• Friday Facts

Friday Facts: June 2, 2017

It’s Friday!

Events

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is a free doughnut today! Today’s National Donut Day, the food holiday featuring free doughnuts at shops all over the country on the first Friday of every June. The celebration was founded during the Great Depression as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army, which among other things provided donuts and coffee to American soldiers during World War I. Source: Money

June 15-17: FEEcon, a three-day gathering aimed at the nation’s young freedom lovers (students and young professionals) takes place at the Omni Hotel Downtown Atlanta. It offers 10 distinct tracks, 70-plus sessions and speakers including Lawrence Reed, Glenn Jacobs (former WWE wrestler), and Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia). Full details on the schedule can be found at http://www.feecon.org/.

 Quotes of note

“There is, however, no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice. For this last implies not only the practical conviction that it is right, but the theoretical assumption that it cannot be wrong.” – William Hazlitt 

“The belief that machines cause unemployment, when held with any logical consistency, leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improvement we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.” – Henry Hazlitt 

“[T]here is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.” – William Henry Harrison

Criminal justice reform 

Civil asset forfeiture: Without ever being charged with a crime, 72-year-old grandmother Elizabeth Young had her home and her car confiscated because her son sold less than $200 worth of marijuana. This week – more than seven years after her legal nightmare began – the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision rejecting the government’s confiscation, the Institute for Justice reports in Forbes.

License to work: Albert Walker, an ex-offender who turned his life around, became a licensed barber in Wisconsin and now cuts the hair of several Green Bay Packers. He recently opened the Imago Dei Barber Lounge, but an onerous Wisconsin licensing requirement just might shut him down. A new video from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute tells his story.

Reform results: The number of Georgians sent to prison in 2015 was 16 percent lower than in 2009, Kyle Wingfield reports in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Thanks to Georgia’s criminal justice reforms, there was a 25 percent decline in black men imprisoned. “Some 4,100 people suffering from addiction or mental illness were diverted to accountability courts where those underlying issues could be treated and monitored. Juvenile jailings, which cost the state as much as $91,000 per inmate per year, are also down sharply.” 

Taxes and spending

Low taxes, more hires: Lowering capital tax rates affects labor market decisions in two ways, Ike Brannon writes in Forbes. It makes plant and equipment cheaper, so firms have an incentive to substitute capital for labor. Reducing the cost of capital lowers the effective cost of doing business, so firms also increase their scale of operations. As a result, businesses invest in more capital and labor. And, he finds, labor benefits most.

Up, up and away: Real federal taxes per capita have more than doubled since John F. Kennedy served as president – and argued for lower taxes – writes Terence Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com.

Health care

Prioritizing I: Starting in July, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia will no longer cover emergency department services it determines are unnecessary for members with individual plans. The insurer wants to steer patients with non-emergent symptoms to less costly alternatives – a primary care physician, urgent care provider or its LiveHealth telehealth app. Source: WABE

Prioritizing II: Mayo Clinic’s CEO says the Rochester, Minn.-based system will “prioritize” patients with private insurance over Medicare and Medicaid recipients if the patients have similar conditions and seek care at the same time, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. ObamaCare reduced uninsured rolls but increased the share covered by Medicaid, which pays 50-85 cents on the dollar of the actual cost of care.

Transportation 

Autonomous vehicles. Every policy consideration on autonomous (“driverless”) transportation must be judged upon how rapidly it can get us closer to the goal of “zero fatalities on our roads,” Adam Thierer and Caleb Watney write in The Hill. They urge a “light touch” and warn the government could delay this goal by requiring a “pre-market approval authority” for these technologies.

Shining a light: Technology has made travel safer, but headlights are lagging, according to headlights expert Michael Flanagan at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. He blames outdated federal regulations. About 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night every year crossing the road, and in many cases poor headlights are to blame. Source: USAToday.com

No go: A federal appeals court has struck down a 2015 rule by the Federal Aviation Administration that required owners of drones used for recreation to register them. Source: Lawfareblog.com

The Environmental Protection Agency shows the U.S. emissions trends.
The Environmental Protection Agency shows the U.S. emissions trends.

Energy and environment 

Following orders: The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency appear to be far ahead of other federal agencies in complying with executive orders signed months ago by President Donald Trump, aimed at repealing or streamlining regulations, according to Bloomberg.

We’ll never have Paris: President Trump has announced the U.S. withdrawal from the nonbinding U.N. Paris climate agreement. According to CFACT’s Marc Morano, “The UN … said this is not even environmental policy anymore, we will redistribute wealth by climate policy. That’s what they want, a $100 billion-a year-slush fund going to governments that are best able to keep your people locked in poverty. This is all about social engineering, central planning, redistribution of wealth and empowering U.N. bureaucrats.” See Trump’s speech here.

Education 

Teacher pensions: Michigan’s Legislature is considering moving to a 401(k)-style teacher retirement plan, the Heartland Institute reports. In its current system, launched in 2012, the default option combines a traditional pension plan with a tax-deferred investment account. The second option is a 401(k)-style plan. Most new employees choose the default hybrid plan, better than defined-benefit pension plans, but still a burden on the failing pension system. Read the Foundation’s proposal for Georgia here.

 Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In June 10 years ago the Foundation published, “Reforming SCHIP: Using Premium Assistance to Expand Coverage.” It noted, “Premium assistance in SCHIP would help transition working families into private coverage and be a stepping stone for future changes to the overall health care system.”

Media 

Foundation in the news: Benita Dodd was quoted in an article about a 62 percent decline in food stamp rolls for able-bodied adults without dependents after 21 Georgia counties implemented work requirements, published in The Statesboro Herald, Chattanooga’s News Channel 9, and AllOnGeorgia outlets across the state. An article in the Polk County Standard Journal cited the Foundation’s occupational licensing research.

 Social media: The Foundation has 3,226 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,743 followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “An Unhealthy Obsession with Climate Change,” by Harold Brown.

Have a great weekend!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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