January 25, 2013
Upcoming: Did you know that Georgia had the nation’s fourth-highest foreclosure rate in 2012? Who’s to blame? Greedy bankers? Corrupt politicians? Ignorant homeowners? Find out at the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. on Tuesday, February 19. The Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole keynotes “American Dream, American Nightmare,” an explanation of the forces at play in the housing market in Georgia and in the nation, and how to rebuild the American Dream of homeownership. This event will cost $25 to attend. Register by Friday, February 15, at http://tinyurl.com/7ldaqnk.
Quotes of Note
“Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. [I]ndustry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.” – Benjamin Franklin (1753)
“Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing – and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.” – Will Rogers
“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”– Winston Churchill
What’s with the woobies? National School Choice Week 2013 begins today. With 3,000 events across the country, the highlight in Georgia being a 10 a.m. rally January 31 at the State Capitol, those celebrating options in education – and wearing the symbolic bright yellow scarves – will include parents, students, teachers, education organizations and interested citizens. (See the Foundation commentary on school choice at www.georgiapolicy.org.)
Flying has become safer than ever, with the aviation industry boasting a record low accident rate in 2012. The International Air Transport Association reports this as the safest year on record, without a single crash on modern Western aircraft for any of its members, the world’s 240 leading airlines. It claimed that, statistically, a passenger could travel for 14,000 years without being in a crash. Source: The Guardian
No money: Bob Poole, transportation policy director of the Reason Foundation, was the keynote speaker at the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast on Thursday, and he made clear that states need to prepare for the federal well to dry up on transportation funding. The event will be posted online next week; meanwhile, view Poole’s PowerPoint presentation here.
Energy and environment
Renewable at what cost? Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, an effort to encourage a transition to renewable energy sources, will increase the cost of electricity to consumers by $2.55 billion, increase prices by 11.9 percent in eight years and result in about 17,000 lost jobs, according to the Beacon Hill Institute. The increased energy costs could be justified if there were clear environmental benefits to be gained. However, wind and solar require significant backup power because of their intermittency.
Energy: U.S. oil production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic industry, which began in 1859, and is set to surge even more in 2013. It is estimated that North America will become a net exporter of all energy by 2025.
Poverty and the environment: Greece, in the economic doldrums, is regressing environmentally, notes Iain Murray in an article in Huffington Post. Greeks have been forced by the high prices of home heating oil – much of that from government-imposed taxes – to use wood for fuel. Much of that wood is gathered illegally. “If you ever needed an illustration of why affordable energy is important for the environment, Greece provides it. Poverty, on the other hand, is one of the worst enemies the environment can have,” writes Murray.
Taxes and spending
Transparency squared: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs, has some good ideas on managing public debt. She cites the different pricing in apparently similar school-construction projects costing 2½ times as much per square foot as others, for no obvious reason. She suggests, among other things, that taxpayers have access to information such as the cost per square foot of construction and the number of square feet per student. Source: Wall Street Journal
Pension reform: A few years ago when Georgia modified the state employee pension plan, the teachers’ pension plan was not included in the creation of a defined contribution model that begins to move the state away from the outmoded (and extremely costly) defined benefit model. Contributing columnist Steve Metz, a retired pension actuary, presents a compelling case that it is time to reform the teachers retirement system, too.
Taking ownership: Consumer-driven health plans grew by 47 percent last year. Almost one in every seven privately insured adults is now enrolled in either a consumer-directed health plan or a high deductible health plan eligible for a Health Savings Account. These individuals were more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to take advantage of various wellness programs and more likely to pay attention to the cost of the services they consume. Source: NCPA.org
By the numbers:
Average cost per newly insured person if Georgia participates in Medicaid expansion: $5,208.
Estimated average cost of uncompensated care for the uninsured: $1,500.
Annual cost for low-income recipients in Florida’s patient-centered Medicaid reform program: $1,585.
2015 cost of proposed Medicaid expansion covering about one-third of the uninsured: $3.7 billion.
Cost of offsetting uncompensated care for the uninsured in every hospital in Georgia: $1.5 billion.
Tuesday, February 12: Americans For Prosperity Foundation is partnering with one of the nation’s premiere citizen journalism networks, WatchdogWire at The Franklin Center, for a Georgia Citizens Watchdog Summit to provide professional training in investigative journalism. Find out more about this event in Atlanta and register athttp://gacitizenwatchdogsummit.eventbrite.com/. Tickets are $25; seating is limited.
Thursday, February 21: Baruch Feigenbaum, the Reason Foundation’s Transportation Policy Analyst and a Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, discusses, “Realistic Solutions to America’s Transportation Problem,” from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Georgia Tech College of Business in Room 101. The event is sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education and Reason.
Mark your calendar: Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute is the keynote speaker at the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast on Tuesday, March 19.
This Week in The Forum: Georgia continues to make slow and steady economic recovery progress, but continued growth is not guaranteed unless the federal government gets its dysfunctional fiscal house in order, state fiscal economist Kenneth Heaghney warned during this week’s appropriations hearings, according to Foundation Editor Mike Klein. Look for more ideas on addressing mental health treatment in the adult corrections and juvenile justice populations after recommendations from the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, Klein reports. In Checking Up On Health, Benita Dodd reports on the ObamaCare label change from insurance “exchanges” to insurance “marketplaces;” on Wal-Mart’s possible entry into the small business health insurance business, the latest use for Botox and more.Congress has begun to dismantle and defund portions of the federal health care law, according to the Galen Institute’s Grace-Marie Turner, and a long-term insurance care program was dropped after the Obama administration decided that implementation was financially unsustainable. These and other recent Foundation articles and posts are on The Forum at forum.georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
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Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “School Choice Week 2013: Much to Celebrate, More to Do,” by Benjamin Scafidi.
Have a great weekend.
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