November 15: The agenda is online for the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which features nearly two dozen policy experts and leaders on issues affecting Georgia: education, healthcare, opportunity, regulation and transportation. Registration is $100 for the daylong event on Friday, November 15, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly. The theme: “Wisdom, Justice, Mobility.” Read about it here; register here.
January 28: Save the date! The Foundation’s Freedom Award Dinner, honoring a Georgian who has contributed greatly to liberty in our state, will be held Tuesday, January 28, 2020. More details to come soon!
Quotes of note
“It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions.” – Thomas Jefferson (1808)
“The reason envy, greed and entitlement continue to surface in most election cycles is that it appeals to human emotions. Charging the rich with not paying their ‘fair share’ in taxes is a distraction from the real issue: government spends too much.” – Cal Thomas
“Keep in mind that Congress has no resources of its own. Plus there’s no Santa Claus or tooth fairy that gives Congress resources. Thus, the only way that Congress can give one American a dollar is to first, through intimidation and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.” – Walter Williams
Déjà vu: The Federal Railroad Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation held open houses this week to discuss possible “high speed” rail between Atlanta and Charlotte, with speeds of up to 220 mph. Three routes are under discussion, including a $15 billion route along I-85 that would take 2.4 hours from airport to airport. Given Amtrak’s 2018 operating losses were $1.08 billion, according to Randal O’Toole, it seems wiser to reassess passenger rail, not expand it.
Energy and environment
Capital woes: The Permian Basin is the world’s largest and most productive shale basin and the source of roughly one-third of U.S. oil output. Production is up 17% in the past year, compared with an increase of almost 40% the year before, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The slowdown is not due to oil prices; investors are yanking their money because returns on shale-oil investments haven’t matched the growth in output. Source: Bloomberg News
Broken promises: The DeKalb County School District may be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars to employees after the state Supreme Court ruled the district stopped making retirement contributions without giving the two-year notice it had promised employees. The case is expected to become a class action suit involving up to 10,000 affected employees. Source: News reports
OPM and OMB: Federal spending programs that are “designed to transfer income … to individuals or families” are set to hit a record $3,223,943,000,000 in fiscal 2020, the Office of Management and Budget projects. These “payments for individuals,” among them Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, retirement, food and housing assistance, and the earned income tax credit, are projected to account for 67.9% of all federal spending this fiscal year and consume 14.4% of the nation’s GDP. “All of this spending will be conducted by a government that is going bankrupt,” notes columnist Terence Jeffrey.
Bacon backup: More than 40 million pounds (18,000 metric tons) of pork bellies, the cut used for bacon, were sitting in refrigerated warehouses as of September 30, according to U.S. government data released this week. That’s the most for the month since 1971. The U.S. hog herd swelled to 77.7 million head in September, the highest since 1943, in anticipation of soaring demand from China, where African swine flu has devastated herds. Source: Bloomberg News
Prime care: Amazon has acquired Health Navigator, a medical technology startup that provides technology and services to digital health companies, to help power its Amazon Care virtual medical clinic launched in September. Amazon Care offers Amazon’s Seattle employees virtual visits, in-home follow-ups if needed, and prescription deliveries. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
Covered: Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Health System’s contract with Anthem, the state’s biggest insurer, ended September 30. The health system is spending millions to ensure patients do not have to pay out-of-network costs for visiting its physicians and hospitals, according to Georgia Health News. Anthem members can pay in-network prices at the system’s facilities through year’s end.
This month in the archives: In October 15 years ago, the Foundation published “Storm Drain.” It noted, “Today’s bad economists are overlooking the theft and focusing on the thief’s spending. They see the insurance checks, new buildings and jobs created by the hurricanes. Yet they ignore the unseen value of an economy free from the distress of destruction and full of stored-up potential to create new and vibrant markets.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “A Home Run for School Choice from ‘Miss Virginia’,” by Andrew Wimer.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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