Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday January 20, 2011

Pompeo to host first district event. This Saturday (January 22nd) newly-elected Kansas fourth district Congressman Mike Pompeo will hold an event billed as “Mike Pompeo’s Conversation with the Congressman.” It well be held Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 10:00 am, at the WSU Hughes Metropolitan Complex Sudermann Commons, 5015 E. 29th Street (at Oliver).

Prognosticator Journey to address Pachyderms. Friday’s (January 21st) meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features District Court Judge and former Kansas Senator Phil Journey speaking on the topic “Musings and Prognostications on State and Federal Government.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Feeling too good about our schools. Eric Hanushek looks at the results of U.S. students on the recent international tests and the attempts to explain away our generally poor performance. Is education important to our country’s economy? Absolutely, Hanushek explains: “Research has shown that international performance on these tests is very closely related to the economic growth of nations. Does the difference between 550 points (roughly Finland) and 500 points (roughly the U.S.) make a difference? By the historical record of growth, such a difference is consistent with one percent per year in the growth of per capita income. If we project this out over the lifetimes of children born today, the present value of economic gains from the U.S. reaching the level of Finland would be $100 trillion! These potential economic gains from improved schools should be compared to the huge political fights in the U.S. over a stimulus package of one trillion dollars, or one hundredth of the magnitude of the gains we are leaving on the table from ignoring the achievement in our schools.” Hanushek explains that the relatively free enterprise economy of the U.S. has attracted the “brightest from abroad” and has created an economy that spurs innovation. But our advantage is fading, he says, and the brightest often stay at home. We need to fix this now, or in a decade or two it may be impossible to recover.

Obama order on regulation seen as ineffectual. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a watchdog on federal regulation, having published Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State since 1996. On President Obama’s recent order to review the effect of regulations, CEI is not impressed. In a press release, the organization said: “The number of rules in the pipeline at agencies has surged in the past year, from 4,041 at the end of 2009 to 4,225 now, as will be detailed in CEI’s upcoming Ten Thousand Commandments report. ‘Major’ rules, those expected to cost over $100 million annually, have experienced an even greater surge. Indeed, just to get where we were a year ago, many rules would have to be cut. Yet Obama’s Wall Street Journal op-ed today announcing the Executive Order utterly glossed over the EPA CO2 rules, the FCC’s unauthorized net neutrality push, and the torrent of rules yet to come from the health care and financial reform bills.” … CEI notes that an executive order issued by President Bill Clinton, still in effect, already orders what Obama’s order does. CEI asks: “Actually confronting regulation, the crippling extent of which remains unappreciated by both parties, requires going far beyond the words of an executive order.” … Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity is interviewed on this topic and notes the problem of “back door” legislation through regulation. … It should be noted that Obama inherited many regulations, as despite the claims of liberals, President George Bush greatly expanded the scope of the federal regulatory state.

Massachusetts health care presages Obamacare. Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, writing in Investor’s Business Daily, notes the promises and the reality of health care reform in Massachusetts. The plan was implemented by Mitt Romney, a Republican, who promised, according to Pipes, “Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance, and the cost of health care will be reduced. And we need no new taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen.” But here’s the reality of what’s happened, again according to Pipes: “The only measure by which Massachusetts can be judged a success is the number of people enrolled in Medicaid and other government-subsidized insurance plans. Of the 410,000 newly insured in Massachusetts, three in four are either paying nothing or very little for their insurance. … Despite the near-universal insurance, the state still spends $414 million on uncompensated care, an expense that Romney and his architects promised would disappear. Emergency-room use has not dropped as predicted. From 2006 to 2008, emergency room use under Mass Care increased by 9%. And private employer insurance costs, far from dropping, have continued to increase.” … Prior to this plan, health insurance premiums in Massachusetts increased at a rate slower than the national average. Now they increase faster than average.

Sowell on fixing America’s economic problems. Thomas Sowell has published the fourth edition of his now-classic work Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy. Now eighty years young, Sowell appears in an interview on the topics in his book.


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