Friday Facts: November 19, 2021

It’s Friday!

Memory Lane

Welfare reform and championing the dignity of work have been longtime, linked goals at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation since its founding in 1991, as this 1992 article demonstrates. Sadly, while policies may improve, bureaucracies continue to grow. This year, as the Foundation marks 30 years of “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives,” the war on poverty continues, and government is often on the wrong side.

Quotes of note

“I like people who buck the system. Individualists. I often warn people ‘Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you, ‘There is no “I” in team.’ What you should tell them is, ‘Maybe not. But there is an “I” in independence, individuality and integrity.’” – George Carlin

“But Thanksgiving is more than Thanksgiving feasts, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.” – Marcie, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Healthcare

On the bright side: As of November 16, the seven-day COVID-19 case averages had risen in 29 states, flattened in three and dropped in 18, according to data tracked by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Georgia was among the 18 states that saw a decline: a whopping 135.36% decrease in cases, second only to Tennessee’s 163.24% drop in cases.

Costly red tape: Federal bureaucracy continues to hinder the fight against COVID-19, according to FEE. In the pandemic’s early days, commercial labs and universities rushed to develop a test for the virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandated the use of its own test kits, which turned out to be unreliable. Then, the government’s resistance to the easy, speedy antigen tests contributed to the continued spread of disease. Now, Britain has leaped ahead of the United States in approving use of Merck’s molnupiravir COVID-19 pill.

Court case: Georgia is part of a lawsuit filed this week to challenge President Biden’s mandatory vaccine mandate by January 4, 2022, for COVID-19 for staff at healthcare facilities. Other states included in the lawsuit are Louisiana, Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia. The state has also joined in challenges to the administration’s vaccine mandates for companies with more than 100 workers and for federal contractors. Source: news reports

Cases: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.

Economy

Veggies, anyone? Tyson’s meat production volume fell but sales rose as it passed along higher costs to grocery stores and restaurants, according to The Wall Street Journal. For the quarter from July through September, the Arkansas-based meat giant’s beef production fell by 15% and pork production fell by 18%, but its average beef and pork prices increased by 33% and 38% respectively. Revenue for the company, which produces roughly 1 of every 5 pounds of chicken, beef and pork in the nation, went up by 12%.

Security: The United States must take steps to “generate the sustained renewal of our manufacturing competitiveness, which will be vital to maintaining our national security and preserving America’s edge over China,” recommends a task force report from the Reagan Institute. The report’s proposals include expanding employers’ roles in workforce training by “repurposing existing federal education grants to allow high school graduates to earn credentialed skills. U.S. manufacturers should commit to fund 500,000 new graduates of trade school and apprenticeship programs over the next decade.”

Technology

Password turkeys: Cybercriminals use automated tools to conduct brute force attacks to obtain account passwords. And the weaker the password, the easier and faster it is to determine, TechRepublic reports. All except 30 of the top 200 most common passwords could be cracked in less than a second, according to password manager NordPass, which lists the 200 most common passwords and offers tips on how to practice better password hygiene. The top 10 weak list: “123456,” “123456789,” “12345,” “qwerty,” “password,” “12345678,” “111111,” “123123,” “1234567890” and “1234567.”

To infinity and beyond! Georgia Tech is the newest member of the U.S. Space Force’s University Partnership Program. The partnership focuses on developing a high-caliber aerospace workforce and collaborating on advanced aerospace research. Source: Georgia Tech

It’s not rocket science: Russia’s “reckless” test of an anti-satellite weapon on an aging, two-ton satellite took place in a fairly congested satellite corridor and produced more than 1,500 pieces of space debris. It endangered the International Space Station, whose seven astronauts, including two Russians, had to shelter in their transport spacecraft during two initial passes through the debris cloud. Preliminary calculations suggest about half of the debris will reenter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up within about a year, but some will linger for 10 or 15 years, if not longer. Source: news reports

Transportation

Gas tax alternatives: Transportation expert Robert Poole, a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Senior Fellow and co-founder of Reason Foundation, testified November 15 before a joint legislative study committee – the Georgia Commission on E-Commerce & Freight Infrastructure Funding – about a new study examining mileage-based user fees as a fuel-tax alternative. Access the study here; view Poole’s testimony here.

Be careful out there: An estimated 53.4 million people will travel over Thanksgiving, according to AAA, up 13% from 2020 and within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019. In Georgia, travel figures are just 3% below pre-pandemic levels and nearly 1.6 million Georgians will travel for Thanksgiving, up 12%. Despite higher gas prices than last year, 90% of people plan to travel by vehicle; 48.3 million will take to the roadways and AAA expects to respond to more than 400,000 roadside issues.

Legislature

Redistricting: Georgia lawmakers continued the special session begun November 3 to address redistricting. The schedule for the session and legislative committee hearings can be found online, along with video links. Visit legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In November 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Pipeline from Canada Trickles Down to Georgia.” It noted, “So while the administration fiddles, the United States could miss an opportunity to secure a reliable source of fuel from a friendly – and stable – nation. The job growth will go elsewhere, because U.S. inaction will not halt the oil extraction. The oil will go elsewhere; all indications are it will be welcomed in China.” The Obama administration blocked the Keystone pipeline; the Trump administration approved it but the Biden administration blocked it again.

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Giving Thanks This Thanksgiving,” by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

Have a great weekend and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

P.S. Please keep Kyle in your prayers as he recovers from surgery this week.

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