Category Archives: Politics

Ranzau petition to Kansas Supreme Court

A filing by a group seeking to recall a county commissioner declares “facts” that can’t possibly be known at this time.

Those hoping to recall Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau have filed a petition with the Kansas Supreme Court seeking to overturn the finding of the Sedgwick County District Attorney. That finding was the petition did not meet the grounds and conditions proscribed in Kansas law.

(Many news headlines and reporting use phrases like “District Attorney blocks petition.” That’s not accurate. The DA simply ruled that the petition did not meet the legal requirements.)

In the filing, under a section title “Statement of Facts,” paragraph 2 starts with “It is the will of the electors of Sedgwick County’s District 4 to seek the removal of Richard Ranzau from office …”

I’d like to know how the petitioner knows the will of the electors (voters) of district 4, specifically that they want to remove Ranzau from office. Since August 2008, Ranzau has prevailed in all four elections regarding his current office. In each election the revealed preference — or “will” — of the voters is that they preferred Ranzau to the alternatives, both other Republicans in two primary elections, and Democrats in two general elections. Each election was contested by experienced politicians who had held offices including that of Sedgwick County Commissioner, Wichita City Council Member, Kansas State Representative, and Kansas State Senator.

The only fact we know so far is that there are 100 citizens of Sedgwick County (not just district 4 residents) who have signed up to become recall petition circulators. Should the recall petition be approved, these circulators would have to gather a large number of valid signatures in a short period of time. If that petitioning effort is successful, there will be an election. It is at that time — and only that time — that the electors (voters) of district 4 express their will regarding the recall of Richard Ranzau.

Year in review: 2015

Here are highlights from the Voice for Liberty for 2015. Also be sure to view the programs on WichitaLiberty.TV for guests like debate expert Rodney Wren, radio talk show Joseph Ashby, Congressman Mike Pompeo, Dave Trabert and James Franko of Kansas Policy Institute, author Shari Howard McMinn, Sedgwick County Commissioners Karl Peterjohn and Richard Ranzau, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, Rodger Woods of Americans for Prosperity, Jeffrey Tucker of Foundation for Economic Education, Radio talk show host Andy Hooser, and Jonathan Williams of American Legislative Exchange Council.

January

A chance for Wichita to embrace transparency
Promises of transparency were made during the recent Wichita sales tax campaign. If the city cares about government transparency, the city should implement its campaign promises, even though the tax did not pass. Click here.

Wichita loan agreement subject to interpretation
In 2009 the City of Wichita entered into an ambiguous agreement to grant a forgivable loan, and then failed to follow its own agreement. Worse yet, there has been no improvement to similar contracts. Such agreements empower the city to grant favor at its discretion. Click here.

Wichita TIF projects: some background
Tax increment financing disrupts the usual flow of tax dollars, routing funds away from cash-strapped cities, counties, and schools back to the TIF-financed development. TIF creates distortions in the way cities develop, and researchers find that the use of TIF means lower economic growth. Click here.

Government intervention may produce unwanted incentives
A Kansas economic development incentive program has the potential to alter hiring practices for reasons not related to applicants’ job qualifications. Click here.

Wichita city hall falls short in taxpayer protection
An incentives agreement the Wichita city council passed on first reading is missing several items that city policy requires. How the council and city staff handle the second reading of this ordinance will let us know for whose interests city hall works: citizens, or cronies. Click here.

In Kansas, PEAK has a leak
A Kansas economic development incentive program is pitched as being self-funded, but is probably a drain on the state treasure nonetheless. Click here.

Kansas Democratic Party income tax reckoning
A story told to generate sympathy for working mothers at the expense of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is based on arithmetic that is not plausible. Click here.

A Kansas calamity, at $15,399 per pupil
If things are so bad in Kansas schools at this level of spending, will any amount of spending satisfy school districts? Click here.

Sin-tax or vice-tax?
As Kansas considers raising additional revenue by raising the tax on tobacco and alcohol, let’s declare the end to governmental labeling of vice as sin, and people as sinners. Click here.

Ray Merrick on the gotcha factor
The Kansas House of Representatives, led by its Speaker, decides to retain the ability to cast votes in secret. Click here.

February

Availability of testimony in the Kansas Legislature
Despite having a website with the capability, only about one-third of standing committees in the Kansas Legislature are providing written testimony online. Click here.

Kansas spring elections should be moved
Moving spring elections to fall of even-numbered years would produce more votes on local offices like city council and school board. Click here.

Making Wichita an inclusive and attractive community
There are things both easy and difficult Wichita could do to make the city inclusive and welcoming of all, especially the young and diverse. Click here.

How do school choice programs affect budgets and performance of school districts?
Opponents of school choice programs argue the programs harm school districts, both financially and in their ability to serve their remaining students. Evidence does not support this position. Click here.

What we can learn from the piano
The purchase of a piano by a Kansas school district teaches us a lesson. Instead of a system in which schools raise money voluntarily — a system in which customers are happy to buy, donors are happy to give, and schools are grateful to receive — we have strife. Click here.

Community improvement districts in Kansas
Community Improvement Districts are a relatively recent creation of the Kansas Legislature. In a CID, merchants charge additional sales tax, up to an extra two cents per dollar. Click here.

Industrial revenue bonds in Kansas
Industrial Revenue Bonds are a confusing economic development program. Click here.

STAR bonds in Kansas
The Kansas STAR bonds program provides a mechanism for spending by autopilot, without specific appropriation by the legislature. Click here.

Sam Williams, CPA?
Sam Williams, a candidate for Wichita mayor, is not entitled to use the title “CPA,” according to Kansas law. Click here.

Rally for school choice in Kansas
This month, parents and children from around Kansas rallied in the Kansas Capitol for school choice. Click here.

March

School choice and state spending on schools
States like Kansas that are struggling to balance budgets could use school choice programs as a way to save money. Click here.

Energy subsidies for electricity production, in proportion
To compare federal subsidies for the production of electricity, we must consider subsidy values in proportion to the amount of electricity generated, because the magnitude is vastly different.
Click here.

Block grants a chance for more school choice in Kansas
The block grant school funding bill under consideration in the Kansas Legislature would hold districts harmless for enrollment declines due to school choice. Click here.

Downtown Wichita deal shows some of the problems with the Wichita economy
A look at the Wichita city council’s action regarding a downtown Wichita development project and how it is harmful to Wichita taxpayers and the economy. Click here.

April

Study on state and local regulation released
Kansas Policy Institute released a study of regulation and its impact at the state and local level. This is different from most investigations of regulation, as most focus on federal regulations. Click here.

Wichita city council member Jeff Longwell should not have voted
A sequence of events involving Jeff Longwell should concern citizens as they select the next Wichita mayor. Based on Wichita law, Longwell should not have voted on a matter involving the Ambassador Hotel, either for or against it. Click here.

Rich States, Poor States, 2105 edition
In Rich States, Poor States, Kansas continues with middle-of-the-pack performance, and fell in the forward-looking forecast for the second year in a row. Click here.

Sedgwick County elections have an anomaly
A Wichita statistician is thwarted in efforts to obtain data that might explain a strange observation. Click here.

Wichita Eagle fails readers, again
In its coverage of the 2015 election, the Wichita Eagle prints several stories that ought to cause readers to question the reliability of its newsroom.
Click here.

Economic indicators for Kansas
During this century the Kansas economy has not kept up with the national economy and most neighboring states. Click here.

Did Jeff Longwell dodge a tough city council vote?
On election day, Wichita city council member and mayoral candidate Jeff Longwell appears to have ducked an inconvenient vote and would not say why. Click here.

Intrust Bank Arena loss for 2014 is $5 million
The depreciation expense of Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita recognizes and accounts for the sacrifices of the people of Sedgwick County and its visitors to pay for the arena. But no one wants to talk about this. Click here.

Wichita has examples of initiative and referendum
Citizens in Wichita have been busy exercising their rights of initiative and referendum at the municipal level. The Kansas Legislature should grant the same rights to citizens at the state level. Click here.

May

Wichita economic development, the need for reform
An incentives deal for a Wichita company illustrates a capacity problem and the need for reform. Click here.

Wichita property tax rates up again
The City of Wichita says that it hasn’t raised its mill levy in many years. Data shows the mill levy has risen, and its use has shifted from debt service to current consumption. Click here.

Brownback derangement syndrome on display
A newspaper op-ed illustrates some of the muddled thinking of Kansas newspaper editorialists, not to mention Brownback derangement syndrome. Click here.

In Wichita, bad governmental behavior excused
A Wichita newspaper op-ed is either ignorant of, or decides to forgive and excuse, bad behavior in Wichita government, particularly by then-mayoral candidate Jeff Longwell. Click here.

Soviet-style society seen as Wichita’s future
If local governments don’t fund arts, we risk a Soviet-style existence. This line of thought is precisely backwards. Click here.

Wichita water statistics update
Updated statistics show that the Wichita ASR water project has not been producing water at the projected rate, even after projections were halved. (This article was updated each month as new statistics became available.) Click here.

Kansas public school establishment ought to thank Sam Brownback
Kansas public schools ought to thank the governor and legislature for failing to give parents the power of school choice. Click here.

June

In Wichita, campaigning for a tax, then asking for exemption from paying
Having contributed $5,000 to persuade Wichita voters to raise the sales tax, a company now seeks exemption from paying any sales tax. Click here.

Taxation in the states
Examining tax collections by the states shows that Kansas collects more tax than many of our neighbors, and should put to rest some common myths. Click here.

With tax exemptions, what message does Wichita send to existing landlords?
As the City of Wichita prepares to grant special tax status to another new industrial building, existing landlords must be wondering why they struggle to stay in business when city hall sets up subsidized competitors with new buildings and a large cost advantage. Click here.

How to turn $399,000 into $65,000 in downtown Wichita
Once embraced by Wichita officials as heroes, real estate listings for two floors of a downtown Wichita office building illustrate the carnage left behind by two developers. Click here.

Kansas sales tax has disproportionate harmful effects
Kansas legislative and executive leaders must realize that a shift to consumption taxes must be accompanied by relief from its disproportionate harm to low-income households. Click here.

July

The candlemakers’ petition
The arguments presented in the following essay by Frederic Bastiat, written in 1845, are still in use in city halls, county courthouses, school district boardrooms, state capitals, and probably most prominently and with the greatest harm, Washington. Click here.

Wichita property taxes still high, but comparatively better
An ongoing study reveals that generally, property taxes on commercial and industrial property in Wichita are high. In particular, taxes on commercial property in Wichita are among the highest in the nation, although Wichita has improved comparatively. Click here.

In Wichita, wasting electricity a chronic problem
The chronic waste of electricity in downtown Wichita is a problem that probably won’t be solved soon, given the city’s attitude. Click here.

Kansas school standards evaluated
A new edition of an ongoing study shows that Kansas school standards are weak, compared to other states. This is a continuation of a trend. Click here.

Wichita schools could increase engagement at no cost
The Wichita public school district could boost its engagement with citizens with a simple step that would add no cost. Click here.

For Sedgwick County Zoo, a moratorium on its commitment
As the Sedgwick County Zoo and its supporters criticize commissioners for failing to honor commitments, the Zoo is enjoying a deferral of loan payments and a break from accumulating interest charges. Click here.

August

Sedgwick County spending beneficiaries overwhelm others
That so many speakers at a public hearing were in favor of government spending is not surprising. Click here.

In Wichita, benefitting from your sales taxes, but not paying their own
A Wichita real estate development benefits from the sales taxes you pay, but doesn’t want to pay themselves. Click here.

Federal rules serve as ‘worms’ buried in promises of ‘free money’
An often unappreciated mechanism throughout the Kansas budget severely limits the ability of legislators and governors to adapt to changing state priorities. A new paper from Kansas Policy Institute explains. Click here.

In Sedgwick County, expectation of government entitlements
In Sedgwick County, we see that once companies are accustomed to government entitlements, any reduction is met with resistance. Click here.

In Wichita, an incomplete economic development analysis
The Wichita City Council will consider an economic development incentive based on an analysis that is nowhere near complete. Click here.

In Sedgwick County, a moral crusade
In Sedgwick County the debate over the budget has the dimension of a moral crusade, except for one thing. Click here.

Cost of restoring quality of life spending cuts in Sedgwick County: 43 deaths
An analysis of public health spending in Sedgwick County illuminates the consequences of public spending decisions. In particular, those calling for more spending on zoos and arts must consider the lives that could be saved by diverting this spending to public health, according to analysis from Kansas Health Institute. Click here.

Wichita Chamber speaks on county spending and taxes
The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce urges spending over fiscally sound policies and tax restraint in Sedgwick County. Click here.

Wichita property tax delinquency problem not solved
Despite a government tax giveaway program, problems with delinquent special assessment taxes in Wichita have become worse. Click here.

Kansas school standards found lower than in most states
A second study finds that Kansas uses low standards for evaluating the performance of students in its public schools. Click here.

Wichita Business Journal reporting misses the point
Reporting by the Wichita Business Journal regarding economic development incentives in Wichita makes a big mistake in overlooking where the real money is. Click here.

The Kansas economy and agriculture
There’s no need for Kansas state government to exaggerate the value of agriculture to the Kansas economy. Click here.

Wichita CID illustrates pitfalls of government intervention
A proposed special tax district in Wichita holds the potential to harm consumers, the city’s reputation, and the business prospects of competitors. Besides, we shouldn’t let private parties use a government function for their exclusive benefit. Click here.

September

Another week in Wichita, more CID sprawl
Shoppers in west Wichita should prepare to pay higher taxes, if the city approves a Community Improvement District at Kellogg and West Streets. Click here.

Wichita’s demolition policy
Wichita homeowners must pay for demolition of their deteriorating homes, but the owners of a long-festering and highly visible commercial property get to use tax funds for their demolition expense. Click here.

Sales tax exemptions in Kansas
Can eliminating sales tax exemptions in Kansas generate a pot of gold? Click here.

Kansas Center for Economic Growth and the truth
Why can’t Kansas public school spending advocates — especially a former Kansas state budget director — tell the truth about schools and spending, wonders Dave Trabert of Kansas Policy Institute. Click here.

Criminal justice reform: Why it matters
Mark Holden, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Koch Industries, Inc., speaks about criminal justice reform initiatives Koch is encouraging in and why they’re important from moral, constitutional and fiscal perspectives. Click here.

Where are our documents?
Government promotes and promises transparency, but finds it difficult to actually provide. Click here.

State taxes and charitable giving
States with higher rates of economic growth grow total charitable giving at a faster rate than states with low rates of economic growth, finds a new report by American Legislative Exchange Council. Click here.

October

Wichita perpetuates wasteful system of grants; feels good about it
While praising the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a grant to Wichita State university, Wichita city planners boost the growth of wasteful government spending. Click here.

Wichita cheers its planned economy
While success in growing a company is welcome in Wichita, there are broader issues that affect the rest of the metropolitan area. Click here.

Despite growth of sharing economy, Wichita relies on centralization
The sharing economy provides for the decentralization and privatization of regulation, but the City of Wichita clings to the old ways. Click here.

Kansas school fund balances
Kansas school fund balances rose slightly this year, both in absolute dollars and dollars per pupil. Click here.

Merit pay fairness is not about teachers
Opposing teacher merit pay based on fairness issues isn’t being fair to students. Instead, it’s cruel to students. Click here.

Wichita’s growth in gross domestic product
An interactive visualization of gross domestic product for metropolitan areas. Click here.

Wichita Chamber calls for more cronyism
By advocating for revival of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce continues its advocacy for more business welfare, more taxes, more wasteful government spending, and more cronyism. Click here.

Kansas school support
An interactive visualization of data provided to members of the Kansas 2015 Special Committee on K-12 Student Success. Click here.

Bombardier can be a learning experience
The unfortunate news of the cancellation of a new aircraft program can be a learning opportunity for Wichita. Click here.

Wichita officials, newspaper, just don’t get it on Ex-Im Bank
Wichita’s establishment prefers cronyism over capitalism. Click here.

November

Kansas NAEP scores for 2015
Reactions to the release of National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for Kansas and the nation. Also, an interactive visualization. Click here.

Wichita Eagle: Reporting, then research
Wichita Eagle reporting on a controversy involving religion might leave discerning readers wondering just what is the correct story. Click here.

Kansas fiscal experiment
Those evaluating the Kansas fiscal “experiment” should consider what is the relevant input variable. Click here.

Campaign contribution changes in Wichita
A change to Wichita city election law is likely to have little practical effect. Click here.

Wichita to consider three tax abatements
When considering whether to grant three property tax abatements, the Wichita city council is unlikely to ask this question: Why can’t these companies expand if they have to pay the same taxes everyone else pays? Click here.

For Wichita’s mayor, too many public hearings
Is the Wichita city council burdened with too many public hearings? Wichita’s mayor seems to think so. Click here.

Historic preservation tax credits, or developer welfare?
A Wichita developer seeks to have taxpayers fund a large portion of his development costs, using a wasteful government program of dubious value. Click here.

Kansas cities force tax breaks on others
When Kansas cities grant economic development incentives, they may also unilaterally take action that affects overlapping jurisdictions such as counties, school districts, and the state itself. The legislature should end this. Click here.

December

Wichita checkbook register
A records request to the City of Wichita results in data as well as insight into the city’s attitude towards empowering citizens with data. Click here.

Kansas school reform
A Wichita economist and attorney offers advice to a committee of the Kansas Legislature on reforming Kansas schools for student achievement. Click here.

Employment by metropolitan area
An interactive visualization of employment in metropolitan areas. Click here.

Survey finds Kansans with little knowledge of school spending
As in years past, a survey finds that when Kansans are asked questions about the level of school spending, few have the correct information. Click here.

A simple step for transparency in Kansas government
There exists a simple and inexpensive way for the Kansas Legislature to make its proceedings more readily available. Click here.

Wichita Pachyderm Club: 2015 speakers and programs
Here is a list of all the Wichita Pachyderm Club programs in 2015. For many of the programs a video or audio presentation is available. Click here.

Wichita Pachyderm Club: 2015 speakers and programs

Here is a list of all the Wichita Pachyderm Club programs in 2015. For many of the programs a video or audio presentation is available. For those programs, the link is clickable.

Thank you to club president John Stevens for compiling the list, and to vice-president John Todd for putting together these programs.

Click here to access this document.

Guest host for Voice of Reason

Bob 2015-12-17 11.25.52On Thursday I filled in as guest host on The Voice of Reason with Andy Hooser as the host took a few days of vacation. Joseph Ashby of the Joseph Ashby Show was the producer. Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn was in-studio guest for most of the show. Jennifer Baysinger of Colaition for a Better Wichita called to discuss Wichita’s future water supply.

Arthur Brooks in Wichita

Arthur C. Brooks, author of The Conservative Heart, spoke about being a happy warrior in the conservative movement during the keynote speech of the Annual Awards Dinner of the Kansas Policy Institute on October 20, 2015, in Wichita. Brooks was introduced by KPI President Dave Trabert. Videography by Paul Soutar. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.

Criminal justice reform: Why it matters

Mark Holden, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Koch Industries, Inc., speaks about criminal justice reform initiatives Koch is encouraging in and why they’re important from moral, constitutional and fiscal perspectives. Holden spoke at a luncheon of the Wichita Pachyderm Club on September 18, 2015. View below, or click here to view in high definition at YouTube. Videography by Paul Soutar.

More information about this topic is at The Overcriminalization of America.

Politics, the courts, and innovative solutions

Voice for Liberty radio logo square 02 155x116The Honorable 18th Judicial District Court Judge Phil Journey presented an inspiring and forward thinking presentation at the Wichita Pachyderm Club luncheon meeting titled, “Politics, the Courts, and Innovative Solutions.” Said Pachyderm Club vice-president John Todd: “Judge Journey’s common-sense, fair, effective, and innovative methods of dealing with people who appear in his court is superb.” This audio presentation was recorded on July 24, 2015. The accompanying visual presentation is here.

A Republican dark horse?

Wondering if “the GOP isn’t on course to nominating their very own [Michael] Dukakis?” the Weekly Standard suggests a few possibilities, including Kansas’ Mike Pompeo:

Who could such a mysterious dark horse be? Well, it’s not as if every well-qualified contender is already on the field. Mitch Daniels was probably the most successful Republican governor of recent times, with federal executive experience to boot. Paul Ryan is the intellectual leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, with national campaign experience. The House also features young but tested leaders like Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy and Mike Pompeo. There is the leading elected representative of the 9/11 generation who has also been a very impressive freshman senator, Tom Cotton. There could be a saner and sounder version of Trump—another businessman who hasn’t held electoral office. And there are distinguished conservative leaders from outside politics; Justice Samuel Alito and General (ret.) Jack Keane come to mind.

From An October Surprise For the GOP?

Intellectuals vs. the rest of us

Why are so many opposed to private property and free exchange — capitalism, in other words — in favor of large-scale government interventionism? Lack of knowledge, or ignorance, is one answer, but there is another. From August 2013.

brain-diagram-cartoonAt a recent educational meeting I attended, someone asked the question: Why doesn’t everyone believe what we (most of the people attending) believe: that private property and free exchange — capitalism, in other words — are superior to government intervention and control over the economy?

It’s question that I’ve asked at conferences I’ve attended. The most hopeful answer is ignorance. While that may seem a harsh word to use, ignorance is simply a “state of being uninformed.” That can be cured by education. This is the reason for this website. This is the reason why I and others testify in favor of free markets and against government intervention. It is the reason why John Todd gives out hundreds of copies of I, Pencil, purchased at his own expense.

But there is another explanation, and one that is less hopeful. There is an intellectual class in our society that benefits mightily from government. This class also believes that their cause is moral, that they are anointed, as Thomas Sowell explains in The vision of the anointed: self-congratulation as a basis for social policy: “What all these highly disparate crusades have in common is their moral exaltation of the anointed above others, who are to have their very different views nullified and superseded by the views of the anointed, imposed via the power of government.”

Murray N. Rothbard explains further the role of the intellectual class in the first chapter of For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, titled “The Libertarian Heritage: The American Revolution and Classical Liberalism.” Since most intellectuals favor government over a market economy and work towards that end, what do the intellectuals get? “In exchange for spreading this message to the public, the new breed of intellectuals was rewarded with jobs and prestige as apologists for the New Order and as planners and regulators of the newly cartelized economy and society.”

There it is: Planners and regulators. We have plenty of these at all levels of government, and these are prime examples of the intellectual class. Is it any wonder that the locus of centralized planning in south-central Kansas — sustainable communities — is at a government university?

As Rothbard explains, intellectuals have cleverly altered the very meaning of words to suit their needs:

One of the ways that the new statist intellectuals did their work was to change the meaning of old labels, and therefore to manipulate in the minds of the public the emotional connotations attached to such labels. For example, the laissez-faire libertarians had long been known as “liberals,” and the purest and most militant of them as “radicals”; they had also been known as “progressives” because they were the ones in tune with industrial progress, the spread of liberty, and the rise in living standards of consumers. The new breed of statist academics and intellectuals appropriated to themselves the words “liberal” and “progressive,” and successfully managed to tar their laissez- faire opponents with the charge of being old-fashioned, “Neanderthal,” and “reactionary.” Even the name “conservative” was pinned on the classical liberals. And, as we have seen, the new statists were able to appropriate the concept of “reason” as well.

We see this at work in Wichita, where those who advocate for capitalism and free markets instead of government intervention are called, in the case of Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and Wichita Eagle editorial writer Rhonda Holman, “naysayers.”

The sad realization is that as government has extended its reach into so many areas of our lives, to advocate for liberty instead of government intervention is to oppose many things that people have accepted as commonplace or inevitable. To advocate that free people should trade voluntarily with other free people — instead of forming a plan for them — is to be dismissed as “not serious.”

Rothbard further explains the role of intellectuals in promoting what they see as the goodness of expansive government:

Throughout the ages, the emperor has had a series of pseudo-clothes provided for him by the nation’s intellectual caste. In past centuries, the intellectuals informed the public that the State or its rulers were divine, or at least clothed in divine authority, and therefore what might look to the naive and untutored eye as despotism, mass murder, and theft on a grand scale was only the divine working its benign and mysterious ways in the body politic. In recent decades, as the divine sanction has worn a bit threadbare, the emperor’s “court intellectuals” have spun ever more sophisticated apologia: informing the public that what the government does is for the “common good” and the “public welfare,” that the process of taxation-and-spending works through the mysterious process of the “multiplier” to keep the economy on an even keel, and that, in any case, a wide variety of governmental “services” could not possibly be performed by citizens acting voluntarily on the market or in society. All of this the libertarian denies: he sees the various apologia as fraudulent means of obtaining public support for the State’s rule, and he insists that whatever services the government actually performs could be supplied far more efficiently and far more morally by private and cooperative enterprise.

The libertarian therefore considers one of his prime educational tasks is to spread the demystification and desanctification of the State among its hapless subjects. His task is to demonstrate repeatedly and in depth that not only the emperor but even the “democratic” State has no clothes; that all governments subsist by exploitive rule over the public; and that such rule is the reverse of objective necessity. He strives to show that the very existence of taxation and the State necessarily sets up a class division between the exploiting rulers and the exploited ruled. He seeks to show that the task of the court intellectuals who have always supported the State has ever been to weave mystification in order to induce the public to accept State rule, and that these intellectuals obtain, in return, a share in the power and pelf extracted by the rulers from their deluded subjects.

And so the alliance between state and intellectual is formed. The intellectuals are usually rewarded quite handsomely by the state for their subservience, writes Rothbard:

The alliance is based on a quid pro quo: on the one hand, the intellectuals spread among the masses the idea that the State and its rulers are wise, good, sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable and better than any conceivable alternatives. In return for this panoply of ideology, the State incorporates the intellectuals as part of the ruling elite, granting them power, status, prestige, and material security. Furthermore, intellectuals are needed to staff the bureaucracy and to “plan” the economy and society.

The “material security,” measured in dollars, can be pretty good, as shown by these examples: The Wichita city manager is paid $185,000, the Sedgwick county manager is paid $175,095, and the superintendent of the Wichita school district is paid $224,910.

‘Roast of Trump’ best left unserved

A celebrity roast of Donald Trump provides insight into the honoree’s character.

Anyone who is thinking of supporting Donald Trump for president might want to view the Comedy Central Roast of Trump. This was recorded in 2011, and several roasters referred to Trump’s possible presidential candidacy. You can find it on YouTube.

In these roasts the humor is raunchy and vulgar. The language is foul. I’m not sure I understand all the jokes, and I’m a little ashamed to admit that I do understand many. The roasters — a collection of has-beens like Larry King and celebrities who seem to do nothing but appear on roasts — poke fun at the roastee, in this case Donald Trump.

Well, it’s much more than poking fun. The roasters skewer Trump. No aspect of his life seems off limits. Multiple jokes refer to his several young wives and his sex life. These jokes are often funny. They’re funny because they exaggerate some aspect of Trump. They have to have a whiff of plausibility, some grounding in reality, in order to be funny.

If, for example, a roaster were to poke fun at Trump for being poor or short, that wouldn’t be funny. Trump is not poor; he’s extremely wealthy, and he’s tall. There’s no platform from which to exaggerate for humorous effect.

But when a roaster crudely jests at how Trump’s ego intrudes on his sex life (it has to do with Trump being more interested in himself than in his partner), that’s pretty funny. It references things that are true about Trump — his massive ego and his several beautiful young wives — and exaggerates a little.

Jokes like this could not have been a surprise to Trump. He (or his people) must have known the nature of the humor employed at these roasts. So the question is: Why did he appear in such a forum? Is this a way to appear presidential?

Wichita schools could increase engagement at no cost

The Wichita public school district could boost its engagement with citizens with a simple step that would add no cost.

If you’d like to watch a meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, your options are few. You can attend the meetings in person. Or, if you subscribe to certain cable television systems, you can view delayed repeats of the meetings. But that’s it.

Live and archived video of governmental meetings is commonplace, except for the Wichita public schools. Citizens must either attend the meetings, or view delayed broadcasts on cable TV.

There’s a simple way to fix this. It’s called YouTube.

When the Sedgwick County Commission was faced with an aging web infrastructure for its archived broadcasts, it did the sensible thing. It created a YouTube channel and uploads video of its meetings. Now citizens can view commission meetings at any time on desktop PCs, tablets, and smartphones. This was an improvement over the old system, which was difficult to use and required special browser plug-ins. I could never get the video to play on my Iphone.

The Wichita school district could do the same. In fact, the district already has a YouTube channel. Yes, it takes a long time to upload two or three hours of video to YouTube, but once started the process runs in the background without intervention. No one has to sit and watch the process.

Earlier this year I asked why the district does not make video of its meetings available archived online. The district responded that it “has a long-standing commitment to the USD 259 community of showing unabridged recordings of regular Board of Education meetings on Cox Cable Channel 20 and more recently AT&T U-verse Channel 99.” The meetings are broadcast seven times starting the day after each meeting. Two of the broadcasts start at 1:00 am.

I was also told “The district does not archive complete Board meetings on the Web site because of file size and bandwidth.” YouTube takes care of that problem at no cost. As it turns out, the district does have some material from board meetings available on its website. This is welcome. But not complete meetings, and what’s there is supplied in a non-streaming format.

Showing meetings delayed on cable TV is good. It was innovative at one time. But why aren’t meetings live? What if you can’t watch the meeting before it disappears from the schedule after a week? What if you don’t have Cox or AT&T U-verse? What if you want to watch meetings on your computer, tablet, or smartphone? I don’t think the fact that meetings are on cable TV means they can’t also be on YouTube.

It’s just an idea.

A big-picture look at the EDA

While praising the U.S. Economic Development Administration for a small grant to a local institution, the Wichita Eagle editorial board overlooks the big picture.

While praising a grant to Wichita State University from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Wichita Eagle editorial board doesn’t waste an opportunity remind us of its big-government, anti-taxpayer ideology. (Pompeo would eliminate source of WSU grants, July 11, 2015)

The op-ed also criticizes U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, who has sponsored legislation and offered amendments to end the EDA.

While the Eagle op-ed is designed to make us feel happy for Wichita State University (and bad about Rep. Pompeo, especially given the photo the newspaper used to illustrate the story online), the short-sighted and naive reasoning behind it is harmful. The op-ed promotes the impression that federal money is free, a gift from a magical fairy godmother that falls out of the sky in abundance. Anyone who opposes this free stuff must be evil.

But in exchange for the grant to WSU, we have to tolerate grants like these made by the EDA:

    Harry Reid Research Park
  • In 2008, the EDA provided $2,000,000 to begin construction of the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park in Las Vegas, NV. For many years the UNLV Harry Reid Research & Technology Park featured a paved road and a website claiming the first anticipated tenant would move in in 2010. But there are signs of life now in 2015, according to the article Signs of life emerge at UNLV’s long-dormant technology park.)
  • In 2010, $25,000,000 was spent by the EDA for a Global Climate Mitigation Incentive Fund and $2,000,000 for a “culinary amphitheater,” wine tasting room and gift shop in Washington State.
  • In 2011, the EDA gave a New Mexico town $1,500,000 to renovate a theater.
  • In 2013, the EDA also gave Massachusetts $1.4 million to promote new video games.
  • Back in the 1980s, the EDA used taxpayer dollars to build replicas of the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian Pyramids in the middle of Indiana. They were never completed — it is now a dumping ground for tires.

So in exchange for WSU receiving a million dollars this year and $1.9 million last year, we have to put up with the above. We have to wonder if Harry Reid being the number one Senate Democrat had anything to do with a grant for a facility named in his honor. We have yet another government agency staffed with a fleet of bureaucrats, including a chief who will travel to Wichita to promote and defend his agency. We have another government agency that believes it can better decide how to invest capital than the owners of the capital. We have another example of shipping tax dollars to Washington, seeing a large fraction skimmed off the top, then cities and states begging for scraps from the leftovers.

Often when the Eagle editorial board criticizes conservatives, it does so by using terms like “driven by ideology” or “blind adherence to right-wing ideology.”

But anyone parachuting down from Mars and observing this system for making investment decisions would wonder: Why do they do this? What kind of ideology would result in this nonsense?

You’ll have to ask the Wichita Eagle editorial board.

Rep. Pompeo on the EDA

In January 2012 Pompeo wrote an op-ed which explains the harm of the EDA. Here is an excerpt:

Last week, Secretary Fernandez invited himself to Wichita at taxpayer expense and met with the Wichita Eagle’s editorial board. Afterwards, the paper accurately noted I am advocating eliminating the EDA even though that agency occasionally awards grant money to projects in South Central Kansas. They just don’t get it. Thanks to decades of this flawed “You take yours, I’ll take mine” Washington logic, our nation now faces a crippling $16 trillion national debt.

I first learned about the EDA when Secretary Fernandez testified in front of my subcommittee that the benefits of EDA projects exceed the costs and cited the absurd example of a $1.4 million award for “infrastructure” that allegedly helped a Minnesota town secure a new $1.6 billion steel mill. As a former CEO, I knew there is no way that a taxpayer subsidy equal to less than one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the total capital needed made a difference in launching the project. That mill was getting built whether EDA’s grant came through or not. So, I decided to dig further.

I discovered that the EDA is a federal agency we can do without. Similar to earmarks that gave us the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” or the Department of Energy loan guarantee scandal that produced Solyndra, the EDA advances local projects that narrowly benefit a particular company or community. To be sure, the EDA occasionally supports a local project here in Kansas. But it takes our tax money every year for projects in 400-plus other congressional districts, many if not most of which are boondoggles. For example: EDA gave $2 million to help construct UNLV’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park; $2 million for a “culinary amphitheater,” tasting room, and gift shop at a Washington state winery; and $500,000 to construct (never-completed) replicas of the Great Pyramids in rural Indiana.

Several times in recent decades, the Government Accountability Office has questioned the value and efficacy of the EDA. Good-government groups like Citizens Against Government Waste have called for dismantling the agency. In addition, eliminating the EDA was listed among the recommendations of President Obama’s own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission.

So why hasn’t it been shut down already? Politics. The EDA spreads taxpayer-funded project money far and wide and attacks congressmen who fail to support EDA grants. Soon after that initial hearing, Secretary Fernandez flew in his regional director — again at taxpayer expense — to show me “all the great things we are doing in your home district” and handed me a list of recent and pending local grants. Hint, hint. You can’t say I wasn’t warned to back off. Indeed, Eagle editors missed the real story here: Secretary Fernandez flew to Wichita because he is a bureaucrat trying to save his high-paying gig. The bureaucracy strikes back when conservatives take on bloated, out-of-control, public spending, so I guess I’m making progress.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not faulting cities, universities, or companies for having sought “free” federal money from the EDA. The fault lies squarely with a Washington culture that insists every program is sacred and there is no spending left to cut.

A federal agency run at the Assistant Secretary level has not been eliminated in decades. Now is the time. My bill to eliminate the EDA (HR 3090) would take one small step toward restoring fiscal sanity and constitutional government.

Last year Pompeo offered an amendment to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015, to eliminate the Economic Development Administration (or the “Earmark Distribution Agency”). The amendment would send EDA’s total funding — $247 million in FY 2015 — to the Deficit Reduction Account, saving up to $2.5 billion over 10 years based on current levels.

“We need to solve America’s debt crisis before it is too late, and that means reducing wasteful spending, no matter the agency or branch of government,” said Rep. Pompeo. “The EDA should be called the ‘Earmark Distribution Agency,’ as it continues to spend taxpayer dollars on local pet projects in a way similar to congressional earmarks — which have already been banned by the House.”

Following, his remarks on the floor.

Economic freedom leads to better lives for all

Economic freedom, in countries where it is allowed to thrive, leads to better lives for people as measured in a variety of ways. This is true for everyone, especially for poor people.

This is the message presented in a short video based on the work of the Economic Freedom of the World report, which is a project of Canada’s Fraser Institute. This video is made possible by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

One of the findings highlighted in the presentation is that while the average income in free countries is much higher than that in the least-free countries, the ratio is even higher for the poorest people in these countries. This is consistent with the findings that economic freedom is good for everyone, and even more so for those with low incomes.

Civil rights, a clean environment, long life expectancy, low levels of corruption, less infant mortality, less child labor, and lower unemployment are all associated with greater levels of economic freedom.

What are the components or properties of economic freedom? The presentation lists these:

  • Property rights are protected under an impartial rule of law.
  • People are free to trade with others, both within and outside the country.
  • There is a sound national currency, so that peoples’ money keeps its value.
  • Government stays small, relative to the size of the economy.

Over the last ten years, the United States’ ranking has fallen relative to other countries, and the presentation says our position is expected to keep falling. The question is asked: “Will our quality of life fall with it?”

Economic freedom is not necessarily the platform of any single political party. Even with a Republican president and Republican congress, the size of government rose. In 2005 the Cato Institute studied the numbers and found this: “All presidents presided over net increases in spending overall, though some were bigger spenders than others. As it turns out, George W. Bush is one of the biggest spenders of them all. In fact, he is an even bigger spender than Lyndon B. Johnson in terms of discretionary spending.” This was before the spending on the prescription drug program had started.

Critics of economic freedom

The defining of what economic freedom means is important. Sometimes you’ll see people write things like “Bernie Madoff was only exercising his personal economic freedom while he ran his investment firm.” Madoff, we now know, was a thief. He stole his clients’ money. That’s contrary to property rights, and therefore contrary to economic freedom.

Or, you’ll see people say if you don’t like government, go to Somalia. That country, one of the poorest in the world — but not the poorest — is used as an example of how bad a form of government is anarchy. The evidence is, however, that Somalia’s former government was so bad that things improved after the fall of that government. See Peter T. Leeson, Better Off Stateless: Somalia Before and After Government Collapse and History of Somalia (1991–2006).

You’ll also encounter people who argue that some countries are poor because they have no natural resources. But there are many countries with few natural resources that have economic freedom and a high standard of living. Most countries that are poor are that way because they are run by corrupt governments that have no respect for economic freedom.

Some will argue that economic freedom means the freedom to pollute the environment. But it is in wealthy countries that the environment is respected. Poor countries, where people are struggling just to find food for each day, don’t have the time or wealth to be concerned about the environment.

Jay Price on Generations: Shifting Thought Over the Decades

Professor Jay Price of Wichita State University delivered a lecture on the changing nature of generations over the years. You’ve heard about the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and others. Here, Professor Price defines these terms and tells us about the characteristics of each generation. This is from the Wichita Pachyderm Club, June 5, 2015. Audio is below. The accompanying visual aids are available either as a Powerpoint presentation or pdf file.

WichitaLiberty.TV: Initiative and referendum

In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV: What recourse do citizens have when elected officials are not responsive? Initiative and referendum are two possibilities. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Originally broadcast May 3, 2015.

For more about this issue, see Wichita has examples of initiative and referendum and Initiative and referendum.

Wichita has examples of initiative and referendum

Citizens in Wichita have been busy exercising their rights of initiative and referendum at the municipal level. The Kansas Legislature should grant the same rights to citizens at the state level.

What recourse do citizens have when elected officials are not responsive? Initiative and referendum are two possibilities. Citizens in Wichita have exercised these rights, but Kansans are not able to do this at the state level.

Initiative is when citizens propose a new law, and then gather signatures on petitions. If a successful petition is filed, the matter is (generally) placed on a ballot for the electorate to decide whether the proposed law will become actual law. Examples are the initiative to add fluoride to Wichita water (which voters rejected) and reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana (which passed, but has not taken effect pending legal action by the Kansas Supreme Court.)

Referendum is when citizens petition to overturn an act passed by a governing body. An example is the 2012 repeal of a charter ordinance passed by the Wichita city council.

So at the municipal level in Kansas, citizens have the right of initiative, although in practice the right is limited. The right of referendum is more narrowly limited. But at the state level, there is no possibility for citizens to exercise initiative or referendum. The law simply does not allow for this.

Policies, not politicians

Initiative and referendum allow citizens to vote on specific laws or policies. This is contrasted with elections for office, where voters must choose candidate A or candidate B. Voters have to take the entire package of positions associated with a candidate. It isn’t possible to select some positions from candidate A, and others from candidate B. So when a candidate wins an election, can we say why? Which of the candidate’s positions did voters like, and which did voters not like? Results of regular elections rarely provide a clear answer.

Initiative and referendum, however, let citizens vote on a specific law or proposal. There is little doubt as to the will of the voters.

There’s a difference between voting for politicians and voting for policies. When given a chance, Wichitans have often voted different from what the council wanted. An example is the 2012 overturn of a charter ordinance the council passed. Another is the failure of the sales tax in November 2014. That was on the ballot not because of citizen initiative, but it is an example of voting directly for an issue rather than a candidate. Citizens rejected the sales tax by a wide margin, contrary to the wishes of the city council, city hall bureaucrats, and the rest of Wichita’s political class.

It’s different voting for policies than politicians. For one thing, the laws passed by initiative don’t change, at least for some period of time. But politicians and their campaign promises have a short shelf life, and are easily discarded or modified to fit the current situation.

Politicians don’t want it, which is its best argument

Generally, politicians and bureaucrats don’t want citizens to be empowered with initiative and referendum. When the city council was forced to set an election due to the successful petition regarding the Ambassador Hotel issue, reactions by council members showed just how much politicians hate initiative and referendum. Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) wanted to move the election to an earlier date so as to “avoid community discourse and debate.”

Council Member Janet Miller (district 6, north central Wichita) expressed concern over “dragging this out,” and said she wants to “get it over with as soon as we can so that we can move on.”

In his remarks, Mayor Carl Brewer advocated having the election as soon as possible. He told the city “By doing that, it eliminates a lot of turmoil inside the community, unrest.”

As you can see by these remarks, politicians don’t like citizens second-guessing their actions. Initiative and referendum gives citizens this power. John Fund said it best: “Without initiatives and referendums, elites would barely bother at all to take note of public opinion on issues they disdained — from supermajority requirements to raise taxes to term limits. They serve as a reminder that the experts sometimes have to pay attention to good old common sense.”

Petitioning is not easy

A criticism often leveled against initiative and referendum is that ballots will be crowded with questions submitted by citizens. But as anyone who has been involved in a petitioning effort knows, filing a successful petition is not a simple matter. The first petition effort to relax Wichita marijuana laws failed, with the election commissioner ruling that an insufficient number of valid signatures were submitted. (Generally, petition signers must meet certain requirements such as being a registered voter and living within a certain jurisdiction.) Now the Kansas Attorney General contends that the second petition by the same group is defective because it lacks the proper legal language. It is common for the validity of petitions to be contested, either by government or by special interest groups that believe they will be adversely affected.

How to get it

It will take an amendment to the constitution for the people of Kansas to have initiative and referendum rights at the state level. That requires passage in both chambers of the legislature by a two-thirds margin, and then passage by a majority of voters.

Although the governor does not play a direct role in constitutional amendments — as they do not require the governor’s signature — a governor can still have a role. In 1991 Joan Finney supported initiative and referendum. An amendment passed the Kansas Senate, but did not advance through the House of Representatives.

Today it seems unlikely that the present Kansas Legislature would support an amendment implementing initiative and referendum. Politicians just don’t want to give up the power. (The laws giving some initiative and referendum rights at the municipal level is a state law. State legislators were imposing a hardship on other elected officials, not themselves.)

But initiative and referendum are popular with voters. In 2013 Gallup polled voters regarding petitioning at the national level. 68 percent favored this, while 23 percent opposed. One of the few issues that poll higher than this is term limits for office holders.

By the way, do you know what citizens in states often do after gaining the right of initiative? Impose term limits on their legislatures. Lawmakers don’t want you to do that.

Recent history in Wichita

In 2011, Wichitans petitioned to overturn a charter ordinance passed by the city council. In February 2012 the ordinance was overturned by a vote of 16,454 to 10,268 (62 percent to 38 percent). This was a special election with only question on the ballot.

In 2012 a group petitioned to add fluoride to Wichita water. The measure appeared on the November 2012 general election ballot, and voters said no by a vote of 76,906 to 52,293, or 60 percent to 40 percent.

On the November 2014 general election ballot, Wichita voters were asked about a one cent per dollar sales tax. This was not the result of a petition, but it provides an example of a vote for a policy rather than a person. Voters said no to the sales tax, 64,487 to 38,803 (62 percent to 38 percent.)

In 2015 a group petitioned to reduce the penalties for possession of small amount of marijuana. The measure appeared on the April 2015 city general election ballot, where Wichita voters approved the proposed law 20,327 to 17,183 (54 percent to 46 percent).

Sedgwick County elections have an anomaly

A Wichita statistician is thwarted in efforts to obtain data that might explain a strange observation.

A paper details the discovery of unexplained patterns in election returns. The paper is titled 2008/2012 Election Anomalies, Results, Analysis and Concerns. The authors are Francois Choquette and James Johnson. A passage from the introduction explains what has been noticed:

Back in February 2012 during the South Carolina primaries, a keen observer noted that Republican candidate Mitt Romney had an unusual gain of votes in larger precincts. Analysts noted this effect violated expected statistics. Specifically, the percentage of votes in each precinct strangely increased as a function of precinct size (vote tally). The vote gain is correlated to precinct size, not the precinct location, be it in cities or rural areas. This anomaly is not apparent in other elections that don’t include Republican candidates. In 2008, Mitt Romney had the benefit of this anomaly and then the gain switched to John McCain once Romney exited the campaign. The Democrat Party elections we looked at don’t show this problem. (emphasis added)

There is a mysterious correlation between votes for Republican candidates and the number of votes cast in a precinct. So far no one has advanced a convincing reason why this should happen.

Results from Obama vs. Romney, Sedgwick County, 2012, showing Romney's lead increasing with precinct size. Click for larger version.
Results from Obama vs. Romney, Sedgwick County, 2012, showing Romney’s lead increasing with precinct size. Click for larger version.
In Wichita, WSU statistician Beth Clarkson has sought to obtain the paper tapes that Sedgwick County voting machines produce as voters make selections using the electronic machines. (“WSU statistician sues seeking Kansas voting machine paper tapes,” April 1, 2015 Wichita Eagle)

But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has said no, the time for viewing the tapes has passed. According to Kansas law, he says, the records are sealed. (“Kobach on Sedgwick County election lawsuit: Time is past, votes are sealed, April 5, 2015 Wichita Eagle)

The Choquette and Johnson paper gives the method for examining the relationship between precinct size and candidate vote percentages. I applied the method to three recent Sedgwick County elections. The anomaly appears to be present.

Results from Brownback vs. Davis vs. Umbehr, Sedgwick County, 2014, showing Brownback's percentage increasing with precinct size. Click for larger version.
Results from Brownback vs. Davis vs. Umbehr, Sedgwick County, 2014, showing Brownback’s percentage increasing with precinct size. Click for larger version.
If Kansas law does in fact prevent the release of voting machine tapes to Clarkson, we need to change the law, and right now. It’s curious that Secretary Kobach is not interested in investigating this apparent anomaly. Voting fraud has been one of Kobach’s key issues.

I was concerned that the paper tapes produced by voting machines might contain information that would link individual voters with the votes they cast. That would be a potential problem concerning the confidentiality of votes. But when I voted this week, I watched the information printed on the tape, and I don’t believe there is a concern.

Results from the Wichita marijuana ballot question, April 2015.
Results from the Wichita marijuana ballot question, April 2015.

In Kansas, you may display a political sign in your yard

Kansas law overrides neighborhood covenants that prohibit political yard signs before elections.

Some neighborhoods have restrictive covenants that prohibit homeowners from placing any signs in their yard except signs advertising homes for sale. But a 2008 Kansas law overrides these restrictive covenants to allow for the placement of small political yard signs starting 45 days before an election. Still, residents of covenant neighborhoods may want to observe their neighborhood’s restrictions.

Political yard signsFor the August 5, 2014 primary election, the 45 day period in which signs are allowed started on June 21. (Although I could be off by a day. Sometimes lawyers count days in strange ways.)

The bill was the product of then-Senator Phil Journey of Haysville. The bill passed unanimously in both the Kansas House and Senate.

According to the First Amendment Center, some 50 million people live in neighborhoods with homeowners associations. And laws like the 2008 Kansas law are not without controversy, despite the unanimous vote in the Kansas Legislature.

While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that governmental entities like cities can’t stop homeowners from displaying political yard signs, a homeowners association is not a government. Instead, it is a group that people voluntarily enter. Generally, when prospective homeowners purchase a home in a neighborhood with restrictive covenants, they are asked to sign a document pledging to comply with the provisions in the covenants. If those covenants prohibit political yard signs, but a Kansas law says these covenants do not apply, what should a homeowner do? Should state law trump private contracts in cases like this?

Practically: Should you display signs in your yard?

While Kansas law makes it legal for those living in communities with covenants that prohibit political yard signs, residents may want to observe these convents. Here’s why: If neighbors are not aware of this new Kansas law and therefore wrongfully believe that the yard signs are not allowed in your neighborhood, they may think residents with signs in their yards are violating the covenants. By extension, this could reflect poorly on the candidates that are being promoted.

Those who are not aware of the law allowing yard signs are uninformed. Or, they may be aware of the law but disagree with it and wish their neighbors would not display political yard signs. These people, of course, may vote and influence others how to vote. Whether to display yard signs in a covenant neighborhood is a judgment that each person will have to make for themselves.

The Kansas statute

K.S.A. 58-3820. Restrictive covenants; political yard signs; limitations. (a) On and after the effective date of this act, any provision of a restrictive covenant which prohibits the display of political yard signs, which are less than six square feet, during a period commencing 45 days before an election and ending two days after the election is hereby declared to be against public policy and such provision shall be void and unenforceable.

(b) The provisions of this section shall apply to any restrictive covenant in existence on the effective date of this act.

Or, as described in the 2008 Summary of Legislation: “The bill invalidates any provision of a restrictive covenant prohibiting the display of political yard signs, which are less than six square feet, 45 days before an election or two days after the election.”