Friday Facts: September 20, 2013

It’s Friday!

Quotes of Note

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” – Friedrich von Hayek

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” – H.L. Mencken


October 11: Register now for the fourth annual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum, which takes place Friday, October 11, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta. Last year, hundreds of Georgia’s legislators, businesspeople and interested citizens attended to hear national policy experts discuss free-market solutions to Georgia’s challenges. Speakers include: Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias, Fred Cooper, Chairman of Cooper Capital, Florida House Health Appropriations Chair Rep. Matt Hudson, Carol Steckel, director of the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance, Tarren Bragdon, President of the Foundation for Government Accountability, former Georgia State Senator Sam Zamarripa, John Kramer, Vice President for Communications at the Institute for Justice and Dr. Rich Demillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Tech. Information and registration:


Debt is our friend: How important is the payment card transaction industry to Georgia? Seventy percent of transaction processing companies call Georgia home! More than 15 million global payment card-enabled merchants rely on their transactions to be processed by companies in Georgia. More than 85 billion of the 135 billion payment card transactions (63 percent) passed through the global network of Georgia FinTech-based organizations! Source: TAG FinTech Report

Broadband boom: In its State of the Internet Report, Akamai reports that in the first quarter of 2013, more than 733 million IP addresses from 243 unique countries/regions connected to the Internet; over 3 percent more than the previous quarter and 10 percent more than the first quarter of 2012. The United States ranked first, leading the world in the number of unique IP addresses accessing the Internet. “While it is true that some countries, such as Switzerland, offer peak connection speeds that surpass those offered by the U.S., this does not detract from the fact that the U.S. offers greater availability, value, choice and high average connection speeds to its consumers,” Sarah Leggin of the Free State Foundation points out.

Health Care

You can keep your plan: Walgreens is set to become one of the largest employers yet to make sweeping changes to company-backed health programs, the Wall Street Journal reported. The drugstore giant plans to provide payments to eligible employees for the subsidized purchase of insurance starting in 2014. The plan will affect roughly 160,000 employees, and will require them to shop for coverage in the health-care exchanges set to launch on Oct. 1. Aside from rising health-care costs, the company blamed compliance-related expenses associated with the Affordable Care Act. Atlanta-based Home Depot announced Thursday it is sending 20,000 part-timers to the health care exchanges, Bloomberg News reported. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, which employees 44,000, announced it is cutting jobs and $330 million from its budget.

You will have insurance. Or not: The number of people who lacked health coverage fell slightly to 48 million in 2012, from 48.6 million in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Income & Poverty report. The rise in the uninsured over the past decade was largely due to population growth, immigration, the recession and – in some instances – individual choice. Proponents of ObamaCare hoped it would achieve near-universal coverage but estimates are that the ACA will cover less than half of the uninsured. The reasons include: an unenforced individual mandate, perverse regulations, a delayed employer mandate and exchanges, rising costs, limited Medicaid expansion and immigrants excluded from the mandate. Source: Devon M. Herrick, National Center for Policy Analysis

Energy and environment

Foreign policy and carbon “pollution:” The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, testified this week before a congressional committee about President Obama’s climate action plan, saying, “[T]he President’s Plan recognizes that the United States must couple action at home with leadership abroad. Working closely with the State Department, EPA will continue to engage our international partners in reducing carbon pollution through an array of activities.” A: Carbon is a greenhouse gas, not a pollutant. B: Around the world, countries are hurting from the costs associated with “climate action plans;” Australia’s new prime minister, sworn in this week, immediately promised to repeal an unpopular carbon tax levied by the previous administration.

Densification: “Smart growth” proponents argue, among other things, that from a health and sustainability perspective, the need to increase population densities is imperative. In, Tony Recsei points out, “Less discussed, however, are other facets to human health and it is important to consider the results of research on the association with high-density living of mental illness, children’s health, respiratory disease, heart attacks, cancer and human happiness.” He recounts some of the studies showing the health effects of high-density living.


EduFact: The association between student math performance and subsequent economic growth is very strong. It suggests that if the United States could lift its performance to the level achieved by Canadians, the average U.S. paycheck might increase by 20 percent. In order to achieve this growth, American students will have to perform substantially better at the advanced level. Over 13 percent of the students in both Germany and in Canada are high flyers, while only about 7 percent in the U.S. perform at the advanced level. The percentage of advanced students is 16 percent in Japan, 20 percent in Korea, and 30 percent in Singapore. Source: “Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School.”


(Wealthy) winners and losers: To get more electric cars on the road, California offers $2,500 rebates financed by a $20 “smog abatement fee” that all drivers in the state must pay for their first six registration years. That’s on top of the $7,500 federal tax credit and $1,000 or more the state pays drivers to retire their gas guzzlers. The combined government incentives can reduce the price of a Nissan electric Leaf to about $18,000. State survey data found the typical rebate recipient earns over $150,000 and owns at least one other non-electric car. The most popular car among rebate recipients this year has been Tesla’s Model S sports sedan, which runs between about $70,000 and $100,000. Source: Wall Street Journal

Media and social media

Foundation in the News: This week the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published two articles – one by David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Tech Village in Midtown and the other by Bob Swiggum, CIO of the Georgia Department of Education –  after their presentations at Monday’s “Georgia’s Digital Economy” conference, which was attended by nearly 200 people.

YouTube: Videos are now posted on the Foundation’s YouTube channel of “Georgia’s Digital Economy” conference co-hosted with Google at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. Panelists discussed the path toward becoming a successful entrepreneur; Georgia Tech’s Steve Cross described the importance of making “brilliant mistakes” in university technology research; attendees learned how “patent trolling” litigation can destroy and stifle start-ups and even much larger business models and Bob Swiggum of the state Department of Education described the impact of technology on learning for Georgia’s children. We’re almost there! Help push the Foundation to 30,000 YouTube channel views. Visit

Facebook: The Foundation’s Facebook page has nearly 2,130 “likes.” Join us at to view daily policy news, views, updates, Quotes of Note and event photos, including Monday’s event with Google.

Nearly 1,050 Twitter followers get their Foundation news at

Ask your high school or college student to like the Foundation’s Student Outreach Scholarship page on Facebook at

The Forum: In “Checking Up On Health” this week, Benita Dodd shares what’s good, bad, diminishing, sickening, ugly and beautifying in health care. Find this and other recent posts in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at

Visit to read our latest commentary, “When Government Goes Off Course.”

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd 

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