Friday Facts: August 30, 2019

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of note

Clarence Thomas 1993
In 1993, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was awarded the Foundation’s first Freedom Award. To mark Labor Day, Friday Facts excerpts his 1993 remarks on how he acquired his work ethic.

“We would never refuse to take a trip to the store for an adult who asked. We knew that we were not to litter or damage the property of another, regardless of how much the property was worth. And I remember the ‘do’s’ maybe even better than the ‘don’ts’: church on Sunday; we were all altar boys. Tend to property on Saturday: Wash the car, cut the grass, polish your shoes. And all of us – especially my brother and I – were expected to work. My grandfather imposed a rule that seemed pretty harsh then: If you don’t work, you don’t eat. And he meant it. Needless to say, I liked eating so I endured working. But my grandfather also had a corollary rule that revealed his soft, kind side: When you produce more than you need, you give to those who could not do for themselves. But not to those who could. To them, you give a chance to work. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized why my chores never seemed to end, because my grandfather provided me with a steady stream of work for work’s sake. Or, better put, work to consume idleness, which he and the nuns called “the devil’s workshop.”  And let me tell you: Even if we felt as kids that unending work was unfair, there were no negotiations about the work or the rules. … While, as a kid, I sometimes saw this regimen as nothing more than a plot to keep me from training to be a pro basketball or football star, as an adult I see how this nurturing of manners and good work habits gave me the independence, discipline and self-respect that I needed for college and my life as an adult.” – Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Freedom Award Dinner in 1993, where he became the first Freedom Award recipient.  (View his speech here.)

Honorary unsubscribes

Our thanks and gratitude to three great champions of liberty. Each will be sorely missed.

  • Above: Rogers Wade, the Foundation’s Board Chairman, and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia are decades-long friends.

    Johnny Isakson: Georgia’s senior U.S. senator and a longtime friend of the Foundation announced August 28 that he will retire at the end of the year due to health issues. The announcement has fueled speculation about who Gov. Brian Kemp would appoint to complete Isakson’s term. No matter the appointee, the 74-year-old statesman with a 45-year career in politics leaves some huge shoes to fill.

  • Neal Boortz: The “Talkmaster” nationally syndicated talk radio host, a mainstay on WSB Radio, announced his retirement August 23. “I can’t watch to the news anymore,” the 74-year-old told his audience. Boortz routinely cited the Foundation’s Friday Facts in his radio broadcasts, and we’re grateful for his decades of “pro bono” support.
  • David Koch: The billionaire businessman who led Koch Industries died August 23 at age 79. He was a philanthropist, political activist and chemical engineer. While many remember him as contributing to conservative causes, he also gave more than $1.3 billion away to such institutions as New York’s Lincoln Center and Memorial-Sloan Kettering. 


September 18:License to Work,” a Foundation noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at The Savannah Golf Club with the Georgians First Commission to tackle its task force recommendations on occupational licensing reform. $35. Register here.

September 26: “The Student-Loan Debt Dilemma” is a Higher Ed Happy Hour discussion on student loans and college debt at No Mas! Cantina in Atlanta, with keynote speaker Jenna Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. $10. Register here.

November 15: Early Bird registration is $75 through September 20 for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. The agenda is online for the daylong event on Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme: “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility.” Register here.


E-scooters: Amid several e-scooter fatalities, bicycle and pedestrian activists are calling on the Atlanta City Council to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on city roads. Will that help? A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of e-scooter injuries found more than a third of injured riders interviewed admitted to excessive speed and nearly 30% said they had drunk an alcoholic beverage in the 12 hours preceding their injury. Nearly half had head injuries. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Hot air: Growing numbers of teenagers and young adults have fallen ill while vaping, according to news reports. But Michelle Milton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute makes an important distinction in “Lung Disease Caused by Black Market, Not Vaping:” “While details have not been made public for all of those hospitalized, in every case where a product has been identified, the culprit was not ‘vaping,’ but vaping illicit THC oil.”


You’ve got mail: If you get the feeling your email box is being flooded, it’s probably not your imagination. About 293.6 billion emails are being exchanged daily in 2019. Despite an increase in chat apps and mobile messengers, the number of emails sent and received is expected to reach more than 347.3 billion daily by 2023. Source: Statista

Spam: Spam messages are actually on the decline. The global annual spam e-mail rate in 2018 was 55%, down from 69% in 2012.  China generated the largest share of unsolicited spam e-mails, about 15%. Source: Statista


Choice: Public support for charter schools has climbed back to 48% from a low of 39% in 2017, according to the 2019 Education Next Poll. It found 61% of Republican respondents espouse charter schools, but only 40% of Democrats do. Only 33% of white Democrats favor charters, though 55% of black Democrats and 47% of Hispanic Democrats back them. The 13th annual poll also found 49% of respondents support vouchers to help low-income students, up from 37% in 2016. Support for tax credit scholarships climbed to 58% from 53% over this same period.

Above and beyond: Brownsville, Texas, ranks among the poorest cities in the nation, yet the school district continues to outperform even some of its wealthier peers, earning accolades and recognition across the state and country. In an article for, Bekah McNeel attributes Brownsville schools’ success to strong, autonomous principals, a serious focus on student data, embracing every bit of innovative and possible funding, and deep support from a stable community. 


Foundation in the news: The Foundation’s research on the folly of architectural mandates was cited in an op-ed in the Saporta Report.

Friday Flashback 

This month in the archives: In August five years ago, the Foundation published, “Getting with the Program on Georgia Transportation.” It noted, “To send a bigger pot to Washington is to squeeze blood out of a stone, thanks to increased fuel efficiency, alternate-fuel vehicles and federal interference eroding funds and hiking costs. Plus, it grows federal government and diminishes Georgia’s ability to prioritize projects. The best government is that which is closest to home.”

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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