Friday Facts: July 27, 2012


It’s Friday! 

Quotes of note

– “All of the progress that the U.S. has made over the last couple of centuries has come from unemployment. It has come from figuring out how to produce more goods with fewer workers, thereby releasing labor to be more productive in other areas. It has never come about through permanent unemployment, but temporary unemployment, in the process of shifting people from one area to another.” – Milton Friedman
– “There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.” – Henry David Thoreau
“All the people like us are We, and everyone else is They.” – Rudyard Kipling


– September 21: Registration is now open for the third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on Friday, September 21, at the W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta. Past events have featured Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. Registration for this daylong event, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $100. Register at
– October 16: Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher turns 87 years old on October 13. The Foundation marks the birthday of this remarkable leader with a Policy Briefing Luncheon and Book Forum with Thatcher advisor and longtime friend John Blundell, who is author of, “Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of The Iron Lady.” This event is at the Georgian Club. Registration is $60 and includes a copy of Blundell’s book. Register by Friday, October 12, at is limited; register early!

– BRT’s the ticket: The Foundation has long promoted Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in metro Atlanta, as part of a seamless transit network using managed lanes. This week, the Government Accountability Office released a 54-page report on Bus Rapid Transit. “We found that although many factors contribute to economic development, most local officials we visited believe that BRT projects are contributing to localized economic development. … In addition to economic development, BRT project sponsors highlighted other community benefits including quick construction and implementation and operational flexibility.” Read the full report at
– Moving freight along: Kudos to the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Center of Innovation for Logistics, honored this week for their Statewide Freight and Logistics Plan that would continue growing the state’s freight industry and invest $18 billion to $20 billion in logistics improvement projects over the next 40 years. They earned the Federal Highway Administration’s 2012 Transportation Planning Excellence Award.
– Electrics slide: Owners of the Nissan Leaf electric car in hot-weather states like Arizona, California and Texas say their vehicles are losing range capacity, reports Paul Chesser of the National Legal and Policy Center. “When I first purchased the vehicle, I could drive to and from work on a single charge, approximately 90 miles round trip,” said one Phoenix-area Leaf owner to CBS television affiliate KPHO. Now, “I can drive approximately 44 miles on this without having to stop and charge.” Read the rest here:

– Gates’ games: In Atlanta last week, Bill Gates discussed the Gates Foundation’s $20 million effort to develop new technologies – especially video games – to enhance student learning. “We’re not saying the whole curriculum turns into this big game,” he said. “We’re saying it’s an adjunct to a serious curriculum.” The Gates Foundation is also working with the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington, which has already produced a free online game called Refraction.
– The lonely lives of English professors:
 In a widely read  New York Times article, English Professor Mark Edmundson argues that “Online education is a one-size-fits-all endeavor,” that “promises to make intellectual life more sterile and abstract than it already is – and also, for teachers and for students alike, far more lonely.” Getting Smart’s Susan Lucille Davis responds that while she and Edmundson have some common ground, “we should acknowledge that online education has the power to do things that face-to-face classes cannot … None of us has the patience for ‘one-size-fits-all learning’ anymore – online or otherwise. What we want is ‘intellectual joy.'”
– EduFact: It was reported this week that the state’s portion of total K-12 funding fell below 40 percent in 2010, down from 45 percent in 2007, despite significant efforts to protect education spending as much as possible during the recession. What does this mean for overall education spending? The table below shows that as of 2009 Georgia was still spending more per student than its neighboring states – and more than 20 other states. In order to adjust for costs of living differences, it’s helpful to measure spending as a percentage of state personal income. Using this measure, Georgia’s total K-12 spending ranks in the top 10. Total spending includes capital spending. Georgia’s 2009 capital spending per student was $1,640, 10th highest in the nation. If Georgia reduced construction spending to the level of a similar state like North Carolina, it could save more than $800 million a year. This is particularly worth examining as we continue furloughing teachers and as many school systems face daunting budget challenges.


2008-2009 K-12 Education Expenditures
Total Spending Per Student Rank Rank as Percent of Personal Income Operating Spending Per Student Rank Rank as Percent of Personal Income
Georgia $11,446 31 10 $9,649 31 11
Alabama $10,486 39 22 $9,042 37 28
Florida $10,900 37 49 $8,867 39 51
North Carolina $9,679 45 44 $8,518 44 41
South Carolina $11,562 27 7 $9,228 36 15
Tennessee $8,825 48 50 $7,992 47 44
Source: National Center for Education Statistics,


Energy and Environment
– Shades of Erin Brockovich: The federal Environmental Protection Agency this week shattered claims that hydraulic fracturing in Dimock, Pa., caused groundwater contamination so severe that residents had to survive on bottled water. In his blog, Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute notes that Dimock was the poster child of the anti-fracking movement and was featured in the anti-fracking documentaryGasland. It was in Dimock, supposedly, where you could ignite your well water due to high levels of natural gas because of fracking nearby. EPA testing found the claims groundless. For more about the process and the politics of fracking, read “The Truth About Fracking,” by Kevin Williamson in National Review.
– Wasting energy: A 1,000-megawatt nuclear-electric plant produces about one metric ton of waste per year, versus 1 million tons from a similarly sized coal plant. But government has long dragged its feet on Yucca Mountain, the authorized repository for nuclear waste. In an article urging Yucca Mountain’s revival, the Institute for Energy Research points out, “The money that has been collected from energy producers since 1982 should rightfully be used for the purpose for which it was intended; that is, the government should deliver on its promise to create a safe repository.”

Free enterprise

– What goes around comes around: It was election season in 2004 when David Abney, president of Atlanta-based UPS, spoke at a Foundation event and explained who benefits from outsourcing. Once again it’selection season and the presidential candidates are again arguing over outsourcing. A new article from points out they’re wasting their breath: “[T]he fact is, neither Washington policymakers nor corporate CEOs are responsible for the growth of outsourcing. The practice has mushroomed over the past 40 years for a variety of reasons, including the worldwide liberalization of trade and investment barriers, improved technology in manufacturing and finance, the appearance of cargo containers and overnight airfreight, and more skilled workers in developing countries.


Social media
– This week in The Forum: How much will those federal health care “taxes” cost you? Maybe more than you think, Benita Dodd reports in Checking Up on Health, citing Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. And a three-in-one tuberculosis drug combo could save millions of lives. Read this and other recent Foundation articles and posts on The Forum at
– Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Biofuels, Ethanol Give Food for Thought,” by Harold Brown.
Have a great weekend.
Kelly McCutchen

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