Quotes of note
“The budget should be balanced not by more taxes, but by reduction of follies.” – Herbert Hoover
“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin
“The kind of rule we need for our society [is] the kind whereby you’d be OK even if your worst enemy were in charge.” – Walter Williams
August 23: Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation on Thursday, August 23, at the 1818 Club in Duluth for a Leadership Breakfast, “Policy Over Politics,” with keynote speaker Kyle Wingfield, the Foundation’s president. Welcome by Georgia State Rep. Brett Harrell, a longtime friend of the Foundation and Gwinnett County resident. 8 a.m. (Registration, networking 7:30 a.m.) $20. Register here.
September 7: Mark your calendar for the 2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. This daylong event on Friday, September 7, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel will include sessions on health care reform, education innovation, pension reform and more. Details soon; view last year’s program here.
Energy and environment
Straw man: Starbucks became the latest to announce it will ban plastic drinking straws, part of a “straw-free” campaign that gained momentum from video of a turtle found with a straw in its nose. Reason Foundation reports the new plastic cup lid replacing the straw uses more plastic than a straw. Meanwhile researchers report that 10 river systems – eight in Asia and two in Africa – are responsible for around 90 percent of the global input of plastic into the sea. Source: News reports
Cancer vs. coral: Effective 2021, Hawaii will ban sunscreens containing two chemicals that a study reports is harmful to coral reefs. Such ubiquitous sunscreens as Banana Boat, Coppertone and Neutrogena will be prohibited because they contain oxybenzone or octinoxate, two of the most popular ingredients in chemical sunscreens. The death rate in Hawaii from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is already 30 percent higher than the national average. Source: News reports
Racial preference: The departments of Education and Justice have announced the repeal of seven Obama-era regulatory documents that put the weight of the federal government in favor of racial preferences in higher education. The National Association of Scholars said the rules “provided a roadmap for how university bureaucrats could discriminate while paying lip service to the Supreme Court’s hesitations about forthright race preferences.”
By the numbers: The Gwinnett County Commission has voted for a transit plan that includes an 11.4-mile MARTA rail extension from Doraville to Gwinnett Place Mall. It’s expected to take15-20 years to get the first phase running and 30-plus years to complete the entire project, at a cost of at least $250 million per mile. Source: Gwinnett Daily Post
Déjà vu: MARTA is proposing a commuter rail line to serve Clayton County, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. Half the revenue from a penny sales tax approved in 2014 has been set aside in a special fund for “high capacity transit” to Clayton County. Also in 2014, the Federal Transit Administration informed Georgia it was taking back the $45 million in federal funds dedicated to a 26-mile commuter line from Atlanta to Lovejoy at the southern end of Clayton County. The money had sat unused for nearly 10 years.
Ill-gotten gains: Medicare improper payments were estimated at $52 billion in fiscal year 2017, the Government Accountability Office reports. “As program spending increases, the cost of fraud could increase as well.” About $1.4 billion was returned to Medicare Trust Funds in FY 2017 as a result of recoveries, fines and asset forfeitures.
Complementary vs. curative: Researchers at Yale analyzed a decade of data on 1,290 patients who had breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer. They found a greater risk of death among patients who received “complementary medicine” (including herbs,vitamins and minerals, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy and specialized diets) in addition to conventional cancer treatments. The researchers concluded it was because these patients were more likely to refuse follow-up conventional cancer treatments. A 2017 Yale report found lower survival rates among patients who chose alternative therapy over conventional treatment for curable cancers.
Universal health care: Britain’s government-run healthcare system, the National Health Service, turns 70 this month. Writing in Fortune, Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute says, “There’s not much to celebrate. The NHS is collapsing. Patients routinely face treatment delays, overcrowded hospitals, and doctor shortages. Even its most ardent defenders admit that the NHS is in crisis.”
Taxes, spending and pensions
On the hook: Georgia has a taxpayer burden of $3,900 per taxpayer, earning a “C” grade based on Truth in Accounting’s grading scale. It found a state debt burden of $11.1 billion, “mostly from unfunded retirement obligations in the form of pension and other post-employment benefits. Of the $45 billion in retirement benefits promised, the state has not funded $7.4 billion of pension benefits and $7.6 billion of retiree health care benefits.”
Minimum wage: The 2-year-old $15 minimum wage law in New York City is “wreaking havoc” on the city’s dining, according to The Federalist. The law, which also requires businesses to offer mandatory paid family leave, has forced several businesses to shutter their doors “and will claim many more victims soon.” The magazine predicts: “Eventually, the world-renowned restaurant life in cities like New York, DC, and San Francisco will die. The only survivors will be fast-casual chains with low overhead and deep pockets.”
It’s working: Georgia’s unemployment rate in June was the lowest since 2001, at 4.1 percent, according to Georgia Department of Labor. Since June 2017, the workforce force has steadily grown while Georgia added 77,300 jobs. Meanwhile, the number of claims for new jobless benefits – which are linked to layoffs – in June was down 15 percent from a year ago. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
This month in the archives: In June 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Fault Feds, not Atlanta, for Lanier’s Woes” It noted, “The time has come for a balanced policy governing the [Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint basin] that acknowledges the dynamics of the system and allows Lake Lanier to refill.”
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Benita Dodd on Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit plan. Kyle Wingfield’s column on civic engagement was published in The Brunswick News, Clayton Tribune, Northeast Georgian, Dalton Daily Citizen and White County News. The Savannah Morning News published Kyle’s column on the Supreme Court ruling in Florida’s water dispute with Georgia and his column on ending Georgia’s lengthy runoff election process.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Bus Rapid Transit: Flexible, Fast, Forward-thinking,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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