Friday Facts: January 20th, 2012

It’s Friday!

– Monday is the deadline to register for, “Breaking Down Barriers to High Quality Education in Georgia,” the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25, to celebrate National School Choice Week. The panel discussion and breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club features Lisa Kelly, president of the Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program; Dean Alford, president and chief executive officer of Allied Energy Services, and Lisa Gillis, president of Integrated Educational Strategies. The event will cost $25 to attend. Register by Monday at

Quotes of note

– “Censorship is contagious, and experience with this culture of regulation teaches us that regulatory enthusiasts herald each new medium of communications as another opportunity to spread the disease.” – Robert Corn-Revere

– “The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.” – Adam Smith

– “What’s ‘just’ has been debated for centuries, but let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then, tell me how much of what I earn ‘belongs’ to you and why?” – Walter Williams



– Based on the latest Censusgraduation rate and NAEP test numbers, Georgia is spending nearly $4 billion more than North Carolina but getting worse results.

Per Capita Education Spending – Georgia vs. North Carolina
GA NC Difference Savings Based on GA Population of 9,620,846
K-12 Operating Expenditures per capita $1,653 $1,349 $305 $2,931,361,737
K-12 Construction Expenditures per capita $282 $184 $99 $948,325,305
  Total $403 $3,879,687,042
Education Outcomes – Georgia vs. North Carolina
4th Grade Math Rank (NAEP) 35 12
4th Grade Reading Rank (NAEP) 27 24
8th Grade Math Rank (NAEP) 41 22
8th Grade Reading Rank (NAEP) 35 34
Graduation Rate 68% 75%

Taxes and spending

– House of cards: The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) lax accounting standards obscure the fact that it is deeply insolvent, with a capital shortfall of tens of billions of dollars that represents a danger to American taxpayers, according to an American Enterprise Institute article.  If it were a private firm, regulators would shut it down. Congress only made matters worse by recently raising the FHA’s conforming loan limit (the maximum size of mortgages it’s allowed to insure). Now Congress must enact reforms to prevent a massive taxpayer bailout, the article stresses. Read more here:

– On the dole: Nearly half of U.S. households receive government benefits. Some 48.6 percent of the population lived in a household receiving some type of government benefit in the second quarter of 2010, up a notch from 48.5 percent in the first quarter, according to Census data. Source: National Center for Policy Analysis

– Talk is cheap, Congress is costly: Despite endless talk of spending cuts and fiscal restraint in Washington over the past year, lawmakers continued to act as though the government doesn’t spend nearly enough. They introduced 874 bills in the House and Senate that would have boosted annual federal spending by more than $1 trillion if they’d all been signed into law, according to an analysis done for Investor’s Business Daily by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. In contrast, lawmakers offered up just 215 bills to cut spending that would have reduced federal outlays by about half a trillion. In fact, for every dollar in cuts, lawmakers in the House proposed nearly $3 in spending hikes, and in the Senate $1.40 in hikes.

– The Tax Man conneth? The revenue establishment is convinced that there is a $345 billion “tax gap” between what people actually owe or should be paying and what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), actually collects, according to Tom Giovanetti of the Institute for Policy Innovation. Instead of simplifying the tax code, “The IRS solution is a ‘return-free’ system where the IRS would calculate your tax obligation and simply ask for your signature. In one fell swoop the IRS could increase revenues by biasing your tax obligation in favor of higher revenue, shift the responsibility to you to prove that the government made an error in preparing your taxes, and all while eliminating its declared enemy: the tax preparation industry.” Read more at


Energy and environment

– Keystone copout: The Obama administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline is not the end of the road for the project, which is expected to create 20,000 jobs in the United States. The National Journal reports that, “The issue will not be dropped by congressional Republicans. GOP leaders in both chambers are already mulling other legislation that could take the decision on the pipeline completely out of Obama’s hands. They have also said any such maneuver could likely be included in the longer term payroll-tax deal Congress has indicated it will pass by the end of February.” Source: Science and Public Policy Institute



– In other words, time is money: Travelers weigh different levels of attributes – time, monetary cost, reliability, comfort, convenience, safety and so forth – across travel alternatives, notes a study in Access, the newsletter of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of California.  “The most important behavioral trade-off in transportation is between the time cost and monetary cost. One’s value of time is expected to be on the order of one’s wage rate and it represents the amount of money that one is willing to spend to save a certain amount of time. This impacts whether one chooses a relatively fast yet expensive alternative (such as a car) or a relatively slow yet cheaper alternative (such as a bus).”

– A shocking story: London’s  Daily Mail reports that sales of electric cars in the United Kingdom have fallen so sharply that there are now more charging stations than there are vehicles, Paul Chesser writes for the National Legal and Policy Center. If you thought the flaccid U.S. sales of the Chevy Volt (7,671 units) and Nissan Leaf (9,674 units) were a letdown – despite significant government funding for research and development, batteries, charging systems and a $7,500 tax credit for buyers – the signs from Europe don’t bode well for the vehicles, either. Read more here:

This week in The Forum

– Foundation editor Mike Klein reports in The Forum that Governor Nathan Deal defended his $19.2 billion Fiscal 2013 budget during the first day of House-Senate budget hearings and state economist Kenneth Heaghney said there is “relatively good news for a change” except in the state’s housing industry.  Klein also reported that the state is predicting as much as $7.5 billion in new state funds could be needed to comply with federal health care reform law. Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd’s new Transportation Roundup lists the upcoming Georgia Logistics Summit and more, while The Forum’s new Checking Up on Health blog notes that insurers are prospering thanks to federal health programs. Read these articles and more in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at



– Join the Foundation and hundreds of supporters of school choice on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25, to celebrate National School Choice Week.(Don’t forget to attend the Foundation Leadership Breakfast first!) – Mark your calendar: The next Leadership Breakfast is scheduled for 8 a.m. February 22 at the Georgian Club. Keynoted by Rod S. Stephens, a founder of PayPal and education philanthropist, the event topic is, “Education, Entrepreneurship, and How Technology is Transforming the World by Transforming Both.” Registration will open soon.
– Lunch and learn
 every day next week at noon to celebrate National School Choice Week. Join the Center for Education Reform online at for Lunchtime Lessons, a daily lunch briefing with some of the nation’s leading advocates on the ground involved with advancing a variety of schooling options for children. Register at .
– Seminar: The Foundation for Economic Education has begun accepting applications for Spring Break with FEE, designed to introduce Atlanta-area high school students to basic free-enterprise principles. (Others accepted on a space-available basis.) Apply to attend the four-day seminar (April 2-5, 2012) here: The application deadline is March 15th.


Visit to read my latest commentary, “Education Policy: Time to Put Students First.”


Have a great weekend.


Kelly McCutchen

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