Friday Facts: September 14, 2012

 September 14, 2012

It’s Friday!

The deadline is Monday to register for the third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which takes place on Friday, September 21, at the W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta. This year’s event includes Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, Carpe Diem Schools Founder Rick Ogston, Texas Public Policy Foundation President Brooke Rollins, Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner, Illinois Policy Institute President John Tillman and former Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson. Registration for this daylong event, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $100. Register at See the agenda at

Quotes of Note

“The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, through the rivalry of schools and creeds that are anxious to obtain official recognition, and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in fine, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.” – Mark Twain

“Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency. The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state.” – Thomas Sowell

“Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the ease with which the many are governed by the few.” – David Hume


Strings attached: Cobb County’s Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID) is a self-taxing commercial district that leverages local, state and federal funds and expedites projects in its district. Deciding it wanted to pretty up its Cumberland Boulevard Bridge over I-75 as a “visual gateway” (a self-funded, million-dollar project), the CID paid a firm $67,000 to design the “bridgescaping.” Then it won an $800,000 federal grant (i.e. taxpayer funds) for the project. But the first design firm wasn’t prequalified with the federal government, so for $167,045, the CID has hired another firm. And, because of the federally mandated process, the original schedule of 2013 has been pushed back to 2015. (The grant is from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement program.) Source: Marietta Daily Journal

Bank on Dodd-Frank impacts: Although the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s (Dodd-Frank Act) reforms are directed primarily at large banks, there are provisions within seven of the act’s 16 titles that are expected to have positive and negative impacts on community banks and credit unions, with the outcome largely depending on how agencies implement certain provisions through their rules. Many rules implementing the act have not been finalized so the full impact is not known, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this week. Read the Foundation’s analysis of the impact on Georgia of the Durbin Amendment of the Dodd-Frank Act.


Stay informed: In November, Georgia voters will decide whether the state will share the responsibility of charter school authorization. The Foundation has a video here,, and a series of short educational articles focusing on voters’ questions: The Financial Impact of Charter Schools. What Are Charter Schools? Charter Schools and Local Control. How do Charter Schools Impact Minorities?

What the strike is really about: The real sticking points in the Chicago teachers’ strike revolve around teacher evaluation and job security, two issues central to education reform debates, according to Andrew P. Kelly of the American Enterprise Institute. First is the district’s plan to evaluate teachers on the basis of student test scores. The union opposes this idea. Second is the union wants “recall rights,” which would require schools to rehire laid-off district teachers on the basis of seniority when new jobs open up. District and school leaders argue that it prevents schools from hiring the best teachers for the job. Meanwhile, students in the district’s charter schools continued lessons uninterrupted.


October 16: Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher turns 87 on October 13. The Foundation marks the birthday of this remarkable leader with a Policy Briefing Luncheon and Book Forum with Thatcher advisor and longtime friend John Blundell, who is author of, “Margaret Thatcher: A Portrait of The Iron Lady.” This event is at the Georgian Club. Registration is $60 and includes a copy of Blundell’s book. Register by Friday, October 12, at Seating is limited; register early!

September 25: The Georgia Chamber hosts the 2012 Health Care Forum, “The Future of Health Care & Impact on Your Business.” Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the new federal health care law – and the November elections are looming – join national experts, policy-makers and business leaders at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta to learn what’s next for health care in Georgia. Speakers include Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ken Thorpe, Health Policy & Management Chair at Emory University and a former Clinton advisor, and Cindy Gillespie, managing director of McKenna Long & Aldridge and a former advisor to Governor Mitt Romney. Click on to learn more and purchase tickets.


When is 3.4 percent a “surge”? When it’s Amtrak! In an article headlined, “Amtrak ridership surges in 2012,” Metro Magazine reports that through 11 months of Fiscal Year 2012, Amtrak’s total ridership is up 3.4 percent over the same period last year. When the current fiscal year ends on September 30, Amtrak expects a new annual ridership record will be set, surpassing the current record of 30.2 million passengers established in FY 2011.

Last mile issues: The “last kilometer” problem that makes mass transit uncompetitive with the automobile for most trips in the United States is also evident in Europe, Wendell Cox writes for the National Center for Policy Analysis. He cites transportation experts who indicate that no credible alternative exists for 80 percent of automobile travel in the Netherlands, despite its high density and large transit networks, and little potential for replacing automobile demand in Europe. In suburban Paris, which is generally considered to have one of the best mass transit systems in the affluent West, residents of new towns served by the regional metro (“RER”) can reach only half the employment in one hour as those traveling by car.

Did you know? After adjusting for inflation, the amount of gas tax motorists pay for every mile they drive is only one-third the amount paid in 1956, the year Congress created the Interstate Highway System. Source: Cato Institute

Social media

This Week in The Forum: The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, features articles by three of the scheduled speakers at the September 21 Legislative Policy Forum.  About time zones: Lawrence W. Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, explains how we got down to four major U.S. continental time zones. (Hint: It wasn’t government.) Galen Institute President Grace-Marie Turner writes about what happened to Romney’s health plan in Massachusetts; it’s not what you hear in most news media. Chicago teachers went on strike this week, and Illinois Policy Institute CEO John Tillman maintains that students were not a union priority. Then, writing in Checking Up On Health, the Foundation’s Benita Dodd shares how the industry is satisfying better-informed health care consumers and other health policy briefs. Read these and other recent Foundation articles and posts on The Forum at

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Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, Talk of ‘Fair Share’ Distracts from Focus on Fair Opportunity.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen

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