Friday Facts: December 9th, 2011

It’s Friday!



– Monday is the deadline to sign up for “Portland: Model or Maverick?” the Foundation’s final Leadership Breakfast of 2011. The event begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, December 14, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. John Charles, president and CEO of the Cascade Policy Institute of Oregon, will keynote “Portland: Model or Maverick?” a look at that city’s land use and transportation policies and how they would work in metro Atlanta. Registration for this event is $25. For information, go to . To register, go to






– “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!” – P.J. O’Rourke
– “Everybody wants the government to ‘do something!’ until it does it to them.” – Rick Gaber
– “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.” – Grover Cleveland






– Undercover education
 : The Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent fictitious undercover students to 15 for-profit colleges. Once enrolled (for about a term), each fictitious student engaged in behaviors consistent with substandard academic performance. GAO documented observations related to enrollment, cost, financial aid, course structure, substandard student performance, withdrawal and exit counseling. Overall, eight of the 15 colleges appeared to follow existing policies related to academic dishonesty, exit counseling and course grading standards. At seven colleges, GAO found “mixed results.” It seems only fair that GAO focus on all types of colleges.
– Education ROI: Many recent news articles have focused on the ever-rising cost of higher education. Are Georgia’s graduates getting a good return on their investment ? SmartMoney magazine’s “payback” survey ranks Georgia Tech No. 1 and the University of Georgia No. 4, which will be welcome news to many Georgia parents!






Criminal justice
– The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this week adopted as its model asset forfeiture legislation being considered for introduction in the Georgia Legislature. This means that both the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and ALEC have adopted the same text as a means to ensure that innocent citizens’ property and civil rights are protected during the asset forfeiture process.






This week in the Forum
– Jobs and education: Editor Mike Klein writes that Georgia’s unemployment benefits program is considering major cost-savings changes. They could include a “waiting week” before benefits eligibility, a reduction in the number of state-paid benefit weeks and a reduction in the maximum weekly benefit. Georgia owes the federal government $721 million plus interest on funds it borrowed to write unemployment benefit checks. Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board has challenged middle schools in 16 states to teach more creatively and to stop giving failing grades to students without determining what they do not understand. Read these stories and more at

Health care
– Empty promises: President Obama promised Americans before passage of the health overhaul law that, “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.” But, even before the law fully takes effect, millions of people are losing the coverage they have now, and tens of millions more surely will follow. Some insurance carriers are exiting the market because of onerous state regulations, others are victims of a faltering economy, but the cascade has been accelerated by the rules that already have taken effect and more that are to come as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a new Galen Institute paper. Read more here:

Pension reform
– Parsimonious on pensions: Georgia is the only state in the nation that prohibits state pension fund investment in private equities. Indications are that 2012 legislation will allow the state employees’ pension fund to invest up to 5 percent of its assets in private equity. How does that compare to well-managed endowment funds in our state? Here are the latest alternative investment allocations (everything other than traditional stocks, bonds or cash) at the University of Georgia: 42 percent, at Georgia Tech: 59 percent (27 percent private equity) and at Emory University: 47 percent (22 percent private equity).






Energy and environment
– Online, off track: Energy & Environment News reports that the Department of Energy is paying $230,000 for a Web site to promote career paths in the green energy sector. But it has prohibited the listing of actual jobs in the industry. “Maybe the Obama Administration is operating under ‘The Field of Dreams’ theory if they build a Web site, the jobs will come, writes the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Brownfield. “A better strategy would be to get the federal government out of the way and let the free market thrive instead of spending taxpayer money on quarter-million-dollar PR projects.”
– It’s about being green. The other green: Reporting from Durban, South Africa, at the U.N. climate conference this week, Lord Christopher Monckton notes, “Global warming is about money. Billions. They want to make it trillions. Those cashing in on this fortune will not go gentle into that dark night. The Green Climate Fund alone is now set at $100 billion and they are pushing in Durban to make it $400 billion. $400 billion may sound like a lot of money, but it is only a very small slice of the global warming pie. Consider the subsidies, set asides, guarantees, handouts, grants, shakedowns, etc. The money is vast and the special interests protecting it are legion.” Source: Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow






– Not-so-high-speed rail: The Obama administration misrepresents its program as “high-speed rail,” conjuring up an image of bullet trains cruising at 200 mph, just as they do in Western Europe and the Far East,  Kenneth C. Orski points out. “It further raised false expectations by claiming that ‘within 25 years 80 percent of Americans will have access to high-speed rail.'” Orski notes that with one exception, the program is “a collection of planning, engineering and construction grants that seek incremental improvements in the existing facilities of Class One freight railroads, in selected corridors used by Amtrak trains.” Source:






Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Planners’ Transit Menu Ignores Commuters’ Tastes,” by Benita M. Dodd.






Have a great weekend.






Kelly McCutchen






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