Friday Facts: September 17, 2021

It’s Friday! 

We’re celebrating!

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation marked 30 years of “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives” with a dinner celebration Thursday night at the Georgia Aquarium. About 250 guests attended the event, which featured The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley, author of a new book on economist Thomas Sowell, as the keynote speaker. Each guest received a copy of Riley’s new book, “Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell.” (Picture from Thursday night goes here.)

 

Memory Lane

Soon after its launch in 1991, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation published “Reach for the Stars: A Proposal for Education Reform in Georgia.” In his foreword, William Bennett, the former Secretary of Education, wrote: “As Americans, we like to think we are the master of our destiny, that we can make decisions for ourselves as to what is in our own best interest. However, when it comes to providing our children with an education, the choice for most Americans does not exist.” Perseverance has its rewards: We have a distance to go, but we’ve come a long way since 1991, when not even public charter schools existed as a choice for Georgia families!

Quotes of note

“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.” – Benjamin Franklin

“No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems.  They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are No. 1 and No. 2.  Whatever is No. 3 is far behind.” – Thomas Sowell

“The Labor Department reported this week that there are now a record 10.9 million jobs open in America. That’s twice the size of the entire Ohio workforce. … Why work? In some cases, workers would see a cut in their income if they returned to their jobs.” – Stephen Moore

Events

September 23: Health Connect South, the largest healthcare gathering in the Southeast with the mission of promoting regional health collaborations, will be held as a virtual event this year. Last year, the event drew nearly 800 attendees from 19 states. Foundation supporters can register to attend the September 23 at no charge by clicking here. Speakers include Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the CEOs of WellStar, Grady, Northeast Georgia and Emory healthcare systems; topics will cover telehealth, biomedicine and pandemic-related issues, including staffing shortages, the urgent support needs of healthcare systems, and the need for investments in mental health. Access the full agenda here.

Government

Today is Constitution Day, commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Healthcare

Slowdown: Walmart Health has slowed down its rollout of healthcare clinics and is reorganizing its leadership after opening 20 clinics in three states (with seven pending in Florida). The company, which launched the innovative healthcare initiative in Georgia in 2019, blamed “several leader departures, the complexity of the healthcare industry and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Becker’s Hospital Review reports, citing Business Insider.

To mandate or not: President Biden announced new COVID-19 rules that the White House says will affect two-thirds of the workforce. Big trucking companies warn his vaccination and testing mandates could push more workers away from their operations and deepen upheaval in already-stretched U.S. supply chains, The Wall Street Journal reports. Gov. Brian Kemp, who said Georgia will not lock down again or impose statewide mask mandates, tweeted: “I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration.”

Opportunity: The Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce is accepting applications for its service-cancelable loan repayment programs for the 2022 cycle. The programs cover student loan debt of $25,000 a year for physicians and dentists and $10,000 a year for physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses who agree to practice or who are already practicing full-time in an underserved, rural county in Georgia.

Turning the corner: Despite media claims that “We Can’t Turn the Corner on Covid,” the numbers of cases, new hospitalizations and deaths nationwide peaked and started to decline around the beginning of September, according to City Journal. Deaths and illness involving the “delta” variant have been heavily concentrated “among those who had neither vaccine nor natural immunity,” City Journal notes. The Georgia Department of Public Health reports cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.

Energy and environment

Sky-high prices: For the first time in years, rising prices are a major concern for the solar industry. Panel prices had declined 89% over the past decade and global solar installations increased almost 19-fold, but Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, says “price increases, supply chain disruptions and a series of trade risks are threatening our ability to decarbonize the electric grid.” Shipping costs and commodity prices have surged amid the pandemic, Bloomberg Business News reports.

Economy

Farewell to jobs: Statistics show that almost 11.5 million Americans voluntarily left their job during the three-month period of April through June, a mass exodus. In April, 4 million individuals quit their jobs, toppling the highest reported quit rate in federal Bureau of Labor Statistics history, writes Wes Moss in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He notes that people are more likely to leave their positions when the economy is doing well “because the market is flush with other opportunities.”

Risky business: More people are using crypto-backed loans. But if the value of the collateral falls, as it often does in the volatile crypto market, lenders can issue a margin call and seize it all, a Wall Street Journal article cautions. Should a lender collapse or fall victim to a digital heist, there is no federal insurance to compensate depositors.

Transportation

Officer error: Two years after the South Korean cargo ship Golden Ray capsized off St. Simons Island with 4,200 automobiles on board, the National Transportation Safety Board has released a report blaming the ship’s chief officer for miscalculating its stability because he lacked training on the computer he was using. The ship was declared a total loss. Demolition began in November; the vessel was cut into eight sections and removal continues. Source: Fox5Atlanta 

Legislature

Meetings: The schedule of the General Assembly’s upcoming committee hearings can be found online, along with video links to the meetings. Visit legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In September 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Base Tax Reform on Principles, not Interests.” It noted, “A limit on state and local spending is critical to tax reform.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Garble Mires Message on Healthcare Reform,” by John C. Goodman.

Have a great weekend.

Kyle Wingfield 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 website at georgiapolicy.org.

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