Friday Facts: June 3rd, 2011

It’s Friday!

– Your donations to support the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s campaign for limited government, individual accountability and market-oriented solutions are life-changing for Georgians. Please help celebrate the 20th anniversary of this state’s only free-market public policy organization with a tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation. Donate at

– “Legislators of both parties allow bureaucrats to report a budget shortfall as the difference between what the governor wants to spend (not the current budget) vs. the revenue forecast.  We have not found any state that reports a shortfall as the difference between the current level of spending and the revenue forecast. Thus, most shortfalls are highly inflated and in most cases are the results of overspending in previous years.” – Bob Williams, State Budget Solutions
– “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” – Milton Friedman

Criminal justice reform
Prisons have become the de facto home for the mentally ill and a significant financial burden on state corrections budgets. (Mental health patients cost $10,000 – 20,000 more per year than sound-minded inmates.)  Mentally ill prisoners also have significantly higher recidivism rates (due to the dearth of prison rehabilitative services), which only increases the financial burden on states. Georgia is taking the lead, amid a budget crisis, to remedy this problem by providing state funding for mental courts. The state’s 12 existing mental courts are funded by local governments. Source: Athens Banner-Herald
– Lowering government spending often means major overhauls to services, but some states have realized that with a little outside-the-box thinking, corrections reform can simultaneously decrease the taxpayer burden and increase the efficacy of criminal justice systems, Bill Bennett notes in a recent column. “Tough-on-crime conservatives can lead the cause of criminal justice reform in a way that should garner bipartisan support, demonstrating that ‘tough on crime’ can also be smart on crime and tough on spending.”Source:

Foundation in the news
– (Food) Stamp of approval: Interviewed by ABC News this week after his May 27 commentary on the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s feeding frenzy, Foundation Adjunct Scholar Harold Brown noted that even “at a time of prosperity, we have increased the amount of money we are spending for people to buy food. The appropriation of money by Congress has never solved poverty or the resulting problems of poverty. When President Johnson declared war on poverty a half century ago nearly, we thought we saw the end of it as far as food and nutrition goes. For the Department of Agriculture, we only saw the beginning.” Read the ABC article here:

– Privatization needs to take off: Over the next 20 years the number of jets circling the planet is set to double, but investment in airports probably won’t, The Economist reports. “In Europe twice as many passengers are expected to squeeze through 41 percent more capacity. One reason why airports are grim is that many are state-owned. Of the world’s 30 busiest ones, 19 are state-owned and most of the rest are public-private partnerships. In the past they were ‘administered rather than managed’ to serve state-owned airlines, says Andreas Schimm of Airports Council International, an umbrella body. Governments now try to run airports on commercial lines, but few do it well. Privatization could help.”
– Because time is money: Just 7 percent of workers in the nation’s 100 largest metro areas – or 6.5 million people – rely on transit to reach their jobs, according to a Brookings Institution study released in May. Seventy percent of working-age residents have access to some kind of transit, but 93 percent of jobs can’t be reached within 45 minutes and at least 96 percent are inaccessible within 30 minutes. Two-thirds of jobs are inaccessible within 90 minutes. Even in transit-heavy metropolitan New York, only about 10 percent of workers can reach their jobs by transit within 45 minutes. Read the report here:

– Save the date: 
The Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration is scheduled for the evening of Monday, October 24. Details to follow.
– 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.

Energy and Environment
– Whither the weather death toll? For the 30-year span of 1980-2009, the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes was 194 – fully one third fewer deaths each year than during the 1940-1979 period, economics professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University points out in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. Excluding the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina, most of which were caused by a levee breach, the average falls to 160.
– Unreliable energy policy: 
The U.K. clean technology sector has suffered a crash in confidence over the past six months in reaction to abrupt changes in government policy on renewable energy and continued uncertainty over the industry’s long-term prospects, Clean energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and other green products have been promoted by the British government as drivers of economic growth. But only 14 percent of sector professionals expect significant growth and new jobs – down from 65 percent in November – according to the latest quarterly survey by Ernst & Young. Source: The Guardian

Health care
– No pay, no play: Physicians have become less likely to provide care for the poor or uninsured “because their practices are being squeezed by steadily declining insurance reimbursement on the one hand and sharply rising operating costs on the other. These pressures make it increasingly difficult to see patients who cannot afford to pay – or, in the case of Medicaid, patients for whom payment rates are often inadequate,” according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


– In case you’ve been wondering what the federal government has been inhaling:  This week, the Government Accountability Office published findings on the critical shortage of helium, citing the Department of Energy’s mismanagement. Coincidence? We think not …
– More than 77,000 federal government employees throughout the country – including computer operators, more than 5,000 air traffic controllers, 22 librarians and one interior designer – earned more than the governors of the states in which they work, according to a  Congressional Research Service report. The report comes as public workers’ salaries and benefits are under scrutiny across the country as governments try to streamline. Source: Washington Times

 – Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “EPA Regulations for Utilities an Exercise in Futility,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend.


Kelly McCutchen


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