When Visioneering Wichita recently presented its annual report to the Wichita City Council, Wichita City Council members received benchmark documents. Whether the mayor and council members actually looked at and considered these measurements is unknown.
We do know that Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, as memorialized in the official meeting minutes, praised Visioneering: “Mayor Brewer stated this is one of the smartest moves that the City of Wichita has done because it was the primary catalyst that pulled the public and the private together and laid out a vision for our City.”
Other council members also expressed enthusiastic approval for Visioneering.
As shown in Wichita job growth and Visioneering peers, the benchmark data for Wichita as compared to its peer cities shows poor relative performance of the Wichita economy. That article looked at job growth, which is one of the areas Visioneering is benchmarking.
Another area Visioneering benchmarks is per capita income. The chart provided by Visioneering is difficult to read and recognize emerging trends. I’ve prepared an interactive visualization of Wichita and the peer areas that Visioneering uses.
To the left is a chart of Wichita and peer personal income per capita, from 1969 to 1989. (Click for a larger version.) During this time period, Wichita compares well to the peer metropolitan areas that Visioneering uses.
To the left is a chart of of the same data, but from 1990 to 2011. (Click for a larger version.) It’s during this stretch that Wichita starts to fall behind its peers in per capita income, until finally Wichita ranks last in this measure, as it also does in job growth.
Soon Visioneering will make a presentation to members of the Sedgwick County Commission. Perhaps commissioners will ask a few questions about these benchmarks. If I were a commissioner, I might ask these questions:
Is Visioneering satisfied with the performance of Wichita, as measured by these benchmarks?
Is Wichita’s trend in these benchmarks moving in the right direction, or is Wichita falling farther behind?
Are these the correct benchmarks we should be using?
Is it possible that Visioneering is in fact making the Wichita economy better than it would be without Visioneering?
Does Visioneering need additional resources to fulfill its mission?
On the Visioneering website, why are no future events listed? Are none planned?
On the Visioneering website, under the “News” section, is it true that there has been no news to post since August 2011 or September 2012 (there are two streams of news)?
Citizens might also wonder why no members of the Wichita City Council asked any questions like these.
Explore the data yourself by using the visualization below, or click here to open it in a new window, which may work better for some people. Use Ctrl+Click to highlight metropolitan areas for comparison. Data is from U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Visualization created by myself using Tableau Public.
It’s also clear that some council members want to go down the road of austerity rather than abundance.
What did we learn today? Many speakers used the terms “conservation” and “judicious.” Conservation is good. Judicious use is good. But each person applies different meanings to these concepts. A great thing about living in a (relatively) free economy is that each person gets to choose to spend their time and money on the things that are important to them, and in the amounts they want. We make these choices many times each day. Sometimes we’re aware of making them, and sometimes we’re not.
For example: If you’re watching television alone in your home, and you go to the kitchen to get a snack, do you turn off the television for the moment that you’re not watching it? No? Well, isn’t it wasting electricity and contributing to global warming to have a switched-on television that no one is watching, even for just a moment?
Some people may turn off the television in this scenario. But most people probably decide that the effort required to save a minute’s worth of electricity consumption by a television isn’t worth the effort required.
(By the way, the type of television programs you watch each evening: Is it worth burning dirty coal (or running precious water through dams, or splitting our finite supply of uranium atoms, or spoiling landscapes and killing birds with wind turbines) just so you can watch Bill O’Reilly or Rachel Maddow rant? Or prison documentaries? Or celebrity gossip? Reruns of shows you’re already seen? And I’ve seen you fall asleep while watching television! What a monumental waste. We should require sleep sensors on all new televisions and rebates to retrofit old sets.)
But when people leave their homes empty to go to work, almost everyone turns off the television, lights, and other appliances. Many may adjust their thermostats to save energy. People make the choice to do this based on the costs of leaving the lights on all day versus the cost of turning them on and off. No one needs to tell them to do this. The relative prices of things do this.
(You may be noting that children have to be told to turn off televisions and lights. That’s true. It’s true because they generally aren’t aware of the prices of things, as they don’t pay utility bills. But adults do.)
In most areas of life, people use the relative prices of things to make decisions about how to allocate their efforts and consume scarce resources. Wichita could be doing that with water, but it isn’t.
The conservation measures recommended by speakers today all have a cost. Sometimes the cost is money. In some cases the cost is time and convenience. In others the cost is a less attractive city without green lawns and working fountains. In many cases, the cost is shifted to someone else who is unwilling to voluntarily bear the cost, as in the rebate program.
At least we’ll be able to measure the cost of the rebate program. For most of the other costs, we’re pretending they don’t exist.
Instead of relying on economics and markets, Wichita is turning to a regulatory regime. Instead of pricing water rationally and letting each person and family decide how much water to use, politicians and bureaucrats will decide for us.
All city council members and the mayor approved this expansion of regulation and taxation.
(Yes, it’s true that the rebates will be funded from the water department, but that’s a distinction without meaningful difference.)
The motion made by Mayor Carl Brewer contained some provisions that are probably good ideas. But it also contained the appliance rebate measure. Someone on the council could have made a substitute motion that omitted the rebates, and there could have been a vote.
But not a single council member would do this.
It’s strange that we turn over such important functions as our water supply to politicians and bureaucrats, isn’t it?
Wichita has set ambitious goals in job growth, but it doesn’t seem that the Visioneering program has produced results. But apparently Wichita government officials are satisfied.
In 2004 Wichita leaders created Visioneering Wichita. The self-described goals of Visioneering are “To provide citizen input in developing our future, to facilitate communications so reality and perceptions are aligned, and to create a strategic plan that ensures a quality of life and encourages our young people to live, learn, work and play in our regional community.”
One of the benchmarks of Visioneering is “Exceed the highest of the annual percentage job growth rate of the U.S., Omaha, Tulsa, Kansas City and Oklahoma City.”
In May, Suzie Ahlstrand of the Wichita Chamber of Commerce presented Wichita City Council members with the benchmark documents, but didn’t elaborate on these in her presentation.
I can understand her reluctance to focus on these numbers. They’re not good.
We don’t know what the Wichita economy would look like in the absence of Visioneering. There’s no way to rewind and watch what would have happened had Visioneering not been created.
What we do know, however, is that the Wichita-area economy is not performing well. Consider job growth, since that is the first of Visioneering’s benchmarks. The chart Visioneering presented to council members is available here. It’s a difficult chart to read, and doesn’t lend to ready comparison of how Wichita is doing compared to our peers.
Following are charts I created from similar data. These charts are different from Visioneering’s in that they show the cumulative change in job growth from a starting point. My data goes back to 2001, and since the visualization is interactive, you may adjust the range of years.
Here is a static chart of job growth, considering all jobs. (Click for a larger version.)
Here is a static chart of job growth, this time considering only government jobs. (Click for a larger version.)
Can we be satisfied with this performance? Considering all jobs types, Wichita is in last place. There are those who might take comfort that when including government jobs, Wichita does better. But as growth in the government sector outpaces growth in the private sector, Wichita becomes less prosperous than if we were creating private sector jobs.
In the light of this, consider the reaction of Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, as presented in the official minutes: “Mayor Brewer stated this is one of the smartest moves that the City of Wichita has done because it was the primary catalyst that pulled the public and the private together and laid out a vision for our City.”
We need to ask, however, these questions: First, were the mayor and council members aware of these job creation numbers? Second, if they were aware, are they satisfied with this performance?
Explore the data yourself by using the visualization below, or click here to open it in a new window, which may work better for some people. Use Ctrl+Click to highlight metropolitan areas for comparison. Data is from Bureau of Economic Analysis by way of U.S. Department of Labor. Visualization created by myself using Tableau Public.
Jeff Herndon, KAKE Television news anchor, speaking at Wichita Pachyderm Club, May 17, 2013. Herndon is speaking for himself, and not on behalf of KAKE.
Speaking last week at the Wichita Pachyderm Club, KAKE news anchor Jeff Herndon said that KAKE has “repeatedly” tried to get an on-camera interview with Brewer. But the mayor is always busy, Herndon said: “They’ve got him on lockdown. He’s not going to answer that.”
Herndon was speaking for himself, and not for his employer. In his talk to the Pachyderms, he was critical of Wichita news media — both television and print — for not covering city government rigorously, telling the audience: “We need more reporters on that city government beat, and not just on decisions they make. We need to hold them accountable for the decision. We don’t do that.”
Brewer is sometimes mentioned as a candidate for higher office, perhaps challenging Kansas Governor Sam Brownback next year. Brewer’s term as mayor ends in April 2015. He is not eligible for election to another term as mayor because of Wichita’s term limits law.
On his radio program, Joseph Ashby had an interesting take on Herndon’s remarks and Wichita new media.
Video of the city council meeting that was the subject of the KAKE news story is here.
Explanation of the public policy angle that drove citizens to testify at the April 16 city council meeting is here.
The original article that identified the problem and to solutions is Pay-to-play laws are needed in Wichita and Kansas. In that article I wrote: “When one looks at the candidates these people contribute to, you notice that often there’s no commonality to the political goals and ideals of the candidates. Some people contribute equally to liberal and conservative council members. Then, when these people appear in the news after having received money from the Wichita City Council, it snaps into place: These campaign donors are not donating to those whose ideals they agree with. They’re donating so they can line their own pockets.”
Last week KAKE Television news anchor Jeff Herndon addressed the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Today, on the Joseph Ashby Show, the host commented on Herndon’s views on Wichita news media, and drew some conclusions about anti-conservative bias in Wichita news media.
Second, a table of salaries supplied in the agenda packet makes an implied promise that probably won’t be kept. The table shows numbers of jobs (actually full-time equivalents), the hourly pay rate, and the annual wage. The annual wage, in all cases, is 2,080 times the hourly rate, meaning it is assumed that workers will work 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.
Information from the Kansas Department of Commerce offers more detail. Initially, 495 full-time and 55 part-time jobs will be created. In year five, the total will be 860 full-time and 95 part-time total. There is also this notation: “The company will pay at least 50% of employee health insurance benefits.”
As you may be aware, one of the provisions of Obamacare is that if employees work over 30 hours per week, the employer must provide health insurance or be fined. As a result, many companies across the county are scaling back weekly work hours to less than 30.
We ought to ask if Starwood intends to hire employees who will work 40 hours per week, if they want to. Will the liberals on the Wichita City Council — Mayor Carl Brewer, Council Member Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast Wichita), and Council Member Janet Miller (district 6, north central Wichita) — ask that Starwood operate under the standards of Obamacare? The table presents data as “full-time equivalents,” which provides room for Starwood to go either way.
Starwood is asking for a forgivable loan of $200,000 from Wichita, and another of the same amount from Sedgwick County. I asked the Kansas Department of Commerce if it would reveal the programs and incentives that Starwood will receive from the State of Kansas. It would not supply that information at this time, but I obtained the information by another means. The state describes its offer to Starwood as worth “up to $1,583,272.” Of this, $750,000 would be in the form of direct cash grants.
Merriam-Webster defines extortion as the “… exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority.” It’s illegal for individuals or corporations to engage in extortion, but some governments are increasingly using forms of extortion to exact higher taxes, make citizens more dependent upon government and ultimately, strip away economic and political freedom.
Government intimidation may not come with Soprano-like threats of violence. Some government officials may not even realize they are extorting the populous — the practice of presenting the government solution as the only option has become that commonplace. But no matter how politely or subtly phrased, the message is “give us what we want or else …” The “or else” comes in many forms.
The federal government punishes citizens with flight delays and service cuts to senior citizens while continuing to lavish taxpayer money on favored political friends and countless other examples of waste and duplication. The federal government will either get to borrow and spend as much as it wants or innocent citizens will pay the price.
Some state officials in Kansas want to extend a temporary sales tax and/or take away deductions for home mortgage interest and property taxes. They say it’s necessary to avoid massive budget deficits that would de-fund schools and services. The message is that higher taxes are the only alternative, when in fact they could choose to bring down the cost of government services and stop giving out corporate welfare in the name of economic development.
University officials in Kansas say they will raise tuition, eliminate professors, and restrict student admissions if state aid is even slightly reduced. They say nothing of reducing administrative costs that rose three times faster than inflation or using large cash reserves that accumulated from a 137 percent increase in tuition and fees over the last ten years. Give them what they want or students, parents, and staff will suffer.
Local governments routinely tell citizens that taxes must be increased to avoid police and fire layoffs, pool closings and other direct service reductions. Why not consolidate overlapping government programs and bureaucracy instead of raising taxes? Or maybe stop giving taxpayer money away to friendly developers who support the growth of government and help underwrite campaigns for public office?
Our state and nation were founded on the principles of freedom and limited government. Yet those who stand in defense of freedom are often met with ridicule. Carl Brewer, the Mayor of Wichita, recently issued a thinly veiled threat to sue a woman for asking him to recuse himself from a vote to give a $700,000 sales tax exemption to a campaign contributor (and fishing buddy). A columnist for the Hutchinson News falsely blamed those who want less government intrusion in our lives for poverty, high property taxes and other woes as opposed to following his prescription for progressive, big government solutions.
Thomas Jefferson said, “Government exists for the interests of the governed, not for the governors.” Some in our state seems to have forgotten that and are working to prove another of his maxims, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
Citizens must be persistent and vocal in reminding elected officials of the former or we shall continue to suffer the loss of liberty.
It’s worse than President Obama saying “You didn’t build that.” Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer tells us you can’t build that — not without government guidance and intervention, anyway.
When President Barack Obama told business owners “You didn’t build that,” it set off a bit of a revolt. Those who worked hard to build businesses didn’t like to hear the president dismiss their efforts.
Underlying this episode is a serious question: What should be the role of government in the economy? Should government’s role be strictly limited, according to the Constitution? Or should government take an activist role in managing, regulating, subsidizing, and penalizing in order to get the results politicians and bureaucrats desire?
Historian Burton W. Folsom has concluded that it is the private sector — free people, not government — that drives innovation: “Time and again, experience has shown that while private enterprise, carried on in an environment of open competition, delivers the best products and services at the best price, government intervention stifles initiative, subsidizes inefficiency, and raises costs.”
But some don’t agree. They promote government management and intervention into the economy. Whatever their motivation might be, however it was they formed their belief, they believe that without government oversight of the economy, things won’t happen.
But in Wichita, it’s even worse. Without government, it is claimed that not only would we stop growing, economic progress would revert to a previous century.
In his remarks (transcript and video below), Brewer said “if government had not played some kind of role in guiding and identifying how the city was going to grow, how any city was going to grow, I’d be afraid of what that would be. Because we would still be in covered wagons and horses. There would be no change.”
When I heard him say that, I thought he’s just using rhetorical flair to emphasize a point. But later on he said this about those who advocate for economic freedom instead of government planning and control: “… then tomorrow we’ll be saying we don’t want more technology, and then the following day we’ll be saying we don’t want public safety, and it won’t take us very long to get back to where we were at back when the city first settled.”
Brewer’s remarks are worse than “You didn’t build that.” The mayor of Wichita is telling us you can’t build that — not without government guidance and intervention, anyway.
Many people in Wichita, including the mayor and most on the city council and county commission, believe that the public-private partnership is the way to drive innovation and get things done. It’s really a shame that this attitude is taking hold in Wichita, a city which has such a proud tradition of entrepreneurship. The names that Wichitans are rightly proud of — Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, W.C. Coleman, Albert Alexander Hyde, Dan and Frank Carney, and Fred C. Koch — these people worked and built businesses without the benefit of public-private partnerships and government subsidy.
We don’t have long before the entrepreneurial spirit in Wichita is totally subservient to government. What can we do to return power to the people instead of surrendering it to government?
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, August 12, 2008:
“You know, I think that a lot of individuals have a lot of views and opinions about philosophy as to, whether or not, what role the city government should play inside of a community or city. But it’s always interesting to hear various different individuals’ philosophy or their view as to what that role is, and whether or not government or policy makers should have any type of input whatsoever.
“I would be afraid, because I’ve had an opportunity to hear some of the views, and under the models of what individuals’ logic and thinking is, if government had not played some kind of role in guiding and identifying how the city was going to grow, how any city was going to grow, I’d be afraid of what that would be. Because we would still be in covered wagons and horses. There would be no change.
“Because the stance is let’s not do anything. Just don’t do anything. Hands off. Just let it happen. So if society, if technology, and everything just goes off and leaves you behind, that’s okay. Just don’t do anything. I just thank God we have individuals that have enough gumption to step forward and say I’m willing to make a change, I’m willing to make a difference, I’m willing to improve the community. Because they don’t want to acknowledge the fact that improving the quality of life, improving the various different things, improving bringing in businesses, cleaning up street, cleaning up neighborhoods, doing those things, helping individuals feel good about themselves: they don’t want to acknowledge that those types of things are important, and those types of things, there’s no way you can assess or put a a dollar amount to it.
“Not everyone has the luxury to live around a lake, or be able to walk out in their backyard or have someone come over and manicure their yard for them, not everyone has that opportunity. Most have to do that themselves.
“But they want an environment, sometimes you have to have individuals to come in and to help you, and I think that this is one of those things that going to provide that.
“This community was a healthy thriving community when I was a kid in high school. I used to go in and eat pizza after football games, and all the high school students would go and celebrate.
“But, just like anything else, things become old, individuals move on, they’re forgotten in time, maybe the city didn’t make the investments that they should have back then, and they walk off and leave it.
“But new we have someone whose interested in trying to revive it. In trying to do something a little different. In trying to instill pride in the neighborhood, trying to create an environment where it’s enticing for individuals to want to come back there, or enticing for individuals to want to live there.
“So I must commend those individuals for doing that. But if we say we start today and say that we don’t want to start taking care of communities, then tomorrow we’ll be saying we don’t want more technology, and then the following day we’ll be saying we don’t want public safety, and it won’t take us very long to get back to where we were at back when the city first settled.
“So I think this is something that’s a good venture, it’s a good thing for the community, we’ve heard from the community, we’ve seen the actions of the community, we saw it on the news what these communities are doing because they know there’s that light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve seen it on the news. They’ve been reporting it in the media, what this particular community has been doing, and what others around it.
“And you know what? The city partnered with them, to help them generate this kind of energy and this type of excitement and this type of pride.
“So I think this is something that’s good. And I know that there’s always going to be people who are naysayers, that they’re just not going to be happy. And I don’t want you to let let this to discourage you, and I don’t want the comments that have been heard today to discourage the citizens of those neighborhoods. And to continue to doing the great work that they’re doing, and to continue to have faith, and to continue that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that there is a value that just can’t be measured of having pride in your community and pride in your neighborhood, and yes we do have a role to be able to help those individuals trying to help themselves.”
Proper attention given to 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.
The true state of the finances of the Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita are not often a subject of public discussion. Arena boosters promote a revenue-sharing arrangement between the county and the arena operator, referring to this as profit or loss. But this arrangement is not an accurate and complete accounting, and hides the true economics of the arena.
There are at least two ways of looking at the finance of the arena. Most attention is given to the “profit” (or loss) earned by the arena for the county according to an operating and management agreement between the county and SMG, a company that operates the arena.
This agreement specifies a revenue sharing mechanism between the county and SMG. For 2102, the accounting method used in this agreement produced a profit of $703,000, to be split (not equally) between SMG and the county.
While described as “profit” by many, this payment does not represent any sort of “profit” or “earnings” in the usual sense. In fact, the introductory letter that accompanies these calculations warns readers that these are “not intended to be a complete presentation of INTRUST Bank Arena’s financial position and results of operations and are not intended to be a presentation in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”
That bears repeating: This is not a reckoning of profit and loss in any recognized sense. It is simply an agreement between Sedgwick County and SMG as to how SMG is to be paid, and how the county participates.
A much better reckoning of the economics of the Intrust Bank Arena can be found in the county’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2012. It states: “The Arena had an operating loss of $4.8 million. The loss can be attributed to $5.3 million in depreciation expense.”
Depreciation expense is not something that is paid out in cash. Sedgwick County didn’t write a check for the $5.3 million in depreciation expense. Instead, it provides a way to recognize and account for the cost of long-lived assets over their lifespan. It provides a way to recognize opportunity costs, that is, what could be done with our resources if not spent on the arena.
But some don’t recognize this. In years past, Dave Unruh made remarks that show the severe misunderstanding that he and almost everyone labor under regarding the nature of the spending on the arena: “I want to underscore the fact that the citizens of Sedgwick County voted to pay for this facility in advance. And so not having debt service on it is just a huge benefit to our government and to the citizens, so we can go forward without having to having to worry about making those payments and still show positive cash flow. So it’s still a great benefit to our community and I’m still pleased with this report.”
The contention of Unruh and other arena boosters such as the Wichita Eagle editorial board is that the capital investment of $183,625,241 (not including an operating and maintenance reserve) on the arena is merely a historical artifact, something that happened in the past, something that has no bearing today. This attitude, however, disrespects the sacrifices of the people of Sedgwick County and its visitors to raise those funds.
Any honest accounting or reckoning of the performance of Intrust Bank Arena must take depreciation into account. While Unruh is correct in that depreciation expense is not a cash expense that affects cash flow, it is an economic fact that can’t be ignored — except by politicians, apparently.
The City of Wichita should not approve a measure that is not needed, that does not conform to the city’s policy (based on relevant information not disclosed to citizens), and which is steeped in cronyism.
The Wichita City Council, when presented with an opportunity to increase the ability of citizens to observe the workings of the government they pay for, decided against the cause of open government, preferring to keep the spending of taxpayer money a secret.
Actions of the Wichita City Council have shown that campaign finance reform is needed. Citizen groups are investigating how to accomplish this needed reform, since the council has not shown interest in reforming itself.
Tomorrow the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce will announce, according to the Wichita Eagle, new economic development initiatives. Past history suggests that the efforts will not be fruitful for the Wichita area. The inclinations of the parties involved in this effort are for more government intervention and less reliance on economic freedom and free markets.
On the campaign trail, President Barack Obama calls for an end to energy subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. It turns out, however, that this industry receives relatively little subsidy, while the president’s favored forms of energy investment — wind and solar — receive much more. Additionally, coal, oil, and gas industries paid billions in taxes to the federal government, while electricity produced by solar and wind are a cost to taxpayers.
The City of Wichita has passed a revision to its economic development policies. Instead of promoting economic freedom and a free-market approach, the new policy gives greater power to city bureaucrats and politicians, and is unlikely to produce the economic development that Wichita needs.
A campaign finance report filed by Wichita City Council Member Jeff Longwell contains contributions from executives associated with Walbridge, a Michigan construction company partnering with Key Construction to build the new Wichita airport terminal.
Obamaphones: You pay for this From Project Veritas:
Project Veritas investigates a $2.2 billion dollar LifeLine Program aka ‘Obama Phones’ and finds disturbing evidence of employees telling us we can sell the phones to buy Heroin and expensive handbags. […] Quick Takes
State and local government employees, a visualization How does your state compare to others in the number of state and local government employees, and the payroll costs of these employees?
The following interactive visualization lets you compare any states. Data is presented separately for state government employees and local government employees. The number of employees is presented as […] Quick Takes
Regionalism seen as threat I guess it’s good to know that we’re not alone in South Central Kansas in having an overbearing regional planning organization. Dr. Richard Swier reports:
There is a new movement taking place in America that threatens the ideals of home rule and property rights. It is called regionalism.
In Florida and across […] Quick Takes
Hawver to brief Pachyderms on legislative politics This Friday (June 21, 2013) the Wichita Pachyderm Club presents Martin Hawver, Publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. His topic is “A political assessment of the 2013 Kansas legislative session.”
Hawver is the dean of Kansas statehouse reporters. The Facebook page is Hawver News Company LLC, and the website is www.hawvernews.com.
The public […] Quick Takes
Wichita city council reacts to Visioneering presentation Reactions of Wichita City Council members to Visioneering report, May 14, 2013, from official meeting minutes. For more background, see Wichita job growth and Visioneering peers.
Council Member Williams thanked Ms. Ahlstrand for all of the work she has put into the Visioneering process, which has been beneficial to the […] Quick Takes
Facebook discloses government data requests Wall Street Journal:
Under scrutiny for handing over data about its users to the U.S. government, Facebook late on Friday for the first time disclosed that it got between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from all government entities in the U.S. in the second half of 2012. That number includes all requests […] Quick Takes
The Kansas Economic Freedom Index identifies Kansas legislators who vote in favor of economic freedom — and those who don’t.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — Declaration of Independence
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. — Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Government is essentially the negation of liberty. — Ludwig von Mises
It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government. — Thomas Paine
It does not take a majority to prevail, but an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. — Samuel Adams
You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor where they are, nor how many of them there are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you know, and no more: first, that they exist; second, that they will find you. — Albert Jay Nock
A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that ... it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. — Milton Friedman
As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power. — F.A. Hayek
The kind of rules we should have are the kind that we'd make if our worst enemy were in charge. — Walter E. Williams
Your principle has placed these words above the entrance of the legislative chamber: “whosoever acquires any influence here can obtain his share of legal plunder.” And what has been the result? All classes have flung themselves upon the doors of the chamber crying: “A share of the plunder for me, for me!” — Frederic Bastiat
This was all before politicians gave us the idea that the things we could not afford individually we could somehow afford collectively through the magic of government. — Thomas Sowell
While the short-run prospects for liberty at home and abroad may seem dim, the proper attitude for the Libertarian to take is that of unquenchable long-run optimism. — Murray N. Rothbard
Barbra Streisand told Diane Sawyer that we're in a global warming crisis, and we can expect more and more intense storms, droughts and dust bowls. But before they act, weather experts say they're still waiting to hear from Celine Dion. — Jay Leno
The great virtue of free enterprise is that it forces existing businesses to meet the test of the market continuously, to produce products that meet consumer demands at lowest cost, or else be driven from the market. It is a profit-and-loss system. Naturally, existing businesses generally prefer to keep out competitors in other ways. That is why the business community, despite its rhetoric, has so often been a major enemy of truly free enterprise. — Milton Friedman
Increasingly, it seems that the biggest difference between conservatives and liberals is that the conservatives know government is force. But that doesn't stop them from using it. — John Stossel
One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license. — P.J. O'Rourke
Late one night in Washington, D.C. a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. "Give me your money!" he demanded. Indignant, the affluent man replied, "You can't do this. I'm a United States Congressman!" "In that case," replied the robber, "give me my money!" — Related by Walter Block
The libertarian creed, finally, offers the fulfillment of the best of the American past along with the promise of a far better future. Even more than conservatives, who are often attached to the monarchical traditions of a happily obsolete European past, libertarians are squarely in the great classical liberal tradition that built the United States and bestowed on us the American heritage of individual liberty, a peaceful foreign policy, minimal government, and a free-market economy. Libertarians are the only genuine current heirs of Jefferson, Paine, Jackson, and the abolitionists. — From "For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto" by Murray N. Rothbard
No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: “But what would you replace it with?” When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with? — Thomas Sowell
Here’s Williams’ law: Whenever the profit incentive is missing, the probability that people’s wants can be safely ignored is the greatest. — Walter E. Williams
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. — Barry Goldwater
A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. — Milton Friedman
When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself. — F.A. Hayek
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. — H.L. Mencken
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C.S. Lewis
When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. — Benjamin Franklin
What is euphemistically called government-corporate "partnership" is just government coercion, political favoritism, collectivist industrial policy, and old-fashioned federal boondoggles nicely wrapped up in a bright-colored ribbon. It doesn’t work. — Ronald Reagan
Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. — Ludwig von Mises
The problem is big government. If whoever controls government can impose his way upon you, you have to fight constantly to prevent the control from being harmful. With small, limited government, it doesn’t much matter who controls it, because it can’t do you much harm. — Harry Browne
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. — Frederic Bastiat
It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil. — F.A. Hayek
Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself ... Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom. — Milton Friedman
Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for. — Will Rogers
The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened. — Norman Thomas
[The political system] tends to give undue political power to small groups that have highly concentrated interests; to give greater weight to obvious, direct and immediate effects of government action than to possibly more important but concealed, indirect and delayed effects; to set in motion a process that sacrifices the general interest to serve special interests rather than the other way around. There is, as it were, an invisible hand in politics that operates in precisely the opposite direction to Adam Smith's invisible hand. — Milton Friedman
I'd rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard. — William F. Buckley Jr.
Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end. — Lord Acton
The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another. — Milton Friedman
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens. — Adam Smith
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. — H.L. Mencken
This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the "hidden" confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard. — Alan Greenspan, “Gold and Economic Freedom” 
Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating the economic activities of millions. One is central direction involving the use of coercion — the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary cooperation of individuals — the technique of the marketplace. — Milton Friedman
The compelling issue to both conservatives and liberals is not whether it is legitimate for government to confiscate one’s property to give to another, the debate is over the disposition of the pillage. — Walter Williams
In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then ... they came for me ...
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
— Pastor Martin Niemöller
There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as "caring" and "sensitive" because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money — if a gun is held to his head. — P.J. O'Rourke
The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can't tolerate a libertarian community. — David Boaz
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. — Thomas Jefferson
After all, only the imagination limits the kind of laws and restrictions that can be written in the name of saving the planet. — Walter E. Williams
One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary. — Ayn Rand
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick. ... It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary. — Adam Smith
Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. — Immanuel Kant
When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it. — Frederic Bastiat