Quotes of note
“One single object … [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation.” – Thomas Jefferson (1825)
“Market approaches based in property rights and trade can align incentives in ways that create environmental benefits. Rather than fighting over tax credits or emission standards, our efforts are better spent supporting innovation and efficiency through markets. This Earth Day, it’s time to get creative with conservation and look to market approaches that reward lasting outcomes that are good for the environment.” – Holly Fretwell and Hannah Downey
“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.” – Thomas Paine
New hire: The Foundation has named Hayley McCloud External Affairs Manager. Find out more here.
Taxes and spending
Bad report: Truth in Accounting released its third annual Financial State of the Union report. It found the financial condition of the U.S. government worsened by nearly $10 trillion in 2020, largely due to unfunded promises to Medicare ($55.1 trillion) and Social Security ($41.2 trillion), along with borrowing money to weather COVID-19. “The federal government was unprepared for any crisis much less one as serious as we are currently facing,” the report finds.
Evading taxes: Tax evasion in the United States may total $1 trillion a year, far more than previous estimates, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig told a Senate panel this week. He said previous tallies of the tax gap, totaling about $441 billion for the three years through 2013, did not include some tax evasion-techniques not on the IRS radar at the time. New estimates include the use of cryptocurrency. Source: Accounting Today
Truck congestion: While COVID-19 had everyone sheltering in place, trucks kept going. According to the America Transportation Research institute, two Atlanta interstate interchanges made the nation’s top 10 truck bottleneck list in 2020. No. 3 was I-285 at I-85 North and No. 4 was I-20 at I-285 West. ATRI’s 2021 Top Truck Bottleneck List measures the level of truck-involved congestion at over 300 locations on the national highway system. The biggest bottleneck was at I-95 at SR 4 in Fort Lee, N.J., while No. 2 was I-71 at I-75 in Cincinnati. (The top 100 list included seven in Georgia.)
Street congestion: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has authorized the installation of 25 mph speed limit signs throughout Atlanta as “part of a citywide commitment made in 2020 to adopt and implement Vision Zero to safeguard the streets of Atlanta.” City officials call it “a quick and effective way to combat the dangers of speeding and make streets safer for people walking, biking, rolling and taking transit.”
Reforms: The Goodman Institute highlights some of the Trump administration’s “radical deregulation” of the healthcare industry, including Medicare reimbursement when seniors use telemedicine, facilitating virtual consultations for non-seniors, and personal and portable health insurance for employees. Deregulation of vaccine production made it possible to produce COVID-19 vaccines six months faster than anyone thought possible, saving more than 180,000 lives and saving the economy $1.8 trillion.
Drones: Ghana is the first country to use drones to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare facilities, according to Inbound Logistics. Atlanta-based UPS transfers vaccines to Ghana’s Mpanya distribution center and provides ground delivery to regional cold storage. From there, Zipline drones fly them to healthcare facilities.
COVID-19 update: The Georgia Department of Public Health reported the number of cases since the pandemic began totaled 865,827as of Thursday afternoon, up from , 859,388 last week. Deaths were at 17,130; last week the death toll was 16,996. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Vaccinations are now available for anyone over age 16 in Georgia, but Georgia has paused the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine “until further notice.” Visit the website here.
Medical Mondays: In this week’s Checking Up On Health, it appears it’s OK again to mention China and COVID-19 in the same breath.
Intentional delays: Many U.S. supply shortfalls are not due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, according to an article in Industry Week. “For the last year, many Chinese companies have been purposely delaying or declining orders of strategic product from American companies,” write Paul Ericksen and Eamon McKinney. “China prioritizes orders to countries they regard as friends and/or allies. Evidently, China does not consider America in this regard.” U.S. self-sufficiency is at least a generation away in many sectors, they argue.
This month in the archives: In April 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “No Way to Handle a Fuel Crisis.” It noted, “Lost in the hysteria are long-term solutions that can ease the need for foreign fuels. It requires facing down activists who hinder nuclear power generation – the safest, cheapest, cleanest energy source available. It requires building new facilities and exploitation of domestic resources.”
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.