Category: Commentaries

HOT Lanes Moving Right Along For Georgia

By Benita M. Dodd Help is finally on the way for frustrated travelers once resigned to the absence of wide-open roads in metro Atlanta as policy-makers conquer the anti-automobile agenda and focus on reality-based transportation solutions. Two promising signs came just this week. One was the Atlanta Regional Commission’s official adoption of its $53 billion Mobility 2030 transportation plan for the region. The ARC allocates more than half of the $53 billion to routine maintenance and operations. About $8.2 billion will add roadway capacity; $5 billion will increase transit capacity; $4.6 billion will add high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes; about $3 billion will focus on transportation technology and $1.1 billion will be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Unfortunately, the ARC… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd About every six months, veteran journalist Elliott Brack co-hosts a bus tour of his home of Gwinnett County that highlights the history and changing face of one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties. Gwinnett is frequently attacked by activists as a prime example of the out-of-control growth that they demand be reined in across metro Atlanta, the so-called poster child for sprawl. It was no surprise that when Commission Chairman Wayne Hill lost his seat recently after 12 years, slow-growth advocates hailed it as a victory over the pro-growth policies “destroying” the county. So it was refreshing when, from the environment to transportation to the economy, Brack’s 69th semi-annual tour of Gwinnett this month reflected an honest… View Article

Georgia Needs A High-Risk Health Insurance Pool

By Russ Childers An estimated 1 million of Georgia’s non-elderly residents are uninsured; at 13 percent, one of the highest rates in the country. The good news is that fewer than one in 10 of those were uninsured for more than a year, and nearly seven in 10 are employed or the dependent of an employed person. Some individuals choose not to purchase health insurance, but many of the uninsured believe they can’t afford coverage or have not enrolled in public programs for which they qualify. Many Georgians, however, cannot buy health insurance at any price; they do not have access to insurance through their employer and have a medical condition that causes individual insurers to deny them coverage. If… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd My trip downtown never was the mythical five miles barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways. It did, however, once use up a good part of the day. That B.C. (before cars) memory came flooding back recently as I read a couple of reports trumpeting the benefits of public transportation. An Oakland (Calif.) Tribune story headlined, “Trains, boats beat cars in transit race to airport,” reported that a team of transit riders beat a team of drivers in a morning commute competition. And in a Sierra Club report, “Missing the Train: How the Bush Administration’s Transportation Proposal Threatens Jobs, Commutes, and Public Transit Ridership,” the environmental group declared federal funding for public transportation inadequate, noting that… View Article
By Harold Brown The picture of air pollution, asthma and other respiratory diseases has been imprinted as a clear image on the minds of Georgians, especially in metro Atlanta. High ozone days bring on warnings to people subject to asthma and other respiratory conditions to curtail their outdoor activities. Newspaper descriptions reinforce the image, reporting that, “When ozone builds up, it literally takes some people’s breath away. It can fill emergency rooms with gasping asthma patients and send coughing joggers toward home.” So commuters are encouraged to carpool or ride MARTA, while government agencies devise strict regulations to reduce air pollutants and protect public health. What could be clearer this month, which is Asthma Awareness Month and the start of… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Prescription drug costs represent 11 percent of total U.S. health care spending, according to the most recent federal data. This relatively small portion of our health care spending, however, has enormous potential to save lives and reduce overall health care costs. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on ways to enhance the role of pharmaceuticals in keeping people healthy, elected officials are in danger of chasing illusory savings via failed regulatory schemes such as price controls. It is by now an often-repeated fact that the 80/20 Rule applies to health care: 80 percent of the cost is driven by just 20 percent of the people. These individuals most often suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart… View Article

Forcing Firms To Keep Jobs Stateside Could Hurt Georgia

By Benita Dodd Efforts to thwart outsourcing of jobs and services abroad have reached at least 14 states, including Georgia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While well intended, legislation that forces jobs to remain in the United States will prove a shortsighted attempt at micromanagement that backfires on government, policymakers and ordinary Georgians.It’s difficult to spot the silver lining when blinded by outrage over American jobs “lost” offshore, but greater harm is done at home when we hinder business from seeking cost-effective options abroad. When U.S. companies site jobs abroad, they do so to save money and improve profits. Such cost efficiency leads to American jobs saved, not lost. The lower cost of doing business is a… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen In ordering legislators to redraw the state House and Senate district maps by March 1, a panel of federal judges has given Georgia legislators an opportunity to put sound policy over politics. The sound policy in this case is to draw compact, logical districts that keep communities together and encourage competitive elections. Districts designed to protect incumbents of one particular party only encourage voter apathy and cynicism about our government, increase the influence of special interests and produce career politicians who become more interested in increasing their own influence and power rather than representing the people they serve. Our democratic republic is at risk when the average citizen – even politically active citizens – cannot describe the … View Article

Permit Transfers Hold Water For Georgia

By Benita Dodd It may seem that Georgia’s water problems are Atlanta’s alone, but the state’s economic engine is hardly alone in its concerns about water quality or quantity.   Rincon, in Effingham County, is withdrawing more groundwater than allotted, but the state prohibits it getting more water from the Floridan Aquifer while a scientific study is under way. The Environmental Protection Division wants Rincon to tie into the county’s surface water pipeline. City officials cite concerns about water quality and expense and have even considered borrowing water withdrawal permits. Rincon is suing the EPD and being sued by stymied developers. Tybee, approaching its groundwater allocation, has another 100 condominiums permitted. The city is offering to buy back irrigation meters from… View Article

Commentary: Clearing the Air on Saving Americans’ Lives

By R. Harold Brown Did you know that America’s cleaner air has saved more than 2.5 million lives over 20 years? It was news to me, but it must be true: It’s reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site. In fact, despite this impressive statistic being around since 1997, I dare say it’s news to most citizens. Neither the EPA nor others that I’m aware of are trumpeting this victory. It’s more likely that Georgians have heard the dire warnings of danger from the “spewing” of toxins from smokestacks and engine exhausts, and the projected number of deaths unless said “spewing” stops. Just one example is the Clean Air Task Force’s report in 2000 that claimed, “Nationwide, power-plant… View Article

To have an organization dedicated to the study of the problems that face Georgia in a bipartisan way….is absolutely one of the finest things that’s happened to our state.

The late W. H. Flowers, Jr., Chairman, Flowers industries, Inc. more quotes