Friday Facts: July 15th, 2011


It’s Friday!

– “The Declaration of Independence announced the glory of American liberty by advancing three self-evident truths. The never-ending struggle to retain that liberty involves combining those truths to produce an endless series of denials. The allure of government control and dependency is great, so every free man and woman should be prepared to spend a lifetime saying ‘no.'” – John Hayward

Taxes and spending
– Despite numerous government subsidies
, “ownership” in homes is shrinking. U.S. homeowners have less equity in their properties today than at any time since World War II, according to a Federal Reserve report cited by the Heartland Institute. The average homeowner has just 38 percent equity, down from 61 percent in 2001. “Policy-makers must break from conventional wisdom and rethink homeownership when it comes to public policies that ignore fiscal responsibility in pursuit of a failed goal,” warns Anthony Radazzo of the Reason Foundation. “Homeownership is a good store of value, but not a wealth-creation machine.” Source: Heartland Institute
– The stupidity of sin taxes: Overall, just 30 percent of cigarette tax increases between 2003 and 2007 have met revenue projections, the Reason Foundation reports.  A 2008 Maryland cigarette tax increase only yielded 50 percent of projected additional revenue while cigarette tax revenue in Illinois has decreased by $69 million since 2007. More specifically, Reason notes that “cigarette taxes are not user fees – since the specific tax revenues are not used on services for smokers, but instead go towards general state spending.” Read more at

– Times are changing: The teachers’ unions are the most powerful groups in American education, and they use their power to promote the job interest of their members rather than what is best for kids and schools, according to education researcher Terry M. Moe. But Moe believes two emerging developments will drastically reduce their power over the long term. One is that the political tides are shifting against them, even among Democrats. The second is that information technology is destined to revolutionize public education – greatly reducing the number of teachers (and union members) per student, proliferating virtual options to the regular (unionized) schools, and more. “The combination of politics and technology will eventually prove crippling to union power.” Source: The School Choice Advocate
– Education expert 
Terry Stoops of North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation labels state teacher certification mandates “the most serious barrier to the widespread adoption of virtual schooling,” which allows qualified instructors to deliver lectures, content and assessments using Internet-based communications tools. “What’s standing in the way of this innovative approach? It’s not an antiquated technological infrastructure or inadequate funding. It’s the application of one-size-fits-all teacher certification rules and regulations designed to maintain the educational status quo.”  Stoops wants North Carolina to dump certification and licensing rules that place artificial limits on the number and kinds of teachers who can work in state-managed virtual schools. Source: Carolina Journal

– Silent but deadly: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it will propose a rule that would require electric and hybrid vehicles to emit a sound to alert pedestrians when they are nearby. The proposal comes after a 2009 report found that hybrid vehicles were involved in pedestrian-related accidents at a higher rate than their gasoline-powered counterparts. A 2010 report also found that hybrid and electric vehicles could pose safety problems for visually impaired pedestrians. If enacted, the regulation would require light-duty cars, motorcycles, vans and trucks to sound alerts automatically at low speeds. Source:
– Derailing high-speed rail: 
Even the Communist China government is troubled by the level of corruption involved in its high-speed rail construction project, according to an article in China’s leading English-language business magazine, Caixin Weekly. The first section came in at nearly twice the projected cost. Caixin Weekly reports that two months after opening, the line from Beijing to Fuzhou closed for lack of passengers, and “some say the great leap for fast-track construction could eventually bring down [China’s] entire banking system.” Read the article here: Source: Heartland Institute

– Sticking it to the little guys: The burden of government regulation disproportionately falls onto small businesses, according to a study conducted for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. Specifically, those with fewer than 20 employees face $2,830 more in per-employee compliance costs than do firms with 500-plus employees. In total, firms with less than 20 wage-earners shell out a whopping compliance cost of $10,585 per employee. Environmental regulations take the cake, however, as small enterprise pays 364 percent more in compliance costs than do large firms. The next most onerous regulation is tax compliance, being 206 percent more expensive for small firms than for their larger counterparts.

Energy and Environment
– No light at the end of the tunnel: Congress failed earlier this week to overturn the federal law banning incandescent bulbs. Another vote is planned for today. If it fails, Jan. 1, 2012, will bring stricter standards that Congress designed in 2007 to “dragoon Americans into using more energy-efficient alternatives,” Deroy Murdock writes in the National Review. Next New Year’s Day, it will become a federal crime to sell traditional 100-watt bulbs. January 1, 2013, will spell curtains for the 75-watt models. One year later, 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will be prohibited. Read Murdock’s commentary on the impact here:

Criminal Justice Reform
– The Georgia Special Council on Corrections Reform is working this summer on ideas that could reduce the incarceration of non-violent offenders.  The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, carries editor Mike Klein’s explanations on how Texas created a network of programs that reduced the need for new prisons by 17,000 beds; the expected emphasis on alternatives to incarceration in Georgia, and a pilot project under way now that could change how low-risk adult parolees are supervised, relying on telephone reporting to replace face-to-face meetings. The state special council will deliver its report to Governor Nathan Deal in November. Join The Forum at

– Save the date: Join Navy Seal and award-winning author Eric Greitens to celebrate service and sacrifice 10 years after the 9/11 attack and discuss how Georgia can lead the nation in programs and services for our military families. 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, September 1 at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Register here: This is part of a long-term project with the Foundation, Ross Mason and the Healthcare Institute for Neuro-Recovery and Innovation (HINRI) to encourage health care innovation in Georgia.
– Save the date: 
The Foundation’s second annual Legislative Policy Briefing is scheduled for Friday, September 30. Last year, more than 250 people attended to hear nearly three dozen experts discuss Georgia public policy. Details to follow.
– Save the date: The Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration is scheduled for the evening of Monday, October 24. Details to follow.
– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “What’s HOT, what’s not, about High-Occupancy Toll Lanes,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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