Friday Facts: September 6, 2019

It’s Friday!

The Foundation is in Savannah September 18 for “License to Work,” an event with the Georgia First Commission task force on occupational licensing reform.

On a personal note: We’re visiting Savannah September 18. Like many Savannah residents, we’re grateful that Georgia dodged a bullet this week as a diminished Hurricane Dorian moved up the Eastern Seaboard. About 15,000 Savannah-area residents lost power Wednesday when Dorian grazed the Georgia coast – where Gov. Brian Kemp had ordered six counties evacuated – before regaining strength and battering South Carolina Thursday as a Category 3 hurricane. The advanced technology that ensured early warnings has much to do with minimizing deaths and injuries. At least 20 people died in the Bahamas, where Dorian made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane; on August 27, 1893, a Category 3 hurricane storm struck near Savannah, leaving up to 2,000 people dead in its wake. (Hurricanes were named beginning in 1953.)

Quotes of note

“True republicanism is the sovereignty of the people. There are natural and imprescriptible rights which an entire nation has no right to violate.” – Marquis de Lafayette, born September 6, 1757

“The powers of the general government will be, and indeed must be, principally employed upon external objects, such as war, peace, negotiations with foreign powers, and foreign commerce. In its internal operations it can touch but few objects.” – Joseph Story (1833)

“It’s not that full de-polarization is ever possible; basic moral and philosophical commitments inevitably divide us. But seeing our disagreements through the lens of narrative might get us closer to a crucial insight – which is that in a big, diverse and complicated society, multiple narratives can all be true at once.” – Ross Douthat

Events

September 18:License to Work,” a Foundation noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at The Savannah Golf Club with the Georgians First Commission to tackle its task force recommendations on occupational licensing reform. $35. Register here.

September 24: America’s Future Foundation and DonorTrust’s Novus Society seek to engage young professionals, entrepreneurs and philanthropists in the liberty movement. They host “Who Killed Civil Society?” a luncheon event in Atlanta featuring Howard Husock, vice president at the Manhattan Institute. $10. Information, registration here.

September 26: “The Student-Loan Debt Dilemma” is a Higher Ed Happy Hour discussion on student loans and college debt at No Mas! Cantina in Atlanta, with keynote speaker Jenna Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. $10. Register here.

November 15: Early Bird registration is $75 through September 20 for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. The agenda is online for the daylong event on Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme: “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility.” Register here.

Education

School spending: Public support for higher levels of school spending has grown over the past two years, according to the 2019 Education Next Poll. Among respondents not told about current levels of expenditure, 62% say K-12 spending should increase, 8 percentage points higher than in 2017. Just 50% of those told about current spending levels favor an increase, but that is 11 percentage points higher than in 2017.

Schooling vs. education: Katharine Stevens, keynote speaker at the Foundation’s upcoming 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, comments on how exorbitant public education funding has not improved academic achievement. “Our relentless focus on schooling – rather than the non-school environments that most powerfully shape children’s outcomes – seems a bit like the proverbial guy searching for his lost keys under the street lamp because it was too dark in the bushes where he dropped them.” Register here.

When education theories fail: The problem with researchers is, “They think their job is to use science to identify the correct educational practices and then get everyone on board with doing it,” Jay Greene writes for Education Next. “I suspect that there are relatively few educational practices that would produce uniformly positive results. Instead, I’m inclined to think of education as similar to parenting, in which the correct approaches are highly context-specific. … [T]he best we could do to improve education is to empower families and communities to make decisions within their own context.”

Grade inflation: The recent university admissions scandal requires a fresh look at grade inflation, according to Craig Evan Klafter. He notes the parents would not have paid for their children’s admission to elite universities if they believed their children would perform poorly or fail to graduate: “The American culture of grade inflation has made those outcomes unlikely.” Source: National Association of Scholars

Pension reform

Less is more: CalPERS, California’s $376.3 billion public employees’ retirement system, has implemented sweeping changes, including reducing the number of board committees and board meetings. Board supporters say the move will give staff more time to do their day jobs by reducing time spent on preparing for multiple board and committee meetings. One opponent complained it would lengthen meeting agendas and board members might not “have time or the inclination to actually read the material.” Source: Pension & Investments

Playing catchup: Public pension plans, in aggregate, fell short of their assumed return in fiscal year 2018 (the most recent reported annual data), with an average return of 6.2% compared to an average assumed return of 7.2%, according a new brief from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Healthcare

On the one hand: Hospital acquisitions allow providers to provide better care at a lower cost to patients, according to an American Hospital Association report. The survey of 10 hospital systems reported a 2.3% drop in annual operating expenses and declining readmission and mortality rates.

On the other hand: Researchers with the Health Care Cost Institute found hospitals in monopoly markets have prices 12% higher than in markets with four or more competitors. An analysis for the National Bureau of Economic Research also found hospital prices rise after hospitals combine.

Blame game: The pharmaceutical industry was ranked the most poorly regarded industry in the nation in Gallup’s latest poll that asks Americans for their views on 25 industries. Gallup cites criticism over the opioid epidemic and high drug prices.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In September 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “The Georgia Building Authority – Is Privatization the Answer?” It noted, “The privatization effort should be focused, certainly initially, on those functions that are essential – those which must be performed and will not expand in size and scope simply because they are performed by private entities who want to see their businesses grow.” Today, to its credit, the agency has outsourced many functions, including parking and food services.

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Northwest Corridor, One Year Later: Tolled You So,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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