Friday Facts: October 1, 2021

It’s Friday! 

Memory Lane

Wheels of change turn slowly: In 2006, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation published a transportation study: “Reducing Congestion in Atlanta: A Bold New Approach to Increasing Mobility.” “For Atlanta to implement this kind of change would mean a major rethink and rewrite of the current long-range transportation plan,” wrote the study’s author, Bob Poole. One of Poole’s proposals – a long-term concession approach for toll projects – is finally coming to fruition in the I-285 express toll lanes, which will be built and operated by a private company. In September, the Foundation celebrated 30 years of Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives.

Quotes of note

“I greatly fear some of America’s greatest and most dangerous enemies are such as think themselves her best friends.” – Nathan Hale

“If we started stacking 4.7 trillion dollar bills, one on top of each other, that stack would be 318,971 miles tall. That’s enough to go to the moon and a third of the way back. This is beyond wasteful – it’s disgusting, irresponsible, and unnecessary. And when is enough, enough? This is saddling our children and grandchildren with debt that literally goes to the moon!” – U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas

Transportation

Truck stop: What would happen if all the nation’s 3.5 million truck drivers stopped working for just three days? “It wouldn’t take long for America to resemble a sci-fi dystopia,” according to an article in CNET.com. It would be much like the shortages early in the pandemic, “but in an exponential ripple.” The article notes that trucks are “the linchpin of the economy, responsible for moving 72% of all the goods we consume.”

Economy

Chips down: The ongoing microchip shortage is expected to cost the auto industry $210 billion worldwide, according to AlixPartners, a global consulting firm. In May, the firm predicted $110 billion in lost revenue. It also estimates a 2021 production loss of 7.7 million vehicles, up from 3.9 million in its May forecast. Source: MHLNews.com

A jolly low-tech Christmas? Supply chain disruptions could result in throwback gift-giving this holiday season, TechRepublic reports. The chip shortage has buyers resorting to older gaming systems amid new console shortages and restock issues, and “comparatively lower-tech options, in general, could also have added appeal this year.”

Shrinking workforce: Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% in August from 3.6% in July. But the state’s labor force is 31,000 smaller than it was when the pandemic began, according to Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. Thousands of pre-pandemic workers have not returned to the workforce and are not counted as unemployed because they are not seeking work, Butler said. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Who’s working I: More than one in five “nonemployer” business owners – firms without paid employees – were born outside the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau reported this week. According to 2017 estimates (the latest available), 22.1% of owners were not native-born, but only 14.3% of owners were not U.S. citizens.

Who’s working II: Women-owned employer firms numbered 1,141,410 in 2018, up 0.6% over 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. They made up 19.9% of employer businesses, with 10.1 million workers and nearly $1.8 trillion in revenue in 2018.

Education

Helping hand: As families deal with another unsettled school year, many parents are seeking free or affordable ways to fill in the gaps. The National School Choice Week team has compiled a tutoring and homework help round-up for finding free help.

Technology

Shipshape with 3-D: In a move that highlights the growing use of 3-D printers by the military and aerospace industries, the U.S. Navy has awarded a $20 million contract to manufacturer Stratasys to provide up to 25 3-D printers over the next five years for use on bases in the United States and Japan. They will produce tooling, training aids and aircraft parts. Source: PlasticsMachineryManufacturing.com

iCare: Biogen and Apple are collaborating on a study to use the iPhone and Apple Watch to track cognitive function over time and identify mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can develop into Alzheimer’s, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Taxes and spending

Bad for business: In the $3.5 trillion Biden Build Back Better Act is a proposal to raise the top corporate tax rate to 26.5% and create three corporate tax brackets. This would give the United States the third-highest average corporate tax rate among developed nations, behind Colombia and Portugal. Source: Tax Foundation

Fox and henhouse: A report by the Office of the State Inspector General concludes that personnel at the Office of Special Investigations of the Georgia Department of Revenue violated state law by failing to hand over more than $5.3 million in state asset forfeiture funds to the state general fund, improperly spent some of the funds, and committed a variety of ethical and regulatory violations. They also made false allegations about Atlanta-based millionaire and TV celebrity Todd Chrisley and his wife, Julie, in order to obtain the couple’s financial information.

Healthcare

Mandates coming: Amid new federal guidelines on COVID-19 vaccines and testing requirements for workers, almost half (46%) of organizations plan to institute a vaccine mandate where legally permissible, according to a poll by Gartner Inc., a research firm. “There is little consensus among executives on how their organizations will address remaining unvaccinated employees,” EHS Today added in its report on the poll.

Closing the gap: Differences in life expectancy between black and white Americans narrowed by nearly 50% in three decades, largely due to improvements among black Americans, reports a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study analyzed data from 1990 to 2018 and found that in 1990, black Americans lived seven years fewer than whites. By 2018, that number had dropped to 3.6 years.

Stay-at-home moms-to-be: Pandemic restrictions at hospitals may be leading more women to choose to deliver their babies at home, according to FEE.org. Interest in home births was increasing before the pandemic, too: Between 2004 and 2017, births at home or in a free-standing birthing center increased by nearly 80%.

COVID count: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.

Government

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

Voting for change: Citing census delays and the Legislature’s deferral of local-level redistricting until the 2022 session, local election officials want to delay qualifying and the May 24 primaries, GPB News reports. Election officials in 120 of Georgia’s 159 counties also want to schedule general primaries and elections beginning in 2022 to take place when school is out so the facilities can be used as polling places.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In October 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Government Interference Sends the Wrong Signal on Broadband.” It noted, “Georgia consumers deserve the better services and lower prices that reducing government interference in the video market will give them.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Charter Schools Prove their Value to Georgia Families,” by Tony Roberts.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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