Friday Facts: March 28, 2014

It’s Friday! 


April 24: Matt Candler, founder and CEO of 404 Schools, keynotes, “School Choice: Big Gains in The Big Easy,” the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at 8 a.m. at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. This event is open to the public and is $25 to attend. Register at

Quotes of Note 

“The fact that only a small percentage of medical errors are dealt with in the malpractice system suggests that it’s not a system. It deals in an incredibly inefficient way with a small percentage of the actual errors and in such a way that it does not make the performance of the overall system better. It’s not addressing why the error was made in the first place.” – Malcolm Gladwell 

“A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.” – Niccolo Machiavelli 

Taxes and spending

Too much of a good thing: Total U.S. government spending has grown since 2000; it peaked in 2009 at 43 percent of GDP and fell thereafter. An ambitious reduction in the size of government at both the federal and state level can lead to better economic outcomes, according to the Fraser Institute. Consider Canada, where total government spending as a share of GDP fell from a peak of 53 percent in 1992 to 39 percent in 2007, and despite this more than 25 percent decline in the size of government, the economy grew, the job market expanded, and poverty rates fell dramatically. Source: The American

Income inequality: The rich may be getting richer, but the poor are definitely not getting poorer. In fact, most Americans got richer over the last 35 years. President Obama likes to stress that income inequality has increased in the United States, but it is hardly “the defining challenge of our time,” as he has called it, writes Ronald Bailey, a science correspondent for Reason Magazine.

Doing business: A new survey released by KPMG ranks the metro Atlanta area as the best city in the United States to do business, based on features including taxes, labor costs, facility costs, transportation and distribution, and quality of life. Atlanta is followed by Cincinnati, Orlando and Charlotte as the cost leaders. Boston, Seattle, New York City and San Francisco represent the most expensive large North American cities in which to do business.

Energy and Environment

Indoor pollution: The World Health Organization (WHO) published estimates this week on 2012 air pollution fatalities. WHO said 7 million people died from exposure to air pollution, or one in eight deaths, most of them in developing nations. Indoor air pollution killed more people in 2012 than outdoor pollution: 4.3 million to 3.7 million, respectively.

Elitist anti-poverty policies: Global warming policies harm the poor more than global warming itself, according to Bjorn Lomborg. He cites an analysis that quantifies the disregard of the world’s poor: “Investing in renewables, we can pull one person out of poverty for about $500. But, using gas electrification, we could pull more than four people out of poverty for the same amount. By focusing on our climate concerns, we deliberately choose to leave more than three out of four people in darkness and poverty,” Lomborg writes.

Steam boilers and hot air: The University of Georgia is considering what to use as it replaces its 48-year-old coal-fired steam boiler. UGA seems involved in a thoughtful study of its options. The current boiler operates well within federal environmental requirements; the university must prevent environmental hysteria distracting it from cost-effectiveness, reliability and efficiency as it considers the next boiler. (How about nuclear power?)

Health care

Prognostication: Just hours after Benita Dodd predicted in her weekly blog, “Checking Up on Health,” that President Obama could again extend the ObamaCare signup deadline, the Obama administration announced another extension! The March 31 signup deadline has been extended to mid-April, based on an “honor system:” Anyone who reports trouble enrolling can take advantage of the extension.   

Ineffective mandate: The ACA’s controversial “individual mandate” appears “to have had the least effect on those it was supposed to encourage to gain coverage – the uninsured,” according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Just about 2 percent of the 48 million uninsured will have signed up on the exchanges by the (moving?) deadline. The Congressional Budget Office concedes that there is “little empirical evidence concerning individual people’s responsiveness to health insurance mandates. In countries with much higher penalties, such as Switzerland or the Netherlands, health-insurance mandates have had little success in changing the behavior of the uninsured and largely reinforced existing levels of coverage.”


Parent Power: Georgia ranked 8th highest in the latest Parent Power Index from the Center for Education Reform, despite a weak charter school ranking.

Education and spending: A study published by the Cato Institute highlights the lack of a link between state education spending and student outcomes. “In nearly every other field in the United States, productivity has risen between 1970 and present day, especially as a result of new technologies,” Cato’s Andrew Coulson notes. “It is time to ask what in our approach to education is preventing it from demonstrating a similar level of success and growth.”


Trumped-up transit: The American Public Transportation Association reported this month that U.S. transit ridership reached an all-time high (since 1956, that is), representing “a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities.” Other analysts dispute this, however, arguing that the idea that the United States is seeing a vast boom in mass transit use is overblown. They note that since population is rising, transit trips per capita actually declined slightly between 2008 and 2013.


Web site of the week:  The Capital Research Center ( was established in 1984 to focus on “the politics of nonprofits” and analyze their impact on politics and society. Why is this important? According to the organization, “Many charities and foundations now urge lawmakers to expand the powers of the welfare state, regulate the economy and limit individual freedoms.”

YouTube: We’re past 45,000 views on the Foundation’s YouTube channel! Go here to view Kyle Wingfield and Eric Cochling’s dissection of the 2013-14 Legislative Session at the Foundation’s March 26 Leadership Breakfast. View videos from Sunny Park and Lisa Kelly at the Annual Dinner.

Social media: The Foundation has 2,235 “likes” on Facebook and 1,162 Twitter followers!

The Forum: Read Benita Dodd’s, “Checking Up On Health,” to find out the latest on ObamaCare, Google surgery and how the world-famous Cleveland Clinic has more than a million same-day appointments. Forum editor Mike Klein reports on the analysis of the session according to Eric Cochling and Kyle Wingfield. Read these and other recent posts at 

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Don’t Let Stereotypes Cloud Common Sense in Public Policy,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd  

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