest and about 3 million residents. Today, that is up to 24.7 million acres of forest, despite a population of more than 10 million. Georgia’s 54-county Burn Ban begins May 1. Source: Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Forestry Association 

Nuclear energy: There’s debate on whether the United States should retain nuclear power in its energy portfolio. Relinquishing this is unwise, David Gattie and Scott Jones of the University of Georgia write in Forbes. “This is not an issue of nuclear versus renewables – both should occupy space in the U.S. portfolio. This is an issue of national security and global leadership, and U.S. policymakers should work aggressively with U.S. industry to ensure that nuclear power remains viable.”  

Nuclear waste: President Jimmy Carter banned reprocessing of nuclear fuel in 1977 to set an example against proliferation of nuclear weapons. England, Russia and Japan continued recycling and have much smaller stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel and cheaper power. The U.S. Nuclear Waste Trust Fund, meanwhile, is at $32 billion for yet-to-be-used Yucca Mountain or a similar storage spot. More than 75,000 metric tons of spent fuel is stored at nuclear plants; reprocessing would greatly reduce the 2,000 tons of spent fuel per year now being produced. Source: RSM Energy 

Federal government 

The first 100 days: Saturday marks the 100th day of President Trump’s term. It is not all he hoped for, but successes include the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, expediting Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines, and signaling a new era in U.S.-Mideast relations by bombing a Syrian airfield after poison gas was used on civilians. Congressional action on tax reform and a health care overhaul is still pending, and hundreds of administration jobs still must be filled. Source: News reports 

Congratulations: Georgia’s former Governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed 87-11 by the Senate and sworn in this week as Secretary of Agriculture, becoming the second Georgian in the Trump Cabinet, along with HHS Secretary Tom Price. One Cabinet nominee, Alexander Acosta for labor secretary, awaits confirmation.

Falling down on the job: The Social Security Administration’s cash benefits through Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) totaled $200 billion to about 19 million individuals in fiscal year 2015. “[T]he extent of fraud in these programs is unknown,” according to the Government Accountability Office: Of the 17 initiatives listed in the administration’s 2015 report on antifraud initiatives, “10 had metrics that did not focus on outcomes, and four did not have any metrics.” For Georgia’s 285,889 disabled workers, the average monthly benefit is $1,168.83. 

Regulation 

Drives out bad policy: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Chicago taxi companies’ appeal after they lost their lawsuit against the city for permitting ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate. “The Constitution does not require governments to stick with outdated protectionist regulations in the face of technological innovation,” said the Institute for Justice, which represented the rideshare drivers.

Education

Best in state: Eighty-six Georgia high schools rank among the U.S. News & World Report’s Best in State. Columbus High, Georgia’s No. 1, is 83rd on the national list of top 100 high schools. Source: East Cobb Patch 

A lesson: New Hampshire is close to authorizing universal Education Savings Accounts similar to laws passed in Nevada and Arizona and proposed in Georgia. “It is hard to justify one-size-fits-all-public education in an era that increasingly allows people to exercise choice in most aspects of their lives,” notes a Wall Street Journal editorial.

Parental delinquents: About 11 percent of the 3 million student loans made through the federal Parent Plus program are delinquent for at least a year. That exceeds the default rate on U.S. mortgages at the peak of the housing crisis. Another 180,000 of the loans were at least a month delinquent as of May 2016. Source: Wall Street Journal 

Good, grad, ugly: This year’s job-seeking seniors are ill-prepared for the job hunt and many coveted positions, according to a new survey reported by The Wall Street Journal.  Employers report one-third of all applications for entry-level roles come from unqualified candidates. More than 90 percent of respondents expect to earn over $53,000 in their first job but recruiters expect to pay $45,000. Employers noted three out of four applicants fail to send thank-you notes after interviews. 

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In April five years ago the Foundation published, “EPA’s Coal Wars Could Sink America’s Economy.” It noted, “Unless America’s consumers, taxpayers and ratepayers express their outrage over this tyranny by regulation, the EPA’s path will reduce this nation to an economy and lifestyle similar to the early 20th century.”

Media 

Foundation in the news: The Coastal Courier published Ralph Hudgens’ commentary, “Return Insurance Regulation to the States.” Benita Dodd was quoted in an article on Atlanta transit in The Marietta Daily Journal and Cobb Life. Kelly McCutchen’s commentary, “2017 Legislature Misses Many Opportunities,” was published by The Marietta Daily Journal, Neighbor News, Cobb Life, Northside Neighbor, DeKalb Neighbor, North Fulton Neighbor, West Georgia Neighbor and South Metro Neighbor

Social media: The Foundation has 3,208 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,730 followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Education Reform Requires More than Tweaks,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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