Education reform in Georgia, Study of cities' business friendliness, reforming high school sports, "seeds of political violence in churches?" and more.
1) A few weeks ago, we at the Georgia Center for Opportunity hosted an event on education. We’re supporting a couple of bills in the Georgia Legislature that would create a Promise Scholarship (similar to an education scholarship account some other states have). Here are some video highlights from the event:
2) The Institute for Justice is out with a report entitled “Barriers To Business: How Cities Can Pave A Cheaper, Faster, And Simpler Path To Entrepreneurship.” IJ looked at twenty cities of various sizes across the country, and examined how one might go about starting a new business in these cities. Looking at the big city near me, Atlanta, an Entrepreneur can expect to spend $5308 in the form of 14 fees to 10 different agencies, fill out 20 forms and complete 76 discrete tasks - in order to live the dream of starting your own business. No problem!
Buzz’s Thoughts: This report identifies numerous items folks like me who want to see a more business friendly climate in Atlanta, can work on.
3) Like every other state in the South, Georgia has a love affair with High School Football. Friday Night Lights is real y’all. We also have a love/hate relationship with the Georgia High School Association, which is the NCAA of High School sports. Well, it’s mostly a hate/hate relationship with GHSA at this point.
During my time in the Georgia Legislature, there were various attempts to reform the GHSA, but they, being rather powerful, beat back every attempt by tweaking their rules to calm things down. This year might be different. Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis has introduced a bill to do away with the GHSA and replace it with an entirely different governing body. Among the reforms Mullis wants to create is a transfer portal system not unlike what is happening in college sports.
To understand this legislation, one must become aware of the case of Jake Garcia. Garcia was a highly touted prospect who came to Valdosta High School from California after his home state cancelled High School sports in the midst of the covid19 pandemic. Garcia’s status at Valdosta was questioned so he left there and resurfaced at Grayson High School, leading them to the 7A State Championship in the fall of 2020. Meanwhile, GHSA denied other transfer requests, harming those kids’ chances at playing college football. This all seems rather arbitrary to critics of the GHSA. Some of Garcia’s story is told in the Netflix show “Titletown High.” There is more momentum behind this bill than I’ve seen in previous efforts, so it may very well become law.
Buzz’s Thoughts: The transfer portal and “name, image, and likeness” is transforming college sports. It’s natural to think these things could transform high school sports as well. Legislators should tread lightly and move with caution. College athletes are for the most part, adults with the right to make their own decisions regarding transfers and endorsement deals - high school students are, well, high school kids.
4) Should we be worried about General Mike Flynn and his Christian cohorts touring the country selling election conspiracies at sold out events? David French says this indicates a very serious problem within the modern Christian Church, while Erick Erickson thinks it a problem, but not nearly as widespread as French claims. Read both men’s articles and decide for yourself.
Buzz’s Thoughts: I’ve heard with my own ears some well meaning Christians who, because of comments from some Christian leaders, have put too much trust in Trump to fix things that perhaps is warranted. Christians must remember that God is sovereign, and while we have a duty to be involved in the political process, we cannot put our hope in it for advancing the Christian mission. However, I think David French is overstating the reach of kind of beliefs he (and me, and Erick) are concerned about. As John McWhorter once said, the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020 are not taking over any major institutions in our nation. They are part of a fringe group. We should oppose the things they believe (such as calls for military action and other crazy things advanced by Michael Flynn) but not overreact to it.
5) Joann Muller of Axios reports that rush hour is back, but like most things post-covid, it’s different.
The pandemic didn't kill rush hour in America — it just spread traffic throughout the day.
What's happening: The rise of home offices and flexible work hours means there were fewer cars on the road last year during traditional peak times — particularly the morning commute, according to TomTom Traffic Index 2021.
In some cities, there was a new "late morning peak" around 11am.
In others, the evening rush started earlier — as early as 3 or 4pm.
Why it matters: The change in traffic patterns could be one of the lasting trends of the pandemic, but a lot will depend on whether remote work sticks around.
Many companies have given up on their return-to-office plans because of all the unknowns. Nor have they figured out the concept of hybrid work, making new traffic patterns hard to predict.
Buzz’s Thoughts: As the TomTom Index shows, traffic congestions is a real drag on our time and productivity. My home county has twice rejected (prior to the pandemic) referendums to build heavy rail transit connected to MARTA in Atlanta. We should understand these trends before moving forward with solutions meant to address congestion.
6) The final item for this Episode is a recent episode of the Ricochet Podcast with guest Walter Kirn. Kirn has a new book out, which they talk about, but also get his thoughts on a number of other topics such as covid19 and Montana. Give it a listen.