Tag Archives: George Soros

2013 year in review: Top 10 stories from the Sunflower State

2013 year in review: Top 10 stories from the Sunflower State

By Travis Perry, Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — It’s over, done, finalized, finito. With the final days and hours of 2013 ticking to a close, we figured it’s a good time for reflection on what the last 12 months have brought the Sunflower State.

So, without further delay, Kansas Watchdog presents its Top 10 stories of 2013.

Strip Club

1. Wayward welfare dollars

An in-depth investigation into howKansans spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in government welfare money came to a shocking conclusion: a striking number of transactions appear to be going toward anything but the basic necessities. From casinos and liquor stores to smoke shops and even strip clubs, Kansas Watchdog uncovered more than $43,000 in transactions at shady ATM locations around the state. To make matters worse, all this only took place over a three-month period.

Read It:
Kansans spent welfare cash on strippers, smokes and sour mash

Video camera

2. Camera-shy state lawmakers

Fun fact: Did you know the Kansas Capitol is capable of broadcasting live video online of some of the Legislature’s most important committee meetings? Don’t beat yourself up over it. A striking number of lawmakers don’t know, either. It’s the end result of years of apathy that has led the state to be one of only 11 nationwide that do not stream some form of live video. If some kid in the middle of nowhere can attract global eyeballs with nothing more than a camera phone, what’s keeping the Kansas Legislature off the air?

Read it:
Camera shy: Kansas legislators sidestep transparency
Eye in the sky: Kansas legislative leader won’t require streaming video

3. Judicial selection gymnastics

Here’s a shocking revelation: politics sway candidate commentaries, and Kansas is no exception. Gov. Sam Brownback’s pick for the Kansas Court of Appeals is a prime example of this, after the situation prompted his Democratic gubernatorial challenger to switch sides on his stance to oppose the new nominee. And how could we forget that, in their rush to criticize the conservative governor, Kansas Democrats conveniently forgot thatKathleen Sebelius did almost the exact same thing only a few years earlier.

Read it:
Democratic leader flip-flops on Kansas judicial nominee
Partisan politics fuel Kansas Democrat’s change of heart
Kansas Democrats use double standard on judicial nomination criticism

4. Follow the money

And as long as we’re on the topic of judicial nominees, how about we turn the spotlight on a few other critics of Brownback’s decision? Namely theLeague of Women Voters and Justice At Stake, both of which claim to be nonpartisan organizations while simultaneously accepting large sums of cash from George Soros’ liberal nonprofits, the Tides Foundation and Open Society Institute.

Read it:
Soros bankrolls ‘nonpartisan’ critics of Kansas governor
‘Nonpartisan’ critic says Soros cash hasn’t caused political bias
money-limit

5. Fiscal follies

Ever wonder just how much work goes into calculating the cost of a legislative proposal? Not that much, apparently. While state agencies claim they don’t pad their figures, government critics charge them with doing just that, and a close inspection of a few cost estimates only bolsters the case. Should it cost $17,000 for the state to put online a spreadsheet of data it already has? What about $20,000 for a program agency officials say could have been absorbed in-house? Yea, we thought so too.

Read it:
Fiscal follies: Kansas cost estimates draw criticism

 
money jail

6. Your money, behind bars

How much should Kansas spend to lock up individuals whose only crime is drug related? While lawmakers are struggling to figure out what that figure should be, the reality is that Kansas drops about $42 million annually to keep these men and women in prison. To make matters worse, state law enforcement statistics suggest it’s overwhelmingly because of Kansas continues to wage war against marijuana.

Read it:
Kansas spends millions to keep non-violent drug offenders behind bars
Twinkies-2

7. Raking-in the dough

Remember the media flurry surrounding the implosion of Hostess, one of America’s most iconic snack food manufacturers? Well here’s something you probably missed. According to the government, former employees were knocked out due to foreign trade pressure, and for that deserve extra benefits above and beyond standard unemployment insurance. But everything uncovered by Kansas Watchdog seems to point to the contrary. Curious? So were we.

Read it:
Former Hostess workers land sweet deal, taxpayers foot bill
Did foreign trade really cause Hostess’ demise?
Couch fire

8. Couch crackdown

If you’re looking for the nuttiest story of the year, look no further. The City ofLawrence, Kansas’ liberal bastion, only months ago brought us the headache-inducing mandate that city residents are not, in fact, capable of policing their own safety. Rather, officials passed a ban on front porch couches, despite the fact that local and nationwide statistics suggest it’s less of an issue than advocates would have folks believe.

Read it:
Kansas community cracks down on couches
Islam Display

9. Islamic fervor

Wichita-area school came under fire earlier this year after students and parents were greeted on the first day of school with a large display outlining the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The matter prompted emotions of all scope and size, and landed the school squarely in the national spotlight.

Read it:
Kansas lawmaker ‘appalled’ by Islamic display in school
KansasSeal

10. Counting for attendance

The legislative session is a busy time for any elected official, but some are less (or more) busy than others, it seems. After Kansas lawmakers headed for home in June, Kansas Watchdog took an in-depth peek at how they faired in the preceding months, and what we found was jaw-dropping. In all, seven members of the House of Representatives had missed more votes than all other members of the House combined.

Read it:

Handful of Kansas lawmakers outpace all others for missed votes

Contact Travis Perry at travis@kansaswatchdog.org, or follow him on Twitter at@muckraker62. Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!

NAT GAS Act: Markets are better able to decide

The real lesson to be learned from Solyndra is that government is not equipped to act as entrepreneur. We need to apply that lesson to natural gas powered vehicles before it is too late.

This lesson is important to learn at the present, as legislation called the NAT GAS Act, formally known as H.R. 1380: New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2011, is working its way through Congress.

Thomas J. Pyle of the American Energy Alliance does an excellent job tracing through the secondary effects of passing the NAT GAS act. He shows that when considering large legislation like this, we need to really think hard about all the markets and people that will be impacted.

Furthermore, some of the goals of this legislation, such as decreasing reliance on imported oil from unfriendly sources, could be accomplished with government simply getting out of the way and letting more oil production occur domestically.

We need to trust people, that is, people and investors trading freely, using their collective wisdom, as to which forms of energy are best for each purpose, Pyle writes: “The market and consumers have proven over and over — “déjà vu all over again,” but in a positive way — to be the best arbiters of what energy technologies succeed or fail. To put it simply, if natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are superior to gas or diesel, and they may be some day, consumers will figure that out on their own.”

Pyle also offers what he thinks is the real motive of two of the bill’s backers, energy investor T. Boone Pickens and left-wing cause financier George Soros: “Why compete in the free market when it’s more profitable to have Congress do your bidding for you?””

The full article by Pyle is available on The Hill at NAT GAS Act: Déjà vu all over again. More coverage of this issue is at Pickens criticism illustrates divide between free markets and intervention, Pickens: It’s all about me, and MSNBC doesn’t notice, and Pompeo on energy tax simplification.

NAT GAS Act: Déjà vu all over again

By Thomas J. Pyle

When it comes to unchecked government spending and misguided energy policies, it seems that Congress cannot escape channeling Yogi Berra’s oft-quoted remark, “it’s deja vu all over again.” The latest Congressional boondoggle concerns the NAT GAS Act, which will be addressed at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on September 22.
Some background first: the proposed law offers between $5 billion and $9 billion in tax subsidies — although there is no cap on maximum spending in the law — to encourage businesses to convert their vehicles to natural gas, despite the fact that many companies are already doing this doing on their own. Proponents of the law argue that using cleaner burning natural gas will help the environment and that it will improve the nation’s energy security, but a closer look reveals these demand-centric subsidies will lead to expensive consequences for consumers, taxpayers, workers and employers across the board.

Continue reading at The Hill

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday August 17, 2011

George Soros: Media Mogul. Dan Gainor and Iris Somberg of the Business and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center, have produced a report on the media-related activities of liberal financier George Soros. In the executive summary, Gainor and Somberg report: “George Soros is arguably the most influential liberal financier in the United States, donating more than $8 billion just to his Open Society Foundations. In 2004, he spent more than $27 million to defeat President George W. Bush and has given away millions more since to promote the left-wing agenda. But what goes almost without notice is Soros’ extensive influence on and involvement with the media. … His media funding has helped create a liberal ‘echo chamber,’ in the words of one group he backs, ‘in which a message pushes the larger public or the mainstream media to acknowledge, respond, and give airtime to progressive ideas because it is repeated many times.’” … As a person with an interest in news media, I can attest that the liberal echo chamber is quite effective, with stories spreading rapidly across a network of media outlets. Liberal politicians — even President Obama — pick up on and repeat the echoes. The executive summary of the report is at George Soros: Media Mogul — Lefty Businessman Spends Millions Funding Journalism. That page contains a link to the full report and additional material.

‘Nullify Now’ tour in Kansas City. The idea that states can nullify unconstitutional laws passed by Congress is gaining traction as a way to reign in the federal government. This week an event in Kansas City will help citizens learn more about this possibility. Write the event’s organizers: “Crushing debt, health care mandates, ‘super’ congress, and more. The list of constitutional violations from DC never seems to end. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for DC to fix itself. As Thomas Jefferson told us, state nullification is “THE RIGHTFUL REMEDY” to unconstitutional actions by the federal government. … At Nullify Now! Kansas City, you’ll hear nationally-renowned speaker Thomas Woods (and nine others) present the constitutional case for nullification. You’ll learn: the constitutional basis for nullification, how nullification has been used in history, how nullification is being called upon right now vs Obamacare, to protect gun rights, against the TSA, and more, and what YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW to get your state to put a stop to the Feds.” The event is Saturday August 20, and tickets, ranging in cost from free to $75, are required. For more information click on Nullify Now! Kansas City.

Krugman: government spending and inflation will save us. On a Sunday television show economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman revealed a plan to restore our economy: Pretend that an enemy is about to attack us — an imaginary enemy is best — and put concerns of inflation and budget deficits aside in favor of a massive defense buildup. Yes, he actually said that. He also repeated the myth that World War II ended the Great Depression. In the past, Krugman wrote that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 “could even do some economic good” as rebuilding will increase spending. Video is at Paul Krugman: Massive Defense Buildup to Stimulate Economy. A very good analysis of Krugman’s ideas by Michael Pento is at Krugman’s War Won’t Avert Depression: “After all, the Keynesian economist’s favorite pastime is seeing people waste their lives digging holes in the ground or sacrifice their lives in war. Both acts create economic growth according to the topsy-turvy logic of men like Krugman. The truth is that wars are a miserable misallocation of capital and usually leave financial ruin in their wake. … The logical implication of Krugman’s arguments remains that working in productive employment is not at all necessary. If this is true, why not have people just save gas and stay home? The government could simply borrow and/or print money and send it to foreign countries that are dumb enough to produce goods and services for US consumption.”

Stossel on history. In a recent episode of the John Stossel television program, now available on the free hulu service by clicking on Stossel: Politically Incorrect History, we learn of the falsehoods of labor union mythology, how unions limited the ability of minority workers to get jobs, how workplace safety was increasing before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, how the New Deal didn’t fix the Great Depression despite what is taught in public school, and how President Hoover doubled government spending in spite of his reputation. This is all in just the first segment.

Midwest economic model in decline. Michael Barone in the Wall Street Journal The Fall of the Midwest Economic Model: “Michigan is an extreme example of what has afflicted the industrial Midwest. Big corporations were replaced by big government as the leading employer, and public-employee unions replaced industrial unions as the chief financiers of the Democratic Party. In effect, public-employee unions have been a mechanism by which taxpayer money, in the form of union dues, permanently finances a lobby with a vested interest in higher spending and less accountability. It’s a lobby that’s benefited from the Democratic Party loyalties of black voters, of Latinos in Chicago (the only large Hispanic presence in the Midwest) and of culturally liberal suburbanites. This Midwestern model is unraveling before our eyes. The Midwest has not been hit as hard by foreclosures or unemployment as some other places, with Michigan an exception on both counts, but you have to look hard for green shoots of growth. They may be most evident in North Dakota, where low costs and light regulation have produced booms in energy and high tech. … So what does the president have to offer the Midwest? The idea that the wave of the future is an ever-larger public sector financed by a more or less stagnant private sector looks increasingly absurd. The Midwest’s public sector has, as Margaret Thatcher put it, run on ‘other people’s money.’”

Optimal level of government spending. In a video by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Dan Mitchell explains that while some government is necessary, too much is harmful, and it’s certain that we have too much. In the video, Mitchell explains that government is useful when it provides core goods like rule of law and property rights, which gives people confidence to own property and produce goods and services. But once government gets too large, economic performance suffers, and prosperity is reduced. Mitchell cites a variety of studies that estimate that the economy works best when government spending is from 15 to 25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Today, Mitchell says government spending in the U.S. consumes 40 percent of GDP, which is far above the growth-maximizing level — perhaps twice as much. The trend is upwards, too. At least we’re not France, where the figure is over 50 percent. Concluding, Mitchell said “Government today is far too big and this is hurting growth, undermining prosperity, and reducing competitiveness. It doesn’t matter whether Republicans are spending too much money, or Democrats are spending too much money. … If we want a strong economy, the Rahn curve tells use we need to dramatically reduce the burden of government spending.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday August 16, 2011

Future of Kansas insurance exchange. “TOPEKA — A federal appeals court ruling in Georgia that overturned a portion of the nation’s latest health insurance law Friday did little to end confusion over how to follow that law in Kansas. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to carry health insurance or face penalties, is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that Congress exceeded its constitutional powers by requiring people to buy health insurance when they choose not to do so.” At issue is whether the state should continue to spend money and work on infrastructure to support Obamacare, when it appears increasingly likely that the law will be ruled unconstitutional. Gene Meyer reports in Kansas Reporter.

Concern over Wichita spending. At today’s city council meeting the council considered whether to pay travel expenses for Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer to attend a sister cities exchange meeting in Mexico. The mayor announced that he would be paying his own airfare, that the hotel and meals would be paid for by the host city, so the only expense would be for his luggage and perhaps some incidental meals. Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) said that if the city sends representatives on worthwhile missions, the city should pay all travel expenses. Vice Mayor Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast and east Wichita) disagreed, noting that just last week she traveled to Texas on city business, and she paid for her own airfare. The mayor remarked that “primarily what we’re doing is we’re paying to perform the job we’re assigned to do,” and that previous commitments had been made that obligate the current council to follow through. … The next item was to pay for travel for other persons to attend the conference. The agenda packet for today’s meeting contained no information on these two items, certainly not the amounts of money involved or the persons to travel. … The council’s concern over spending on items like the mayor’s airfare is welcome, but this spending is small relative to the many areas in which the city could trim spending.

Kansas governor praises wind power. Today Kansas Governor Sam Brownback promoted investment in wind energy. In a press release he said “I want Kansas to be known as the ‘Renewable State.’ To get there, we have to balance the three E’s: Energy, Economy and the Environment. My first priority as Governor is to grow the Kansas economy, and getting wind power to market is a key component accomplishing that.” Contrary to the governor’s rosy picture, Lisa Linowes details the long string of failures of the wind power industry, including the fact that wind power is becoming more expensive, despite its massive federal subsidy. It is unknown why Brownback — who generally supports free markets — supports wind power and the government intervention necessary to prop up the industry. The same can be said for his support of ethanol, which is rapidly losing support for its three forms of government intervention that support it: a subsidy for its producers, a mandate to use it, and a tariff to protect domestic producers from foreign competition.

Corporate taxes. Mitt Romney made it an issue. David Henderson comments: “No, I’m making the simple point that a tax on corporations is a tax on people. I remember that in addressing the issue in the 1980s, the late Herb Stein said that it’s as if people think that if the government imposed a tax on cows, the tax would be paid by the cows.” In a video, Milton Friedman explained that “There’s no business to be taxed. There are people. Only people can pay taxes. … When you talk about a tax on business, it has to be paid by somebody. Either it’s paid by the stockholder, or it’s paid by the customer, or it’s paid by the worker. There’s no other way it can come from.” He also addressed the fiction that the Social Security tax is paid equally by employers and workers.

How the racism charge is used. The Capital Research Center has published a piece that illustrates how the political left tosses around a charge that no one wants to be accused of: racism. In an email the Center says: “Author Kevin Mooney examines a little-known group called Color of Change, which alleges that conservatives in the media are racists. Targeting figures like TV talk show host Glenn Beck and Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, Color of Change enjoys the praise of prominent left-of-center groups like Media Matters and MoveOn.org. Mooney says the Left admires Color of Change because it has learned how to use the incendiary charge of racism to stifle conservatives’ free speech.” … The report itself says: “The intense anti-Fox animus is not new, but this time conservatives have good cause to be concerned about one aspect of the new campaign against Fox. That campaign aims to exploit the most incendiary of tactics — the issue of race — to dislodge conservatives from prominent media posts. … Despite much evidence that contemporary America has moved beyond the tragic legacy of slavery and segregation, the Left remains eager to accuse its opponents of racism.” … It will come as no surprise that George Soros is a financier of this organization. The compete report is The Left Wing Targets Conservative Media.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday May 25, 2011

The failure of American schools. The Atlantic: “Who better to lead an educational revolution than Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft? But in his eight years as chancellor of New York City’s school system, the nation’s largest, Klein learned a few painful lessons of his own — about feckless politicians, recalcitrant unions, mediocre teachers, and other enduring obstacles to school reform.” Key takeway idea: “As a result, even when making a lifetime tenure commitment, under New York law you could not consider a teacher’s impact on student learning. That Kafkaesque outcome demonstrates precisely the way the system is run: for the adults. The school system doesn’t want to change, because it serves the needs of the adult stakeholders quite well, both politically and financially.” … Also: “Accountability, in most industries or professions, usually takes two forms. First and foremost, markets impose accountability: if people don’t choose the goods or services you’re offering, you go out of business. Second, high-performing companies develop internal accountability requirements keyed to market-based demands. Public education lacks both kinds of accountability. It is essentially a government-run monopoly. Whether a school does well or poorly, it will get the students it needs to stay in business, because most kids have no other choice. And that, in turn, creates no incentive for better performance, greater efficiency, or more innovation — all things as necessary in public education as they are in any other field.” … Overall, an eye-opening indictment of American public schools.

Professors to Koch Brothers: Take your green back. In The Wall Street Journal Donald Luskin takes a look at what should be a non-controversy: A gift by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to Florida State University to endow a program to study the foundations of prosperity, social progress, and human well-being — at the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education. (Sounds like a good match.) Writes Luskin: “Then there’s the donors. One of the donors, according to the two professors, is known for his ‘efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc.’ Whom might they be referring to? Certainly not George Soros — there’s never an objection to that billionaire’s donations, which always tend toward the political left. No, it’s Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries.” … Critics say the gift is an assault on academic freedom. Luskin counters: “The issue at FSU isn’t that the university has bargained away its academic freedom. The problem is that FSU has exercised its academic freedom in a way that the political left disapproves of. As [FSU College of Social Sciences] Mr. Rasmussen put it to the St. Petersburg Times: ‘If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin. What is a big sin is saying that certain ideas cannot be discussed.”

History and legacy of Kansas populism. Recently Friends University Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Arben Fox delivered a lecture to the Wichita Pachyderm Club that was well-received by members. Now Fox has made his presentation available on his blog In Media Res. It’s titled The History and Legacy of Kansas Populism. Thank you to Professor Fox for this effort, and also to Pachyderm Club Vice President John Todd, who arranges the many excellent programs like this that are characteristic of the club.

Federal grants seen to raise future local spending. “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman (The Yale Book of Quotations, 2006) Is this true? Do federal grants cause state and/or local tax increases in the future after the government grant ends? Economists Russell S. Sobel and George R. Crowley examine the evidence and find the answer is yes. The conclusion to their research paper Do Intergovernmental Grants Create Ratchets in State and Local Taxes? Testing the Friedman-Sanford Hypothesis states: “Our results clearly demonstrate that grant funding to state and local governments results in higher own source revenue and taxes in the future to support the programs initiated with the federal grant monies. Our results are consistent with Friedman’s quote regarding the permanence of temporary government programs started through grant funding, as well as South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s reasoning for trying to deny some federal stimulus monies for his state due to the future tax implications. Most importantly, our results suggest that the recent large increase in federal grants to state and local governments that has occurred as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will have significant future tax implications at the state and local level as these governments raise revenue to continue these newly funded programs into the future. Federal grants to state and local governments have risen from $461 billion in 2008 to $654 billion in 2010. Based on our estimates, future state taxes will rise by between 33 and 42 cents for every dollar in federal grants states received today, while local revenues will rise by between 23 and 46 cents for every dollar in federal (or state) grants received today. Using our estimates, this increase of $200 billion in federal grants will eventually result in roughly $80 billion in future state and local tax and own source revenue increases. This suggests the true cost of fiscal stimulus is underestimated when the costs of future state and local tax increases are overlooked.” … An introduction to the paper is here.

Debt observed as sold. New U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who represents the Kansas first district, recently observed the Bureau of Public Debt electronically sell debt obligations of the United States of America. In a press release, the Congressman said: “In a matter of minutes, I observed the United States sell $30.4 billion more in debt. The ease with which this transaction was done reminded me that it is just too simple for Washington to acquire, buy, sell and trade debt.” As to the upcoming decision as to whether to raise the ability of the U.S. to borrow: “As Congress considers yet another increase in the debt limit, the only responsible option that exists is to put America on a path to fiscal responsibility with clear limits on spending. Democrats say they want a debt limit increase that is ‘clean’ without any of the budget cuts we have proposed. Yet, they have offered no plan to eliminate annual trillion-dollar deficits. There is nothing ‘clean’ about increasing the limit without tackling the massive deficits and ever-increasing debt. … With nearly one-half of the nation’s debt held by foreign countries, including more than $1.1 trillion by China, our national security is threatened as well. Too many of our freedoms and liberties are threatened when Americans owe trillions of dollars to nations who put their interests before ours.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday May 16, 2011

Wichita City Council this week. This week the Wichita City Council handles several important issues. One is approval of the policies regarding incentives for downtown development. Then, the council will consider approval of the city’s portion of the Hawker Beechcraft deal. In order to persuade Hawker to stay in Kansas rather than move to Louisiana, the State of Kansas offered $40,000 in various form of incentive and subsidy, and it was proposed at the time that the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County each add $2.5 million. Of note is the fact that Hawker’s campus in east Wichita … oops, wait a moment — their campus is not within the boundaries of the city. Like Eastborough, Hawker is surrounded on all four sides by Wichita, but is not part of the city itself. I don’t know if this should have any consideration as to whether the city should give Hawker this grant. … Then, there’s approval of the Industrial Revenue Bonds for the Fairfield Inn in downtown at WaterWalk. The agenda material says that the hotel is now complete, so the construction loan is being refinanced with the IRBs, “which will be initially purchased by the construction loan lender and then later redeemed with the proceeds of a permanent commercial loan insured by the Small Business Administration.” The benefit of the bonds is that the hotel escapes paying $328,945 in sales tax on its furnishings, etc. The city has already issued a letter of intent to do this, so it’s likely this item will pass and someone else will have to pay the sales tax this hotel is escaping. … The complete agenda packet is at Wichita City Council May 17, 2011.

Wichita as art curator. The controversy over spending $350,000 on a large sculpture at WaterWalk promoted one reader to write and remind me of the city’s past experience as custodian of fine art. In 2004, the city mistakenly sold a sculpture by James Rosati as scrap metal. Realizing its mistake, the city refused to complete the transaction. The buyer sued, the city lost and appealed, losing again. Estimates of the sculpture’s worth ranged up to $30,000. Editorialized Randy Scholfield at the time in The Wichita Eagle: “That the sculpture ended up in an auction of surplus junk in the first place says something about how much the city valued it or exercised proper stewardship.”

Legislature fails to confront KPERS. This year the Kansas Legislature failed to confront the looming problem of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS. A small revision was made to the program, and a study commission was created. Neither action comes anywhere near to solving this very serious problem, as described in Economist: KPERS must undergo serious reform.

Over 30 major news organizations linked to George Soros. Business and Media Institute: “When liberal investor George Soros gave $1.8 million to National Public Radio, it became part of the firestorm of controversy that jeopardized NPR’s federal funding. But that gift only hints at the widespread influence the controversial billionaire has on the mainstream media. Soros, who spent $27 million trying to defeat President Bush in 2004, has ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets — including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC.” … This is from the first of a four part series.

Romney seen as candidate of business, not capitalism. Timothy P. Carney in To Mitt Romney, big government is good for business: “Mitt Romney has the strongest business backing of any Republican presidential hopeful, and he carries himself as a technocratic problem solver. … Examine Romney’s dalliances with big government that have caused him such grief, and you’ll see a trend: They all are described as ‘pro-business,’ they all amount to corporate welfare, and they all reflect the technocratic mind-set you’d expect of a business consultant. Romney’s record and rhetoric show how managerialism veers away from the free market and into corporatism.” … Carney discusses Romney’s disastrous health care program in Massachusetts — which is seen as a prototype for Obamacare, his efforts to lure business to the state with subsidies, his support of ethanol subsidies, a national catastrophic insurance fund, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Programs for elderly must be cut. Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post: “When House Speaker John Boehner calls for trillions of dollars of spending cuts, the message is clear. Any deal to raise the federal debt ceiling must include significant savings in Social Security and Medicare benefits. Subsidizing the elderly is the biggest piece of federal spending (more than two-fifths of the total), but trimming benefits for well-off seniors isn’t just budget arithmetic. It’s also the right thing to do. I have been urging higher eligibility ages and more means-testing for Social Security and Medicare for so long that I forget that many Americans still accept the outdated and propagandistic notion that old age automatically impoverishes people.” … Samuelson goes on to show that many are doing quite well in old age and gets to the heart of the problem: “The blanket defense of existing Social Security and Medicare isn’t ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive.’ It’s simply a political expedient with ruinous consequences. It enlarges budget deficits and forces an unfair share of adjustment — higher taxes, lower spending — on workers and other government programs. This is the morality of the ballot box.” In other words, the elderly, which are a powerful voting bloc, have found they can vote themselves money. Concluding, he writes “Social Security was intended to prevent poverty, not finance recipients’ extra cable channels.”

Social Security seen as unwise, financially. A video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, explains that apart from the political issues, Social Security is a bad system from a purely financial view. Explained in the video is that 22 year-olds can expect to earn a 1.6 percent rate of return on their “investment” in Social Security contributions. Further, the “investment” is subject to a “100 percent estate tax.”

Market development in Wichita. From Wichita downtown planning, not trash, is real threat: “While the downtown Wichita planners promote their plan as market-based development, the fact is that we already have market-based development happening all over Wichita. But because this development may not be taking place where some people want it to — downtown is where the visionaries say development should be — they declare a ‘market failure.’ But just because people make decisions that visionaries don’t approve of, that’s not market failure. And this is one of the most important reasons why Wichitans should oppose the downtown plan. It proposes to direct public investment away from where free people trading in free markets want public investment to be. The public investment component of the downtown plan says that people who decided not to live or work downtown are wrong, and they must now pay for others to be downtown. … We have market-based development in Wichita. We don’t need a government plan to have market-based development.”

ThinkProgress and Lee Fang: wrong again

Earlier this week we noted that Center for American Progress Action Fund (an arm of the Center for American Progress, a think tank closely associated with President Barack Obama’s administration and left-wing financier George Soros) was launching an “ideologically driven news organization.” Its implementation would be through the ThinkProgress blog, which has been active for some time, including a role as a vocal — and often highly misinformed — critic of Charles and David Koch.

This bit of background is important because ThinkProgress has shown to be an unreliable source of information. Case in point: Yesterday John H. Hinderaker of Powerline examined a recent post on ThinkProgress that is critical of Koch Industries and found it and its author Lee Fang to be highly lacking in a number of areas, such as facts, knowledge, and understanding of economics. One comment left to the article included: “Based on 25 years of scholarly research and market experience, I can say that Fang the Farcical knows not the first thing about either manipulation or commodities pricing. You would think that Soros could have found a junior assistant trader to teach Fang the basics. But then there wouldn’t have been a story, would there?”

Here’s just a small example: One of the most telling parts of Fang’s article is this: “Big banks and companies like Koch employ a contango strategy by buying up oil and storing it in massive containers both on land and offshore to lock in the oil for sale later at a set price.”

Here Fang is criticizing Koch Industries for speculation in oil markets. Hinderaker notes that unlike banks — which aren’t in the oil business — Koch Industries is actually in the oil business: “Koch certainly does buy oil and store it; it is in the oil business. However, I would be curious to know what ‘big banks’ ‘buy[] up oil and stor[e] it in massive containers both on land and offshore.’”

Buying something when the price is low and storing it for later use seems a rather innocent act. I wonder if Fang has ever done like I have: When I notice the grocery store has Diet Pepsi on sale, I buy extra and store it for later use when I expect the price will be higher.

Contango Confusion

By John H. Hinderaker

The Think Progress web site is a Soros-funded mouthpiece for the Obama administration. Someone at Think Progress or its parent, the Center for American Progress, has instructed cub reporter Lee Fang to devote full time to attacking Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries. (It would be interesting to know who gave that instruction, and why.) We have deconstructed several of Mr. Fang’s attacks, all of which have been juvenile. But his latest effort is perhaps his most pitiful yet.

In “The Contango Game,” Fang tries to show that Koch Industries “manipulates the oil market for profit.” Unfortunately, young Mr. Fang has neither the business experience nor the intelligence to understand the issues about which he writes. The result is that nearly every sentence is a howler. Among other things, while a contango market is the main subject of Fang’s post, he doesn’t know what the phrase means.

Fang begins with the claim that oil prices are high these days because of speculation. Whether it is even possible for “speculators” — some call them investors — to have a material impact on the price of oil over time is dubious. While partisans like to blame speculators for rising oil prices–never, however, for falling prices–objective studies, like this one by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 2008, have failed to document any such influence.

Continue reading at Powerline.

Center for American Progress starts ideologically driven news organization

A common criticism of anyone taking a conservative political position is that they should stop getting all their information from Fox News. Criticism like that works both ways, however, especially now that the Center for American Progress Action Fund, according to Politico, is “ramping up an in-house full-fledged, ideologically driven news organization aimed in part at tripping up Republican candidates on the ground in the early presidential contests.” In the coming weeks the ThinkProgress blog will be relaunched as this news organization.

Some key points:

  • There are ambitious goals: “The newsroom side is absolutely competing with all the leading news organizations,” said Faiz Shakir, the editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress. “We’re not out there to peddle research — we’re out there to make news.

  • Disclosure requirements are good for my political enemies, but not for me: “ThinkProgress may quack like a duck, but it’s hardly just another media organization. For one thing, like the conservative groups that have drawn Democratic criticism, its parent 501(c)4 nonprofit doesn’t disclose its donors, which Palmieri justified on the grounds that, unlike those groups, they don’t produce political advertising.”
  • CAP Action fund is, of course, an arm of the Center for American Progress, a think tank closely associated with President Barack Obama’s administration and George Soros, who advocates many liberal and left-wing political causes: “Further, CAP Action Fund openly runs political advocacy campaigns, and plays a central role in the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, and the new reporting staff down the hall isn’t exactly walled off from that message machine.”
  • Oh, it’s a moral thing: “Rejecting a question from POLITICO about why CAP declined to reveal its donors while calling out the Kochs for not disclosing their donations, he [blogger Lee Fang, a vocal critic of Charles and David Koch] said ‘It’s fundamentally different when you have wealthy individuals that want to donate to a worthy cause, and the Koch brothers and some of their cohorts that are funding groups that are essentially just advancing their self interests and their lobbying interests.’” Fang and the others at Center for American Progress and its allied organizations are evidently not able to understand that the economic freedom that Charles and David Koch advocate is not necessarily in their own interests, if all they wanted to do is become richer. As Charles Koch recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay. Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market.”

It’s the big-government, freedom-killing policies that Center for American Progress supports that are not moral. As seen in the video presented Monday by Walter E. Williams, most government programs exist to take property from one American and give it to another to whom it does not belong, thereby making us all poorer in the process. After these government programs become ensconced, we end up with a country that is not able to care for itself and make arrangements for even the most important things such as retirement and health care, as George Resiman explained.

Center for American Progress news team takes aim at GOP

By Ben Smith & Kenneth P. Vogel

The liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund is ramping up an in-house full-fledged, ideologically driven news organization aimed in part at tripping up Republican candidates on the ground in the early presidential contests.

The group, executives told POLITICO, now has 30 writers and researchers at ThinkProgress, its blog, which is being redesigned and relaunched in the coming weeks. The editorial staff, similar in size or larger than that of many political websites, marks the latest phase in the deliberate, decade-long construction of a liberal infrastructure for reporting, research, and hammering home a message that the right is scrambling to match.

“We see ourselves as a content provider,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the president of The Center for American Progress Action Fund, the group’s advocacy arm. “There actually is an echo chamber now.”

Continue reading at Politico

Soros events, catering to liberal causes, largely escape notice

This week George Soros is hosting two conferences that seek to influence and change the international financial system and the news media. In contrast to a conference recently hosted by Charles and David Koch, the Soros events have received little advance attention, and it seems likely that there will be little reporting afterward.

A search of Google news shows just a handful of stories mentioning these events. The Boston Globe has short mention of the event taking place in New Hampshire, presumably only because it is in the neighborhood. But Dan Gainor of Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, has the details on these two events and who is attending.

The New Hampshire event, previewed by Gainor in the Wall Street Journal piece Unreported Soros Event Aims to Remake Entire Global Economy, is intended to “‘establish new international rules’ and ‘reform the currency system.’ It’s all according to a plan laid out in a Nov. 4, 2009, Soros op-ed calling for ‘a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.’” The goals of the conference are lofty — and scary. Soros has written that “The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat.” As described by Gainor, this conference appears to exist to counter the threat Soros sees: “That’s what this conference is all about — changing the global economy and the United States to make them ‘acceptable’ to George Soros.”

At the same time in Boston, Gainor reports (Two Soros Events Aim to Remake Financial Order and Media — So Where’s the Reporting?) that about 350 will gather for a conference on media reform. “Everywhere you they go in Boston, they’ll be making more left turns than NASCAR. It’s an event filled with lefties dissatisfied that the news media aren’t even more liberal, and their goal will be to make that happen.”

Proposals for government funding of news media and a return to the fairness doctrine will be big topics, says Gainor.

Contrast with Koch event

The virtually non-existant news coverage of these two Soros events stands in stark contrast to the frenzy whipped up by media in anticipation of the recent Koch-sponsored conference in January. This is despite the fact that several journalists are speaking at the New Hampshire event, and the Boston event is all about news media.

The Koch event was also protested, and the protests widely covered in the news. It appears there are no plans by anyone to protest the Soros events.

Perhaps David Boaz offers insight when he wrote: “One difference between libertarianism and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, while a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism.”

The message of capitalism, free markets, and economic freedom is powerful. When people realize its benefits and its ability to foster civil society and prosperity for everyone, the special interests that live off government intervention are threatened. As Boaz notes, if people choose to reject freedom and live under some other form of order, libertarians have no problem with that.

But Boaz qualifies this. Such a choice must be voluntary. That’s not what Soros and his supporters have in mind. Their intent is to expand the role of government, and since government operates by force and coercion, this expansion is not voluntary. The more Soros has his way, the more the freedom and liberty of Americans is at risk.

We ought to take note of these conferences. But with a virtual news blackout, most people won’t be aware of them and the plans being made.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday March 29, 2011

Follow-up to Koch profile. A few pieces have provided amplification and commentary on the Weekly Standard profile of Charles and David Koch, notably Politico and Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. … Has a secret conspiracy been uncovered by Politico? Groups identified as lined up against the Kochs include a non-profit group titled Brave New Films, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Ruckus Society, AFSCME (an arm of AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union, and Center for American Progress with its attack blog ThinkProgress. Asks Post’s Rubin: “[a conspiracy] not of the Kochs but of the left-leaning groups that have mounted a campaign against them. … In other words, groups that purport to be nonpartisan are actually involved in a coordinated effort to smear the Kochs.” … Rubin notes the commonality shared between many of these groups: they receive millions from “foundations controlled by or linked to Soros,” referring to left-wing cause financier and anti-capitalist George Soros. … And are the Koch donations overly generous? Writes Rubin: “Left unsaid in all of this is the degree to which the Kochs’ political giving has been exaggerated. How much do they give? Over the last 20 years, about $11 million. Not chump change for you and me, but kind of stingy actually for billionaires whom the left would have us believe are taking over the American political system. By way of comparison, Duke Energy — the third-largest nuclear power plant operator — has been a major donor to Democrats, including the president. That would be the same Duke Energy that just forked over a $10 million line of credit for a single purpose — the 2101 Democratic Convention. Just the sort of thing Common Cause would be concerned about. After the next conference call with the other members of the Soros gang, I’m sure it’ll get right on it.” … Both articles are worth reading.

The decline of Detroit: a lesson for Wichita? William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal: “Most Americans did not need to be told that Detroit is in a bad way, and has been for some time. Americans know all about white flight, greedy unions and arrogant auto executives. The recent census numbers, however, put an exclamation mark on a cold fact: A once-great American city today repels people of talent and ambition.” How did this happen? McGurn quotes Rev. Robert A. Sirico: “Detroit is a classic example of how a culture that was legendary for enterprise and innovation was slowly eroded by toxic politicization from the 1960s on.” … Later McGurn asks “What happened to this Detroit? In many ways the answer is liberal politics and expanding government.” … Could this happen to Wichita? Our population is not declining. But Wichita has been said to be more dependent on one industry (aircraft manufacturing) than Detroit was on automobile manufacturing. And Wichita government is becoming more liberal — notwithstanding the protests of several self-styled conservative city council members who will soon be leaving office. Increasingly business looks to city hall rather than markets for inspiration and financing. Our mayor, city council members, and bureaucrats want more “tools in the toolbox” for intervening in the economy. … Yes, the devastation seen in Detroit could happen here.

Moran to vote “no” on debt ceiling. United States Senator Jerry Moran, a newly-elected Kansas Republican, has informed President Obama that he won’t vote for an increase in the national debt ceiling. Wrote Moran: “Americans are looking for leadership in Washington to confront the problems of today, not push them off on future generations. To date, you have provided little or no leadership on what I believe to be the most important issue facing our nation — our national debt. With no indication that your willingness to lead will change, I want to inform you I will vote “no” on your request to raise the debt ceiling.” The entire letter from Moran is at I will vote “No.”

Golden geese on the move. Thomas Sowell: “The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.” Sowell notes that blacks, especially those young and educated, are moving to the South and suburbs. “Among blacks who moved, the proportions who were in their prime — from 20 to 40 years of age — were greater than in the black population at large, and college degrees were more common among them than in the black population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with liberal policies.” Detroit, he writes is “the most striking example of a once-thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies.” Finally, a lesson for all states, including Kansas: “Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run — and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.” (Mass Migration Of America’s Golden Geese.) The migration statistics concerning Kansas are not favorable, although some are trending in a better direction.

Legislators will have more access to SRS case files. Kansas Health Institute News Service reports” “Parents whose children have become state wards now have the option of signing a one-page form that gives state legislators unrestricted access to information in their family’s case file.” Previously legislators had access to the information, but “social workers decided what information from the file would be shared. And legislators were not given documents or copies from the files but verbal briefings.” Some are concerned that information harmful to children will be made public.

Wichita unemployment rate improving. Writes Friends University finance professor and Mammon Among Friends blogger, Malcolm Harris, as saying, “‘We’re seeing a trend, and that trend is in the right direction’…But, he cautioned, ‘we’ve got a long way to go.’” More at Wichita’s Unemployment Rate Falls Compared to Last Year.

Government planners vs. individuals. Another reading from Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School by Gene Callahan. The topic is individuals acting in markets vs. government planning: Economics does not hold that the desires of the consumers are pure or virtuous. It does illustrate that the market process is the only way to approximately gauge those desires. All other systems must attempt to impose the rulers’ values on the ruled. Those who plan on doing the imposing have a very high regard for their own judgment, and a very low regard for that of the rest of us. To paraphrase the economist G.L.S. Shackle, the man who would plan for others is something more than human; the planned man, something less. … [Ludwig von] Mises describes those who would coercively replace the value judgments of their fellow men by their own value judgments: [They] are driven by the dictatorial complex. They want to deal with their fellow men in the way an engineer deals with the materials out of which he builds houses, bridges, and machines. They want to substitute “social engineering” for the actions of their fellow citizens and their own unique all-comprehensive plan for the plans of all other people. They see themselves in the role of the dictator — the duce, the Führer, the production tsar — in whose hands all other specimens of mankind are merely pawns. If they refer to society as an acting agent, they mean themselves. If they say that conscious action of society is to be substituted for the prevailing anarchy of individualism, they mean their own consciousness alone and not that of anybody else. (The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science)

The Left’s ‘obsession with all things Koch’

Yesterday John H. Hinderaker of Powerline wrote another article about the political Left’s obsession with Charles and David Koch and Koch Industries. It’s a lengthy piece and worth reading, but because it is long, I will try to summarize.

The Center for American Progress and its website ThinkProgress are fronts for the Obama Administration and are “lavishly funded by George Soros and several other left-wing billionaires.”

The Center for American Progress, through ThinkProgress, “has carried on a bizarre vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries.” The Kochs are active in politics on the conservative/libertarian side.

Having an “obsession with all things Koch,” ThinkProgress has attacked freshman U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, who represents the strongly Republican Kansas fourth congressional district where Koch Industries’ Wichita headquarters is located.

Therefore, the man-bites-dog story: “Republicans support Republican candidate in Republican district!”

Other things we learn: ThinkProgress charges that Pompeo “made his fortune off of a Koch backed company.” The facts are that Koch Venture Capital invested in a company that Pompeo and some partners founded to the amount of two percent.

ThinkProgress has also made an issue of campaign contributions by Koch Industries, writing “In fact, Koch Industries even ranked at top of Pompeo’s campaign contribution list, outpacing the second top contributor by $60,000.” This is true, but when we look at data at OpenSecrets.org, we can see that of the $79,500 contributed, $10,000 came a Koch Industries political action committee (PAC). The balance of this amount came from a large number of people employed by Koch Industries.

The left-wing mob behavior is noted in the story: “One of the curious media phenomena of our time is the synergy between the fever swamp of left-wing web sites, often closely affiliated with the Democratic Party and supported by far-left billionaires, and the supposedly mainstream media. Repeatedly, ‘stories’ that begin in the fever swamp attain a sort of respectability a few days later when they are picked up by the New York Times or the Washington Post, and often are disseminated from there to liberal newspapers around the country. This is a case in point. On March 20, the Washington Post, evidently inspired by Think Progress, laundered that site’s attack on Pompeo into slightly more respectable form, and brought it into polite company.”

(The story referred to is GOP freshman Pompeo turned to Koch for money for business, then politics.)

The recent congressional campaign between Pompeo and Raj Goyle is mentioned, and it is revealed that the Center for American Progress — the parent of ThinkProgress, the site attacking Pompeo and Koch Industries — contributed $8,300 to the Goyle campaign. By the way, according to OpenSecrets, Goyle raised much more money for his campaign from out-of-state donors than from people in Kansas.

Powerline also criticizes the Post story’s usage of Kansas University political science professor Burdett A. “Bird” Loomis as a source without identifying Loomis as a “Democratic Party partisan and a virulent enemy of Republicans in general and the Kochs in particular” and having written an “anti-Koch op-ed.” (The op-ed, from the Wichita Eagle, doesn’t outright criticize Koch, but you can tell Loomis doesn’t care for the Kochs and their advocacy of economic freedom.)

Powerline also notes on Loomis’ Facebook page his affinity for left-leaning politicians like Jim Ward, Laura Kelly, and Goyle, and also for the left-wing attack blog “Dome on the Range,” which exists only to poke fun at Republicans.

Summarizing — and from my observations Hinderaker is correct:

What we see here is incest to the third degree. The disgusting morass of left-wing blogs, funded by far-left billionaires like George Soros, spew up an endless stream of slimy attacks on mainstream citizens, like Charles and David Koch, and mainstream politicians, like Mike Pompeo. Democratic Party outlets that are generally presumed to be more respectable, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, watch the dirt flow by and periodically, when they see something promising, pluck it out of the swamp and take it mainstream in order to benefit their party. The Post isn’t as bad as some — I have referred to it as the most respectable voice of the Democratic Party — but when it follows this disgusting practice, plucking out the vilest unsubstantiated smear and promoting it for purely partisan purposes, it is hard to distinguish the Post from the most disreputable far-left rags, like ThinkProgress and the New York Times.

Anatomy of a Smear

By John H. Hinderaker

The Center for American Progress is generally regarded as a front for the Obama administration. Its President and CEO is John Podesta, formerly Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff and the chairman of Barack Obama’s transition team. CAP is lavishly funded by George Soros and several other left-wing billionaires. It runs, among other things, a web site called Think Progress, which cranks out a steady stream of slimy hit pieces for the benefit of the Obama administration and the far left.

Soros apparently believes that only left-wing billionaires should be able to participate in public discourse, so his Center for American Progress, through its web site, has carried on a bizarre vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries. The Kochs are two of the very few billionaires who are active in politics on the conservative/libertarian side, a phenomenon that apparently drives left-wing billionaires wild with rage. I’m not sure why; maybe they think the Kochs are traitors to their class. In any event,Think Progress has stalked the Koch brothers with video cameras and produced one false, over-the-top attack on the Kochs after another, some of which we have had fun dissecting here.

Continue reading at Powerline.

Charles and David Koch v. George Soros: Free markets or not

Perhaps the best commentary on the recent conference sponsored by Charles and David Koch in California comes from Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner. Titled The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion, it explains the difference between advocates of free enterprise and those who believe in using the force of government to achieve their goals.

At the conference, protests were arranged by the left-wing advocacy group Common Cause. That organization recently launched an attack on Charles Koch, David Koch, and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices that has been found to be baseless and nothing more than a publicity stunt.

After tracing the source of funding for Common Cause, Carney concluded: “In other words, money from billionaire George Soros and anonymous, well-heeled liberals was funding a protest against rich people’s influence on politics.”

Liberals, of course, contend that their political donates are good because their causes are the correct causes: “Conservative money is bad, and linked to greed, while liberal money is self-evidently philanthropic.”

While I don’t want to repeat Carney’s entire piece here — there’s a link to it below — here’s the crux of his argument: “… while Soros money and Koch money are superficially equivalent, there’s a crucial distinction. If we take both sides at their word, Soros and other liberal donors spend in order to impose their preferences on others while the Kochs and other free-market donors spend in an effort to be left alone to buy and sell with willing parties. The moral difference is this: Only one side is trying to compel others to conform to its preferences.”

Carney has written before about the political left’s presumption — that big business is evil and is always seeking to restrain government interference — being incorrect. In his 2006 book The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money , Carney explains:

The standard assumption seems to be that government action protects ordinary people by restraining big business, which, in turn, wants to be left alone. The facts point in an entirely different direction:

  • Enron was a tireless advocate of strict global energy regulations supported by environmentalists. Enron also used its influence in Washington to keep laissez-faire bureaucrats off the federal commissions that regulate the energy industry.

  • Philip Morris has aggressively supported heightened federal regulation over tobacco and tobacco advertising. Meanwhile, the state governments that sued Big Tobacco are now working to protect those same large cigarette companies from competition and lawsuits.
  • A recent tax increase in Virginia passed because of the tireless support of the state’s business leaders, and big business has a long history of supporting tax hikes.
  • General Motors provided critical support for new stricter clean air rules that boosted the company’s bottom line.

Most important, in these and hundreds of similar cases, the government action that helps big business hurts consumers, taxpayers, less established businesses, and smaller competitors. Following closely what big business does in Washington reveals a very different story from conventional wisdom.

While critics of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries use the “big business” criticism — Koch Industries is a very large company, after all — there is a difference the critics can’t — or don’t want to — grasp, as Carney explains in the Washington Examiner article: “First off — and this was the point of a talk I gave Sunday at the Koch conference — many of the industrialists in the audience could profit more through regulations and subsidies than they could through the free market. Some oil executives, for example, have supported California’s strict refinery regulations because they kept out competitors. Natural gas companies like Enron have backed cap and trade because it hurt oil and coal. As for bankers — the Wall Street bailouts made it clear that big government is their mother’s milk.” (emphasis added)

Carney’s book The Big Ripoff is blunt and detailed in its criticism of companies that use government to obtain special favor to enrich themselves. Yet, he spoke at the Koch conference, and has spoken at other similar events in the past.

The Kochs vs. Soros: Free markets vs. state coercion

By Timothy P. Carney

Palm Springs, California — At the front gates of the Rancho Las Palmas resort, a few hundred liberals rallied Sunday against “corporate greed” and polluters. They chanted for the arrest of billionaires Charles and David Koch, and their ire was also directed at the other free market-oriented businessmen invited here by the Koch brothers to discuss free markets and electoral strategies.

Billionaires poisoning our politics was the central theme of the protests. But nothing is quite as it seems in modern politics: The protest’s organizer, the nonprofit Common Cause, is funded by billionaire George Soros.

Common Cause has received $2 million from Soros’s Open Society Institute in the past eight years, according to grant data provided by Capital Research Center. Two panelists at Common Cause’s rival conference nearby — President Obama’s former green jobs czar, Van Jones, and blogger Lee Fang — work at the Center for American Progress, which was started and funded by Soros but, as a 501(c)4 nonprofit “think tank,” legally conceals the names of its donors.

In other words, money from billionaire George Soros and anonymous, well-heeled liberals was funding a protest against rich people’s influence on politics.

When Politico reporter Ken Vogel pointed out that Soros hosts similar “secret” confabs, CAP’s Fang responded on Twitter: “don’t you think there’s a very serious difference between donors who help the poor vs. donors who fund people to kill government, taxes on rich?”

In less than 140 characters, Fang had epitomized the myopic liberal view of money in politics: Conservative money is bad, and linked to greed, while liberal money is self-evidently philanthropic.

Continue reading at the Washington Examiner

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 9, 2010

Wichita city inspection staffing. Sunday’s Wichita Eagle carries a story detailing problems some southeast Wichita homeowners have with their homes. I’m not sure whether the story is being critical of the city inspection process, so I’ll quote the article: “[Central inspection superintendent Kurt] Schroeder said he can’t say for sure that the city did everything possible to prevent these problems. City inspectors granted building permits and conducted inspections at the houses at various stages of building. But he said the city has no records of final approvals for two houses in the neighborhood. It could be that the inspector signed off but didn’t enter it into the computer system, Schroeder said, but he can’t be sure.” … It’s not as though city inspectors are in short supply. In July, Wichita real estate developer Colby Sandlian spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club. As part of his talk, Sandlian said that during the 1950′s, when he started in the real estate business, Wichita was building about 2,600 to 3,000 houses per year, in what he described as some of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. At that time, there were three people in the city’s zoning department, and seven in the building inspection department. Today, Sandlian said Wichita added 1,568 houses in 2007, 1,032 in 2008, and 752 in 2009. Despite the small number of homes being built, staff has swelled: Sandlian said today there are seven in planning (up from three), and 61 in building inspection (up from seven). “Those people, in order to justify their existence, have to find problems with what you’re doing,” he said. But it appears that even with greatly increased numbers, inspectors may not have been looking hard enough, at least in the cases of these southeast Wichita homes.

Kansas Prosperity Summit. This Friday (November 12) FairTaxKS is holding an event designed “to create a collaborative environment to create awareness, express support, offer solution, and launch the passing of the Kansas Jobs Plan 2011.” The main event is from noon to 4:00 pm at the Topeka Performing Arts Center (TPAC), 214 SE 8th Ave., and will feature speakers Kris Kobach (Kansas Secretary of State-Elect), Jonathan Williams (co author of “Rich States, Poor States“, Arlen Siegfreid (Speaker Pro Tem of the Kansas House of Representatives), and Dave Trabert (President, Kansas Policy Institute). An optional morning session will observe a meeting of the Special Committee on Assessment and Taxation. See Kansas Prosperity Summit 2011 for complete details.

Government cheese. “When sales of Domino’s Pizza were lagging, a government agency stepped in with advice: more cheese. This is the same government that, for health reasons, is advising less cheese.” The New York Times continues in While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales: “Domino’s Pizza was hurting early last year. … Then help arrived from an organization called Dairy Management. It teamed up with Domino’s to develop a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese, and proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign. … Dairy Management, which has made cheese its cause, is not a private business consultant. It is a marketing creation of the United States Department of Agriculture — the same agency at the center of a federal anti-obesity drive that discourages over-consumption of some of the very foods Dairy Management is vigorously promoting.” I’m starting to lose track of the contradictions here: Government promoting the very food it blames for health problems it often ends up paying for, and an agency partly funded by tax funds developing marketing programs for a private firm. When the New York Times complains that something is amiss with a government program, you know it’s really bad.

Kansas budget profiled. John Hanna of Associated Press takes a look at the Kansas budget and issues surrounding. Key facts: For the next budget (fiscal year 2012, which starts July 1, 2011, and is the budget the legislature will work on during the upcoming session), there is no more federal stimulus money. That money was a key part in balancing the last two budgets. The deficit for FY 2012 is projected at $492 million. Tax collections are projected to grow by 4.3 percent in FY 2012. By transferring highway funds and gambling revenues to the general fund, the state could balance the budget without cutting services by much, but there will likely have to be some cuts.

Kansas judicial selection. Foundation Watch, a publication of the Capital Research Center, features an article titled George Soros’s Plan to Seize State High Courts. Kansas is mentioned several times in this article. As readers may remember, Kansas judicial selection gives extreme power to members of the bar, more so than does any other state. The state’s elites — outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, newspaper editorial writers, and of course the lawyers — are fine with this undemocratic system. But we should be cautious. The article’s summary is: “In some states supreme court judges are elected by the people. In others the governor appoints judges from a list of recommendations compiled by a commission composed mainly of lawyers. Arguments can be made for either process. But George Soros knows what he wants: appointed supreme court judges recommended by lawyer-driven commissions. Call us knee-jerk, but that may be one good reason why this is not a good idea.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday October 22, 2010

My best tweet yesterday. I just uninstalled the NPR News app from my iPhone. #NPR #Juan

Many have already voted. Wednesday Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale told commissioners that his office had sent 63,000 mail ballots to voters in the county, and 20,000 had been returned. In the 2006 general election, a midterm election comparable to this year, 118,258 ballots were cast in Sedgwick County. Gale’s numbers tell us that around half of voters will use the advance voting system, and perhaps 17 percent have already voted as far as two weeks in advance of election day.

Goyle on defense pork barrel spending. Yesterday Kansas fourth Congressional district candidate Democrat Raj Goyle criticized Republican Mike Pompeo for not supporting a second engine for the F-35 fighter jet program. Goyle says we need to protect 800 jobs in Cowley county by approving this project. The problem is this federal spending program is not needed and wasteful. According to Forbes: “The problem General Electric and teammate Rolls Royce face is that both the Bush and the Obama administrations concluded the single-engine F-35 would do just fine with only one engine supplier. … Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to make termination of the second engine a test case of whether Congress is committed to eliminating waste.” Spending money on this jet engine that is not needed is the very definition of government waste. A question: If these jobs were not in the Congressional district Goyle is running in, would he support this project? If the answer is yes, he fails the Defense Secretary’s test for whether Congress is really ready to eliminate waste. If the answer is no, he’s already engaging in the type of pork-grabbing — getting anything and everything for the home district, no matter what the cost — that he purportedly disdains.

They do this too? Here’s another example of left-wing bloggers and writers claiming to have “uncovered” something that sits in plain sight. This time it comes from Think Progress, a project of the hard left — but innocently-named — Center for American Progress Action Fund, which in turn is a project of George Soros. Jonathan Adler explains at National Review Online: “Think Progress has a breathless post up today alleging they have uncovered the Koch brothers sinister plot to coordinate corporate, libertarian, and conservative donors to outside groups and think tanks. What they’ve actually uncovered is (horrors) an invitation-only conference of generally like-minded philanthropic and other organizations that likes to discuss issues and strategies and hear from prominent thinkers and commentators (including, on at least one occasion, NRO’s Ramesh Ponnuru and frequent contributor Veronique de Rugy). Think Progress acts as if this is some sort of revelation, but this sort of thing has been common for some time, particularly on the left. The Environmental Grantmakers Association is one example of an organizational umbrella for like-minded philanthropists that has sponsored closed-door conferences for strategy discussions, but there are others. The Kendall Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, and other specific funders have, at times, also taken very aggressive steps to ensure coordination by funders and grant recipients. I wrote about this fifteen years ago in my book on the environmentalist movement. Next thing Think Progress will tell us there’s gambling in Atlantic City.” By the way, the Wichita Eagle will rely on Think Progress as a source.

Does business favor free markets? Many people naively assume that business automatically supports free markets and less regulation. The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney tells us that this is not so. Writing about his speaking experiences at an event sponsored by Charles Koch, Carney writes: “I’ve often said — and I said it at the dinner — that privately held businesses tend to favor free markets, even when they get big; while publicly held businesses (like those on the Fortune 500), tend to want bigger government as often or more often than they want free markets, depending on the industry and who’s in power.” Carney lists a number of companies — BP, Conoco, Shell, and Wal-Mart that are in favor of more government regulation. Wal-Mart, for example, favored higher minimum wage legislation because it already paid higher wages than its competitors, and the new minimum wage would hurt them, giving Wal-Mart a competitive advantage obtained through regulation. Carney also makes the case that liberals don’t often realize that they’re being played: “This may be the most important point that folks like [left-wing bloggers] Zernike, Yglesias, and Fang miss: many of these businessmen could profit even more under the policies the Left favors than they do under the free market.” As it applies to Koch Industries specifically, Carney notes that strict regulation of refineries makes entry by competitors difficult to impossible, relying on the Los Angeles Times for evidence: “California refiners are simply cashing in on a system that allows a handful of players to keep prices high by carefully controlling supplies. The result is a kind of miracle market in which profits abound, outsiders can’t compete and a dwindling cadre of gas station operators has little choice but go along. Indeed, the recent history of California’s fuel industry is a textbook case of how a once-competitive business can become skewed to the advantage of a few, all with the federal government’s blessing.” I would add that in competitive markets, business firms must seek to please a diverse array of customers, and that’s harder to do than pleasing politicians and regulators.

Kansas politics in New York Times. Particularly the governor’s race. The article contains an accurate assessment on how things really work in Kansas, and should be noted by those who blame all of our state’s problems in Republicans: “But while Republicans dominate the State Legislature and the governor was once chairman of the state party, the reality about those who currently control Kansas is far subtler — the effective majority in the Legislature is a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, while the governor defected to the Democratic Party.” See Kansas Governor’s Race Seen Redefining G.O.P.

Sedgwick County website still dark. Not exactly dark, but the county didn’t renew its domain name registration, and it expired. Usually these things can be cleared up pretty quickly, but for me it’s still out of order after about 24 hours. It works on my iPhone, though, but the county’s website is not friendly to use on mobile devices.

Energy to be topic at Wichita Pachyderm. Today’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature John A. McKinsey speaking on the topic “Cap and Trade: What is the economic and regulatory impact of Congressional legislation?” The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 21, 2010

Honest journalist too much for NPR. Juan Williams has been fired by National Public Radio. His offense: He spoke in a not-politically-correct way about Muslims. On Monday’s O’Reilly Factor Williams said: “But when I get on a plane — I got to tell you — if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.” According to Williams, NPR said this is a bigoted remark that “crossed the line.” Across all forms of media, this is sure to be a big issue. Williams is an accomplished journalist and reporter who has written many books on civil rights in America. He has been critical of established black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Williams will appear on The O’Reilly Factor tonight, with the Fox News promotion teasing “Is he the first victim of George Soros’s new war on Fox News?”

Star recommends retaining judges. The Kansas City Star recommends retaining all judges on the ballot in Kansas. The newspaper evidently didn’t take into account or give much weight to the admonishment of Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss over an ethics issue. The Star supports the elitest system of judicial selection in Kansas, where lawyers have much more input than do ordinary citizens.

How the right wing echo chamber works. Here’s another instance of left-wing journalists and bloggers claiming to have discovered something that sits in plain sight. Allegations of existence of an “echo chamber” sound sensational and sinister. The left has these, too, as documented in Politico. If you’ve followed some of the attacks on Koch Industries this year, you’re aware that there is a network of websites and blogs that cut-and-paste the same material for wide distribution. This left-wing echo chamber exists in the mainstream media too, when publications like the Wichita Eagle relies on ThinkProgress and the New York Times editorial page for evidence criticizing Jerry Moran on climate change. Who are these sources the Eagle relies on? ThinkProgress is a project of the hard left — but innocently-named — Center for American Progress Action Fund, which in turn is a project of convicted inside trader George Soros. And the New York Times editorial page is, well the New York Times editorial page — enough said.

You — not me — should sacrifice. Another global warming alarmist revealed as a hypocrite. “A Youtube film, released by Irish documentary film makers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, has revealed the shocking hypocrisy of James Cameron, the director of Avatar. The film shows that Cameron, who has publicly stated that ‘we are all going to have to live with less,’ has continued a lifestyle of extravagant consumption. Cameron, yesterday, announced he was donating $1m to oppose California’s Prop 23. Prop 23 will suspend Global Warming legislation and is being bitterly opposed by environmentalists. Supporters of Prop 23 say that if it is defeated California will lose jobs because of an increase in energy prices.” The video is just over two minutes long and may be viewed by clicking on James Cameron — Hypocrite.

Most expect local tax increases. Rasmussen: “A sizable majority of Americans say their states are now having major budget problems, and they think spending cuts, not higher taxes, are the solution. But most expect their taxes to be raised in the next year anyway.” More at Most Expect State or Local Tax Hikes In the Next Year.

Texas vs. California. “In Texas, the payroll count is back to prerecession levels. California is nearly 1.5 million jobs in the hole. Why such a difference? Chalk it up to taxes, regulation and attitude, says Investor’s Business Daily (IBD).” Summary at NCPA: A Trenchant Tale of Two States .

Email spam spreads to Facebook. I’m sure I’m not the first person to receive something like this, but the well-known Nigerian fraudulent schemes that for many years have used regular email have now spread to Facebook messages. Today I was notified by “barrister James Mawulom a solicitor at law” that a man with my same surname had died in Africa, and I am due to receive a lot of money.

Political attacks by Obama camp endanger opportunity

By Ronald Gidwitz

As a recovering politician (I ran for governor of Illinois in 2006), I know it’s seldom a good idea to hint that voters are dupes. Sometimes, though, in an attempt to “divide and conquer,” politicians do just that.

Lately we’ve seen President Barack Obama and his team, who ran for office on the claim they would bridge political differences, playing this foolish and ultimately self-defeating dividing game.

“Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates all across the country,” the president told Democratic donors in Texas last month.

His advisers have followed his lead. “Americans for Prosperity is funded by billionaire oil men, David and Charles Koch, to promote Republican candidates who support their right-wing agenda and corporate interests,” Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod wrote in The Washington Post last month. He further claimed that these “billionaire oilmen secretly (are) underwriting what the public has been told is a grass-roots movement for change in Washington.”

Well, it’s no secret what AFP is, who we are or what we want to do. Nationwide, Americans for Prosperity and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation have more than 1.5 million activists and 31 state chapters and affiliates. I’m state director for Illinois. More than 80,000 Americans in all 50 states have given money to AFP or the foundation.

  • We want lower taxes and less government spending, ideas that appeal to a solid majority of Americans.

  • We support removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship to spark citizen involvement in the regulatory process.
  • We aim to restore fairness to our judicial system.

Americans aren’t fools. Our call for change is being echoed by millions of citizens. That experienced businesspeople and successful job-creators are among those putting resources behind it is not an insult to the effort, it’s an affirmation of it.

Unfortunately, President Obama has ignored the people’s cries for fiscal responsibility. On issues including the stimulus, health care reform and tax policy, he’s hammered through decidedly liberal and unpopular approaches to America’s problems. Not surprisingly, his popularity rating is sinking, and polls indicate his party seems headed for a thrashing in November’s midterm elections.

Without a positive agenda to run on, the president and his allies have launched the coordinated attacks in an attempt to discredit conservatives.

After Obama’s Texas speech came a 10,000 word attack piece in the New Yorker magazine that went after the Kochs for supposedly “waging a war against Obama.” That article quoted a series of “experts” from groups that are supported by left-wing billionaire currency speculator George Soros, including the Center for Public Integrity and Media Matters for America.

More chilling, Mark Holden, a lawyer for Koch Industries, has fingered Austan Goolsbee, one of Obama’s top economic advisers, as saying during a press briefing that Koch Industries did not pay corporate income taxes.

Enough!

The federal government has almost infinite power to investigate and intimidate people. It can, whether it intends to or not, easily destroy businesses and reputations. That’s why Americans recoiled against Richard Nixon in the 1970s when they learned he was using federal investigators to track his political “enemies.”

Americans of all political persuasions can agree that we face serious national problems, including sluggish job growth and soaring federal spending. The way to solve these problems is by coming together, not by attacking each other. President Obama should call off the attack dogs, before they end up biting him too.

Ronald Gidwitz is a partner in GCG Partners, a strategic consulting and equity capital firm he co-founded in 1998. He chairs the Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

Media only mind when donors are conservatives

Today’s Washington Times carries an editorial that points out — as others have — the bias evident in the mainstream media treatment of Charles Koch, David Koch, and Koch Industries.

The major points made in this piece are:

  • The Koch brothers are accused of “self-dealing” because they believe in free enterprise. But economic freedom generates prosperity that is good for everyone, rich and poor.

  • George Soros, the Left’s favorite and prodigious donor made his money betting on economic failure.
  • The government funds many climate scientists who push global warming alarmism.
  • The MSNBC television network, which strongly supports the Obama administration and its big-government policies, has been owned by General Electric, one of the nation’s largest government contractors.

There’s more in the article.

Conflict-of-interest bugaboo

Media only mind when donors are conservatives
By Richard W. Rahn

What is the most corrupting institution in society? Quite simply, it is government, because it controls and distributes more money to more people and institutions than any other single entity and it has the power to coerce and punish or reward that dwarfs what any private party might be capable of doing.

Now that we are in the midst of the political season, we are constantly being warned by the establishment media about the dangers of businesses donating to political candidates either directly or indirectly. In recent weeks, there have been at least two major hits in the New Yorker and New York magazine on businessmen Charles and David Koch and their roles in supporting candidates who oppose the policies of President Obama and the Democrats, as well as for supporting free-market think tanks and grass-roots organizations. Yet, at the same time, the articles note that the brothers have given far more to cultural institutions and events than they have to their political causes. Through factual errors, exaggerations and insinuations, the Koch brothers are portrayed as a great danger to the “progressives.” Ah, if only it were more true.

Continue reading at The Washington Times

Left’s obsession with funding diverts attention from issues and its own funding

One of the duties of being a blogger on the left is constant disparaging of the source of funding or leadership of your opposition. All done, of course, while ignoring the painfully obvious problems with your own.

As an example, a recent Boston Globe column — its title is In glitzy shadows, a health reform foe lurks — makes claims that are false. Others are actually something to be proud of, not ashamed.

I don’t recommend you actually read the Globe piece. As one comment left to the article stated: “What an amazingly biased and unbalanced piece.” It’s not worth the time.

Instead, read the Examiner.com’s analysis at Boston Globe falsely claims Koch Industries astroturffed Obamacare protests.

At issue is the funding of Americans for Prosperity, which describes itself — accurately, I would say — as “an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels.” Liberals and those in favor of big-taxing and big-spending government make continued charges that AFP is funded by “shadowy” interests — remember the Globe headline — that somehow manipulate ordinary Americans into coming to tea parties and engaging in other forms of political activism.

A key part of the Examiner.com analysis is a quote from a Koch Industries statement: “Not every issue focused on by AFP or AFP Foundation receives support from Koch Industries or a Koch foundation. For example, neither Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch have contributed funds to AFP’s and AFP Foundation’s efforts on the health care issue, which have included town-hall meetings and citizen rallies around the country.”

As to the totality of AFP funding, a statement that I received a few months ago from Missy Cohlmia, Director of Communications for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC indicates that David Koch’s contributions to AFP are a relatively small portion of its total budget: “Less than 5 percent of the funding AFP or the AFP Foundation has received in 2009 has been contributed by David Koch, Koch Industries, or Koch foundations.”

Cohlmia also told me about the relationship between Fred Koch and the John Birch Society, which is another favorite talking point of the Left: “Fred Koch, who died in 1967, was a supporter, not a founder, of the John Birch Society in the 1950s. His anti-communist sentiment stemmed from time he spent in the Soviet Union between 1929 and 1932 when his engineering company designed and built oil cracking units to be erected in refineries in the U.S.S.R.”

Charles Koch’s recent book The Science of Success contains this about his father’s experience in Stalin’s Russia:

Fred found the Soviet Union to be “a land of hunger, misery and terror.” Virtually all the Soviet engineers he worked with were purged by Stalin, who exterminated tens of millions of his own people.

This experience, combined with what his Communist associates told him of their methods and plans for world revolution, caused Fred Koch to become a staunch anti-communist.

It reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s quip about an anti-communist being someone who has read Marx and Lenin and understands them. Or, in the case of Fred Koch, someone who actually saw the problems with communism through direct experience.

Additionally, David Koch is very interested in health care. Some details of his contributions to medical and cancer research, and also to education and science are detailed at David H. Koch Charitable Foundation and Personal Philanthropy.

Another source of information about David Koch, his background, and his charitable giving is from The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

In a way, I can understand leftists’ continued harping on these factors. It’s easier for them to focus on the personalities and the source of funding and leadership than on the actual issues. For example, even the headline of the Globe piece — alluding that opposing health care reform is evil — assumes that what the liberals are working through Congress is actual reform: “changes and improvements to a law, social system, or institution.” Many thoughtful people strongly disagree that the Obama plan will improve America’s health care system.

Besides, when you talk about personalities, there are few worse than George Soros, funder of many leftist causes and institutions. A speculator — one of the most evil of all players in the liberal world view — and not just any speculator — a currency speculator — Soros was actually convicted of insider trading.

Yet, the Left welcomes his millions in funding for all sorts of causes opposed to free markets and economic freedom. In fact, the author of the Globe piece is an employee of the Center for American Progress, one of several organizations funded by Soros.