Not the think tank of ‘no’: Through the years, critics have accused the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and its transportation analysts of being “anti-transit.” The Foundation, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2021, has prided itself on being an organization of practical solutions, and this list of our recommendations, the focus of a March 1999 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (link here), demonstrates our commitment to viable alternatives in transit. The Foundation continues to insist that state transportation agendas be focused on needs, not inefficient approaches based on what’s available in funding from federal planners.
Quotes of note
“Men have been found to resist the most powerful monarchs and to refuse to bow down before them, but few indeed have been found to resist the crowd, to stand up alone before misguided masses, to face their implacable frenzy without weapons and with folded arms to dare a no when a yes is demanded.” ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
“Lots of folks are forced to skimp to support a government that won’t.” ― Winston Churchill
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
― Dr. Seuss, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
On Our Desks
From the heart: Kyle Wingfield is recuperating from surgery and will be back in the office in the new year. He explained in his recent column.
30 for 30: In celebration of Georgia Policy’s 30 years of advancing freedom in our state we’re asking our friends to give $30 today. Will you contribute?
ISO opportunity: Some 4.2 million Americans — 2.8% of the workforce — quit their jobs in October amid a near-record surge in job openings, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week. The number of resignations was just slightly down from the August record of 4.3 million, while job openings remained near record highs at 11 million, just below July’s peak.
Cash in hand: Hundreds of black women in Georgia will get $850 per month in guaranteed income as part of a program called In Her Hands. This money will be given by a coalition led by the Georgia Resilience and Opportunity Fund to 650 women for two years, with plans to distribute more than $13 million. The program will study how such unconditional cash transfers affect the financial and mental well-being of participants. Source: Yahoo News
On the road again … Average U.S. commuting times, while higher than in 2020, are still below pre-pandemic levels, reports The Wall Street Journal. The 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard by analytics firm Inrix (through October 2021) found that the average U.S. commuter will spend 36 hours in congestion. That’s 10 hours more than in 2020 but 63 hours less than in 2019. Morning commutes tend to be a little faster, with afternoon congestion probably partially due to teleworking drivers taking nonwork trips later in the day.
Union action: The National Education Association is canceling its Representative Assembly convention in Dallas. About 6,000 union delegates were scheduled to attend the July 2022 meeting, but the union is displeased with a series of bills that came out of a special session of the state legislature having to do with voting, abortion and critical race theory, The 74 reports, citing internal NEA sources.
A hearing on choice: The U.S. Supreme Court heard a legal challenge Wednesday that could have a national impact on school choice. Maine families are challenging a program that allows students in towns without public high schools to put taxpayer money toward the cost of an outside school, public or private, but not toward a religious school. The program has survived four previous challenges, but this is its first time reaching the nation’s highest court. The case has attracted more than three dozen briefs from national groups on both sides of the issue. Source: Portland (Maine) Press Herald
Academic growth: Metro Atlanta ranked fourth in the nation among “Student Learning Accelerating Metros,” a new analysis by the Fordham Institute. The top five metro areas were Miami, Memphis, McAllen, Texas, Atlanta and Indianapolis. Fordham found Atlanta performs above average nationally on Cohort Academic Growth (controlling for demographics), but below average on High School Graduation Rate. Douglas County was ranked the highest-performing large district in metro Atlanta and Clayton County was the lowest-performing. The bottom five were Salt Lake City (46), Baltimore (47), Raleigh (48), Las Vegas (49) and Honolulu (50).
A lot to learn: The academic impact of the pandemic on students is “significant,” according to an analysis by the Center for Assessment. A center researcher notes, however: “If the pandemic pulled the ‘educational rug’ out from under a lot of students, as my colleague Chris Brandt pointed out to me, ‘many students never had a rug under them to begin with.’”
Disproportionate: Six states in the Midwest and East Coast account for 60% of the nation’s total COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks, NBC News reports. Hospitalization rates increased in 35 states and the District of Columbia in the last two weeks. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois represent 35% of the population of those states but 60% of hospitalizations between November 10 and December 5. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
Omigosh, Omicron: A Metro Atlanta resident has the first case of Omicron detected in Georgia. This Georgian recently traveled to South Africa before testing positive for the COVID-19 variant. See the latest numbers on overall COVID-19 infection in Georgia here. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Knock knock, Omicron: Researchers at the University of Hong Kong documented the spread of the Omicron variant between two fully vaccinated people across the hallway of a quarantine hotel, according to Bloomberg.com. Closed-circuit video showed that neither person left his room or had any other outside contact, suggesting that the only path of infection was airborne when the doors were opened for food service or testing for the virus.
This month in the archives: In December 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Facts, Not Fear, on Air Pollution.” It noted: “Regulators’ jobs and powers depend on a public perception that air pollution is a serious and urgent problem. But regulators also fund much of the research intended to demonstrate the need for more regulation, and fund environmental groups to agitate for increases in regulators’ powers. Regulators also set the level of the health standards, meaning that they get to decide when their job is finished. Naturally, it never will be.”
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “States Left Holding the Baby in Feds’ Early Learning Plan” by Aaron Churchill of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Have a great weekend.
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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