Friday Facts: August 4, 2017

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of note 

“We got ObamaCare because Republicans didn’t take care of the health care problems we already had. Let’s not make the same mistake.” – Star Parker 

Politicians sure are generous with other people’s money.” – John Stossel 

“Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” – Thomas Paine


Poor policy: Prioritizing needs in mass transit is important, but, “[I]n recent decades transit spending priorities have been slanted away from bus service and towards commuter-oriented rail services favored by the wealthier general voting public, although most members of this group rarely if ever ride transit,” according to a study in the journal Transportation. The authors warn, “While such strategies make sense politically, underserving the poor may be poor public policy.” 

Streetcar subterfuge? When it comes to streetcars, “poor transportation performance tended to be downplayed because the streetcar was not seen as primarily a transportation investment but instead as something else,” a study by the Mineta Transportation Institute finds. 


Tearing down walls: Economic growth needs to be increased from its current sluggish rate, and eliminating barriers to economic opportunity will help, writes Hans Bader for the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He points out occupational licensing has expanded from covering 5 percent of the workforce in the 1950s to 30 percent today.

Criminal justice reform 

Opioid epidemic: Abuse of opioid drugs is now “the greatest public health and public safety crisis facing this nation,” Newt Gingrich and Van Jones write in Time magazine. They urge greater use of drug treatment courts. A recent grant is helping Georgia expand drug treatment programs. A recent Foundation commentary examined the crisis. 


Two-for-one: President Trump ordered agencies to identify two rules to remove for each new “significant” rule issued, and required that the costs of those new rules should be offset by the costs of the rules selected for removal or modification. But some agencies continue to publish rules without mentioning the requirements of his executive order. Source: George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center

Cause for concern: President Trump’s requested 3.4 percent increase in expenditures for federal regulatory departments and agencies is twice what President Obama received in 2017, according to a budget analysis by George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center cited in Forbes. If approved by Congress, the “regulators’ budget” will reach nearly $70 billion in 2018. 

Retirement reform 

Up, up and away: Next year’s bump in the required state contribution to Georgia’s Teacher Retirement System “could hit $400 million, likely the largest one-year infusion in state history,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The $400 million would have been enough to provide teachers with their biggest raises since at least the 1990s.” 

Gone away: The Treasury Department is shutting down the myRA program, a retirement savings program begun by the Obama administration in 2014. This “lame and perhaps even insidious” program was supposed to help low- to middle-income workers save more for retirement, but restricted investments to U.S. treasuries, which are “lousy retirement investments,” notes Tom Giovanetti of the Institute for Policy Innovation.

Energy and environment

An inconvenient truth: The average annual electricity consumption for a residential utility customer in America is 10,812 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 901 kWh per month. In the past 12 months, climate change crusader Al Gore’s Nashville estate consumed 230,889 kWh. The usage equals 21.3 times more energy than a typical American household consumes in a month. Source: National Policy Analysis

Happy trails: The Appalachian Trail celebrates its 80th birthday this month. Completed in August 1937, the (roughly) 2,190-mile-long footpath from Maine to Georgia passes through 14 states and is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world. Source: USA Today


Chartering success: Just 25 years ago in September, City Academy High School in St. Paul, Minn., became the nation’s first charter school. Today, 43 states, including Georgia, and the District of Columbia contain some 7,000 of these independently operated public schools, serving nearly 3 million students. Source: Walton Foundation

Kudos: Congratulations to Georgia’s Vicki Davis, who made the 2017 EdTech 20 list ranking the top 20 Global Edtech Influencers. Vicki lives in Camilla and blogs here 

Get moving on choice: As school finance becomes increasingly individualized, districts get more flexibility when it comes to getting kids to school. Instead of more school buses, “Why not give families the option to use a portion of their students’ individual education funding to take advantage of market-based transportation alternatives?” a Reason article proposes.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In July 20 years ago the Foundation published, “Atlanta’s $250 Million Empowerment Zone Mess: Big Promises Produce Few Results.” It noted, “Numerous performance reviews of the Atlanta Empowerment Zone’s progress clearly show that this federal program is not producing the intended results.” Four years after this 1997 commentary, the program “imploded.” 


Foundation in the news: The Augusta Chronicle quoted Benita Dodd in an article on food stamps. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly McCutchen on tax reform prospects for Georgia. (Hint: Don’t expect any.) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also quoted Kelly in an article on the Senate’s failed health care vote. 

Social media: The Foundation has 3,236 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,743 followers at Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Transit Needs a Ticket to Transparency,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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