Friday Facts: April 13th, 2012

It’s Friday!


Quotes of note
– “Government has an important role in helping develop a country’s economic foundation. But the critical test is whether government is genuinely working to liberate individuals by creating incentives to work, save, invest and succeed.” – Ronald Reagan
– “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.” – Frederic Bastiat
– “
Mankind is at its best when it is most free. This will be clear if we grasp the principle of liberty. We must recall that the basic principle is freedom of choice, which saying many have on their lips, but few in their mind.” – Dante Alighieri 

– April 26: Less than two weeks are left to register for ”Choice Matters: Expanding Educational Opportunity,” the Foundation’s next Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club, featuring two legislators at the forefront of Georgia school choice issues: House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan. Find out more at This event is $25 to attend. Register by Tuesday, April 24, 2012, online at
– June 27: Mark your calendar for a Policy Briefing Luncheon at Cobb County’s Georgian Club with Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on his soon-to-be-released book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.”
– September 21: Save the date! The Foundation’s third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing will be held in Atlanta on Friday, September 21. Past events have featured Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

-Transportation choice, transit boost: Just as the Georgia Public Policy Foundation predicted, the optional new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes operating on I-85 in metro Atlanta have led to a boost in transit ridership in the corridor. Gena Evans, head of the State Road and Tollway Authority, said this week that ridership on the express bus service has increased from an average of 22 passengers per trip to 29 passengers per trip, an almost 32 percent increase. Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation reports that buses that use Florida’s I-95 express toll lanes have drawn even more riders than Tri-Rail. “The overwhelming success of the new express bus routes using the I-95 express lanes demonstrates that many middle-class people will use bus rapid transit if it provides fast, reliable trips from near their homes to near their workplaces,” Poole said.
– Trolleys are NOT congestion relief. As Atlanta gets ready for its streetcar, a Washington Times editorial points out, “The folly of trolleys goes far beyond the massive debt they create. Mixing a rail system with automobile and pedestrian traffic is a recipe for accidents. Houston’s ‘Wham Bam Tram’ caused 245 accidents between 2004 and 2009. They also take away on-street parking spaces and significantly increase congestion.” The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority reported this week that its February budget took a hit as staff worked an extra 200 hours on rerouting its buses to accommodate the streetcar construction.
– Opportunity vouchers: Louisiana not only has made a huge rebound on education following the disastrous Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it has ensured that more children have true quality choices. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul would give Louisiana one of the nation’s largest voucher programs, expanding a small program launched in New Orleans in 2009 that serves about 1,800 low-income students. The new system would offer vouchers to an estimated 380,000 poor and middle-class students in low-performing schools – although state officials say only a few thousand are likely to transfer in the first year. A bonus: The program would save taxpayer dollars. The state spends about $8,500 a pupil to educate public-school students in New Orleans, but is spending about $4,500 on average for voucher students. Source: Wall Street Journal
– Choice = success: If you think school choice doesn’t matter, look at Washington, D.C. Showing the power of charter schools that now have nearly 45 percent of all public school enrollees in the nation’s capital, a look at the 2011 graduating class shows that charters graduated nearly 80 percent of all their senior classes, on time, versus 59 percent in the traditional public schools.Source: Washington Post

Taxes and spending
– Bridging the gap: President Obama’s budget will add $6,700 billion ($6.7 trillion) to the nation’s debt. But not to worry: President Obama’s “Buffett Rule,” which would set a 30 percent minimum effective tax rate for families and businesses with incomes greater than $1 million, would raise $47 billion over 10 years, according to a recent report by the Joint Committee on Taxation. The only problem now is where to find the other 99.3 percent!
– Affordable health care? The president’s landmark health care initiative, whose constitutionality is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, has been touted as a means to control costs. In fact, it will add more than $340 billion to the nation’s budget woes over the next decade, according to a new study by Charles Blahous, a policy analyst the president approved in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. Source: Washington Post
Energy and Environment
– Polar opposite: Global warming doomsayers have embraced the “declining” polar bear population to make their point, demanding specific public policies to protect the bears and broad laws to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Now the Globe and Mail reports that new aerial studies show there are about 25,000 polar bears across Canada’s Arctic, probably the highest number ever, according to a Canadian wildlife official. This thoroughly undermines the predictions of endangerment. Still, it should be good for Atlanta if all of those polar bears are drinking Coca-Cola.
– Houston, we have a problem: A joint letter from 49 former NASA scientists and astronauts to the current NASA administrator calls the agency’s policy of ignoring empirical evidence about global warming “unbecoming.” The group, including seven Apollo astronauts and two former directors of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, asks NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) to “refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and Web sites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data.” Source:
Social media
– This week in The Forum: Georgia built its economic strategy over the past couple of decades around being a good place to raise a family with low taxes and a business-friendly environment. But others are using similar strategies and Georgia should feel none too comfortable with its tenth place ranking in an economic strategies and performance report from ALEC. Click here to read, “The Serious Challenge to Georgia’s Low-Tax Economic Strategy,” by Forum Editor Mike Klein. In Checking Up On Health, the Foundation’s Benita Dodd shares Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey’s explanation why he opposes the Independent Payment Advisory Board established by the federal health care law, and John Goodman’s praise of the potential in a food-stamp style health insurance program for low-income individuals. Click here to learn more. Read these and other recent Foundation articles on The Forum at
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– Visit to read our commentary today, “Transportation Tax: About Mobility or Money?” by Benita M. Dodd.


Have a great weekend.
Kelly McCutchen

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