Friday Facts: March 9th, 2012

It’s Friday!


 Register now: Seats are filling up fast for the Foundation’s March 22 Leadership Breakfast! Just days before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding the constitutionality of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Georgia anticipates the aftermath, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and health care expert Ronald E. Bachman will provide a timely, “Georgia Health Care Update,” at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 22, 2012, at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. Find out more at online by Tuesday, March 20, at This Leadership Breakfast will cost $25 to attend.


Quotes of note
“If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Perhaps the most powerful antidote to unfettered selfishness is property rights. If we are grazing cattle, we will conserve the land if we own it. If we are catching lobsters off the Maine coast, we can restrict over-fishing by allocating space to groups who informally ‘own’ each space. If we want to conserve elephants, we should let people own the elephants. If we wish to water our rice in Bali, we do better if each village has ownership in a part of the water. If we want to conserve our country’s oil reserves, we do better if the reserves are owned by firms than if the government ‘controls’ the whole deposit.” – James Q. Wilson


– Solar storm: There’s a storm brewing over solar panel production, IndustryWeek reports. The Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing, upset with China’s lower prices, is accusing that country of “dumping” and is petitioning for U.S. tariffs of up to 250 percent on Chinese-made panels. On the other side, the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) “opposes the proposed tariff and the trade war it would trigger.” Jigar Shah, CASE president, writes: “Indeed, the U.S. has rightly assisted the domestic solar industry with tax credits, research grants and renewable portfolio standards (mandates) in 29 states, requiring electrical utilities to produce a growing share of their power from solar and other renewable sources. … Our country’s public policies should put the U.S solar industry on a fast track to a similar goal, not on a “solar-coaster” of inadequate and interrupted incentives and investments.” For American ratepayers and taxpayers, it’s six of one, a half-dozen of the other: Solar technology costs more than other technologies. Market interference through mandates and subsidies raise prices.



– EduFact: In 2006, the most recent year for which national data are available, postsecondary institutions reported more than 12 million separate distance-learning enrollments, writes Grover J. Whitehurst in “Let the Dollars Follow the Child,” in the spring 2012 edition of Education Next. Two-thirds of all postsecondary institutions offered distance learning courses, and there were more than 11,000 individual programs that could be completed entirely online. The contrasts with K-12 education are stark; there were only about 1 million distance-learning enrollments in K-12 in 2007. Whitehurst proposes solutions involving federalism and choice instead of  “returning control of public schooling to local public-school monopolies and states, which will fall into old habits all too quickly.” Read more here:

– No excuses: School factors – teacher quality, school accountability, school choice – have bigger causal impacts than family income on student achievement, according to a new analysis by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. “A better case can be made that any increase in the achievement gap between high- and low-income groups is more the result of changing family structure than of inadequate medical services or preschool education,” the report finds. Source: Education Next

– Unseating classroom seat time: A total of 36 states currently have policies that provide school districts and schools with some flexibility for awarding credit to students based on mastery of content and skills as opposed to seat time, the National Governors Association reports in an Issue Brief. However, many states have policies that explicitly prohibit or overly restrict alternative methods of awarding credit. The association cites rigid funding formulas work against school districts and schools that want to implement flexible policies as well as the common practice of housing student-level data in incompatible systems, which prevents educators from accessing all relevant information to evaluate student learning. Source:


Health care

– When it’s not “OPM:” Inflation in U.S. health spending has been slowing steadily since 2002, according to an editorial in The Economist magazine. The slowdown is partly because of the economic downturn, but not entirely. There are many reasons, for example, many costly drugs have lost their patents. But spending habits also seem to be changing, and much of that is attributable to consumer- driven health care, where workers must pay part of the price of any treatment before their insurance coverage kicks in. Most have an untaxed account to spend on health; they think twice before depleting it. In 2006 only 10 percent of workers had to pay at least $1,000 before their insurer picked up the rest of the bill. By 2010 that share had more than tripled. (OPM? Other people’s money!) Read more here:


Taxes and spending

– Transparency kudos: Sunshine Review, a national transparency organization dedicated to government transparency, has named seven Georgia local governments on its third annual list of Sunny Awards recipients.  The seven are Cherokee, Clayton, Fulton, Gwinnett, Richmond and Rockdale counties along with Canton’s municipal government.  Florida led all states with 28 public sector awards. Find out more at

 Borrowed money: A preliminary Congressional Budget Office report indicates that despite repeated efforts to trim spending, the federal government has borrowed 42 cents of every dollar it spent during the first five months of this fiscal year, the Washington Times reports. The deficit in fiscal year 2012 reportedly is already more than half a trillion dollars.

– Job creation, elsewhere: When Japan lowers its corporate income tax rate from 39.5 percent to 35 percent in April, the United States will officially possess the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world, a federal/state integrated rate of 39.2 percent. To put that in perspective, the average in the developed world is 25 percent. America’s six major trading partners – Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany and France – will all have a lower rate. As a result, capital and jobs will continue to flow overseas, rather than staying here to create jobs, increase wages, fund pensions, invest in new business or grow nest eggs. Source: Americans for Tax Reform


Social media

– Read recent Foundation articles in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at

– Twitter update: The Foundation gained 78 followers in the past week. Are you among the nearly 600 following us at

– Visit to read our commentary today, “Georgia Wise to Halt Health Exchange,” co-written by Christie Herrera.

Have a great weekend.


Kelly McCutchen


FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our Web site at Join The Forum at Become a fan of the Foundation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at


« Previous Next »