Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday August 22, 2011

How not to grow an economy. Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook How Not to Grow an Economy: A week in the life of the Obama recovery. from today: “Financial markets are in turmoil, investors are fleeing to safe havens, and the chances of another recession are rising. This would seem to be a moment when government should be especially careful to do no harm, to talk and walk softly, and to reassure business that Washington wants more private investment and hiring. But this is not how our current government behaves. Day after day brings headlines of another legislative, regulatory or enforcement action that gives CEOs and investors reason to hunker down, retain as much cash as possible and ride out whatever storms are ahead.” … After listing a number of headline events of the type mentioned, the Journal concludes: “None of these stories by themselves — or even a week of them — is enough to undermine a recovery. But the cascade of such stories day after day — about new regulations, new prosecutions or fines against business, new obstacles to investment, more spending and higher taxes — contributes to the larger lack of business and consumer confidence. It’s impossible to quantify the impact of such policies on lost GDP or lost job creation, but everyone in the real economy understands how such signals work. The great tragedy of the Obama nonrecovery is that this Administration still doesn’t realize the damage it is doing.” … Me, if wonder why if President Obama knows how to create jobs and has a plan to do so, why not introduce it today — or two and a half years ago, right after he became president? Are we to believe the he and his advisers know something now that they didn’t know then? We might hold some faint hope that Obama will reveal a plan that relies less on government and more on free markets and capitalism, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Son of TARP. Also in the Wall Street Journal, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. explains that the housing crisis isn’t over, thanks to government policies: “Under bailout theory, housing was supposed to hit bottom, but the bottom would be higher than if the economy had lapsed into depression. But housing hasn’t been allowed to hit bottom, thanks to policies designed to foil foreclosures and keep people in houses they can’t afford and have stopped paying for. As a result, the housing and construction industries remain paralyzed.” Bank of America, having bet on the success of the bailout, and now creatures of a government safety net: “They wouldn’t exist without it.” Holman contends the bailout isn’t working, and that raises a possibility for the future: “Our warning of two years ago — ‘bank nationalization will soon be back on the agenda unless the economy picks up’ — threatens to come true. If the tea party crowd didn’t like the debt-ceiling hike, think how they’d react to Son of Tarp.” The full article is The Bailout Isn’t Working: Bank of America is the canary in the coal mine.

Wichita City Council. The Wichita City Council in its Tuesday meeting will consider consent items only as it is the fourth Tuesday of the month. Consent agendas are usually reserved for items thought to be of non-controversial nature, and items on them will not be discussed by the council unless a member asks to “pull” an item for discussion and a possible vote separate from the other consent agenda items. One item that may be of interest to citizens is a decision on purchasing four new city buses. This item is notable, according to Wichita Eagle reporting, because “The four buses the city is poised to purchase might be the last diesel buses it ever buys.” … Also on the consent agenda is a proposal to rezone large swaths of downtown property from various classifications to “CBD” Central Business District zoning. City document say this will allow existing land uses to continue while permitting new. The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission approved this proposal unanimously. … The council will also decide whether to accept petitions regarding the formation of a community improvement district and authorization of a facade improvement project at 104 South Broadway. That’s the Douglas Place Project being developed by David Burk and partners. There’s not much basis for refusing to accept the petitions, and all the agenda item does is accept the petition and set September 13 as the date for the public hearing on these matters. The council has already issued of letter of intent stating that it desires to go forward with these programs. … Earlier this year Jeff Longwell (district 5, west and northwest Wichita) voted against accepting CID petitions for the Eastgate shopping center. … As always, the agenda packet is available at Wichita city council agendas.

Critique of Keynesian policies. Sheldon Richman in The Freeman: “The Keynesian pundits, then, are wrong on all counts. The government need not be the spender of last resort because 1) producers and consumers would spend just fine if it would get out of their way, and 2) the government can’t be relied on to create, rather than destroy, value in its use of scarce resources.” Richman also notes the intolerance, and also the “attitude that is at once arrogant and ignorant” of those who question “Keynesianism as the only truly scientific economics.” He explains that “The pundits can’t even acknowledge good faith in their opponents. This explains the intolerance shown those who refuse to agree that in a recession government spending is indispensable to raising aggregate demand and restoring economic growth.” … Boosters of government spending as stimulus often explain that the ARRA stimulus passed in 2009 was too small at only around $800 billion. But all government deficit spending counts as stimulus — and there’s been a lot of deficit spending the past few years.

Junior Kansas legislators to speak. This Friday’s meeting (August 26th) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Kansas State Representatives Jim Howell and Joseph Scapa speaking on “Our freshmen year in the Kansas Legislature.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club … Upcoming speakers: On September 2 the Petroleum Club is closed for the holiday, so there will be no meeting. … On September 9, Mark Masterson, Director, Sedgwick County Department of Corrections, on the topic “Juvenile Justice System in Sedgwick County.” Following, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Pachyderm Club members and guests are invited to tour the Sedgwick County Juvenile Detention Center located at 700 South Hydraulic, Wichita, Kansas. … On September 16, Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, great grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will present a program with the topic to be determined. … On September 23, Dave Trabert, President of Kansas Policy Institute, speaking on the topic “Why Not Kansas: Getting every student an effective education.” … On September 30, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita on “An update from Washington.” … On October 7, John Locke — reincarnated through the miracle of modern technology — speaking on “Life, Liberty, and Property.” … On October 14, Sedgwick County Commission Members Richard Ranzau and James Skelton, speaking on “What its like to be a new member of the Sedgwick County Board of County commissioners?” … On October 21, N. Trip Shawver, Attorney/Mediator, on “The magic of mediation, its uses and benefits.”


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