November 11: In less than one month, John Stossel of “Stossel” on Fox Business Network keynotes the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner and Freedom Award! The Freedom Award will be presented to Dr. Michael H. Mescon, “The Pied Piper of Private Enterprise” (Wall Street Journal). Cobb Galleria Performing Arts Centre Ballroom. $150 per person; sponsorships available. Click here for information; reserve your seat here. (Checks accepted, too!)
December 8: Mark your calendar! Join Erin Hames, former education policy adviser to Gov. Nathan Deal, and former Georgia State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, a member of the Georgia Education Reform Commission, at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Leadership Breakfast analyzing education reform proposals for Georgia. Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. $35. Details soon!
Quotes of Note
“Demands that various advocacy organizations reveal the names of all their donors are an obvious attempt to scare off those donors, with harassment by everyone from vandals to rioters to the Internal Revenue Service and other government bureaucrats. Without the right to free speech, none of the other rights is safe. Government officials can get away with all sorts of abuses, if others are not free to talk about those abuses.” – Thomas Sowell
“If the parents are well-to-do, it is not necessary to the solution of their private problem that all schools should be good, but only that there should be some good school geographically available. But for wage-earning parents nothing suffices except reform in the elementary schools. As one parent will object to the reforms which another parent desires, nothing will serve except an energetic educational propaganda, which is not likely to prove effective until long after the reformer’s children are grown up. Thus from love for our own children we are driven, step by step, into the wider sphere of politics and philosophy.” – Bertrand Russell
“The reality is that the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable for most people.” – Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota
Then and now: In 1991, when the Foundation was established, Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, becoming only the second African-American to sit on the nation’s highest court. In 1993, the Foundation presented Justice Thomas with the Freedom Award, given to a notable Georgian has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity. Sadly, 25 years later, the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African-American Museum Culture and History that opened last month in Washington, D.C., bears no recognition of his accomplishment.
Kudos: Two of Georgia’s brightest minds are changing jobs. We’re proud to share that Chris Carr, former general counsel for the Foundation (who went on to become Chief of Staff for U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson then Commissioner of Economic Development) has been named Attorney General of Georgia. Congratulations, too, to outgoing Attorney General Sam Olens, who takes the helm at Kennesaw State University.
Condolences: We were saddened to hear that Bill Chappell, former Carroll County Commission Chair and co-founder of the Star-News of Georgia, passed away in his sleep on October 1 at age 69. He was a friend and supporter of the Foundation and a champion of government transparency; our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and fellow Carroll citizens.
Cited I: Foundation Senior Fellow E. Frank Stephenson, an economics professor at Berry College in Rome, Ga., was published in Regulation, the quarterly journal of the Cato Institute, writing on, “Bootleggers, Baptists and Beer Labels.”
Cited II: Foundation Senior Fellow Dr. Christine Ries, an economics professor at Georgia Tech, was quoted in an article in The Dalton Citizen after appearing on a tax reform panel chaired by Georgia State Sen. Judson Hill.
Getting old: State public pension plans are now underfunded by nearly $5.6 trillion – an increase of almost $900 billion from State Budget Solutions’ last comprehensive report in 2014. The nationwide funding level is a mere 35 percent, one percentage point lower than two years ago. Georgia’s funding level is 38.8 percent. Nationwide, the price tag for unfunded pension liabilities is now $17,427 for every man, woman and child.
Stagnant housing: The rate of homeownership is about 63 percent, no higher than what was previously achieved a half-century ago by a private savings and loan industry, before there was a Department of Housing and Urban Development, Kevin Villani writes in American Banker. Government-sponsored enterprises now fund about 90 percent of all mortgages, what The Economist recently labeled a de facto nationalization.
Helping the homeless help themselves: Kyle Wingfield, columnist at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shares his perspective this week on Georgia Works, which the Foundation has written on several times: “There may be no more unsung success around here than Georgia Works, a privately run program for homeless men that recently celebrated moving its 200th man – in just three years – from a life of deprivation and danger into employment and empowerment.”
Solving poverty: Star Parker reports how Whole Foods is hiring on Chicago’s South Side: “This includes some with jail or prison records. According to a company spokesperson, background checks on individuals were done only after they were identified as a good candidate for a position. If something then came up in the background check, they worked it out in one-on-one discussion with the candidate.”
Customer care: Georgia businesses and utilities worked flat out to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Among them, Georgia Power Co. reported that by Wednesday electricity had been restored – ahead of schedule – to 90 percent of its customers that lost power, while Synovus announced it is refunding fees it charged its customers from counties under mandatory evacuation for using non-Synovus ATMs between October 5-16.
Taxes and spending
Victory tax loses: President Obama has signed into law an end to a tax on most medals and prizes for U.S. Olympic medalists. It’s a good beginning, but this nation is still far from ending the tax penalties for success. Source: Townhall.com
This month in the archives: We shared a letter this week with Foundation supporters that included a look back on the Friday Fax, now called the Friday Facts. Read that letter here as we get ready to celebrate 25 years of, “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives.”
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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