Friday Facts: October 15, 2021

It’s Friday! 

Memory Lane

Holding water: From privatization to public-private partnerships to express toll lanes, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation has never shied away from market-based proposals that have generated controversy at the time. One example is “Water Permit Transfers: Bridging The Misinformation Gap,” a study published in 2003. With the memory of a four-year drought fresh in the minds of Georgians and the state’s agricultural sector, the study proposed that  farmers be allowed to transfer their water withdrawal permits “as an opportunity to encourage balanced growth in Georgia and relieve the stress on North Georgia.” The outcry from environmental activists was predictable. This year, the Foundation celebrated 30 years of Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives. With more droughts and water shortages likely, the proposal continues to deserve consideration.

Quotes of note

“The problem with trying to equalize is that you can usually only equalize downward.” – Thomas Sowell

“I don’t believe in quotas. America was founded on a philosophy of individual rights, not group rights.” – Clarence Thomas

“[A] body of men, holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody.” – Thomas Paine

Government

Raising the ceiling: All House Republicans who cast a vote opposed legislation that would hike the nation’s debt limit (how much the federal government can borrow) by $480 billion through December 3. The party-line vote was 219-206; six Republicans and one Democrat did not vote. House Republicans slammed the bill, which cleared the Senate October 7, as a step that would unlock a wave of Democratic spending. Source: News reports

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.

Transparency

Define ‘dangerous’: Facebook, which has faced pressure to be more transparent about its policies regarding censorship of individuals, organizations and posts, restricts or prohibits users from posting about more than 4,000 people and groups, The Intercept revealed. A Facebook spokesman said the list of “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” is constantly updated and is not comprehensive, according to CNET.com. Critics say the policy has “become an unaccountable system that disproportionately punishes certain communities.”

Housing

Housing partnerships: Between 2014 and 2021, the number of co-buyers with different last names increased 771%, according to Attom Data Solution, a real-estate analytics firm. Among the reasons: soaring home prices; low interest rates; remote work during the pandemic; high levels of student debt, and many millennials who postpone marriage and childbearing but do not choose to live alone. Source: Wall Street Journal

Economy

By the numbers

24 hours: New hours of operation for the Port of Los Angeles, which is finally following the Port of Long Beach, Calif., in doubling its hours to help untangle the nation’s supply chain woes. The two ports handle nearly half of U.S. imports.

5.4%: The increase in consumer prices in September over a year ago as inflation accelerated from pandemic-related labor and materials shortages.

11.9%: The increase in spending in the second quarter as COVID-19 vaccinations increased, businesses reopened and Americans spent federal aid.

$80.52: The price of a barrel of oil Monday. The last time oil prices closed above $80 a barrel was October 31, 2014.

$3.09: The average price at the pump of a gallon of regular gas in Georgia as of October 13. A year ago, the average price was $1.99.

30.3%: The percentage increase in Georgia’s September net tax revenues over September last year, representing $655 million more than the $2.16 billion the state collected a year ago.

Energy and environment

Tilting at windmills: World leaders preparing for the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of the month should accept it is folly to expect that “green energy” subsidies and mandates will produce a decline in fossil fuel use, writes Holman W. Jenkins Jr. in The Wall Street Journal. “Economists by now have developed a large literature testifying to a ‘rebound effect.’ If a Tesla driver uses less, lithium miners use more. If a customer is required by regulation to spring for a more efficient car, she will likely drive more miles.”

Healthcare

Trust but verify: At-home rapid tests for COVID-19, which return results in about 15 minutes, have been in short supply lately. A seventh at-home test, by ACON Laboratories, was approved October 5 and could double at-home testing capacity, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Merck is seeking approval for its COVID-19 pill, which must be started within five days of showing symptoms, making early detection important. Source: Wall Street Journal

Losing help: Overall, employment in healthcare is down by 524,000 since February 2020, with nursing and residential care facilities representing about four-fifths of the losses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Reasons for the decline include workers quitting. Since mid-February 2020, nearly one in 5 healthcare workers have quit their jobs, Becker’s Hospital Review reports, citing a recent poll. Read the Foundation’s recent commentary, “Three Policies to Ease Georgia’s Healthcare Staffing Crisis.”

Money woes: More than 18 months into the pandemic, as COVID-19 infections decline again, many Americans continue to face severe financial problems and disruptions to healthcare access, according to the findings of a poll released this week. Among the findings: 67% of households reported receiving federal assistance, but 19% said they had lost all their savings and 38% said they had experienced serious financial problems. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

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

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, “By ending local television monopolies, the state will lower prices, improve quality, create jobs and spur much-needed investment in rural communities. This adds up to a big win for consumers.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “2021 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, Rx for What Ails the State,” by Keara Vickers.

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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