Friday Facts: September 23rd, 2011

It’s Friday!


– Space is limited! Don’t miss the second annual Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing on Friday, Sept. 30, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Register now for the daylong event, which  includes keynote speakers Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot, on entrepreneurial leadership in Georgia; John Goodman, founder and president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, on health care reform, and Michael B. Horn, national expert on digital learning. Last year, more than 250 people attended to hear nearly three dozen state and national experts discuss Georgia public policy. Topics this year include education, transportation, tax reform, criminal justice and health care. Information and registration are online at



– “You may not like rich people, but when was the last time a poor person gave you a job?” – Gene Simmons

– “Taxes on income hurt those still trying to get rich, not the already-rich.” –  Rick Gaber



– Killing jobs I: Almost all of the $447 billion in increased revenue called for by President Obama would come from raising taxes on job creators, the same job creators whom President Obama wants to hire more workers to reduce the unemployment rate, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Curtis Dubay warns. Worse, “the American people get permanent tax hikes that would enlarge the federal government to offset the cost of temporary jobs policies that would not create any jobs. In the long run, the tax hikes in this plan are more likely to destroy more jobs than the jobs policies create.”

– Killing jobs II: Hong Kong was first in economic freedom, with unemployment of just 3.2 percent, according to the Economic Freedom of the World report, which measures the consistency of the institutions and policies of various countries with voluntary exchange and the other dimensions of economic freedom. The United States, the world’s largest economy, has suffered one of the largest declines in economic freedom over the last 10 years, pushing it into 10th place. Much of the U.S. decline is a result of higher government spending and borrowing and lower scores for the legal structure and property rights components.. Source: Cato Institute, Fraser Institute

– Creating jobs: Economist Horst Feldmann, who examined the relationship between unemployment and economic freedom, found that “economic freedom is likely to substantially reduce unemployment, especially among women and young people. A small government sector and a legal system characterized by an independent judiciary, impartial courts and an effective protection of property rights most clearly seem to have beneficial effects. In addition, there are indications that freedom to trade across national boundaries and a light regulatory burden may also lower unemployment, though apparently in the long term only.” Source: Southern Economic Journal


Health care

– Why is the price of a knee replacement for a dog – involving the same technology and the same medical skills that are needed for humans – less than a sixth the price a typical health insurance company pays for human operations? Why is it less than a third of what hospitals tell Medicare their cost of doing the procedure is? John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis tackles questions about the cost and price of U.S. health care in his blog at To register to attend the Legislative Policy Briefing on Sept. 30 and hear Goodman in person, click on this link:



– The nation’s average travel time for Americans to work is 25.1 minutes, according to a Census Bureau one-year estimate released this week. At 34.6 minutes, the longest average commute was in the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metro area, which has the highest rate of public transportation use (30 percent). Americans commuting by themselves in cars, trucks or vans rose slightly from 76.1 percent in 2009 to 76.6 percent in 2010, and the number of carpoolers fell from 10 percent to 9.7 percent. Metro Atlanta’s commute was the seventh-longest, at 30.1 minutes. For all workers combined, public transportation commuters averaged over 20 minutes longer getting to work than those who drove alone. Source: Census Bureau



 More or less? Georgia ranks fifth in the nation in the number of college-bound high school students who took the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, this year. In the 10 states with the highest SAT scores, 7 percent or fewer high school students took the test. In Georgia, 80 percent of students took the test. The state ranked 48th in test scores. In Illinois, which led the nation in SAT scores, just 5 percent of students took the test. Unfortunately, Georgia also ranks 10th in scores out of the 13 states and the District of Columbia where there was 70 percent or higher SAT participation. Source: Commonwealth Foundation

– Lining up for online learning: Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, proposes a solution to the stagnation in U.S. student achievement and educational attainment. The Department of Education is launching a public-private education partnership called Digital Promise. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he writes. “Imagine, though, an online high-school physics course that uses videogame graphics power to teach atomic interactions or a second-grade online math curriculum that automatically adapts to individual students’ levels of knowledge. All of this will happen. The only question is: Will the U.S. lead the effort or will we follow other countries?” Register now for the Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing on September 30 where Michael B. Horn, a national expert on digital learning, will explain “The Promise of Online Learning –  How Georgia can seize the coming disruptive innovation in education.”

– Digital learning: Gwinnett County Public Schools, winner of the $1 million Broad Foundation Prize last year for urban education innovation, opened a completely online high school this fall, Foundation editor Mike Klein reports in The Forum, the Foundation’s blog, at The new blended learning model builds on more than a decade of success offering supplemental online courses to some 30,000 traditional classroom students. Gwinnett also has plans for online middle and upper elementary schools.



– What peak oil? An area in northwest England may contain 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, putting it in the same league as some of the vast shale-gas plays that have transformed the U.S. energy industry.  Mark Miller, CEO of Cuadrilla Resources, a small oil-and-gas company, said his company found nearly four times more gas than it was expecting to discover. It would be enough to meet the United Kingdom’s gas demand for 64 years – this in a nation whose conventional gas fields are in steep decline. It has been increasingly dependent on imports such as liquefied natural gas from Qatar and piped gas from Norway. Source: Wall Street Journal

– Technology rules: Unconventional oil and natural gas liquids (such as shale gas) will account for 35 percent of the total increase in liquids production by 2035, according to the newInternational Energy Outlook 2011. “High oil prices, improvements in exploration and extraction technologies, emphasis on recovery efficiency, and the emergence and continued growth of unconventional resource production are the primary factors supporting the growth of non-OPEC liquids production,” noted the report.

– Trying to overrule technology: Green groups are pushing to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract shale gas. The practice involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground, creating fissures – or fractures – that allow the gas trapped inside the shale rock to flow out. Critics argue that fracking can contaminate ground and surface water or even cause gas to leak into domestic water supplies. In June, France became the first country to ban shale-gas exploration. “More natural gas production can only undercut the greens’ dream of forcing the federal government to restrict fossil fuel production so that Americans will subsist on ‘renewable’ alternative fuel sources,” notes Robert Kirchoff of the Capital Research Center.


Visit to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Tax Reform for 2012,” by Jonathan Williams.

Have a great weekend.

Kelly McCutchen


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