Category: The Forum

Facts Not Fear on Air Pollution

By Joel Schwartz Air pollution has been declining for decades across the United States, yet most Americans still believe air pollution is a growing problem and a serious threat to their health. The reason: Most information on air pollution from environmentalists, regulators and journalists – the public’s main sources for information on the environment – is false. Air quality in America’s cities is better than ever. Between 1980 and 2005: ● Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) declined 40 percent. ● Peak 8-hour ozone (O3) levels declined 20 percent, and days per year exceeding the 8-hour ozone standard fell 79 percent. ● Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels decreased 37 percent, sulfur dioxide (SO2) dropped 63 percent and carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations were reduced… View Article

Commentary: The Hidden Cost of “Planning”

By Randal O’Toole Planners rarely say, even among themselves, that one goal of growth-management planning is to drive up housing prices in order to discourage people from living on large lots. One rare exception recently took place in Portland, Oregon, when real estate professionals noted that suburban land values had reached a “tipping point” where it was now worthwhile for developers to buy suburban single-family homes and replace them with high-density housing. The 1997 regional plan for Portland had directed that two dozen cities and three counties in the region rezone some neighborhoods to higher densities in anticipation of this point being reached. Yet nothing in the plan itself, or any of the supporters of the plan, ever mentioned that… View Article

Commentary: Property Rights, Politics and Policy

By Benita M. Dodd The 2005-2006 legislative term has already seen at least three dozen pieces of legislation that reference eminent domain, the authority of government to take land from a private property owner. Some enable it, justifiably; others would curb it. More will come. Enough red flags are up already, however, to warrant repeating Margaret Thatcher’s warning: “This is no time to go wobbly. We can’t fall at the first fence.” The Legislature’s taking action. So why should Georgia property owners worry? At numerous turns, legislation to restrict government’s power to take private property is being eroded. Vested interests cite the need to remove so-called blight in communities, concerns about holdout landowners in redevelopment projects and about the ability… View Article

A Fine Week for Freedom

By Kelly McCutchen Limited government, free markets and private property are the cornerstones of the American success story, but these freedoms can slowly erode over time: Government involves itself in activities never imagined by our Founding Fathers. Regulations multiply as individual responsibility declines and private property rights are weakened for the “common good.” Legislative study committees have become the unlikely forum for leaders concerned about this silent creep of government. In years past, moving legislation to a study committee in the Georgia General Assembly was the political equivalent of being banished to Siberia, never to be seen or heard from again. It was the honorable way to kill a bill, saving the sponsor the embarrassment of having that bill voted… 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

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

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Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers more quotes