Friday Facts: December 3rd, 2010


It’s Friday!


– Today is the deadline to register for, ABCs+D = The Virtual Success of Digital Learning, a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Policy Briefing Luncheon at noon on Tuesday, December 7, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. The event will be keynoted by Majority Leader Chip Rogers, a member of the national Digital Learning Council, The cost to attend is $35. For information and to register, click on this link:



– “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” – Edward Everett



– Headlines that make you go hmm: “CDC: Lead contamination may be widespread in Washington, D.C.” Source: Washington Post

– Mission creep: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed or finalized 29 major regulations and 172 major policy rules since President Obama took office, more than the Clinton administration’s entire first term, the Wall Street Journal reported last month. Not satisfied, the EPA celebrated its 40th anniversary this week with an announcement that it has commissioned a study to “define how to incorporate sustainability concepts into EPA programs.” The goal is to develop a Green Book that will “provide recommendations to EPA that will support the agency’s shift toward viewing this complex set of modern-day environmental challenges through a sustainability lens.” Read Foundation adjunct scholar Harold Brown’s eye-opening commentary on “The Fashionable Oxymoron of ‘Sustainable’ Development.”



– Guiding principles: The Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians formally adopted its guiding principles this week. Among the principles agreed upon is that a good tax system: Creates as few distortions in economic decision-making as possible; has broad tax bases and low tax rates; has few exemptions and special provisions; promotes equity through transfers, subsidies and tax credits rather than by having tax rates increase with income, (through progressive tax rate structures); taxes consumption rather than income in order to encourage saving and investment; and keeps tax rates low because taxes reduce the quantity or level of activity of the thing that is taxed. If the final recommendations are in keeping with these principles, the outlook for tax reform in Georgia is promising.


What’s happening at the Foundation

 Join The Forum, an interactive community of Georgians discussing the issues of greatest concern with the Foundation’s experts. Register and start the discussion at


– The Foundation hosted its first Legislative Policy Briefing before Thanksgiving. The 250 attendees, including 50 legislators and senior staff heard more than three dozen experts from Georgia and around the nation discuss how a focus on innovation can help Georgia lead the nation. Below are some quotes from a few of the presentations on tax and education policy. Click on the links to read a summary, add your comments or view the full presentation. 

►Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation, strongly urged Georgia to revisit business tax incentive programs and said North Carolina is the “poster child for expensive incentive programs gone wrong.” The state gave Dell Computers a $285 million incentive to open a factory that closed within five years. “That was an absolute disaster.”

►”One hundred million Chinese students will study by virtual courses within 10 years. South Korea has a national virtual school. Three years ago Turkey had no virtual students; today Turkey has 15 million virtual students. India’s goal is to provide universal access to K-12 education within 10 years and online learning is how that will happen. There is a big lesson here, We need to ensure that every single student has an education that is customized to them.” – Susan Patrick, president and chief executive officer of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning

►”When the video game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” went on sale in early November it earned $360 million within 24 hours. Over the next three or four years, in terms of entertainment value, the revenue associated with virtual goods will be bigger than movies and music combined.” – Chris Klaus, Founder and CEO, Kaneva Inc.

►“My students who live in Camilla, Georgia, many of them only go to Panama City Beach. That’s the farthest they’re ever going to get from Camilla, but they can tell you how to work with kids from India, the Middle East, China, Australia, Europe … everywhere all over the world; first-hand experience, without leaving Camilla.” – Vicki Davis (aka Cool Cat Teacher), a Georgia high school technology guru whose innovations were profiled by Thomas Friedman in, “The World Is Flat.”

►”Be innovative or be irrelevant. If you say, I’m going to hunker down, I’m not going to embrace the latest technology, you’ll get through the next couple years but in three to five years you will be badly outdated.” – Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and co-founder of the Digital Learning Council.

►”Everything you do, make sure you keep in mind: Is this going to make Georgia more competitive? Step one and I’m deadly serious about this: Abolish the state income tax. This is not a radical idea. There are nine states in this country that have no state income tax. Texas, Florida, Tennessee: These states are able to pay their bills without having an income tax. It’s so obvious; the states without an income tax are the ones that have driven growth.” – Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal



– At a legislative briefing sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission this week, state and local elected officials discussed the regional transportation sales tax, which will be voted on in 2012. They cited concerns about regional equity, a transit plan and the lack of MARTA funding in the law (HB 277). There’s so much more in play: the groundswell of opposition to more taxes and bigger government, as reflected in the recent elections; the impact of the federal agenda of “livability” versus Georgia’s focus on mobility and congestion relief, the dissatisfaction over the decision to extend the 50 cent toll on Georgia 400, and more. As the foundation has warned, proponents will need a massive campaign to sell this sales tax!

– Harboring doubts? City, regional and state leaders joined business leaders in Atlanta this week at a Georgia Ports Forum to highlight the enormous economic impact of Georgia’s ports on the state and the Southeast. The focus was on the deepening of the Savannah harbor to accommodate bigger new “post-Panamax” ships after the Panama Canal is widened and reopens in 2014. The bigger ships will carry three times as many containers; the freight traffic challenges will become a statewide transportation issue. But unless the harbor is deepened, the ships – and the economic advantage – will move elsewhere up the East Coast. Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal article this week commented on the apparent dilemma for Republicans who voice opposition to earmarks yet seek $105 million from Congress to begin dredging the harbor. (Is it an earmark? Is it pork? Read the explanation by Citizens Against Government Waste and decide for yourself:


– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Redistribution of Health Care Dollars Hurts Seniors,” By Ronald E. Bachman.


Have a great weekend.


Kelly McCutchen


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