Tag Archives: Government health care

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday March 8, 2012

Candidate representatives at Pachyderm. This Friday’s meeting (March 9th) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Republican presidential candidate spokespersons. In addition, Lora Cox, Executive Director of the Sedgwick County Republican Party will be on hand to answer questions regarding the mechanics of Saturday’s Republican Party Caucus. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Sedgwick County pre-caucus rally. Friday afternoon (March 9th) Kansans for Liberty is producing a pre-caucus rally at Century II. Ron Paul is scheduled to appear. There will be other speakers and live entertainment, say event organizers. Tickets are $25. For more information, see Kansans for Liberty.

Libertarian ideals. The Winfield Courier criticizes U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo for his bill that would eliminate all tax credits for energy, writing “This is a case of putting libertarian ideals ahead — far ahead — of the interests of our region and our state.” But the libertarian ideals of personal liberty, economic freedom, and free markets ought to be all that government concerns itself with. … This is not the only way this op-ed is misinformed on facts. The anonymous author writes: “New, life-changing technologies, from the railroads to the Internet, have long had the active support of our national government.” But: Consider the railroads. The government-subsidized railroads involved in the transcontinental project went bankrupt. Only The Great Northern Railroad, which was built without government subsidy, was profitable and not a burden on the national treasury. (See Interfacing with Obama’s Intercontinental Railroad). Shame on the Winfield Courier so being so misinformed on U.S. history and the proper role of a limited government.

High Kansas taxes. Kansas Reporter covers more of the Tax Foundation’s report on the high cost of Kansas business taxes: “A new national study says Kansas business owners pay some of the highest taxes in the country. … Kansas businesses that are 3 or fewer years old pay the third-highest total taxes in the nation among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the study found. Older businesses, such as Midway Wholesale, pay the fourth-highest totals. The findings contrast sharply with previous surveys, including some by the Tax Foundation, that put Kansas closer to the midpoint in regard to tax burden. As recently as January, for example, the foundation released its latest compilation of its Business Tax Climate Index, which put Kansas almost dead center — in 25th place — among lightest- to heaviest-taxed states. ‘Those surveys focus on tax policies, such as what types of taxes do states have or what are their tax rates,’ said Scott Hodge, the foundation’s president. ‘This new study looks at the issue from a business’ viewpoint and what they actually pay.'” … More at New study finds KS tax loads worse than reported.

Harm of individual mandate explained. In the following short video, Elizabeth Price Foley of the Institute for Justice explains the harm of the individual mandate that is the centerpiece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She explains that if the U.S. Supreme Court fails to strike down the individual mandate, there will be nothing to stop Congress from forcing people into other contracts against their will — employment contracts or union membership, for example. If we still have a constitutional republic in which the federal government’s powers are limited, then the Court should strike down this law. More information on IJ’s brief is contained in this press release.

Huelskamp on spending, health information database, and Buffett

Addressing members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club last Friday, U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp of the Kansas first district updated the audience on national spending and debt, a health information database that poses privacy risks, and Warren Buffett’s taxes.

On being a new member of Congress, Huelskamp said people ask me “is Washington everything you thought it would be?” And I answer yes — and much worse.

He told the audience that the Washington Post newspaper has identified him as a member of the “Apocalypse Caucus,” a group of twenty lawmakers that have voted no for almost everything, including raising the debt ceiling. The Post says these lawmakers would be willing to shut down the government simply to make a point. Huelskamp told the audience “The point we need to remember is there is an apocalypse ahead unless we rein in spending, unless we rein in this president, unless we rein in the regulations.”

Huelskamp said that for every dollar spent in Washington, 41 cents is borrowed money. And while some in Washington say that there is a plan to get things under control, he said this is not happening yet.

He described a budget committee hearing in which four economists testified. He asked how long do we have until we reach the point of no return such as Greece is at presently, where they can’t pay back their debt? The first economist, a conservative, said “act as if you have no time left.” The other three economists — moderates and liberals — said they agreed with the first economist’s assessment.

During a series of budget negotiations in the spring, Huelskamp said that initially House leadership had started with the idea of cutting $100 billion. But that number was thought to be too much, and eventually Congress and the president settled on cuts of $25 billion. But the actual spending that was cut was only $350 million, or just about one-third of a billion dollars.

Huelskamp described the debt ceiling negotiations in the summer as a situation where the president had to have Congress’s permission to raise the debt ceiling. But he said Congress agreed to no cuts at all, despite having this power. He didn’t want to vote to just “kick the can down the road,” and that’s why he voted against raising the debt ceiling in August.

He also told of hearing from a high-ranking Chinese official at a budget committee hearing. The official — Huelskamp reminded the audience that China is a communist country — told the committee members the things they would have to do with the budget. While Huelskamp agreed with the official’s assessment of what the U.S. needed to do with its budget, he wondered how do we get in this position, where we turn over, often, our sovereignty to foreign nations.

Huelskamp cited a national poll that found that 48 percent believe the American dream is dead. In his town hall meetings — he’s held about 70 so far — he estimates 90 percent believe the American dream is gone, or soon to be gone. “Most Americans, including Kansans, as optimistic as we are, are worried about what’s going on in Washington. And they don’t know who to blame, and they’re going to start blaming everybody. I’m one of the few who believe the American dream is still alive and well.”

Switching topics, Huelskamp described former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, as the third-most powerful person in Washington, due to her position implementing national health care.

Regarding health care, Huelskamp is troubled by a database HHS is proposing that will be used to regulate insurance companies. If insurance companies sign up healthy people, they will be taxed, and they will receive subsidies for insuring sick people. Huelskamp said the only way to determine this behavior by insurance companies — are they insuring the healthy or sick? — is by looking at the health insurance histories of the individual people each company insures. He views this as a threat to patient privacy.

According to Wichita Eagle reporting, HHS will collect only information that is not personally identifiable.

But in a Washington Examiner op-ed on this topic, Huelskamp wrote: “The federal government does not exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to managing private information about its citizens.” He provided several examples of data being lost.

As ObamaCare is evolving in the rule-making process overseen by Sebelius, we can’t be sure what requirements, regulations, or uses might be found for this patient health history data.

On Warren Buffett, Huelskamp said that Buffett sheltered $24 million from taxation on his most recent tax return. “Mr. Buffett doesn’t want Mr. Obama to have his money, either. It’s called hypocrisy. He doesn’t trust him with his money. Which is why — you’ve got to give him credit — he’s planning to give every single last dime to charity.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday September 23, 2011

Downtown Wichita site launched. As part of an effort to provide information about the Douglas Place project, a proposed renovation of a downtown Wichita office building into a hotel, a group of concerned citizens has created a website. The site is named Our Downtown Wichita, and it’s located at dtwichita.com.

Keystone pipeline hearing, bus trip. On Monday the United States Department of State will hold hearings in Topeka concerning a proposed petroleum pipeline. Says Americans for Prosperity: “Our great country has an opportunity to complete a project that would provide billions of dollars in economic activity, create thousands of high-paying manufacturing and construction jobs, and at the same time take a significant step toward providing for greater U.S. energy security and independence. … Because the project originates in Canada and would provide a pipeline extension to the Gulf Coast, through Kansas, the project requires State Department approval. TransCanada owns the Keystone pipeline, which currently runs from Canada to Oklahoma. … It has finally received tentative approval from the Environmental Protection Agency and now sits before the State Department. The State Department is holding a hearing in Topeka on Monday, September 26th from noon to 3:30pm and 4:00pm to 8:00pm at the Kansas ExpoCentre, located at the corner of Topeka Blvd. and 17th Street South.” … To help citizens attend this unusual hearing, AFP has organized a free bus trip from Wichita. The bus will load from 7:30 am to 8:00 am at the Lawrence Dumont Stadium Parking Lot. It will return to Wichita around 7:00 pm. Lunch is provided. For more information on this event contact John Todd at [email protected] or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at [email protected] or 316-681-4415.

Health care reform. “Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer spent nearly two hours with the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Policy Oversight Monday explaining the imperative and complexity of solving problems with government health care he likened to a Rubik’s Cube. The challenge of the 1974 puzzle and the current Medicaid and health care debate is finding a way to align multiple facets of each side without upsetting another side.” More from Kansas Watchdog at Public Health Care System Reform a Governmental Rubik’s Cube .

Pompeo defends against Obama’s attack on aviation. “Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-04) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in defense of the general aviation community, which is so important to job sustainability and job growth in South Central Kansas.” Video from C-Span is at Pompeo House speech on aviation.

Wichita corporate welfare opposed. This week the Wichita City Council granted another forgivable loan. Thank you to John Todd for appearing and offering testimony opposing the loan. In his remarks, Todd said: “Over the past few months, I have watched a majority of this council fall into the trap of trying to buy customer business with free-money economic development schemes out of the public treasury. This program might work if the public treasury held unlimited funds and the public gifts were offered to every business owner on an equal basis. … In 1887 President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have given $10,000 for seed to farmers in drought-stricken Texas saying something to the effect that he could not be a party to taking money out of the treasury to benefit one group of people at the expense of another group, no matter how worthy the cause, stating that it is the responsibility of citizens to support the government and not the responsibility of government to support the people. Cleveland further issued a challenge for private charitable giving for the farmers. A number of newspapers adopted the relief campaign and in the end Americans voluntarily donated not $10,000 but $100,000 to the afflicted farmers. I would suggest a similar publicly driven voluntary relief campaign in lieu of the forgivable loan you are considering today to see if there is public sentiment to charitably fund this local economic development project.” … I’ve been told what the target company really needs is relief from a regulatory trap.

The trap of job creation. Today on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program, Rhone Resch of the Solar Energy Industries Association appeared. He promoted solar energy as great for creating jobs, telling viewers that solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than any other form of power generation. This illustrates the trap that politicians and those who benefit from government subsidy usually fall into: that more jobs is a good thing. Wouldn’t it be much better if we could generate all the electricity we wanted using fewer jobs? Then these surplus employees could be put to work on something else — or simply enjoy leisure. … A few years ago an editorial written by a labor union official appeared in Kansas, praising the job-creating power of wind energy. In response, I wrote “After all, if we view our energy policy as a jobs creation program, why not build wind turbines and haul them to western Kansas without the use of machinery? Think of the jobs that would create.” … In a video produced by the Cato Institute, Caleb Brown explains the problems with relying on government and its spending for jobs: “Politicians and entrepreneurs face different problems. Entrepreneurs care about creating wealth, both for their customers and themselves. This means getting more output with fewer inputs. Politicians often care more about maximizing inputs like labor, even when that job creation could make all of us materially worse off. It would be easy for the president and Congress to create new jobs: They could simply ban the use of computers, farm machinery, or any other labor-saving device. But that would clearly raise prices … It’s hard to see how that improves anyone’s standard of living.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday August 3, 2011

Debt ceiling. What is the real value of the debt ceiling? Has it ever constrained the growth of government debt, until now? Thomas Sowell in Debt-Ceiling Chicken: “Some people may have been shocked when the credit-rating firm Moody’s recently suggested that the debt-ceiling law be repealed, in order to avoid fiscal crises which can throw world financial markets into turmoil that can injure countries around the world. Anyone who wants to show that Moody’s is wrong should be prepared to show the actual benefits of the debt-ceiling, not its goals or hopes. That will not be easy, if possible at all. … The national debt-ceiling law should be judged by what it actually does, not by how good an idea it seems to be. The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt. Time and time again, for years on end, the national debt-ceiling has been raised whenever the national debt gets near whatever the current ceiling might be. Regardless of what it is supposed to do, what the national debt-ceiling actually does is enable any administration to get all the political benefits of runaway spending for the benefit of their favorite constituencies — and then invite the opposition party to share the blame, by either raising the national debt ceiling, or by voting for unpopular cutbacks in spending or increases in taxes.”

Was August 2nd a deadline? All through the debate over raising the federal debt ceiling it was taken as granted that the deadline — the day the U.S. Treasury would run out of money — was August second. U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who is in his first term representing the Kansas first district, has released data that shows otherwise. A chart on his website shows a declining balance in the treasury, but projections show a positive balance far past August second.

Despite drag of government health care, Canada thrives. The unemployment rate in Canada has fallen, GDP growth is healthy, and there were no bank bailouts. It has been able to reduce the size of its government relative to its economy, writes Jason Clemens in Why Canada Is Beating America: It shrank government, and now unemployment and debt are declining: “Total government spending as a share of the economy peaked at a little over 53% in 1993. Through a combination of spending cuts in the 1990s and spending restraint during the 2000s, it declined to a little under 40% of GDP by 2008.” … For 2010, government spending at all levels in the U.S. amounted to 36.22 percent of GDP, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While that compares favorably with Canada’s level, the trend in the U.S. is for spending to increase, having risen from 30.82 percent in 2004. … According to Clemens, the success of Canada’s economy is in spite of its government health care, not because of it: “The unavoidable challenge is the country’s health-care system. … Canada devotes a relatively high share of its economy to health care without enjoying commensurate outcomes. Of the 28 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that have universal access, Canada has the sixth-highest rate of health spending as a share of its economy.” It would be one matter if Canadians enjoyed good results from all this health care spending. “But Canadians’ access to care is poor, despite high spending. The country ranks 20th of 22 OECD countries for access to physicians. … Waiting times for treatment continue to worsen.” … Liberals in the U.S. point to Canada as a model for government health care, but the actual situation is not one that we should aspire to.

Kansas government website revamped. Kansas has remodeled its main website, kansas.gov. Besides a new look, I think a useful feature will be the use of a Google site-specific search feature. These generally work very well, applying the power of the popular and effective search engine to a specific website. Time will tell as to whether the design is useful. The state does not have a good record in recent times of website redesigns, as the effort to replace the legislature’s website right as the session started was a disaster. The press release with other details is at New State Web Portal Provides Better Experience, Mobility.

Demand is not the problem. A recent letter to the Wichita Eagle started with “The only thing that creates jobs is demand for product.” This idea of economic wealth deriving from consumer demand is a Keynesian concept, and we’ve seen over and over the wreckage that Keynesian economics leaves on countries — starting with our own efforts to cure the Great Depression to the failing economic policies of President Barack Obama. It’s also curious to blame economic stagnation on the absence of desire of people for more stuff. People want more stuff — that’s human nature. It is by producing more that we create the wealth necessary to satisfy our demands. Production benefits from capital formation, and the policies of the United States are not favorable for this. … The author also promotes increasing exports while at the same time urging Americans to buy only U.S.-made products. This ignores the fact that trade — no matter who the trading partner — is a source of wealth. Both parties are made better-off through trade; otherwise the transaction would not take place.

Debt ceiling bill. A budget cut only by Washington standards. “Throwing in the towel.” All the angst over the past month seems to have produced very little in the way of meaningful reform. Here several Cato Institute policy experts comment on this week’s lawmaking. “This week’s bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit and achieve some spending reductions will do little in the way of actual spending cuts, defers all the tough decisions on spending and debt to a “SuperCongress” committee and will do little to protect the United States credit rating. Cato Institute Senior Fellows Dan Mitchell and Jagadeesh Gokhale and Director of Tax Policy Studies Chris Edwards comment on the debt deal.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday June 29, 2011

We have tried that before. Burt Folsom, who has written a book on Franklin Roosevelt’s economic policies and spoke in Wichita on that topic, warns us of the folly of government spending as a means to economic recovery. Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury to FDR, said this seven years into the New Deal: “Now, gentlemen, we have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.” … Some have charged that this quotation is a fabrication, but Folsom has the proof in his article We Have Tried Spending Money. … The quotation by Morganthau continues with: “And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. … And an enormous debt to boot.”

How can the Fed be so clueless? Investor’s Business Daily: “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says he’s puzzled by the failure of the economy to respond to our government’s many ministrations. Which explains much of why our economy is such a mess. … Not to be rude, but can the nation’s top banker really be so clueless? Anyone with half a lick of common sense looking at our economy knows what’s wrong: We’ve spent the better part of three years with government making the most extraordinary interventions in the economy in our nation’s history. Government spending, as a share of the economy, has soared 25%. Regulations, many of them arbitrary and foolish, such as the ban on incandescent light bulbs, have never been more numerous.” … The piece goes on to list many of the unwise policies the government has followed: ARRA stimulus, TARP, GM and Chrysler, Dodd-Frank, etc. In conclusion: “A handful of bureaucrats can never set prices or allocate goods or decide what should be made as efficiently as millions of people acting in their own interest through a free and open market. Our policymakers seem to have forgotten this. They make statements that indicate they don’t know the damage their policies are doing or they are willfully oblivious to them.”

Deficit is probably worse than thought. “We should be prepared for upward revisions in official deficit projections in the years ahead — even if a deal is struck,” writes Lawrence B. Lindsey in The Wall Street Journal. The reasons why projects of deficits are too optimistic are three: The interest rates being contemplated for Treasury borrowing are probably too low, the growth rates for the economy are too large, and the long-run costs of ObamaCare are way too low. Writes Lindsey: “There is no way to raise taxes enough to cover these problems. The tax-the-rich proposals of the Obama administration raise about $700 billion, less than a fifth of the budgetary consequences of the excess economic growth projected in their forecast. The whole $700 billion collected over 10 years would not even cover the difference in interest costs in any one year at the end of the decade between current rates and the average cost of Treasury borrowing over the last 20 years.” He recommends long-term reduction in entitlement spending as the only cure. See The deficit is worse than we think: Normal interest rates would raise debt-service costs by $4.9 trillion over 10 years, dwarfing the savings from any currently contemplated budget deal..

Blue pill or red pill? “Great expectations” are placed on the hope of Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) as a way to save money on health care costs, both in the private and public sector. Now a report published by Manhattan Institute finds that this technique, despite its appealing name and promise, may not be the magic pill that President Obama is relying on: “This result seems counterintuitive: How can it be that, when a CER study shows no difference between two drugs, limiting coverage for the more expensive drug could actually increase costs?” The report explains that individuals are different, and what applies to the “average” patient may not be right for a large number of other patients. A second reason is “variance in dependence in patient responses across therapies.” The report provides illustrations of where CER-based policies cost more. … Concluding, the executive summary states: “Our results suggest that CER will not fulfill its promise unless it is implemented differently by researchers and understood differently by policymakers. Simply put, seeking the treatment that is most effective on average will not improve health or save money. However, CER can be conducted in a way that takes difference and dependence into account and measures their effect. If CER is applied in this way — as a tool for matching individual patients to the best treatments for those individuals — it will realize its potential to reduce costs without inhibiting freedom of choice for doctors and patients.” … The report is Blue Pill or Red Pill: The Limits of Comparative Effectiveness Research

Even quicker. “For the roughly four million homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, the federal government is offering yet another remedy: free money to catch up on their loans.” See SmartMoney: More Money for Struggling Homeowners. … The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has issued a boil water advisory for the city of Waterville, which is located in Marshall County. I guess there’s no water in Waterville today. … Strong public support found for “Cut, cap, and balance,” a program to bring the federal budget under control. See National Taxpayer Union: New Poll Highlights Public Support for Cut, Cap and Balance. … Rasmussen: “Most voters continue to feel America needs to do more to develop domestic gas and oil resources. They also still give the edge to finding new sources of oil over reducing gas and oil consumption.” … Becker on Speculators: “Put differently, speculation tends to be stabilizing when speculators are making money because they have correct expectations about price movements, and destabilizing when they are losing money because their expectations turn out to be wrong. Given that the fundamentals imply large price movements from rather small shocks to supply and demand, and that successful speculation tends to moderate price movements, it is hard to believe that speculation has played a major role in causing the large swings in oil prices.” Do you hear that, Bill O’Reilly?

Reform health care so it really works

One year after the passage of major health care legislation, Harvard economist Jeff Miron says more reform is still needed. Dr. Miron gives his top 3 policy proposals for fixing the U.S. health care system: 1) Throw away the notion that health care is a right; 2) Repeal Obamacare; and 3) Phase out Medicare.

Miron’s latest book is Libertarianism, from A to Z.

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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday March 23, 2011

Health information campaign. What happened to an all-star group that was to promote President Obama’s health care plan? Politico reports: “Democrats are under siege as they mark the first anniversary of health care reform Wednesday — and they won’t get much help from the star-studded, $125 million support group they were once promised. Wal-Mart Watch founder Andrew Grossman unveiled the Health Information Campaign with great fanfare last June. … But nine months later, the Health Information Campaign has all but disappeared.”

Eisenhower book author to speak in Wichita. At this Friday’s meeting (March 25) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club, David A. Nichols, Ph.D. will speak on his new book Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis — Suez and the Brink of War . Nichols is formerly of Southwestern College in Winfield. Copies of the new book will be available for purchase at the meeting. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers include Derrick Sontag of Americans for Prosperity on April 1, Deputy Public Defender Jama Mitchell on April 8, Kansas Senator Chris Steineger on April 15, Friends University Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Arben Fox on April 22, and Wichita State University Political Scientist Ken Ciboski on April 29.

Kansas agencies mum on travel spending. From Kansas Policy Institute: “State agencies, boards and universities in Kansas claimed they did not have to disclose details on $21.4 million in spending on various forms of travel and entertainment in FY 2010, according to a Kansas Policy Institute (KPI) analysis of the state’s checkbook.” According to KPI president Dave Trabert: “$39 million is a lot to spend on travel in any year, and especially so when some agencies say they are being forced to cut services. Maybe the Kansas Bureau of Investigation needs some discretion when conducting investigations, but the breadth and volume of these confidentiality claims are incomprehensible.” While the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) has many categories of information that are exempt from disclosure, agencies have discretion as to which information to disclose. None of the exemptions mention travel. Says Trabert: “State checkbook records don’t indicate which exemption from disclosure is invoked on travel spending, but disclosing the names of hotels, airlines and restaurants that received taxpayer money would not be an unwarranted invasion of anyone’s personal privacy. It is, however, an unwarranted invasion of taxpayers’ right to not know how their money is being spent and state law should be changed to eliminate gaping loopholes in KORA.” … I’m really curious to learn more about this finding: “KPI’s review of state travel records also found many examples of the vendor being listed as the agency or university itself rather than the actual vendor that provided the service.” … KPI’s press release is at State Agencies Claim Confidentiality on Travel Spending.

Kansas wind energy jobs. Again we find that the promise of green energy projects being an economic development driver is overplayed. In “Goal of many more ‘green’ jobs is elusive” (February 14, 2011 Kansas City Star) we find the same skepticism that most now see justified regarding ethanol is applicable to wind power: “‘We need to temper our expectations on wind energy,’ said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist known for deflating the ethanol industry’s job claims. Now, he says, the same ‘environment of hype’ is developing around wind power.” It’s been good for China, though: “… more than 80 percent of $1 billion in federal stimulus grants for wind projects went to foreign countries. One of the projects, a $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas, expected to collect $450 million in stimulus money — but use wind turbines made in China.” The counting of a job as “green” is highly suspect, as the article notes: “Kansas officials have trumpeted that the state already has 20,000 green jobs — and hopes for 10,000 more, many from manufacturing and assembly work for generating wind power. But so far, most of the jobs in that count by the state Department of Labor have been around for years, including carpenters installing energy-efficient windows and plumbers putting in toilets that don’t use much water. Even maids, if they use green products, are classified as green-collar workers.” … Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer promotes manufacturing of wind power machinery as good for Wichita’s economic development, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback supports renewable energy standards for Kansas.

The role of profits and losses. From Robert P. Murphy, Lessons for the Young Economist: Many naïve observers of the market economy dismiss concern with the “bottom line” as a purely arbitrary social convention. To these critics, it seems senseless that a factory producing, say, medicine or shoes for toddlers stops at the point when the owner decides that profit has been maximized. It would certainly be physically possible to produce more bottles of aspirin or more shoes in size 3T, yet the boss doesn’t allow it, because to do so would “lose money.” On the other hand, many apparently superfluous gadgets and unnecessary luxury items are produced every day in a market economy, because they are profitable. Observers who are outraged by this system may adopt the slogan: “Production for people, not profit!” … Such critics do not appreciate the indispensable service that the profit and-loss test provides to members of a market economy. Whatever the social system in place, the regrettable fact is that the material world is one of scarcity — there are not enough resources to produce all the goods and services that people desire. Because of scarcity, every economic decision involves tradeoffs. When scarce resources are devoted to producing more bottles of aspirin, for example, there are necessarily fewer resources available to produce everything else. It’s not enough to ask, “Would the world be a better place if there were more medicine?” The relevant question is, “Would the world be a better place if there were more medicine and less of the other goods and services that would have to be sacrificed to produce more medicine?” … Loosely speaking, the profit and loss system communicates the desires of consumers to the resource owners and entrepreneurs when they are deciding how many resources to send into each potential line of production. … In a market based on the institution of private property, profits occur when an entrepreneur takes resources of a certain market value and transforms them into finished goods (or services) of a higher market value. This is the important sense in which profitable entrepreneurs are providing a definite service to others in the economy.

Obama health care rejected in Missouri election

What are we to think when President Obama’s signature legislative achievement is highly unpopular with Americans?

Scott Rasmussen has written: “One of the more amazing aspects of the health-care debate is how steady public opinion has remained. Despite repeated and intense sales efforts by the president and his allies in Congress, most Americans consistently oppose the plan that has become the centerpiece of this legislative season.”

Now we have election results that show that Americans — Missourians, anyway — don’t like what they see in the Obama health care plan. The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto reports on the Missouri election.

Mo. to O.: ‘No’

They said voters would learn to stop worrying and love ObamaCare. They were wrong.
By James Taranto

They told us that Americans would learn to stop worrying and love ObamaCare. To judge by yesterday’s election in Missouri, they were wrong.

Official election returns show that citizens of the Show Me State voted overwhelmingly–71% to 29% in favor of Proposition C, a ballot measure described in a pre-election report from Time magazine:

The specific issue boils down to this: Can the government require that citizens buy health insurance? Mandatory insurance is a key element of the health care reforms passed by congressional Democrats and signed by Obama this year. Adding healthy people to the insurance pool spreads the cost of policies for people with health problems. Missouri’s referendum rejects that mandate by asking voters whether state laws should be amended to forbid penalties for failing to have health insurance.

Time describes the vote as “largely symbolic.” Other states have already passed such opt-out laws via legislative action rather than voter initiative, and the real test will come in the courts. But symbolism matters. If the constitutional question is a difficult one, it’s possible that judges will resolve it on the side of public opinion. And of course the public’s reaction to ObamaCare is likely to influence the politicians who have control over its implementation and possible repeal.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for June 25, 2010.

Public sector grows along with KPERS dependency

(Kansas Liberty) “Between April 2008 and April 2010, the private sector in Kansas has experienced an overall loss in jobs of approximately 5.89 percent, while the public sector has experienced an overall gain in employment of approximately .83 percent. … As the public sector and its salaries continue to grow, so does the dependence on the state’s pension plan, KPERS.”

Kansas working toward implementing aspect of Obamacare

(Kansas Liberty) “The Kansas Department of Insurance is working with the federal government to create a temporary high-risk insurance pool, in accordance with regulations set forth by the new federal health-care law. High-risk insurance pools are designed to provide coverage for residents with pre-existing conditions who are unable to find coverage elsewhere. The temporary high-risk pool will operate until 2014, when the law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions.”

Budget cuts hit small towns harder, KC Fed reports

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas government’s continuing financial jam may threaten the economic recovery of the state’s small town and rural communities, according to a new analysis published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.”

Researchers debate number of student dropouts

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – By one count, slightly more than one in 100 students drop out of school; by another count, only 75 students out of 100 actually receive diplomas. Trying to figure out the number of students in Kansas who have graduated high school, versus the number that have dropped out before graduation is tricky and confusing business.”

Info about Ethics Commission meeting not found by attending

(Kansas Watchdog) “On Tuesday the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission held their monthly meeting in Topeka. The agenda for the meeting was a bit curious: The plan was for a 15-minute session that started at 11:45, followed by a 30-minute session 90 minutes later.”

Business Owners Ask Kansas Courts to Stop Smoking Ban

(Kansas Watchdog) “Owners of private clubs and bingo operations have asked the courts to stop the statewide smoking ban (HB2221) from taking effect July 1. Attorney Tuck Duncan Friday filed a motion to intervene in a temporary injunction sought by Michael Merriam to stop implementation of the ban while courts hear claims that the ban violates various U.S Constitutional rights.”

Tiahrt and Moran Trade Shots Over Support for Federal Bailouts

(State of the State KS) “The Tiahrt (R) and Moran (R) campaigns traded shots Wednesday over the issue of government bailouts with Tiahrt firing the first shot saying Moran was misleading voters when Moran said claimed he never voted for a bailout.”

Opinion by Senate President Stephen Morris – The 2010 Legislative Session: Keeping Our Promises to Kansans

(State of the State KS) “The 2010 Legislative Session is now officially history. When this chapter of the Kansas story is written, it will go down as perhaps the most significant since the Great Depression. In fact, the challenges facing lawmakers this year were unprecedented. As we enter the election season, you may hear a lot of misinformation about what actually happened in Topeka this year; I would like to set the record straight.”

Response by Americans For Prosperity to Opinion Article by Senate President Steve Morris

(State of the State KS) “The recent letter to the editor submitted by Senate President Stephen Morris caught my attention. He claims passing the largest sales tax increase in Kansas history was the ‘only responsible way’ to address the budget shortfall. A shortfall he blames on an ‘economic crisis.'”

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for June 7, 2010.

Bond Savings to Be Spent, Not Used to Pay Down Debt

(Kansas Watchdog) “Wichita school district officials will spend surplus bond funds rather than cut taxes. Contractors are bidding below district projections for construction projects funded by the 2008 USD259 bond only 51 percent of voters approved. It authorized the district to spend ‘an amount not to exceed $370 million’ on a broad range or projects. So far, contracts for the first phase of bond construction are as much as 23 percent below projections. The district could save tens of millions of dollars if the Wichita Board of Education chose to return the savings to taxpayers.”

Fed finance bill hurts Kansas consumers and economy

(Kansas Liberty) “The federal finance bill that passed the Senate May 20 is in conference, where a select group of senators and representatives is working to reconcile two versions of the legislation. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act was crafted by Democrats to stabilize Wall Street and diminish the potential of a future fiscal crisis comparable to the 2008 catastrophe that resulted in billions worth of taxpayer dollars being used to bail out big business. While the bill was touted as being aimed at Wall Street, its influence will be felt here in Kansas within community banks, businesses and by consumers, according to local leaders in the business sector.”

Sebelius health-care propaganda reaching Kansas seniors

(Kansas Liberty) Last week Sen. Pat Roberts sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Department Kathleen Sebelius questioning her about ‘misinformation’ provided to senior citizens via a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid mailer. … Tiahrt refers to mailer as an ‘incomplete piece of literature that is trying to sell a product.'”

Number of jobs in government balloons while private sector stagnant

(Kansas Liberty) “Kansas Republicans are not impressed with today’s United States Bureau of Labor Statistics report that said the national May unemployment rate is at 9.7 percent, which is a decrease from last month. Out of the total 431,000 nonfarm positions added in May, 411,000 of the positions are temporary government jobs created for Census 2010 workers.”

Keeping a close eye on the $131 million

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – Kansas is among the more than 30 states that built budgets assuming Congress this year would approve additional federal matching dollars for Medicaid and child welfare programs. And it is among a dozen or so states that have no contingency plan should that assumption prove wrong.”

Kansas, U.S. tax burdens vary widely, researchers find

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas’ lowest income taxpayers pay slightly more than a national average share of federal income taxes collected in the state, and its wealthiest taxpayers pay slightly less, tax researchers calculate.”

Two states: Two different decisions about competing for federal dollars

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Despite the similarities Kansas shares with its neighbor Oklahoma, the two states made very different decisions about competing for federal dollars for education.”

State General Fund out of balance as fiscal year winds down

(Kansas Reporter) TOPEKA, Kan. – Entering the last month of the fiscal year, the State General Fund is about $89 million out of balance. Unless June brings in much more than anticipated revenue amounts, the state will have to resort to maneuvering cash and delaying payments, said J.G. Scott, the chief fiscal officer for the Legislative Research Department. ‘If June comes in higher than anticipated everything will be fine,’ Scott said. ‘If it comes in where we expect it, we’ll still have an issue.'”

O’Neal and Davis On The Last Day of Session

(State of the State KS) “Friday marked the last official day of the legislative session, called Sine Die, and legislators gathered at the capitol one last time before heading home until next January. Governor Parkinson and a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans worked together this session to pass a one cent sales tax increase that filled a budget shortfall, leaving programs for education, social services and public safety in place.”

Attorney General Steve Six Announces Run For Top Legal Office in Kansas

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Attorney General Steve Six (D) kicked off a five city tour Thursday to announce his run for for the top legal office in the state. He said that after years of personal and political scandal, he brought a new culture to the AG’s office.”

KAKE-TV and WIBW-TV Launch New Sunday Morning Political Show

(State of the State KS) “Starting, Sunday June 6 at 9:00 AM, KAKE TV in Wichita and will begin a new public affairs program called ‘This Week in Kansas’. Hosted by well-known local journalist Tim Brown, this half-hour program will review the major political events and issues in our state every week. Frequent guests throughout the year will include newsmakers, legislators, politicians and journalists.”

Dr. Milton Wolf at AFP Kansas summit

At the Kansas Defending the American Dream Summit 2010, produced by Americans for Prosperity-Kansas, Dr. Milton Wolf addressed the crowd on health care issues. Wolf is a physician and second cousin to President Barack Obama.

“Three months ago I had never been to a political rally,” he told the audience. He started a website — The Wolf Files — and became involved.

He told the audience of some of the personal attacks he’s received.

“Freedom isn’t free, and liberty cannot be a spectator sport.” The government takeover of health care is really a cover for an assault on our freedom, he told the audience. Deep in the thousands of pages of the bill is health care rationing, which its supporters claim is not the purpose of the bill.

Wolf said that by coming between citizens and their doctors, there is no other part of life that regulators can’t touch.

Donald Berwick, the head of Medicare, says that there will be rationing. He compliments the British health care system, but doesn’t talk about the results. Wolf said that the results for cancer survivability in Great Britain are much worse than in the United States.

He said that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received a report from her own agency that said health costs will rise after government reform, but that she withheld release of the report until after Congress voted.

There are free market solutions for health care. First, get the government out of the patient exam room. Government should not be regulating who get mammograms.

Second, make health care insurance companies answerable to consumers, not their employers. Where free markets are allowed to work in medicine, such as laser eye surgery, the costs have come down tremendously.

Third, eliminate junk lawsuits. From $100 billion to $200 billion is spent each year on defensive medicine, he said. He mentioned a novel concept: health care dollars get spent on health care, not lawyers.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 29, 2010.

Passenger Trains Are One Step Closer To Rolling Into Kansas

(State of the State KS) “Governor Parkinson (D) signed two bills Wednesday that pave the way for passenger rail in Kansas.”

Governor Mark Parkinson on the Economy, the Budget and Kansas Health

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson (D) addresses budget shortfalls, key Capitol legislative issues and the need for bipartisan work in Kansas and Washington.”

Chamber vs. Chamber: The Battle of Economic Theories

(State of the State KS) “The growing divide between the Chambers of Commerce reflect the battle of economic theories facing off at the Capital.”

President Obama Signs Health Care Reform Prompting Some To Block The Law Locally

(State of the State KS) “President Obama signed historic health care reform into law Tuesday prompting some Kansas Republicans to try to block pieces of the legislation.”

Rep. Moore’s wife interested in Third District race

(Kansas Liberty) “Moore afraid of threats but doesn’t fear for his wife.”

Health care freedom amendment fails in House

(Kansas Liberty) “The Kansas Health Care Freedom Amendment failed to pass out of the Kansas House today after the measure gained a vote of 75-47, which was nine votes short of what was needed for the legislation to be adopted.”

Kansas GOP playing defense against ObamaCare

(Kansas Liberty) “Kansas legislators from the local and the national level have already waged a full attack against the health-care reform bill President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday. Kansas lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have started to promote bills that would repeal the health-care plan, and proposed initiatives to ensure that the health-care overhaul does not receive federal funding. Several congressional candidates have taken a different approach by asking Kansas Attorney General Steve Six to join the list of attorneys general who are legally questioning the constitutionality of the health-care bill.”

Senate stands against EPA ruling

(Kansas Liberty) “The Kansas Senate passed a resolution today 34-3 which sends a message to the federal government criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that greenhouse gasses are harmful to the public’s health.”

Groups claiming to represent the interest of business ask for tax hike

(Kansas Liberty) “Representative says residents who benefit from taxpayer dollars have ‘infiltrated’ local chambers of commerce, resulting in the pro-tax message.”

Much undone as Legislature heads for first adjournment

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The Legislature will take first adjournment sometime this week with budget and tax work far from complete and a statewide smoking ban still one of the few far-reaching accomplishments of the session.”

“I’ve been defamed,” Kansas Speaker O’Neal tells panel

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, told an investigating panel Tuesday that he’s been defamed by House Democrats who earlier this month filed an ethics complaint against him.”

Kansas teacher policies fall short

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas teacher policy standards did not make the grade in 2009 according to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The state policies received an overall grade of D-minus. The report examined areas in which state policy affects the delivery of well prepared teachers by schools in the state; expansion of the teacher pool; identifying effective teachers; retaining effective teachers; and exiting ineffective teachers.”

My View: Kansas should pass shield law

(Kansas Watchdog) “Trust, confidence, protection, faith — these are the words that describe the relationship between doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, and reporters and sources. However, only two of those three relationships are provided legal protection from sharing the secrets passed between parties. In several states, reporters have absolutely no protection when it comes to revealing their sources on a given story.”

Obama’s second cousin, a doctor from Kansas, pushes for Kansas Health Care Freedom

(Kansas Watchdog) “On his web site Barack Obama’s second cousin, Dr. Milton R. Wolf, Leawood, is pushing for passage of the Kansas Health Care Freedom Amendment.”

Bigger danger of healthcare bill: the arrogance of Congress

By Eric O’Keefe.

We may never fully know the damage that will be done by the massive health care bill Congress passed on Sunday, but one thing is certain: It will lead to lower-quality care at higher costs.

Dozens of new health boards will come on line in the next few years, as bureaucrats gradually take control of our health care system. Who knows how many bright college students will decide to avoid medical careers because they don’t want to follow orders from these bureaucrats?

As alarming as some of the bill’s provisions are, what’s more dangerous is the arrogance this Congress demonstrated.

The House of Representatives used to represent; now it rules.

This health care reform was widely debated for a year, and it became less popular by the month. A weekend poll by Rasmussen Reports showed the depth of that unpopularity, with only 26 percent strongly supporting the reform and 45 percent strongly opposing it.

How can elected representatives defy the considered will of the people?

Because defiance becomes an easy habit when you know that there is almost no chance you will lose your next election. The loss of accountability enables public servants to indulge their own lust for power. As Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

If we do not address the problem of a permanent class of rulers in Congress, we will watch Congress bankrupt the country and destroy the republic.

Most members of the House represent specially drawn districts where one party dominates. As a result, these members face no primary election challengers and only nominal competition in the general election.

Congressional entrenchment is not a product of popularity; Congress has routinely been unpopular the past 30 years. A February survey by Rasmussen Reports showed approval of Congress at a historic low, with only 10 percent rating their performance as good or excellent. Rasmussen also found 63 percent favor replacing the entire Congress.

Unfortunately, that will not happen. Even during this year’s extreme political turmoil, you can be confident that over 80 percent of House incumbents will win yet again in November. In most modern US elections, more than 95 percent of House incumbents are reelected.

The reason is a century of entrenchment by incumbents looking out for themselves. They have large staffs and budgets to run a permanent campaign; they have pork and patronage to distribute at taxpayer expense; and they enacted campaign restrictions to hobble challengers.

With mostly one-party districts, incumbents own their seats unless they face serious primary challenges. But party organizations controlled by incumbents work to discourage primary challenges, regardless of the performance of the incumbent. In fact, only eight incumbents have lost their primary races in the past three elections combined – that’s a renomination rate of over 99 percent.

To regain congressional accountability, we must work outside the political parties to set the standard of acceptable behavior, and to enforce it in primary elections.

In 2006 and 2008, Democrats won the close House races and took control of Congress because voters were tired of big-spending Republicans. In 2010 voters will defeat Democrats in close elections, and the House is likely to return to Republican control. But what will those Republicans do? Should we trust them to behave this time?

I would say no. Congress will not behave on its own because the political parties now exist to serve the politicians, not the taxpayers.

That’s why the development of the tea party movement has been so forceful and swift. Tea party leaders stepped up because both parties had failed us. Yet they understand that you don’t solve the problem of two unaccountable parties by creating a third. What we really need is a way to hold politicians of any party accountable, and that begins with independent organizations demanding accountability, and backing primary challengers to representatives of both political parties who fail to live up to their job title: Representative.

In 2010, tossing out some big-spending Democrats may be all that voters can accomplish. But if we don’t solve the bigger problem of creating the organizations to systematically hold politicians accountable, we will only get another round of broken promises on the road to ruin. The fate of the republic depends on building an independent system to hold Congress accountable to the taxpayers.

Eric O’Keefe is chairman of Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on communicating free-market principles.

Health care amendment fails to pass in Kansas, protest filed

Today the Kansas House of Representatives failed to pass House Concurrent Resolution 5032. This resolution would have amended the Kansas Constitution to provide Kansas protection from federal health care mandates. Specifically, the explanatory section of the bill states: “The purpose of this health care freedom amendment is to preserve constitutionally the right and freedom of Kansans to provide for their health care.”

The resolution failed to pass by a vote of 75 to 47. Two-thirds, or 84 votes, were required for passage of this constitutional amendment. This vote is part of the Kansas Economic Freedom Index.

A group of House members filed a protest, which is printed in the journal for the day. It’s a useful analysis of what the just-passed federal law will do for us, complete with references to the legislation:

MR. SPEAKER: Pursuant to Article 2, Section 10, of the constitution of the State of Kansas, we protest the non-adoption of HCR 5032.

The Federal Health Care legislation is a violation of the United States Constitution. The legislation is not within the powers granted to Congress through the Commerce Clause in Article I, Section 8. The legislation is unprecedented and unconstitutional because never before has Congress attempted to compel Americans to purchase any good or service simply as a requirement of lawful citizenship. Health Care has historically been a primarily a state responsibility.

Additionally, we protest the passing of Federal Health Care legislation, in part, for the following reasons:

The sections described below are taken from HR 3590 as agreed to by the United States Senate and from the reconciliation bill as displayed by the Rules Committee.

You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the ‘‘privilege.’’ (Section 1501)

Continue reading Health care amendment fails to pass in Kansas, protest filed

After U.S. health care reform, where will Canadians go?

Now that the Democrats’ health care reform package has passed Congress and is sure to be signed into law, wealthy Canadians will need to start looking for somewhere else to travel for surgery.

Earlier this year Danny Williams, the premier of the Canadian province of Newfoundland traveled to Miami for heart valve surgery. As Sally C. Pipes explains in a San Francisco Chronicle article: “With his trip, Williams joined a long list of Canadians who have decided that they prefer American medicine to their own country’s government-run health system when their lives are on the line.”

In an interview defending his decision, Williams said “This is my heart. It’s my health and it’s my choice.” Williams, a millionaire, has the resources to make a choice that most Canadians don’t have.

Pipes writes that 40,000 Canadians travel to the United States each year for medical reasons. But as big-government health care reform starts to drag down American health care to that of the level of Canada, we can expect to see that number decline.

Medical tourism is a benefit to Wichita’s economy. Galichia Heart Hospital in Wichita offers a wide variety of surgical procedures — not just heart surgery — to people willing to travel to Wichita. The hospital has a website — Galichia Medical Tourism — complete with prices for some procedures. A promotional video on the site specifically mentions categories of surgery that Canadians are finding difficult to obtain in their own country.

Will Galichia be able to maintain this business after the full effect of Obama-style health care reform is realized? Will we have a health care system that Canadians will want to use? It will take some time to know the answer.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 22, 2010.

Republicans on the left help defeat Health Care Freedom Amendment

(Kansas Liberty) “Greg Ward, co-founder of the Kansas 9.12 Project and founder of the Kansas Sovereignty Coalition, was disappointed in the outcome, but said he was especially concerned about the actions of the Republican members who voted against the measure. ‘I am amazed at the number of Republicans working to limit the liberties we have instead of limiting the overreaching government on both the federal and state level that seeks more and more control of our lives,’ Ward told Kansas Liberty.”

House, Senate committees take a stand against increasing taxes

(Kansas Liberty) “The House Appropriations Committee adopted a budget plan today that could patch the state’s deficits for fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2011 — without raising taxes. The proposal would leave the state with positive balance of more than $300 million in fiscal year 2011 and would cut approximately $360 million. The Republican plan would create a 1 percent across-the-board cut, excluding education and health and human services caseload.”

Tax on sugary beverages could still be considered

(Kansas Liberty) “The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee made it clear yesterday that it was not interested in several of the tax-increasing proposals brought before the committee — including a proposal to create a tax on sugary beverages. For legislation to be voted on during a committee meeting, a member has to make a motion for the legislation to be passed out of committee, and that motion has to be seconded. However, the Senate Taxation Committee did not even have enough tax-supporting members for the majority of the proposals to be considered for a vote.”

Day-care bill passes GO in Senate

(Kansas Liberty) “Voice vote in general orders indicates Kansas Senate wants all child-care providers licensed and inspected by state.”

Kansas tax panel offers balanced budget, no new taxes

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Appropriations committee members unveiled a new plan Thursday for balancing next year’s state budget without raising taxes.”

Exemptions severely erode Kansas’ tax bases, audit finds

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas property tax exemptions for machinery and equipment created in 2006 have significantly eroded local tax bases across the state, state auditors reported Wednesday.”

KOSE seeks more protection for whistleblowers

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Some state employees feel they have a way to gain more revenue for Kansas. Two members of the Kansas Organization of State Employees (KOSE) testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday that strengthening whistleblower protection for state employees would mean less waste.”

Debunking Myths in the School Funding Debate

(Kansas Watchdog) “Protesters pushing for tax increases to end education funding cuts chanted, ‘We want what’s right, not what’s left’ at the State Capitol Tuesday.”

3rd District Candidates Debate

(Kansas Watchdog) “Overland Park, Kan. – A candidate debate and forum of eight 3rd Congressional District candidates was held Saturday at the Blue Valley Northwest High School. About 300 people attended to listen to 7 Republicans and a Libertarian candidate.” Related: Closing Statements from 3rd District Debate (video).

Sun Editor Steve Rose Needs Facts and Figures not Fear Mongering about Schools

(Kansas Watchdog) “Steve Rose in his ‘Memo’ this week, ‘Teachers, programs slashed. Thanks, Ray,’ needs more hard facts and figures instead of fear mongering about ‘slashing’ school budgets.”

Congressional Candidates Debate at Hope For America Meeting in Overland Park

(State of the State KS) “Republican and Libertarian candidates for Congress debated in Overland Park Saturday in the race for Congress in the 3rd District.”

U.S. House passes historic health reform legislation

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The U.S. House has spoken on health reform, approving 219-212 a Senate-passed health reform bill that now goes to the president for signature into law. But the debate in Kansas, and across the country, continues.”

Menu labeling discussed

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – It’s not clear what will happen to federal health reform legislation that would require chain restaurants to label menu items, but the Kansas Legislature won’t take any action on the measure this year.”

Health care about to get worse

A good summary of the problems with American health care, and of what the future holds is from Competitive Enterprise Institute‘s Gregory Conko. In his piece Health Care Crisis About to Get a Whole Lot Worse he writes:

Most of the problems in America’s health care system — high and rising prices, lack of consistent and reliable access for millions, rampant cost shifting, and an inability to distinguish between effective and ineffective services or between high and low quality, to name just a few — stem not from some supposed market failure, but primarily from existing government interventions in the market for health care and health insurance.

One of the government interventions that leads to market dysfunction is the reliance on employers to provide health insurance for so many Americans. This happened because of government policy, not by accident. As a result, workers have little choice in their coverage, and some feel tied to their present jobs just for the insurance.

Americans — some anyway — complain that health insurers will collect premiums for years, and then not pay when the covered become sick. There’s also not a vigorous market for health insurance for individuals, partly because the employer market swamps out efforts to sell to individuals or families.

Contrast this situation with the market for automobile insurance. This is a product that is regulated, to be sure, but much more lightly than health insurance. It’s something that no employers purchase for their workers and their private cars. Instead, drivers have to seek out and purchase their own policies.

And what is the result? There’s a thriving and competitive market for auto insurance. The pitchmen for two large companies — the quirky lizard and the exuberant Flo — are well known to television viewers. Auto insurance companies innovate to see who can produce products that meet the needs of consumers.

Do auto insurance companies fail to pay claims, as it is alleged health insurance companies do? If an auto insurance company developed a reputation for not paying, customers would quickly and easily leave that company for others. That is a credible threat, as there is a competitive market for auto insurance. Those who feel they have been wronged by a health insurance company often have no alternative to turn to — there is no credible threat of taking one’s business to another company.

One of the things that President Obama’s health care reform is designed to do is to create a marketplace for health insurance. But we don’t need more government regulation to accomplish that. Such government-sponsored effort is likely to fail. Less government intervention and less regulation, like in the market for auto insurance, would produce a result better for consumers.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for January 25, 2010.

Kansas Republicans and Democrats agree Massachusetts upset could benefit Kansans

(Kansas Liberty) “Republican Senatorial candidate Scott Brown made history last night when he defeated Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in the election for Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts seat. Kansas Republicans are lining up to proclaim how this victory could signal a change in the tide for the Democratic Party and for the Democrats health care plans.”

Rally members frustrated by mainstream media coverage

(Kansas Liberty) “Last Friday, approximately 400 liberty-minded Kansans flocked to the Statehouse to support a Senate Concurrent Resolution that claims state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. The resolution serves notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates, provides that certain federal legislation should be prohibited or repealed, and it directs distribution of the resolution to Congress and the President. … According to legislators and organization members who were present at the rally, the grassroots support for the amendment was substantial, but many of the mainstream media outlets painted a watered down picture of the outpouring of support. Several reports also focused in on the sole opponent who testified during the hearing, an educator at Wichita Collegiate School, which is a private K-12 school.”

New coalition plotting to lobby legislators for tax increases

(Kansas Liberty) “Roughly a dozen tax-increase advocacy groups have banned together to form the Kansans for Quality Communities Coalition. According to its mission statement the organization’s key goal is to ‘ensure the prosperity of Kansas communities through the responsible investment of taxpayer dollars.’ To achieve this goal the group is heavily lobbying for tax increases, an action already sanctioned by Democratic leaders, including Gov. Mark Parkinson.”

AG Six requests Kansas Supreme Court to refrain from reopening Montoy case

(Kansas Liberty) “Attorney General Steve Six has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to deny the Schools for Fair Funding coalition’s request to reopen the Montoy v. State of Kansas lawsuit. “The Court in 2006 issued its mandate directing the district court to dismiss the case, and on the stipulation of all parties, the district court did so,’ Six said in a statement issued to the Kansas Supreme Court yesterday. ‘This case is over.’ Six referred to the request as ‘unprecedented’ and said that it ‘achieves no efficiencies, and is merely an attempt to circumvent the procedures for initiating new cases.'”

Kansas Senator Chris Steiniger on County Consolidation and His New Campaign

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Senator Chris Steiniger (D) talks about county consolidation and his recent announcement to run for Secretary of State.”

Legislators Speak at Energy Conference in Wichita

(State of the State KS) “House Assistant Minority Leader Jim Ward (D) and Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn (R) spoke at an energy panel hosted by City of Wichita’s Dale Goter.” Full video of the conference is at Wichita Energy Conference Legislative Panel .

ProPublica predicts insolvency for Kansas’ unemployment insurance fund

(Kansas Watchdog) “Propublica, a national independent non-profit investigative journalism organization, on Wednesday reported that two dozen states have unemployment funds in the red, with nine more to be in the red within six months.”

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance won’t affect Kansas much

(Kansas Watchdog) “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that businesses and unions may spend freely on political campaigns, but this ruling only affects federal races in Kansas. ‘It won’t affect us at all’ was the response from Carol Williams, the executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. Williams said that 24 states had corporate and union contribution bans but Kansas did not.”

Wichita Chamber Will Lobby Against Income Tax

(Kansas Watchdog) “The Wichita Business Journal reported in today’s edition that the Wichita Chamber of Commerce is beginning what will likely be a multi-year effort to repeal the personal and business income taxes in Kansas.”

Furlough idea for legislators is dropped

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Furloughs for the Kansas Legislature are off the table until late in the legislative session, at the earliest, state Senate President Stephen Morris said.”

More budget cuts would hurt Kansas for years, tax backers say

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas school children, the state’s elderly and its most fragile citizens simply cannot afford any more state budget cuts, proponents of a proposed one-percent sales tax increase told a Kansas House tax policy committee Thursday.”

School’s reserves total at least $1.4 billion

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – In the fight over school funding, both sides agree that school districts in Kansas are sitting on at least $1.4 billion in cash reserves. The battle over whether that money is available to spend played out during two competing presentations Thursday morning in front of the House Appropriations Committee.”

Kansans speculate on future of federal health reform

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The shockwaves emanating from Republican Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts on Tuesday are being felt beyond the Bay state and Washington, D.C. They’re registering in state capitals across the country, including Topeka.”

Senate GOP leaders say some tax increases will be necessary

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – Senate leaders today said a combination of tax increases and spending cuts would be the best way to balance the state budget. Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he thought a plan to close sales tax exemptions and increase the tobacco tax could win legislative approval as lawmakers try to close a projected $400 million budget gap. Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, said balancing the budget solely with more spending cuts would be ‘catastrophic.'”

To some, Democrats not bold enough, despite Massachusetts results

A coalition of liberal political action groups has released a poll that contradicts the conventional wisdom stemming from Tuesday’s election.

The poll, conducted after Republican Scott Brown’s victory in the United States Senate election in Massachusetts, was sponsored by Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, and MoveOn.org.

According to a communique from Democracy for America, Democrats in Washington should “Be bold, fight for more change — not less, and pass healthcare with a public option.”

The message speaks of “Stay-at-Home Voters and Obama-Voting Independents” as a new set of swing voters. These voters, DFA claims, were responsible for Brown’s victory.

The poll results, delivered under the sub-heading “Even Scott Brown voters want the public option, want Democrats to be bolder” is interpreted by Charles Chamberlain, political director of Democracy for America this way: “In an election between Scott Brown and the public option, the public option would have won.”

Further, according to DFA, “Both sets of swing voters don’t think the current Senate bill goes far enough and over 80% of them want a public option. … If a public option was in the Senate bill then these swing voters would have delivered victory to the Democrats.”

‘The Audacity of Hypocricy’ in Wichita

The Great American Forum hosts another event: “Come hear our panelists discuss the failed policies of the first year of the Obama Administration, and common-sense solutions to fixing our country! The topics will be: Homeland Security & Defense (Ben Sauceda), Cap & Trade (Rick Macias), Healthcare (Kenya Cox), and Economics (Brandon Rudkin). There will be a question and answer period.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, at Rhatigan Student Center Room 215 at Wichita State University.