Friday Facts: April 15th, 2011

It’s Friday!

– Today is the deadline 
to register for the Foundation’s April 19 noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. Amid the back and forth over the federal budget “Getting the Funding You Want for the Transportation You Need” is keynoted by Samuel Staley, Ph.D., director of urban growth and land use policy at the Reason Foundation. The cost to attend this event is $35. To find out more and register, go to

“We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two.  ‘At least,’ as one man said, ‘there’s one advantage about death; it doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.'” – Erwin N. Griswold
“I used to think the biggest obstacle to getting agreement about health care reform was ideology (socialism vs. capitalism). Then I decided it was sociology (engineers vs. economists). I now am inclined to believe it is psychology (bureaucrats vs. entrepreneurs).” – John Goodman

Health care
– Healthy competition: The cost of health care poses a burden to developed countries that could spark immense financial crises if not contained, the International Monetary Fund warns. The IMF said the main driver is not aging populations but generous health care systems, costly procedures based on new technologies, and the rising incomes that have so far afforded rising medical costs. The United States, with the largest fiscal deficits and costliest health care system, is most at risk. It said many countries have scope to wrest costs under control via market-based policies, caps on spending, and supply and price controls. More competition among insurance companies for consumers is the best but not only way to cut health care costs, the IMF said. It also pointed to improved public management and budget ceilings. Source:
– As Thomas Sowell put it: “It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication, and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”

Taxes and spending
– Bringing the budget home: Blogger Philip Greenspun divided the U.S. 2011 federal budget by 100,000,000 and wrote a little parable: “We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.”
– Done your taxes yet? The United States has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world, and has become much more progressive in the past 30 years, says Richard Rahn, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute .The top 1 percent of taxpayers pay 38 percent of all the income taxes despite having just 20 percent of the income. The top 10 percent of taxpayers pay 70 percent of the income tax while having just 46 percent of the income. At the other end, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers pay just 2.7 percent of the income tax while having 13 percent of the income. Source: Washington Times

Energy and the environment
– While you were sleeping, code talkers were busy: 
Among the changes for 2011 to the Georgia energy code for new residential construction, “Power attic ventilators shall not be connected to the electric grid. Solar powered attic ventilators are allowed.” And, “a minimum of 50 percent of the permanently installed lighting fixtures shall contain only high-efficacy (CFL, LED, etc.) lamps or be controlled with an occupancy/vacancy sensor or automated lighting control system.” All new construction and renovations permitted after Jan. 1, 2011 will have to comply with the new code. Source: Department of Community Affairs

Criminal justice
The Georgia Legislature has approved HB 265, which creates the 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Criminal Justice Reform, to “conduct a thorough study of the state’s current criminal justice structure and make a report of its findings and recommendations for legislation” to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, House Speaker and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by Nov. 1. The Foundation received credit from legislative leaders because of its Criminal Reform Initiative. Read more at

– Federal intervention: The U.S. Constitution does not provide for a federal role in education, and public schools have traditionally been under the jurisdiction of local authorities. Yet Washington’s role in education has grown to the point where it is difficult to track all the federal interventions, according to the Heritage Foundation. Using a narrow definition, the Government Accountability Office determined in 2010 that there were 151 K-12 and early childhood education programs housed in 20 federal agencies, averaging $55.6 billion annually.

– Technology-driven: 
IBM, Caltrans, and the University of California at Berkeley are working on minimizing travel delays with personalized commuter forecasts that analyze the traffic on individual routes, warn drivers of logjams before they leave the house, and suggest new travel plans (including alternative forms of transportation).
– Not so fast on high-speed rail, federal officials indicated to states this past week as they cut funding in the budget. On Monday, they said President Barack Obama and congressional leaders had cut this year’s high-speed rail budget from $2.5 billion to $1 billion during the last-second deal to avert a government shutdown. On Tuesday, officials eliminated the final $1 billion, essentially erasing all subsidies for local high-speed rail projects. Source:

– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Let the Asthma Blame Games Begin,” by Harold Brown.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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