Space Travel, Alliance for Opportunity, Keep and eye on Mexico, Empowerment Accounts, and more.
1) As the demand for space travel and commercial space use increases, the need for locations to launch spacecraft increases as well. Several years ago, while I was a humble State Legislator, we began to hear from folks in Camden County, GA about their desire to open their County to this new burgeoning industry. Spaceport Camden was born, and after many years of hard work by the folks in this rural, coastal SE Georgia community, it’s getting off the ground. As you can imagine, not everyone is happy, but opponents received perhaps the final blow to their efforts to block Spaceport Camden in January:
The county’s hefty investment outweighs potential safety threats from rocket launches, (Judge Stephen) Scarlett wrote.
“Because plaintiffs waited until the 11th hour to exercise their rights and seek the legal remedy afforded them, they now need an injunction to ensure those rights are not lost,” Scarlett wrote. “In this case, the court struggles with the knowledge that plaintiffs have been aware of the (commission’s) intentions for this property since at least 2015.”
Buzz’s Thoughts: Rural Georgia, like most of Rural America, is in desperate need of economic development. This project has the potential to bring tremendous economic opportunity to many people in SE Georgia.
2) Announcing the Alliance for Opportunity. I’ve mentioned briefly before a project my employer (Georgia Center for Opportunity) was developing with the Pelican Institute and the Texas Public Policy Foundation to advance policies we believe will lift people out of poverty in our three states. The project is now public, and just today we presented our policy roadmap to a large group of other think-tanks folks across the country. One of our partners in this project, Dr. Vance Ginn, mentioned it in his Substack “Let People Prosper.”
I’m glad to be the policy director for the 3-state project called the Alliance for Opportunity with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Georgia Center for Opportunity, and Pelican Institute (Louisiana). This is a poverty relief initiative through free-market, conservative reforms that focuses on the dignity of each person through work and the need for financial self-sufficiency rather than dependency on the government. Please check out our policy roadmap and share feedback. See the commentary below with my story. We will have more on this for specific policy priorities for Texas released very soon.
Buzz’s Thoughts: We’ll have more on this in the coming days, but it’s something I’ve very excited about.
3) If you’re not following events in Mexico, you really should. The Texas Public Policy follows Mexican events pretty closely and talked about it at their recently concluded policy summit. Give it a look.
Buzz’s Thoughts: It’s easy to focus only on the border issue as a solely a domestic policy dispute. However, the situation is much more complex than that. Corruption and the growing power of Mexico’s drug cartels could present us with a much more serious problem than illegal immigration.
4) The city of Atlanta recently launched a pilot program to test the idea of a basic income for folks who meet certain conditions. Universal Basic Income is an idea that been around for a long time - you may remember 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang wanting to give every American $1000 per month, but it’s become more popular among Mayors of larger American cities. However, UBI has many critics, and as one observer says, we essentially have spent the last two years experimenting with a national UBI (during covid19 lockdowns) and with rising rates of alcohol and porn consumption, divorce and domestic abuse, the results are not all that positive. My colleague at GCO Erik Randolph wrote an op-ed with the aforementioned Vance Ginn putting forward a better idea than UBI, Empowerment Accounts.
A key is to improve opportunities to work while giving greater flexibility to our neighbors. This can be done in changing how they may use their temporary government assistance payments to meet their current needs while setting them up for self-sufficiency later.
One innovative idea that would do just that are Empowerment Accounts.
These accounts would provide safety net funding to certain eligible recipients on a debit card. To qualify, people would need to be working, training, or being educated while meeting with a community case manager. The program also includes a financial literacy and savings component that paves the way for recipients to pay for long-term needs.
Atlanta leaders could test these Empowerment Accounts in a pilot project, funded at first by philanthropists.
Buzz’s Thoughts: As my boss likes to say, “a job is so much more than a paycheck.” Efforts to improve the lives of all our fellow citizens must keep that in mind. Simply handing out money may pay the bills, but it likely won’t provide additional dignity to the recipients.
5) Mary Katherine Ham writes in The Atlantic on how we’ve treated kids during the pandemic.
Children are the least at-risk population, but in many areas of the country they continue to face draconian mitigation policies—either in their name (low chance of serious COVID complications doesn’t mean no chance) or in the name of protecting their elders. As David Leonhardt wrote in The New York Times, we’ve inflicted “more harm to children in exchange for less harm to adults.” You don’t have to be a psychologist to see something wrong with that exchange. In our focus on one threat, we’ve let a thousand others flourish: learning loss, destabilization of the public-school system due to under-enrollment, self-harm, behavioral problems.
The major metropolitan areas of the United States were a global outlier in 2020 and 2021 for extended school closures. (Schools were largely open in Europe and Scandinavia and many other spots in the U.S.) Schools closed again in Chicago while the teachers’ union negotiated COVID protocols this month, leading no doubt to yet more learning loss. Children as young as 2 still mask on public transportation in Oregon while children in Boston learn in classrooms with the windows open to 20-degree breezes. Some schools are attempting to get every child into N95 masks or the like since the CDC acknowledged that cloth masks don’t offer much protection. Beyond schools, we restrict children’s ability to participate in public life. Major American cities require proof of vaccination for them to eat at a Chuck E. Cheese. In Minneapolis, even children ages 2 to 5 must show a negative COVID test to get into a restaurant.
Buzz’s Thoughts: In the early weeks and months of the pandemic, many of the decisions impacting children were understandable, even necessary. However, we now know the damage extended restrictions on so much of our children’s lives have had. It’s long past time to rethink our policies and behavior. Long. Past. Time.
6) People really haven’t changed their political ideology in recent years, even if they have changed their party ID.
Gallup's political ideology trend, dating from 1992, is based on annual averages of its multiday national telephone surveys conducted throughout each year. The 2021 results encompass interviews with more than 12,000 U.S. adults. Unlike party ID, which varied considerably from one quarter to the next in 2021, Americans' description of their political views on the conservative-to-liberal spectrum showed no meaningful movement throughout the year.
Long term, Americans' political ideology hasn't varied greatly, but moderates were generally the lead group by a slight margin in most years from 1992 to 1998. Between 1999 and 2008, moderates and conservatives were about evenly matched (within two percentage points of each other) -- similar to the pattern from 2015 through today. By contrast, in a unique period from 2009 to 2014 -- the first six years of Barack Obama's presidency -- conservatives held a slight edge.
More broadly, the percentage of Americans identifying as moderate has edged down from over 40% in the early 1990s to closer to 35% over the past decade. At the same time, the percentage identifying as liberal has increased from 17% in 1992 to 25% in recent years, while the percentage conservative has been fairly flat near the 38% average.
Buzz’s Thoughts: There’s a lot of interesting data in this Gallup survey. It’s well worth your time to look it over.