Quotes of note
“Federal laws and regulations raise the costs and slow the construction of infrastructure such as highways and pipelines. Federal subsidies for infrastructure distort the capital investment choices made by state, local, and private owners. And federal taxes reduce the return to investment in private infrastructure across every industry.” – Chris Edwards, “Who Owns U.S. Federal Infrastructure?”
“I’m no entrepreneur. I’m not likely to create a zillion jobs. So I should give to charity, and I do. I donate to the Doe Fund, Central Park Conservancy and other charities I can watch, so I see if they spend my donations well. But Bezos, Zuckerberg, Gates and all you entrepreneurs, stop feeling guilty. You, by pursuing profit honestly, do much more for the world than charities do.” – John Stossel, “Stingy Jeff Bezos”
“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.” – Thomas Sowell
Low-hanging fruit: Allowing ineligible dependents to participate in a health plan raises costs to members; reviewing eligibility saves money. An audit last year to verify dependent eligibility in Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan saved taxpayers $27,655,000. The plan for state employees and their beneficiaries covered 633,852 people in fiscal year 2016.
Choice: A report released in May condemned tax credit scholarship policies, alleging they are “far beyond” the tax benefits “available for other charitable donations,” they “drain public coffers” and “enable savvy taxpayers to turn a profit.” In fact, research clearly shows that such policies “produce net savings for states,” according to EdChoice. “The report also overlooks what matters most: These scholarships are awarded to students who need greater access to educational opportunity.”
Copy that: The military uses a host of planes and weapons that are decades old. Replacement parts are scarce or unavailable. The Department of Defense is considering using 3D printing, “for logistics and keeping legacy systems operational and economically viable,” Machine Design reports.
Moving along: The 6-month-old South Metro Express Lanes are exceeding trip expectations, Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority reports. Initial projections were for daily weekday trips to average 6,000; in May the reversible lanes had an average of 7,600 trips – 25 percent higher than expected. Trip prices still average 50 cents.
Tolling interstates: The argument against interstates is that people will be “paying twice.” As Bob Poole of the Reason Foundation points out, “What we need today is to replace the aging and often obsolete first-generation Interstate system with a second-generation version, at a cost upwards of $1 trillion over the next several decades. No conceivable increase in our declining fuel tax revenue is capable of doing that.”
Transit boondoggles: U.S. transit costs are far higher than elsewhere, and that is counterproductive, according to Matthew Yglesias of Vox.com. “The reality is that if you want to build a lot of transit projects, it’s really helpful to be able to build them at an affordable cost. Not only does that stretch a given pile of dollars further, but precisely because it lets you stretch further it means that your project touches more people’s lives and can garner a broader coalition of political support.”
Bottoms up: The number of craft breweries in Georgia has grown from 21 in 2011 to 53 in 2016, an increase of more than 150 percent, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. That ranks Georgia 29th in the nation; California leads with 623 breweries, followed by Colorado with 334 breweries. Expect more Georgia breweries as new legislation takes effect this year allowing breweries to sell their product directly to consumers for the first time.
Energy and environment
Roundup: New data from a large U.S. study not published when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic” could change the IARC’s conclusion. Agency rules on assessing substances for carcinogenicity say it can consider only published research. A California suit against Roundup manufacturer Monsanto involves 184 individual plaintiffs who cite the IARC assessment and claim exposure to Roundup gave them cancer. Source: HorticultureWeek
Correlation vs. cause: A stunning new study of the more than 2 million deaths in California from 2000-2012 finds that “current levels of air quality, ozone and PM2.5 [fine particulate matter] are not causally related to acute deaths for California. An empirical and logical case can be made air quality is not causally related to acute deaths for the rest of the United States.” Source: Junkscience.com
This month in the archives: In June 10 years ago the Foundation published, “State’s Teacher of the Year Gets ‘Brain Juice’ Flowing at Marietta School.” It noted, “‘The more words you know, the more powerful you will be’ is her philosophy.”
Foundation in the news: Harold Brown’s commentary, “An Unhealthy Obsession with Climate Change,” was published by The Jefferson Policy Journal, The Toccoa Record, The Fayetteville Citizen, The Coastal Courier and The Columbia News-Times. Kelly McCutchen was quoted by The Heartland Institute on Georgia’s movie tax credit expansion. Benita Dodd was quoted by the Heritage Foundation in an article on the 6th District Congressional runoff.
Have a great 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.
“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.