• Friday Facts

Friday Facts: February 22, 2013

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Used to the conditions of a capitalistic environment, the average American takes it for granted that every year business makes something new and better accessible to him. Looking backward upon the years of his own life, he realizes that many implements that were totally unknown in the days of his youth and many others which at that time could be enjoyed only by a small minority are now standard equipment of almost every household. He is fully confident that this trend will prevail also in the future. He simply calls it the American way of life and does not give serious thought to the question of what made this continuous improvement in the supply of material goods possible.” – Ludwig von Mises

“I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy offramps on this one.” – President Barack Obama, November 2011, on sequestration

“You might have noticed that the House, the Senate and the President are so worried about this looming March 1 deadline that they are – all 536 of them – on vacation. … Here’s what we know: The Congress and the President are incapable of cutting anything from any program, ever. If the only way to reduce spending is by instituting automatic cuts, then I am for allowing the sequester to take effect and see what happens.” – Rich Galen

Events

March 19: Capitalism has been demonized; markets are not so free and individual responsibility is becoming passé. How does America turn that around? Join Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, for the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19, at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. The topic is, “Morality and The Marketplace.” Brook is co-author of “Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government.” This event is open to the public and will cost $25 to attend. Register online at http://tinyurl.com/9wcmz5p.

March 27:  Invitations will be out soon to the Foundation’s Annual Dinner, which takes place Wednesday, March 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Cobb Galleria Ballroom. The keynote speaker is Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal. Tickets are $125 per person; sponsorships are available. To attend the dinner, register online at http://tinyurl.com/b6m7au5.

Transportation

The Atlanta streetcar project, purported to “provide enhanced mobility to transit-dependent populations,” is cited as an economic development tool for Atlanta as well: “In Portland the streetcar catalyzed 140 real estate projects worth $3.5 billion; following its construction, property values increased by approximately 50 percent. Attractive, convenient service will increase transit ridership, foot traffic and customers for businesses” in the vicinity, according to the Atlanta Web site. Convenient? Transit at 15-minute intervals with 12 stops along the way will not exactly be enhanced mobility. And speaking of Portland, an Oregonian news reporter who tested the Portland Streetcar found he could walk the distance faster.

Managed lanes: Kudos to the state Department of Transportation, which has announced plans to extend the High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes up I-85 in metro Atlanta by constructing new lanes.

Education

Win-win pensions: Many assume that defined benefit pension plans are a clear win for teachers. The reality is that these costly and inflexible models are out of sync with the realities of the modern workforce and built on a model that assumes low mobility and career stability. They help to put public education at a competitive disadvantage with other professions. The National Council on Teacher Quality proposes offering teachers the option of a flexible and portable defined contribution pension plan: “Today, Alaska is the only state in the nation that has adopted a mandatory defined contribution pension plan for teachers, as is commonplace in so many other professions.” Source: National Council on Teacher Quality

Health care

Consumer-driven care: RaceTrac, the Atlanta-based gas station/convenience store company, switched to a high-deductible, consumer-driven health plan after it found health care costs climbing 9 percent a year. The change led to a startling 12 percent reduction in costs. RaceTrac and other employers will share their innovative strategies to tame costs at a summit in Atlanta on March 6 sponsored by Employers Like Me, an informal organization of Georgia corporate health officials. Source: Georgia Health News

Tax and spending

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) tallied the cost of the proposals in President Obama’s State of the Union address and came up with a price tag of $83.4 billion. The biggest outlay of all the proposals mentioned was the estimate for comprehensive climate change. The president mentioned the America’s Climate Security Act of 2007; the Congressional Budget Office estimate for outlays alone resulting from a version of this bill was $56.48 billion a year, NTUF said. Source: CNBC.com

Regulation

Unintended consequences I: If you try to get a cash refund in Michigan on out-of-state soda cans and bottles, you could go to jail, according to the Detroit Free Press. Michigan loses an estimated $8 million a year in deposits paid out for cans and bottles purchased outside the state. Under the state’s bottle deposit law, to encourage recycling, soda purchasers pay an extra dime deposit on for every can or bottle. But soda can smugglers apparently are crossing the border with thousands of containers to cash in on the free dime, so legislators are considering strengthening penalties.

Unintended consequences II: The environmental reasons cited for bans and taxes on plastic grocery bags are being countered with health reasons. According to a recent study, there is evidence that reusable grocery bags, a common substitute for plastic bags, contain potentially harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. Emergency room visits related to the bacteria spiked in San Francisco County, the first major U.S. jurisdiction to enact such a regulation in 2007. Relative to other counties, ER admissions increased by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibited a similar increase. Source: Institute for Law and Economics

Media and social media

Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by the Foundation’s Benita Dodd on Wednesday disputing the need for greater government (taxpayer) intervention and funding to increase prosperity in Georgia. The AJC also quoted me on Medicaid expansion Wednesday: “While providing health care to uninsured Georgians is important, expanding Medicaid in its current form is not sustainable, McCutchen said. ‘We obviously can’t afford the program we have right now,’ McCutchen said.” Look for the Foundation’s proposals on this issue soon.

Social media: The Foundation’s latest Quotes of Note, Policy Points, EduFacts and photos are on Facebook! Join 1,870 Foundation Facebook fans at facebook.com/GeorgiaPolicy for daily Foundation updates. Then add to the ranks of nearly 870 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf.

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Improving Economies, Growing Congestion,” by Baruch Feigenbaum.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen 

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