Friday Facts: October 26, 2012

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of Note

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“Just tell them that their wildest dreams will come true if they vote for you.” – Napoleon Dynamite


January 24, 2013: Just one week after attending the national Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting, Robert W. Poole will keynote, “Moving Georgia Ahead: What’s Coming Down the Pike,” an 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. Poole, a Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, is a co-founder of the Reason Foundation and its director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow. He will provide an update on the outlook for transportation policy, funding and innovation amid fiscal constraints and partisan politics, and outline Georgia’s options for mobility and congestion relief. Registration for this event is $25; find more information and registration at

Health care

Who’s on first? Who should make the decision between health care and other uses of money? Who should decide, for example, whether a procedure is worth the sacrifice of other goods and services that it would require? Should it be patients, insurance pools or government? Highlighting individual responsibility in an article in Forbes magazine, John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis points out that, “each of us is to be the first line of defense against disease. For the most part, nothing much happens in health care unless patients do something to initiate it. This is not a bad thing.” Read his article to find out who he believes should make that decision, and how:


Do you understand school finances? We agree; it is complicated. North Carolina has a better high school graduation rate – 75 percent – than Georgia’s 67 percent, yet North Carolina has spent $18 billion less on public education than Georgia has since 2003. Read more in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog.

Charter school costs: Some have argued that state charter schools could cost Georgia $430 million over five years. As Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story: If those same students attended traditional public schools instead of public charter schools, it would cost taxpayers $609 million.

Charter school bureaucracy: There’s criticism that state-authorized public charter schools will create a new state bureaucracy and dual school system. The State Charter Schools Commission, in existence from 2008-2011, had a maximum staff of five and was the most efficient charter authorizer in the state. In fact, it voluntarily reduced its administrative fees by 33 percent because it didn’t need the money.

(Find a detailed explanation of these issues on our Web site.)

Job growth: America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to an analysis by Ben Scafidi, an economist at Georgia College & State University who is a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation and at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees grew 386 percent. Teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff saw growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students. In Georgia, between 1992 and 2009, the student population increased 41 percent while school personnel increased 80 percent. Administrators increased 74 percent and teachers increased 86 percent. Source: Foundation for Excellence in Education

Speaking from experience: The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, features articles on school choice by guest columnists Rich Thompson and Addie Price. Thompson promises no child will be left behind in his family; Price recounts her choice of a public charter school when the traditional school could not deal with her daughter’s dyslexia.

Energy and environment

Downtown population trends: The central cores of the nation’s largest cities are doing better than at any time in recent history, Wendell Cox says in NewGeography. Much of it is due to successful efforts to make crime-infested urban cores suitable for habitation, an effort begun by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But Cox streses that to characterize the trend since 2000 as reflective of any “flocking” to the cities is an exaggeration. In fact, among the 51 major metropolitan areas (those with more than 1 million population), nearly 99 percent of all population growth between 2000 and 2010 was outside the downtown areas. Source: The American Dream Coalition


One more reason for our “Plan B:” The fiscal and political climate in the next few years will make the job of convincing the skeptical electorate to support higher federal transportation spending even harder, transportation expert Kenneth Orski writes in his InnoBriefs. He believes there is bipartisan consensus for “the overriding imperative to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.” Funding constraints will continue to make it difficult if not downright impossible for Congress to commit hundreds of billions of federal dollars in a single legislative package, so Congress is likely to embrace short-term bills as a convenient way out of the dilemma. Learn more about our “Plan B” for Georgia transportation.

This train isn’t leaving the station: Federal prosecutors believe that 1,500 of New York’s Long Island Rail Road retirees submitted fraudulent disability claims to the federal Railroad Retirement Board in a decadelong scheme that could have cost the government $1 billion. Hundreds faced the prospect of criminal charges, but when prosecutors offered amnesty, just 44 retirees took them up on it. The amnesty program offers immunity from prosecution to those who admit wrongdoing and give up their monthly disability payments. Source: Mass Transit magazine

Social media

This Week in The Forum: In Checking Up On Health this week, Benita Dodd shares news on the need for consumers to do their research on hospitals, the innovations in research and more on the unintended consequences of ObamaCare. Foundation Senior Fellow Eric Wearne says digital “data backpacks” might be a good idea to trace every step of a child’s education, but he questions whether also tracking outside-school activities, as some suggest, would violate civil liberties. Read these and other recent Foundation articles and posts on The Forum at

YouTube: View the Foundation’s October Policy Briefing Luncheon with Thatcher advisor John Blundell on the Foundation’s YouTube channel. You can also find the sessions and speeches from the third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum as well as past Foundation events. Plus, ahead of the elections on Nov. 6, educate yourself about public charter schools via four Foundation videos already watched by thousands of Georgians on YouTube:
What is a Georgia Public Charter School?
Charter Schools Change Lives
Public Schools: One Size Does Not Fit All
Mary Goes to Charter School.

We have more than 1,750 Facebook “likes” at “Like” us to get daily policy news, views, quotes and photos from recent events. Then join the 780 followers of the Foundation on Twitter at

Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Get Moving on Foundation’s ‘Plan B,'” by Don Sullivan.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

P.S. Because of my experience as a former board chairman of Tech High, the school the Foundation helped establish in the Atlanta Public Schools system, I was asked to participate as a panelist in the Atlanta Press Club debate over Amendment 1 on the Nov. 6 Georgia ballot. If you missed the live broadcast, you can view the debate here:

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