Friday Facts: December 29, 2017

It’s Friday!

It’s the FINAL Friday of the year. It’s the FINAL Georgia Public Policy Foundation Friday Facts of 2017. And, it’s the FINAL time you’ll see Kelly McCutchen sign off on the Friday Facts.

After being at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation since 1993 (the past seven years at its helm), he’s moving on to become executive director of HINRI. He will continue as a Senior Fellow at the Foundation. As you say goodbye to 2017, feel free to send a farewell note to Kelly at .

Giants of Georgia’s liberty movement: Larry Reed, president of the Atlanta-based Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), greets Kelly McCutchen at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation in 2016. Kelly is leaving the Foundation for a new position after nearly 25 years.

As you say goodbye to 2017, please consider making a final, year-end tax-deductible contribution to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. We refuse to solicit or accept government funds or grants (i.e. taxpayer money), so it is support from individuals like you making our work possible. Your contribution is a long-term investment in the future of Georgia. Unlike a political contribution, your donation to the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is tax-deductible and private. And if you contribute by year’s end, it’s deductible from your 2017 taxes!

In today’s Friday Facts, we’re ending the year celebrating the positive in 2017!

Quotes of note

“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.” – Thomas Sowell

“Let us animate and encourage each other. … A Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” – George Washington

Health care

The individual mandate’s penalties under the Affordable Care Act will be eliminated in 2019, under the tax reform legislation approved before Christmas. This effectively eliminates the ObamaCare mandate that individuals enroll in a health care plan.

There were 46 new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017, the most in at least a decade. Source:

Cancer deaths have dropped by 25 percent in the United States since 1991, saving more than 2 million lives, Time magazine reported. Breast cancer deaths have fallen by 39 percent, saving the lives of 322,600 women.

AIDS deaths have dropped by half since 2005, according to UNAIDS, which revealed in July that for the first time in history, half of all people on the planet with HIV are now getting treatment. Source: Science magazine

For cholera, one of humanity’s greatest-ever killers, researchers unveiled a single-dose oral vaccine that’s cheap and effective enough to end the bacterial infection, which is spread by contaminated water or food. Source: Science Daily

Energy and environment

The ozone hole over Antarctica shrank in 2017 to its smallest size since 1988, the year Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Source: CNET

Electricity has arrived for nearly 1.2 billion people in just the past 16 years, according to the International Energy Agency.

Water use in the United States is about the same as it was back in 1970, even though the population has increased by almost 50 percent since then, according to the USGS Water Science School. This happened while agriculture, hydroelectric energy and industry grew, too.

Air quality, too, has improved even as the population grew, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Since 1990, carbon monoxide emissions are down 77 percent, lead in the air is down 99 percent, total nitrogen dioxide is down over 50 percent, particulate matter emissions are down on average about 44 percent; sulfur dioxide is down 85 percent, and ozone is down 22 percent.

The nation’s tree cover is growing. There are more 9 billion more cubic feet of trees in the United States than there were in 1953. That’s 50 percent more than just 60 years ago, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

U.S. energy development has been revitalized with President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration. As Marc Thiessen wrote in The Washington Post, “After George W. Bush pulled out of the disastrous Kyoto treaty, U.S. emissions went down faster than much of Europe. The same will be true for Trump’s departure from the Paris accord.”

Innovations in fracking and other shale gas technologies are driving a plastics boom and have already resulted in a raw material cost reduction of nearly two thirds, according to the American Chemistry Council. Falling costs have triggered $186 billion in new chemical investments since 2010. Source: The Guardian

Welfare reform

The poverty rate in the United is now 12.7 percent, the lowest level since the end of the global financial crisis, and the child-poverty rate reached an all-time low of 15.6 percent. Source: The Atlantic

Atlanta became the second Georgia community (after DeKalb County) to announce it had effectively ended veterans’ homelessness, joining dozens of communities claiming success since HUD, Veterans Affairs and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness issued a 2014 “Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.”

Criminal justice

Violent crime and property crime rates have dropped by around 50 percent in the United States since 1990, even though most people believe they have gotten worse, according to Pew Research

Twelve federal appeals court judges were appointed by President Trump in 2017, the most ever in the first year of a presidency since the appeals courts were established in 1891. And Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the seat vacant since U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died. Source: Daily Signal


The U.S. population continues to grow, unlike in other developed nations. It’s up nearly 6 percent since the 2010 census. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration will increase the population by one person every 18 seconds in 2018. Source: Census Bureau

The first comprehensive tax reform in three decades was signed into law by President Trump. According to the Tax Foundation, this reform could boost the economy by increasing GDP and wages, creating thousands of new jobs, and making the US more competitive on a global level.

Regulations declined. According to a Bloomberg analysis, “There is little doubt that the government under Trump has launched an aggressive assault on regulations governing everything from climate change to financial transactions, and policies restricting new ones are likely to have long-term impacts on government.”


Georgia’s express toll lanes are succeeding beyond expectations on the south side of Atlanta, and expanding, with the Northwest Corridor lanes opening next year. Source: Georgia Department of Transportation

User fees for electric vehicles are now enacted in 19 states, including Georgia. Because EVs use no motor fuel, they pay nothing for road use. Source: Surface Transportation Innovations

Millennials are not foregoing autos. Autotrader found that in 2011 millennials were 20 percent of the new-car market. This year, they are 30 percent percent of the market, and by 2020 they are forecast to be 40 percent. Source: Surface Transportation Innovations


There’s renewed enthusiasm for expanding options in K-12 education ahead of Georgia’s 2018 statewide elections. Gubernatorial candidates proposing expanded school choice include Casey Cagle, Brian Kemp and Hunter Hill.


January 23: More than 28,000 events will celebrate National School Choice Week 2018 from January 21-27. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation marks this event annually with a Leadership Breakfast. The keynote speaker is Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi; the topic is “Georgia 2020: Educational Opportunity for All K-12 Students in Georgia.” 8 a.m. at the Georgian Club. $30. Registration and information here.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In December five years ago, the Foundation published, “What Really Happened in Georgia’s Charter School Vote.” It noted, “The bottom line here is one that both sides should take to heart: Charter schools succeed best when citizens believe they need options other than traditional schools.”

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Don’t Miss the Bus on Transit,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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