Friday Facts: July 31, 2020

It’s Friday!

Looking for the 2020 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum? The Foundation is recording each Zoom session for our YouTube channel! View the July 15 opening keynote, “An Education Conversation” with Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, here. View the July 21 panel session, “Opportunities for Education Adaptation,” here, and the July 28 panel session, “Budget Calisthenics,” here.

Register here for “The Changing Views of Land Use and Transportation,” on Tuesday, August 4, at 11 a.m. Moderated by Ashley Jenkins, the panel features Baruch Feigenbaum, Senior Managing Director of Transportation Policy at the Reason Foundation; Adam Hengels, Founder of the Center for Market Urbanism; Joel Kotkin of  Chapman University and the Urban Reform Institute and Executive Editor of newgeography.com;  Tom Hutchinson, Transportation Director at HNTB; and T. Dallas Smith of the Georgians First Commission and T. Dallas Smith & Company commercial real estate.

There is no charge to register for this eight-week series, but participants must have authenticated Zoom accounts. Read more here. The theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Adaptation,” a play on the state motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.” The topics: Education; The Budget; Land Use and Transportation; The Economy; Housing; and Healthcare. View the program here for the agenda and speaker bios.

Quotes of Note

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.” – Thomas Paine

“In a pluralistic society like ours, composed of many races and ethnicities, we all must strive not to reduce each other to stereotypes or to allow those stereotypes to govern our treatment of our fellow citizens. Rather, we have a basic and overriding obligation to treat each other as individuals, created equal and entitled to the benefit of the doubt rather than assumptions based on skin color.” – William Barr, U.S. Attorney General

[T]he American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is authorizing its members to strike if schools open without what they define as proper safety measures. Unfortunately for the unions, American parents are responding by doing what Americans in general have done since this country began: Embracing innovation. Faced with the prospect of long-term online learning and extended time off from work to care for their children, they are forming entities known as ‘education pods’ and ‘micro-schools.’” – Arnold Ahlert

Regulation

Price-gouging laws: Given the potential for product shortages as the Hurricane Season and COVID-19 gain strength,  the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s series, “#NeverNeeded,” issues a timely reminder that “price-gouging” protections are harmful. Policymakers need to practice restraint, Ryan Young writes. “Calls for price gouging legislation show a lack of creativity. Companies that wish to give their consumers a price gouging-free option have already developed effective ways to do so without government regulation.”

Growing list: The regulations suspended by federal, state and local governments for the duration of the pandemic now number at least 850, according to a list maintained by Americans for Tax Reform.

Economy

Economic shock: The pandemic triggered the sharpest economic contraction in modern American history, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Gross domestic product – the broadest measure of economic activity – shrank at an annual rate of 32.9% in the second quarter as restaurants and retailers closed their doors. The downturn was more than three times as sharp as the previous record, 10% in 1958.

Dependency: Society’s growing dependency on government to rescue it from crises has a downside, writes Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. “Our growing intolerance for economic risk and loss is undermining the natural resilience of capitalism and now threatens its very survival,” he warns in The Wall Street Journal.

Little incentive to use incentives: Economic incentives are increasingly used by policymakers in an effort to spur state and local economic development. While start-ups are important for supporting (net) job creation, long-term growth, innovation and development, a new international study that includes Georgia State University research finds incentives crowd out other economic activity, potentially reducing long-term growth. Source: Economic Development Quarterly

Healthcare

Price controls: Instead of proposing executive orders to lower drug prices, President Trump ”would do better running on a platform of innovation, competition and faster cures,” a Wall Street Journal editorial notes. “According to the Galen Institute, 96% of new cancer therapies are available in the U.S. compared to 73% in Germany, 66% in France and 54% in Japan. Government price controls in the U.S. will reduce drug-maker spending on research and development, especially in fields like Alzheimer’s where experimental therapies have met with little success.”

COVID-19 status updates: The Georgia Department of Public Health, which updates the number of pandemic cases and deaths daily at 3 p.m., has now updated its website map to provide more clarity on trends. The map provides reports on county-level cases and deaths. As of Thursday, the site reported more than 182,000 infections, 3,671 deaths,18,303 hospitalizations and 3,354 ICU admissions. Visit the website here.

Media

Foundation in the news: The Center Square quoted Senior Fellow Greg George on Georgia’s shrinking unemployment insurance trust fund. The Center Square and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Education Secretary Betsy Devos’ July 15 keynote address at the 2020 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published Kyle Wingfield’s op-ed on shortfalls in the election process in Fulton County.

Social media: Follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In July 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “New Mexico Provides Model for Georgia Tax Reform.” It noted, “Consumption taxes incentivize saving, investment and fiscal responsibility. Broadening the tax base would also help reduce volatility in tax revenue. Tough times call for tough decisions. Tax reform is not an easy Sunday drive, it’s a hard fought and, hopefully, well thought out process.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Landmark Montana Case Advances Education Options,” by Jack Park.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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