Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday September 20, 2011

Douglas Place value. The budget published by the city for the Douglas Place project, a downtown Wichita hotel, includes $2,600,000 for purchase of the existing building that will be turned into the hotel. According to Sedgwick County, the property has an appraised market value of $710,900. A good question for someone to ask is why the developers are paying so much more than that — or why the property is appraised so low if in fact it is worth $2,600,000. Or, does the fact that the city is offering subsidies drive up the value of property?

Douglas Place vote delayed. Today the Wichita City Council delayed the vote on the second reading of the subsidy package for the Douglas Place project. Some of the subsidy programs require five votes, and with the mayor and council member Pete Meitzner absent, and with council member Michael O’Donnell opposed, there weren’t five votes to pass these measures.

Solyndra unnoticed by some. As of last Friday, prime time programs on the MSNBC television network haven’t covered the scandal involving Solyndra, a solar energy company that received $535 million worth of loan guarantees from the Obama administration, reports Newsbusters.

On Solyndra, the real lesson. Tim Carney gets it just right when he notices that Republicans are using the Solyndra scandal as a hammer against President Barack Obama in particular and Democrats in general. Instead, Carney writes that Solyndra is an example of “influence peddling, incompetence and waste that are inevitable whenever government becomes deeply entangled in industry.” Republicans do this too. Here in Wichita most Republican members of the city council vote for this. … Continues Carney: “If Republicans were willing to broaden their attack beyond criticizing this one loan deal, they could indict the whole practice of government-business collusion. The GOP could show how Solyndra is the inevitable consequence of Obama’s type of big-government policies. … The problem is that Obama’s stated agenda, which involves giving government a central role in the private sector, inevitably creates waste, gives benefits to the well-connected, and opens the door for cronyism and corruption. Obama promised to be the scourge of the lobbyists and the antidote to special-interest dominance in Washington, but he also promised an activist government role in the economy. The two are nearly mutually exclusive.” More by Carney in the Washington Examiner at Republicans dodge the real lesson of Solyndra.

Spreading the wealth: the costs. Leslie Carbone writing in The Moral Case Against Spreading the Wealth: “There are two principal reasons why the federal government should not be in the business of wealth redistribution. First, government imposed wealth redistribution doesn’t work: It doesn’t create, or even spread prosperity, it dampens it.” On the moral case, Carbone writes: “Government imposed redistribution does moral harm as well. First, wealth redistribution discourages the virtuous behavior that creates wealth: hard work, saving, investment, personal responsibility. In the natural order, virtue and vice carry their own consequences. Virtue yields largely positive results. Hard work, patience, and orderliness, for example, tend to generate prosperity. Vice, on the other hand, brings negative consequences. Sloth, impatience, and recklessness lead to suffering. By taxing the fruits of the virtuous behavior that creates wealth, government redistribution discourages that behavior.” … Concluding, Carbone see cause for optimism: “[Millions] are rejecting what F.A. Hayek so aptly called the fatal conceit of paternalistic government. Decades of federal expansion have demonstrated what history, economics, philosophy, and common sense have told us all along: People, working through the market, are the engines of prosperity, both moral and financial — but only if we get government out of their way.

Kansas schools to be topic. This week’s meeting (September 23rd) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club presents Dave Trabert, President of Kansas Policy Institute, speaking on the topic “Why Not Kansas: Getting every student an effective education.” … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club … Upcoming speakers: 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.”

Natural rights. From LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies: “Individuals have rights. But are they natural? And how do they compare and contrast with legal or constitutional rights? Are legal or constitutional rights similar to those inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Professor Aeon Skoble distinguishes such constitutional rights, such as the right to vote, from the rights protected by governments and constitutions — natural rights not actually granted by governments themselves. He concludes that legal systems should create rights that are compatible with natural rights.”


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