Kansas Economic Freedom Index

The purpose of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index is to identify Kansas legislators who vote in favor of economic freedom — and those who don’t.

The current version of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index is located at KansasEconomicFreedom.com.

Why is economic freedom important? Here’s what Milton Friedman had to say in the opening chapter of his monumental work Capitalism and Freedom:

The Relation between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom

It is widely believed that politics and economics are separate and largely unconnected; that individual freedom is a political problem and material welfare an economic problem; and that any kind of political arrangements can be combined with any kind of economic arrangements. The chief contemporary manifestation of this idea is the advocacy of “democratic socialism” by many who condemn out of hand the restrictions on individual freedom imposed by “totalitarian socialism” in Russia, and who are persuaded that it is possible for a country to adopt the essential features of Russian economic arrangements and yet to ensure individual freedom through political arrangements. The thesis of this chapter is that such a view is a delusion, that there is an intimate connection between economics and politics, that only certain arrangements are possible and that, in particular, a society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom.

Economic arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. In the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.

For an archive of similar projects from years past, see Kansas legislative scorecards, rankings.


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24 thoughts on “Kansas Economic Freedom Index”

  1. I’ve been very impressed with the initiative and drive of Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook as it relates to the Kansas Health Care Freedom amendment and now even more so as she battles to preserve and restore our rights as citizens of Kansas. Currently she is the only senator in tune with our liberties. Are we sure we want to send Schodorf to Washington where she’ll have even greater authority to strip away our freedoms?

    No real surprises on the house side. Represenatives Jack, Kelley, McLeland, Landwehr, Mast, and Kinzer have consistently voted for our liberties in sharp contrast to Ward, Dillmore, Finney, Loganbill, Mah and McCray-Miller (to name a few) who persist in believing that they can run my life better than I can.

    The notable oddity is Goyle who voted to eliminate the Kansas corporate income tax. Can you double-check his vote as I suspect it to either be in error or someone else voted for him in his absence.

    Thanks for the initiative on this Bob. I’ll look forward to the index expanding.

  2. PS I like that you left off party affiliation as that has proven to mean very little in Kansas politics. It really does come down to the votes.

  3. This is a tremendous service and a great reminder that one person can make a huge difference. Keep up the great work, Bob.

  4. Gee, look what happens when you step out of the room in the middle of a multi hour debate … it’s possible to miss a recorded vote on an amendment. For the record, I am definitely in favor of eliminating the corporate income tax. Ultimately it’s about creating jobs and making Kansas a destination state for business. We need more taxpayers, not more and higher taxes.
    Please note that I should be a 100% in this ranking.
    Rep Brunk

  5. Rep. Brunk raises an issue that’s more important than his missing a single vote. That issue is how to treat “Absent” votes. Currently I treat them as not being a vote in favor of economic freedom. An alternative would be to treat the vote as though it didn’t exist. This means that instead of simply summing the weights for all votes, I would have to sum the weights separately for each legislator, including only the votes for which the legislator did not vote “Absent.”

    I think this means I won’t be able to calculate the index with a single SQL statement as I do now. Oh well — these things are never easy.

    A related issue is how to handles votes of “Present” or “Pass.” Any ideas? Why does someone cast this vote?

  6. I would not count absent against anyone. There are valid reasons why legislators do not vote. If a legislative vote is imperative, then a majority of each house can hold a “call of the house,” and prevent action until the entire membership is present.

    A present or passing vote is one that can reflect a conflict of interest, but the common use of passing/present in the KS senate recently reflects a strong desire to avoid being on the record. That was a voting tool that State Senator Barack Obama regularly employed while in the Illinois legislature. What a disgrace then…..and even more so now.

    I’d count a “present” vote as a bad vote, because I’m very skeptical of many Kansas legislators. I am even more skeptical of the appointed officials who are running this state. It is a disgrace that five out of the six statewide “elected” officials were not elected to their current positions. Most were appointed.

    Just like the activist Kansas Supreme Court. We are becoming an oligarchy of the allegedly “best & brightest.”

  7. Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook continues to lead the way in the Senate.

    I’m confused by the vote related to item 5 in the House of Representatives (Sub for SB514) It appears that nearly all the “conservatives” voted against the freedom while many “liberals” voted for the bill. In fact, in several cases (15 to be exact) it is the only time a “liberal” scores on the index. Interesting to see which freedoms the “liberals” deny and which they support.

    I can see where that particular bill would be a difficult one to vote on based on the sentiment of our society. True libertarians are hard to find in political office. Thanks for your index…I continue to find it useful and very interesting.

  8. Yes, that bill, the sexually oriented business bill, was a tough vote for many, I suppose. I included it because I thought it was over-the-top regulation. Also, when I was in Topeka last week, I heard radio talk show host Raubin Pierce say that was the bill that drove him over the edge, and on the way to the studio he stopped by the election office and changed his registration from Republican to Unaffiliated. And you’re exactly right about the freedoms liberals support.

  9. Bob, would it be possible at the end of each index – in the section where you list the individual bills – to show whether it passed or failed and by what measure? I’d personally find those outcomes very helpful. Even though I know that I can look it up manually it would be nice to have it all in one place.

  10. Kip, that’s a very good idea and I’ll try to implement that soon. Most people are not as conscientious as you and wouldn’t know where to look.

  11. So, a vote against prostitution would be a vote against economic freedom? Saying that something is “over the top” implies that you know exactly where the top is – or where it should be. A vote against marajuana would be over the top? It seems that the top is moving down all the time. And it seems that there are plenty of people who applaud that and even some who reward votes in that direction with favorable “scores.”

  12. I am very curious about my Senator, Carolyn McGinn. She says she is a Republican and a conservative but in looking at the scores she is tied with 3 other senators for the lowest score on here. Even Jean Schodorf had a score more than twice as high as McGinn’s. McGinn’s scored a 7! WTH?!!

    Thanks for doing this. Without this I would have continued voting for her. I will never again vote for Carolyn “Tax and Spend” McGinn.

  13. The matrix is somewhat helpful, but I can’t help but think it is flawed and not very well thought out. For example, how does a vote for banning texting translate into not supporting economic freedom? People, mostly kids, who are texting are generating the GDP if they are allowed to text and drive?

  14. If you text while driving, you are statistically more likely to have a wreck.

    If you reduce the amount of texting drivers, you are likely to see a reduction in paint and body work as well as new and used car sales. Plus, less business for hospitals and rehab centers.

    Duh.

    Same thing with the SOB bill. Porn and strip club availability fuels the sale of porn, alcohol, treatment centers, taxi cab rides, std treatments, late night visits to drive-thru’s, incarceration centers, psychiatry visits, payments to divorce lawyers, etc. etc. Please don’t take away this important economic driver.

  15. I agree 100% with Steve Fitzgerald’s May 21st, “over the top” comments. It’s a no brainer! Indeed, the top IS moving down all the time these days and in the legislature as well! How I wish legislator’s knew where the top should be!

  16. This was very helpful and concise. Would you provide some fundamentals in a link such as the length of a session, all the bills considered during that session, and perhaps a summary of how proponents and opponents view the virtues of a particular bill? I’m thinking of the SOB bill: How does it really provide economic benefit when the social ills promoted by it really cost taxpayers more? Some bills may even be economically inert. I consider my Rep’s NAY vote appropriate in the matter of SOB but I don’t get the chance to hear the proponents’ argument in favor unless I search for it. I’m too inexperienced to figure out where to go. I want to be more informed. Like the Tea Party phenomena demonstrated: There’s a lot of people interested when they begin to realize what’s at stake. Since this is a new site to me, I feel a little shy about offering suggestions, but you can bet that I’ll return to it often now.

  17. Ihave never seen so many people in one Country that knows so little about their own forms of Government. It is embarassing.

    We do not live in a Democracy, we live in a Constitutional Republic! Let me explain how important it is to understand the difference. Several years ago I was researching Democracy, and George Bush Sr. was big on using the word Democracy and pusing its use.

    I checked the Communist Parties web page one day and discovered that they too were supporting Democracy. Now why would a Communist society and a Free society be supporting the same form of Government?

    Because in a Constitutional Republic YOU HAVE RIGHTS ABOVE THE GOVERNMENT! In a Democracy the mob rules and as lond as the Politicians control the ballot box you will never know what the majority really feels.

    For GOD sakes you need to start reminding people that we live in a Constitutional Republic.

  18. I realize that this is an old article but the news that Carolyn McGinn is now in charge and chairing the powerful KS Senate spending committee, the Ways and Means Committee, that does the senate’s appropriations, is an interesting development in light of the new Brownback administration’s stated objectives.

    Sen. McGinn seemed to fit into the political paradigm of the last 8 years when Democrats ruled the executive branch at the KS statehouse. It will be interesting to see how she responds in 2011 when Sen. Brownback becomes governor.

    It is also interesting to see Sen. Colyer’s vote rating on Bob’s scorecard. His ranking was well above the average GOP senator, but it was far from the best too. Stay tuned.

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Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas