Friday Facts: May 23, 2014

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of Note 

“It is endemic to government blunders; the guilty bureaucrats begin to deny, obfuscate and point fingers – in essence, cover up their failings.” – Merrill Matthews

“The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.” – Michelle Obama

“The economy is not fixed in size, with the only question being one of distribution. Rather, the entire pie can grow, with more resources available to all.” – Michael Tanner

“The problem with energy efficiency is that it only concerns itself with reducing energy consumption. This may lead to some benefits, such as lower pollution, but at what cost?” – Richard Williams and James Broughel

Economic opportunity

How successful is LBJ’s Job Corps program? This week is the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society speech. This year, his Job Corps program will cost about $1.7 billion, making it the most expensive single job-training program at the Department of Labor. It has about 37,000 training slots for young people every year, The Washington Post reports. But, at last count, less than half of Job Corps students are able to finish their job training and find a job in the field they were trained for.  A comprehensive study in 2008 found that Job Corps’ costs outweighed its benefits to society.

Self-made: Eighty percent of American millionaires are the first in their families to become millionaires, according to Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute

Energy and environment

Thinking of moving to Georgia? ranked Georgia’s top cities, based on statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FBI and business listings. From the top: Canton, Peachtree City, Athens, Alpharetta, Perry, Fayetteville, Duluth, Woodstock, Norcross, Kennesaw and Gainesville. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Hot air and energy: Whether you blame humans for global warming or climate change (or you blame the tooth fairy), decisions about environmental regulations should be based on cost-benefit analysis and effectiveness. If the goal is reducing carbon dioxide emissions, even the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution points out, “renewable incentives that are biased in favor of wind and solar and biased against large-scale hydro, nuclear and gas combined cycle are a very expensive and inefficient way.”

Dispelling myths: Despite what critics say – and fabricate – fracking is one of the safest technologies of our industrial age, an article in the Toronto Sun notes. “It was invented in 1947, patented in 1949, and has been done successfully more than one million times in the U.S. and more than 100,000 times in Canada. … More than 150 scientific studies have inquired about its safety; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency constantly monitors it, as do state-level EPAs. The science says it’s safe.”

American innovation: The shale boom will remain uniquely American for years to come, thanks to the combination of capital, talent, legal system, infrastructure and market that cannot be easily replicated, geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan said. “Of all of the horizontal wells that have been drilled in the last five years, 99 percent of them are in the United States. Of all the wells that have ever been drilled ever, three-quarters are in the United States,” Zeihan said. “This is not something that your average state-run thug can do.” Source:

Paralysis by analysis: After a report by the Government Accountability Office on how the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is being used to delay projects on federal lands, Dan Kish of the Institute for Energy Research characterized NEPA’s effect as “paralysis by analysis,” pointing out that “environmental impact statements, which were expected to take no more than 12 months 30 years ago, now take an estimated 4.6 years to complete.” Source: Imprimis


Education shortfall: Quality education is not just a challenge for poor children. When viewed from a global perspective, U.S. schools seem to do as badly teaching those from better-educated families as they do teaching those from less well-educated families. Overall, the U.S. proficiency rate in math (35 percent) places the country 27th among the 34 developed countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment. Source: Education Next

Health care

Transparency: Providing patients, physicians, employers and policy-makers more information on healthcare prices could reduce U.S. health care spending by about $100 billion over the next decade, according to a new analysis from the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center. One important point: “Price data can help healthcare stakeholders better fulfill their expected roles.”


Congestion’s mixed blessing: There’s an increase in holiday travel plans, fueled by the improving job market and a rise in disposable income, according to AAA’s annual survey. AAA expects 36.1 million people to travel 50 miles or more this Memorial Day weekend – the largest number since 2005.

Federal largesse: One reason for the “transportation cliff” is the federal government’s inability to control project costs, the Cato Institute reminds us. Case in point: Near the nation’s capital, Arlington County, Va.’s 4.5-mile, $358 million street car project is up $100 million from original estimates and up $48 million just from last year. Federal taxpayers are on the hook for $140 million. The Atlanta Streetcar, started out at $69 million, and is expected to top $100 million, with $47 million (thus far) from the feds.


The Forum: A guest commentary by Jay Neal, head of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Reentry, focuses on the importance of public safety in the prisoner reentry discussion. Foundation Editor Mike Klein writes about Friday Report, the weekly publication of the Department of Corrections. Michael Nail, Georgia’s pardons and paroles executive director, spoke in Texas recently about Georgia’s disruptive innovation in criminal justice. Benita Dodd’s Checking Up On Health shares news and views on cellphones and teens, telemedicine, inoculations and doctors’ manners. Benita also participated in a Charles Koch Institute panel on income inequality in Atlanta; watch it here.

Social media: The Foundation has almost 2,250 “likes” on Facebook and almost 1,200 Twitter followers!

Visit to read the latest commentary, “Nation’s Heroes: Character Witnesses for Georgia’s Youth,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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