Dr. Art Hall, Executive Director of the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas School of Business, presented his “Thoughts on Water and Economic Development” at the Wichita Pachyderm Club Friday, September 19, 2014. Wichita voters will determine whether the city enacts a one cent per dollar sales tax increase to be used for water infrastructure and economic development incentives. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: Nick Jordan is Secretary of Revenue for the State of Kansas. He spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on the topic “An Analysis of Governor Brownback’s Tax Policy” on August 22, 2014. In the shownotes for this episode you can find the link to the handout he distributed.
Here’s Kansas Secretary of Revenue Nick Jordan at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on August 22, 2014.
Former Wichita mayor Bob Knight explains that when he left office in 2003, we were assured we had water for 50 years. What has happened?
Knight also reminded the audience that there is a Sedgwick County sales tax, part of which is divided among cities like Wichita. He also took the Visioneering planning process to task. In the past ten years, he wondered why no one asked about a city without water.
From a forum at Wichita Pachyderm Club on July 22, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: Dwight D. Keen is former chairman of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association. He spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on the topic “Hydraulic Fracturing: A Conjured-up Controversy” on August 8, 2014. In the shownotes for this episode you can find the link to the short video that was shown as part of his talk. Also, you will find links to the handouts he distributed.
Here’s Dwight Keen at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on August 8, 2014.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: Candidates for Republican party nomination for Kansas Secretary of State spoke at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on July 18, 2014. The candidates are incumbent Kris Kobach and challenger Scott Morgan. The issue of voting, particularly the requirement for proof of citizenship when registering to vote, is an issue that separates the two candidates.
The format of the meeting was an opening statement by each candidate followed by questions from the audience and a brief closing statement.
I asked a question about whether the state’s chief election officer should have a political action committee that engages in electioneering. Kobach replied that this practice is legal, which it is. As to its propriety, Kobach said that statewide officials frequently endorse candidates. Morgan said it is not ethical or appropriate for the secretary of state to have a political action committee. As to Kobach’s argument that since other statewide officials are able to endorse candidates, that means the secretary of state should also, there is a distinguishing factor: Those other officials aren’t in charge of administering Kansas elections.
Controversy over the timing and efficacy of an earmark divert attention from the fact that earmarks are bad government. Congress is better without the practice.
United States Congressional candidate Todd Tiahrt calls for a return to earmark spending in Congress, pointing to a million-dollar grant he obtained for Wichita to help defray costs of the Wichita Police Department in investigating and capturing serial killer Dennis Rader, or BTK. The Daily Caller has a report, as does the Wichita Eagle. Neither story is supportive of Tiahrt’s claim that earmarks were responsible for the capture of the BTK killer.
Speaking to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on May 16, Tiahrt defended the earmarking process, telling the audience “By the way, earmarks don’t raise spending. Earmarks never increase the budget. They simply redirect the funding.” (The complete broadcast of his talk is available at Voice for Liberty Radio: Todd Tiahrt.)
This is the standard argument: Earmarks simply direct the spending of money that is already authorized to be spent. Therefore, earmarking does not increase the amount spent. But this reasoning bypasses the fact that it is Congress that authorizes a certain amount to be spent. If Congress is concerned that too much is being spent, it could authorize less.
This notion that discretionary spending is on a trajectory that can’t be controlled; that all a hapless Congress can do is control where it is spent by earmarking: This is nonsense. Nonsense on stilts. Some of the problems with earmark spending are contained in For Tiahrt, earmarks are good government.
Logrolling, or the selling of earmarks
Many Members of Congress sell earmarks to the home district as a beneficial way to have the country as a whole to pay for our needs. It’s usually presented as though it is free money. Taxpayers across the country are paying for something in the home district, members say.
But as most people know in their hearts, there really is no free lunch. If Members of Congress expect other members to vote for their earmarks, they know they’re expected to vote for the earmarks of other members. This is precisely what happens.
The BTK earmark happened in 2005. In 2007 a group of House Members offered 50 amendments to remove earmarks from appropriations bills. Club for Growth compiled the following list, along with a scorecard of votes for each member. I’ve presented the list of amendments below, and you can view the project at The 2007 Club for Growth RePORK Card. It includes items like $150,000 for the Bremerton Public Library restoration in Washington, $129,000 for the Mitchell County Development Foundation for the home of the “perfect Christmas tree” project, and $100,000 for the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum in Lansing.
So two years after the BTK earmark for the Wichita Police Department, there were 50 opportunities for our representatives to make a simple up-or-down vote on wasteful pork barrel spending projects. Only one of these amendments passed.
Todd Tiahrt voted against all of these amendments. He, along with 81 Democrats and 23 other Republicans, could find no good reason to vote against any of these projects.
So while Wichita received help paying for a police investigation, we in the fourth congressional district had to pay for all these other projects. After all, how could Tiahrt ask his congressional colleagues to support his own earmarks if he did not support theirs?
Congress is better without earmarks
While there has been a ban on earmarks since 2010, some members and candidates call for a return to earmarking. But a recent Wall Street Journal editorial explains the benefit of the ending of earmarks and a return to accountability in legislative decision-making:
Congressional cries to restore earmarks are mounting, and a new favorite argument is that the spenders need the pork authority to properly exercise their Constitutional power of the purse. But if you look at what’s happening inside Congress, the opposite is true: The earmark ban is producing more spending accountability and oversight. … When Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin now pines for the days when earmarks were the “glue” holding bills together, what he’s really missing is leadership’s power to dole out home-state patronage. Pork-barrel Republicans who say the earmark ban has transferred spending power to the President are excusing their own unwillingness to set priorities. … This process put House Members in control of spending decisions, even as it required them to choose on the basis of fact and analysis — rather than logrolling.
(“Logrolling” is the practice of supporting others’ projects in order to gain support for yours. Vote trading, in other words.)
At the same May 2014 Pachyderm Club meeting, Tiahrt said that earmark spending is still happening, but now it’s directed through the executive branch. Congress has given President Obama a “blank check,” Tiahrt told the audience. The Wall Street Journal editorial board disagrees.
Following is the list of 50 amendments that would have canceled pork barrel spending projects in 2007.
House Vote 559 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Clover Bend Historic Site in Arkansas. Amendment failed, 98-331.
House Vote 560 — Bars funding of $100,000 for the St. Joseph’s College Theatre Renovation in Indiana. Amendment failed, 97-328.
House Vote 561 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Maverick Concert Hall preservation in New York. Amendment failed, 114-316.
House Vote 562 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Bremerton Public Library restoration in Washington. Amendment failed, 98-333.
House Vote 565 — Bars funding of $140,000 for the Wetzel County Courthouse in West Virginia. Amendment failed, 104-323.
House Vote 566 — Bars funding of $150,000 for equipment for the Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory. Amendment failed, 97-330.
House Vote 567 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the W.A. Young and Sons Foundry in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 104-328.
House Vote 568 — Bars funding of $100,000 for the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters to renovate a hall in Ohio. Amendment failed, 66-364.
House Vote 569 — Bars funding of $1,200,000 for projects related to the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Route. Amendment failed, 86-343.
House Vote 590 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the Grace Johnstown Area Regional Industries Incubator and Workforce Development program in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 87-335.
House Vote 591 — Bars funding of $500,000 for a project in the Barracks Row area of Washington, D.C. Amendment failed, 60-361.
House Vote 592 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s SPUR urban center. Amendment failed, 102-317.
House Vote 593 — Bars funding of $129,000 for the Mitchell County Development Foundation for the home of the “perfect Christmas tree” project. Amendment passed, 249-174.
House Vote 594 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the West Virginia University Research Corporation’s renovation of a small-business incubator. Amendment failed, 101-325.
House Vote 595 — Bars funding of $231,000 for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission. Amendment failed, 107-318.
House Vote 597 — To remove 148 requested earmarks from the bill. Amendment failed, 48-372.
House Vote 636 — Bars funding of $1,000,000 for the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure in Pennsylvania. Amendment failed, 98-326.
House Vote 637 — Bars funding of $1,500,000 for the South Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities Science and Technology Initiative. Amendment failed, 70-357.
House Vote 638 — Bars funding of $500,000 for the Emmanuel College Center for Science Partnership in Massachusetts. Amendment failed, 79-337.
House Vote 639 — Bars funding of $1,000,000 for nano-structured fuel cell membrane electrode assembly in California. Amendment failed, 81-348.
House Vote 640 — Strikes numerous earmarks from the bill. Amendment failed, 39-388.
House Vote 654 — Bars funding of $34,000,000 for the Alaska Native Education Equity program and other programs. Amendment failed, 74-352.
House Vote 663 — Strikes all earmarks in the bill. Amendment failed, 53-369.
House Vote 664 — Bars funding of $300,000 for its Bay Area Science Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Improvement Initiative. Amendment failed, 89-341.
House Vote 667 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft and Technician Training project at West Los Angeles College in Culver City, CA. Amendment failed, 114-316.
House Vote 668 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the American Ballet Theatre in New York City for educational activities. Amendment failed, 118-312.
House Vote 669 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C. Amendment failed, 70-360.
House Vote 670 — Bars funding of $100,000 for the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum in Lansing, Kan. Amendment failed, 112-317.
House Vote 671 — Bars funding of $200,000 for the Corporation for Jefferson’s Popular Forest in Forest, VA. Amendment failed, 68-360.
House Vote 678 — Bars funding of $2,000,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York in New York City. Amendment failed, 108-316.
House Vote 679 — Bars funding of $200,000 for the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, MO. Amendment failed, 96-327.
House Vote 698 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the Belmont Complex in Kittanning, PA. Amendment failed, 87-335.
House Vote 699 — Bars funding of $400,000 for the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in Wausau, WI. Amendment failed, 68-356.
House Vote 700 — Bars funding of $50,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in Woodlake, CA. Amendment failed, 69-352.
House Vote 701 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the Friends of Cheat Rails-to-Trails Program in West Virginia. Amendment failed, 81-342.
House Vote 702 — Bars funding of $300,000 for the Houston Zoo in Texas. Amendment failed, 77-347.
House Vote 705 — Bars funding of $150,000 for the Edmonds Center for the Arts in Edmonds, WA. Amendment failed, 97-327.
House Vote 706 — Bars funding for “parking facilities”. Amendment failed, 86-338.
House Vote 735 — Bars funding of $200,000 for the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine. Amendment failed, 87-328.
House Vote 736 — Bars funding of $250,000 for the East Coast Shellfish Research Institute in Toms River, NJ. Amendment failed, 77-337.
House Vote 809 — Bars funding of $878,046 for the Catfish Pathogen Genomic Project in Auburn, AL. Amendment failed, 74-357.
House Vote 810 — Bars funding of $628,843 for grape genetics research in Geneva, NY. Amendment failed, 76-353.
House Vote 811 — Bars funding of $400,000 for the alternative uses of a tobacco grant in Maryland. Amendment failed, 94-337.
House Vote 812 — Bars funding of $489,000 for Ruminant Nutrition Consortium in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Amendment failed, 74-355.
House Vote 813 — Bars funding of $6,371,000 for the wood utilization grant in Mississippi, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maine, Michigan, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia. Amendment failed, 68-363.
House Vote 839 — Bars funding of $2,500,000 for the Presidio Trust national park in San Francisco, CA. Amendment failed, 94-311.
House Vote 842 — Bars funding of $2,000,000 for the “Paint Shield for Protecting People from Microbial Threats.” Amendment failed, 91-317.
House Vote 843 — Bars funding of $1,500,000 for the Doyle Center for Manufacturing Technology in Pittsburgh, PA. Amendment failed, 98-312.
House Vote 844 — Bars funding of $3,000,000 for the Lewis Center for Education Research in Apple Valley, CA. Amendment failed, 57-353.
House Vote 845 — Bars funding of $39,000,000 for the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, PA. Amendment failed, 109-301.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: Candidates for Republican party nominations in two districts for Sedgwick County Commission spoke at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on June 20, 2014.
In district 4, which is parts of northeast, north and northwest Wichita and the towns of Park City, Valley Center, and Maize, Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn is challenging the incumbent Richard Ranzau. In district 5, which is parts of south and southeast Wichita and the town of Derby and surrounding area, Derby Mayor Dion Avello is facing Kansas Representative Jim Howell. The format of the meeting was an opening statement by each candidate followed by questions from the audience and a brief closing statement.
Here are candidates for Republican party nominations for Sedgwick County Commission at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on June 20, 2014.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: Candidate for United States Senate Dr. Milton Wolf spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on Friday June 13. He spoke about the issues he feels are important today in America and took questions from the audience. Dr. Wolf was introduced to the Pachyderm Club members and guests by myself.
In this episode of Voice for Liberty Radio: United States Senator Pat Roberts spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on Friday May 30. He addressed a number of current topics in Washington such as the problems at the Veterans Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and regulations regarding the lesser prairie chicken. He also spoke about his current campaign for re-election and took questions from the audience. Roberts was introduced to the Pachyderm Club members and guests by Sedgwick County Republican Party Chairman Bob Dool.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty Radio: Former United States Representative Todd Tiahrt spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on Friday May 16. Tiahrt is the current Republican National Committeeman for Kansas. He is said to be considering running for the position in Congress that he previously held, and which is presently held by Mike Pompeo. Tiahrt was introduced to the Pachyderm Club members and guests by Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn.
Zoltan Kesz, founder of the Free Market Foundation in Hungary, speaks to a luncheon gathering at the Wichita, Kansas Pachyderm Club on February 21, 2014. For more about this topic, see In Hungary, the rise of nationalism and racism. View the video below, or click here to view at YouTube. Paul Soutar is the videographer.
In Hungary, nationalism and racism are rising problems. The Free Market Foundation of Hungary, co-founded by Zoltán Kész fights against these problems. Last November Kesz was in Wichita and I visited with him and a small group.
I asked about economic freedom in Hungary, noting that according to the economic freedom of the world report, Hungary was about in the middle of the European countries, although it is moving in the wrong direction. Kesz said that is right. Hungary had a very good economy in the 1990s, but in the past 13 or 14 years the country has been going in the wrong direction. The government in Hungary has a two-thirds majority he said, which means it can pass any law. The government passed a flat tax, but there are so many other taxes added on that he said it’s not really a flat tax. The flat, or value-added, tax is 27 percent.
Kesz said that while the government in Hungary says it is a conservative government, there have been recent developments that are contrary to free-market principles. For example, private pensions were nationalized in 2010. The government heavily regulates utility prices, and soon all utility companies will be nonprofit.
A serious and growing problem in Hungary is racism. In 2006, the Jobbik party, a group that is openly anti-Jew and anti-Roma (Gypsy) became popular. In 2010 it had 15 percent of the vote in the Hungarian parliament and is the third largest party. The country is very homogeneous, Kesz said, surrounded by Hungarians in other countries. An estimate is that about eight percent are Roma. There are about 100,000 Jews in Hungary, which has a total population of ten million.
The Jobbik party in Hungary — which Kesz described as far-right — is nationalistic and criticizes the loss of territory after World War I. It stirs up emotions for a larger Hungary and for getting the old empire back. Economically, Jobbik rejects globalism and foreign investment, and supports more government redistribution of income and wealth.
Very troubling is the radical, neo-Nazi aspect of Jobbik. The party blames Jews and Gypsies for the problems in Hungary. Kesz told of demands by one Jobbik member of parliament who demanded a list of Jews in the legislature. Leaders of Jobbik have said that Jews should be put in cattle wagons and shipped away to labor camps.
Recent surveys have reported that Jobbik attracts 33 percent of university students, and 52 percent of those say that in some cases they would prefer dictatorship rather than democracy.
It’s hard to overstate how serious is the problem of the rise of racism and nationalism in Hungary. In his recommendation of the free market foundation of Hungary, Tom G. Palmer said “The backsliding towards authoritarian statism and even primitive collectivism in the heart of Europe is extremely disturbing and so it is truly inspiring to see the work that the Free Market Foundation is doing. I was very active in the region as communism was crumbling and remember vividly the struggle of Hungarians to free themselves from the horrors of Communism.”
In this episode of WichitaLiberty Radio: Last fall Bud Norman spoke to a meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Norman’s blog is The Central Standard Times. His novel is “The Things That Are Caesars: A Comic Tale of Politics, Religion, and Other Impolite Topics.” His topic was “Ruminations on the State of the Republican Party,” and it’s very entertaining. I provided the introduction.
This is podcast episode number 10, released on February 7, 2014. There is much other material at Voice for Liberty on the internet at wichitaliberty.org. Here’s Bud Norman at the Wichita Pachyderm Club, October 4, 2013.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: A Kansas college professor claims that college costs are rising only a tad faster than inflation. We’ll take a look at the actual numbers. Then, this week Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer delivered the annual State of the City address. A few things deserve comment. Episode 30, broadcast February 2, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer delivered the annual State of the City address. He said a few things that deserve discussion.
This week Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer delivered his annual State of the City address. We expect a certain amount of bragging and over-the-top community pride, things like “Wichita is the BEST place to work and raise a family!” That’s good, to a point. Because if we take these boasts seriously, and if they are not based on factual information, then we have a problem. We may believe that everything is fine in Wichita. But if the actual state of the city is otherwise, we may take unwise action that ultimately is harmful.
(While the city took prominent measures to promote the mayor’s speech, so far the text has not been made available on the city’s website. But you may click here to read it.)
Here’s an example, and perhaps the most important. The mayor said “Our community partnerships have helped us overcome the challenges of the great recession — which brought layoffs to many sectors of our economy.” But the problem is that we haven’t overcome the recession.
If we take a look at job growth in Wichita over the last two decades, we see Wichita performing very poorly. That’s not only on an absolute basis, but relative to our self-chosen peer cities. The relative part is important, because the recession was nation-wide. All cities suffered. Note that there are a few cities over which Wichita ranked higher: Springfield, Illinois, and Wichita Falls, Texas. These cities are relevant because we recently hired people from these cities to lead our economic development efforts.
I’ve shown data like this to the city council. I don’t think they believed me. I can understand their reluctance, as it’s not easy to admit things like this. Few like to admit failure. But that doesn’t excuse a reluctance to face facts. I also believe that some council members think that city hall critics take joy in presenting these figures. At least for me, that’s not true. I realize that these statistics tell a story of human hardship. So for those who don’t believe or trust my research, here’s a chart prepared by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce for a presentation to its leadership committee. It uses a different time frame and a slightly different set of peers for comparison, but the results are the same: Wichita lags behind in terms of job growth.
Despite this evidence, the mayor thinks we’re doing well, and he is proud of our economic development efforts. In his address, he told the audience this: “For the past five years — the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition has helped generate nearly 10,000 jobs and more than 400 million in capital investment.”
That sounds like a lot of jobs. But we have to temper that number. We know that we don’t update our job statistics to reflect jobs that didn’t last for very long. We also must realize that some of these jobs would have been created without the involvement of our economic development agencies. We also must realize that these economic development efforts have a cost, and that cost is harmful to our economy and job creation.
But even if we give our economic development agencies sole credit for these 10,000 jobs, let’s apply a little arithmetic to provide some context. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that the labor force in the Wichita Metropolitan area is about 302,000 people. that number, by the way, has been declining since 2009. If we take the 10,000 jobs — recognizing that was for five years — that averages to 2,000 jobs per year. That’s in the neighborhood of six percent of the labor force.
Does that represent a significant factor in the Wichita area economy? Remember, that calculation gives government more credit that it deserves. When we combine this with Wichita’s lackluster performance in creating jobs compared to our peers, I really don’t think we should be proud of our government’s economic development efforts.
In his State of the City Address, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer also said we need to “continue to diversify our economy.” But we’re not doing that. Our economic development programs heavily favor the aviation industry, which makes it more difficult for aspiring companies in other diverse industries to start and thrive.
The mayor told the audience that “We will also continue to support our successful affordable airfares program.” This is the program whereby Wichita and the state of Kansas pay a discount airline to provide service in Wichita. It was AirTran, but is now Southwest. It is thought that if one airline has low fares, others will reduce their fares to match. That’s probably the case. But I’ve done the research, and there is another effect. As can be seen in the nearby chart, the number of flights and the number of available seats is declining in Wichita. These measures are also declining on a national level, but they are declining faster in Wichita than for the nation.
The mayor also asked for cooperation in using Southwest Airlines, advising the audience: “So when you make your corporate travel plans, please remember our community’s commitment to supporting low-cost carriers.” Well. How would you feel if you worked for one of our air carriers that don’t receive a subsidy, such as American, United, and Delta? How would you feel if you owned stock in one of these airlines, as does nearly everyone who holds broad-based index funds in their retirement or investment accounts?
In the past, the subsidized discount carrier has carried around ten percent of Wichita’s passengers. So we are vitally dependent on the legacy, or major, airlines, and we don’t need to insult them, as I believe the mayor did.
(To help you explore Wichita airport data, I’ve created an interactive visualization. Click here to open the visualization in a new window. You may add or remove any number of airports. Or, if you’d like to watch a video, click on Wichita Airport statistics: The video.)
Water was another topic that the mayor touched on. He told the audience: “The city has also invested in the second phase of the aquifer storage and recovery project known as ASR. New construction was completed in time to help with the drought. More than 100 million gallons were diverted from the little Arkansas River directly to customers.” 100 million gallons sounds like a lot of water. But what is the context? Well, 100 million gallons is about how much water we use on a single hot summer day.
And what about the ASR, or aquifer storage and recovery program? Its cost, so far for Phases I and II, is $247 million. Two more phases are contemplated. Despite this investment, and despite the plan’s boasts, Wichitans were threatened with huge fines for excessive water usage. The Wichita City Council also started a rebate program so that citizens were forced to pay for other people to buy low-water usage appliances. Expensive city decorative fountains were dry for a time.
Why were these measures necessary? A document created in March 2013 — that’s just as Wichita realized the city was running out of water — is titled “Wichita Area Future Water Supply: A Model Program for Other Municipalities.” It states: “In 1993 the Wichita City Council adopted an Integrated Local Water Supply Plan that identified cost effective water resources that would be adequate to meet Wichita’s water supply needs through the year 2050.” This squares with what former mayor Bob Knight recently told the Wichita Pachyderm Club, that when he was in office, Wichita had sufficient water for the next 50 years. He was told that about 10 years ago.
Just to give you an idea of how seriously we should take the claims made in speeches like this, here’s what the mayor told us in his 2009 State of the City Address: “We will continue work on the state-of-the art water supply system, known as the ASR project. It will provide the Wichita area with sufficient water for the next 50 years. Economic Development is not possible without an adequate water supply.” The mayor’s right. We need an adequate water supply. But it appears that despite huge expense and the boasts of city officials — including the mayor — we don’t have a secure water supply.
The mayor also addressed transit. He asked the community to answer a few questions, such as:
Should we have more stops to drop off and pick up riders?
Should we run later hours during the week and on the weekends?
Should we find new partners to extend our service area and help with costs?
The problem with questions like these are that citizens don’t have all the information needed to make an informed answer. Would we like to have more bus service? Who could answer no to such a question?
But if the mayor had told us that the cost per passenger mile for Wichita transit buses is 95 cents, or that only 30 percent of the operating costs are paid by fares, people might answer these questions differently. (That 30 percent would be lower if we included the cost of capital, that is, the cost of the buses.) And when the mayor asked citizens to weigh in at the Activate Wichita website: I looked, and there’s no topic for transit.
But even if citizens were informed of these costs, their answers are still not fully reliable. That’s because of the disconnect between the payment for the service and the actual bus service. Because so much of the cost of providing bus service is paid for someone else, we don’t really see the total cost of a bus trip. That’s often a problem with services provided by the government. Since someone else is paying, there’s not the same concern for receiving value as there is when people spend their own money.
The Activate Wichita website, by the way. When citizens are asked to rate ideas, to express their approval or — well, that’s the problem. Your choices for voting on an idea are: “I Love It!” … “I Like It!” … “It’s OK.” … “Neutral.” That’s it. There’s no voting option for expressing disagreement or disapproval with an idea. “Neutral” is as much dissent as Wichitans are allowed to express in this system. On this system that city leaders say they rely on for gathering citizen input, there needs to be a voting selection that expresses disagreement or disapproval with an idea. Otherwise when votes are tallied, the worst that any idea can be is “neutral.” City planners may get a false impression that all these ideas a fine and dandy.
On the topic of citizen involvement: The mayor also told us this: “A few weeks ago – the city launched the Office of Community Engagement.” That’s something that the city needs, based on data the city has gathered. The Wichita Performance Measures Report holds some data from a survey called the National Research Center National Citizen Survey. Survey respondents were asked to rate “the job Wichita does at welcoming citizen involvement.” The results are shown in the nearby chart I created from data in the most recent version of the Wichita Performance Measure Report. The numbers are the percent of respondents giving “excellent” or “good” as their response to the question. The values for the last three administrations of the survey are between 35 percent and 39 percent. The report says this performance is “much below” a benchmark set by the National Research Center. The report tells us that the city expects to re-survey citizens in 2014. For that year, the city has given itself the lofty target of 40 percent of citizens rating the job Wichita does at welcoming citizen involvement as excellent or good. Maybe an Office of Community Engagement will help.
Last year the city conducted an extensive survey of residents. Of this survey, the mayor said: “We learned that more than 70% of our residents are willing to rise above their personal interests to do what’s best for the community.”
The problem with this is that it relies on the false concept of a conflict between personal interests and what is good for the community. In the marketplace, which is the opposite of government, people advance their self-interest in one legitimate way: By finding out the goods and services that others want, and then providing them. If you can do this well and efficiently, you can earn profits. It’s the quest for profits — that’s self interest — that drives people to figure out what others want, and then to work hard to provide that. Everyone benefits.
This quest for profits could, and should, apply to areas that are under the control of government. But people are so afraid that someone will earn a profit by serving their fellow man. Recently John Stossel spotlighted a park in New York City that is run by a private corporation with the aim of earning a profit. People are happy with the new park. They feel safe, even though the park doesn’t discriminate and still lets homeless people stay there. There’s commerce going on, selling food, for example. People like that, and evidence of that is the profit being earned. But Stossel’s guest was critical and unhappy because someone was earning a profit, even though park patrons were happy with the park and most were unaware of its private sector operation.
So when the park was operated by the city — for the common good, that is — not many people used it. It was dirty and trashy, and people didn’t feel safe. Under the profit motive, people like the park and they use it. So where is the conflict between personal interest and what is good for the community?
Now, not everything government does is bad. But when government dabbles in areas that the private sector can do very well, we see problems. As an example, the city wants to help real estate developers, but the city handled a recent situation so badly that the mayor apologized in his address, saying “We are also taking steps to ensure we have integrity and openness when we solicit proposals for development in the core area.”
Citizens that pay attention at city hall also note there are several small groups that contribute heavily to campaigns. Then the mayor and council members vote to give financial benefits to these people. These are not isolated incidents. This behavior is repeated over and over. Some cities have laws against this type of behavior. But in Wichita, while we’re being encouraged to put “what is good for the community” above our personal self-interest, we see city hall run over by cronyism. That is, by people using city government for their own interests. In the name of the “common good,” of course.
At the end of his speech, the mayor asked citizens to “get into the game,” saying: “We need you to be a player — not a spectator — to win a better and brighter tomorrow.”
But we’ve seen what happens when people want to be involved, but not in the way the mayor and council want. Do you remember the chart of airport data? Last year I presented that information to the city council. It so happened that Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn had appointed me to the Airport Advisory Board, and later in that same meeting the city council voted on my appointment. I was rejected. Only one council member voted in my favor. The Wichita Eagle reported: “Mayor Carl Brewer was clear after the meeting: The city wants a positive voice on the airport advisory board, which provides advice to the council on airport-related issues.” A positive voice is more valued than a critical voice, it seems.
At least this year the mayor didn’t mention the importance of open and transparent government, as he usually does. Because based on Activate Wichita — where there is no disagreement allowed, to rejecting board appointments simply because someone might be critical of the city’s programs, to threatening those who ask the mayor and council members to follow the laws that they passed, to the city’s hostile attitude towards the citizen’s right to know: The message we get is this: The city welcomes your involvement, but only up to a point. Question the authority, and you’re not welcome.
That’s the state of Wichita government, that government to be distinguished from the many wonderful people who live here. We can be thankful for the difference.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty Radio: United States Representative Tim Huelskamp recently spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Congressman Huelskamp was born near and raised on the family farm in Fowler, Kansas. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science with a specialization in agriculture policy from The American University in Washington, D.C. He was first elected to the Kansas Senate in 1996, and then re-elected three times. In 2010 when Jerry Moran stepped down to run for the United States Senate, Huelskamp ran for the United States House of Representatives for the first district. That’s commonly called the “Big First” district, not because of its population, but because of its large land area. Some of the principle cities in the first district are Liberal, Garden City, Dodge City, Hays, Salina, Hutchinson, Emporia, and Manhattan. Congressman Huelskamp appears frequently on national news media as an advocate for conservative causes, and he recently appeared on WichitaLiberty.TV, which you can find here. He and his wife Angela are the parents of four children.
This is podcast episode number 7, released on January 26, 2014. Here is a portion of United States Representative Tim Huelskamp at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on January 24, 2014.
What should the attitude of conservatives be regarding the death penalty? Ben Jones of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty spoke on the topic “Capital Punishment in Kansas from a conservative perspective: Is it a failed policy?” This was recorded at the Wichita Pachyderm Club on December 6, 2013. Jennifer Baysinger provided the introduction. Click here to listen.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty Podcasts: Mike O’Neal, who is president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, spoke yesterday to the Wichita Pachyderm Club. A large part of his talk was on the topic of Kansas school finance and other education topics. This podcast contains that portion of his speech.
O’Neal graduated from Kansas University and also its law school. He served in the Kansas House of Representatives for 28 years, with his final four years as Speaker of the House. He joined the Kansas Chamber as President and CEO in 2012 as he retired from the legislature.
This is podcast episode number 4, released on January 18, 2014.
Last Friday former Kansas budget director Steve Anderson spoke to members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Two videos are available, a highlights version and full version. View below, or to view on YouTube, click here for highlights or here for full version.
A document created in March 2013 — at the time the city warned that its major water source might soon go dry — touts an expensive investment that is part of a “plan to ensure that Wichita has the water it needs through the year 2050 and beyond.”
Despite this investment, and despite the plan’s boasts, Wichitans have been threatened with huge fines for excessive water usage. The Wichita City Council is forcing citizens to spend up to $1 million so that other people may install low-water usage appliances, and city decorative fountains were dry until this week in an effort to save water.
Overall, the city’s strategy is to force austerity and huge expense on those who live here.
We can’t plan rainfall and drought year-by-year. We do know, however, that over long periods of time there will be both dry and wet years, and we need to have plans in place for both. Reading the document Wichita Area Future Water Supply: A Model Program for Other Municipalities, published this spring, one might be led to believe that everything is fine, water-wise: “In 1993 the Wichita City Council adopted an Integrated Local Water Supply Plan that identified cost effective water resources that would be adequate to meet Wichita’s water supply needs through the year 2050.”
This squares with what former mayor Bob Knight recently told the Wichita Pachyderm Club, that when he was in office, Wichita had sufficient water for the next 50 years.
What went wrong with this plan? Let’s try to get an answer to this question.
Wichita is blessed with an active and dynamic Pachyderm Club that presents, nearly every Friday, an educational program than enriches civic life. I am thankful for John Stevens, the club president; John Todd, club vice-president in charge of programs; Clifford Koehn, treasurer; and Shirley Koehn, membership chair.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. Meetings are held almost every Friday in the Wichita Petroleum Club on the top floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway. The program starts at noon, and it is suggested that guests arrive by 11:45 am in order to get their lunch before the program starts. The meeting costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch and beverage. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
June 7, 2013
Chris Addington, Senior Commodity Manager, Supply Management, Cessna Aircraft Company
(Mr. Addington spent 3 years in China in technical and business support for the start up of China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation as Manufacturing Partner for the Cessna Model 162 SkyCather.)
“Life and Work in China — An Observation of the Cultural Differences and Ways of Doing Business in China as Compared to the United States.”
June 14, 2013
The Honorable Phil Journey, 18th Judicial District State Court Judge
“A Report from the National Rifle and Kansas State Rifle Association’s Annual Meetings; plus Political Prognostications”
June 21, 2013
Martin Hawver, Publisher, Hawver’s Capitol Report
“A political assessment of the 2013 Kansas legislative session”
June 28, 2013
David Barfield, P.E. Chief Engineer, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources
“Adapting Kansas Water Law to Meet Current & Future Needs”
July 5, 2013
No meeting, as the Petroleum Club closed for the Independence Day holiday.
July 12, 2013
Russell S. Sobel, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar in Entrepreneurship, School of Business Administration, The Citadel
“Topic to be determined”
July 19, 2013
Ray Roberts, Secretary of Corrections, Kansas Department of Corrections
“An Overview of the Kansas Department of Corrections”
July 26, 2013
Marc Bennett, District Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas (Sedgwick County)
“There is a new DA in town”
August 2, 2013
Col. Robert “Bob” Hester, Director JROTC Program, Wichita Public Schools
“An Overview of the JROTC Program”
August 9, 2013
Carrie Rengers, Business Reporter, The Wichita Eagle
“Have you heard?”
August 16, 2013
Tim Brown, host of “This Week in Kansas” on KAKE TV
Topic to be determined.
August 23, 2013
Pat George, Secretary, Kansas Department of Commerce
“Growing the Kansas Economy”
August 30, 2013
Jeff Easter, Sedgwick County Sheriff
Topic to be determined.
Jeff Herndon, KAKE Television news anchor, speaking at Wichita Pachyderm Club, May 17, 2013. Herndon is speaking for himself, and not on behalf of KAKE.
Speaking last week at the Wichita Pachyderm Club, KAKE news anchor Jeff Herndon said that KAKE has “repeatedly” tried to get an on-camera interview with Brewer. But the mayor is always busy, Herndon said: “They’ve got him on lockdown. He’s not going to answer that.”
Herndon was speaking for himself, and not for his employer. In his talk to the Pachyderms, he was critical of Wichita news media — both television and print — for not covering city government rigorously, telling the audience: “We need more reporters on that city government beat, and not just on decisions they make. We need to hold them accountable for the decision. We don’t do that.”
Brewer is sometimes mentioned as a candidate for higher office, perhaps challenging Kansas Governor Sam Brownback next year. Brewer’s term as mayor ends in April 2015. He is not eligible for election to another term as mayor because of Wichita’s term limits law.
On his radio program, Joseph Ashby had an interesting take on Herndon’s remarks and Wichita new media.
Video of the city council meeting that was the subject of the KAKE news story is here.
Explanation of the public policy angle that drove citizens to testify at the April 16 city council meeting is here.
The original article that identified the problem and to solutions is Pay-to-play laws are needed in Wichita and Kansas. In that article I wrote: “When one looks at the candidates these people contribute to, you notice that often there’s no commonality to the political goals and ideals of the candidates. Some people contribute equally to liberal and conservative council members. Then, when these people appear in the news after having received money from the Wichita City Council, it snaps into place: These campaign donors are not donating to those whose ideals they agree with. They’re donating so they can line their own pockets.”
Last week KAKE Television news anchor Jeff Herndon addressed the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Today, on the Joseph Ashby Show, the host commented on Herndon’s views on Wichita news media, and drew some conclusions about anti-conservative bias in Wichita news media.
Thursday I was guest host on the Joseph Ashby Show. If you haven’t been aware of this, Joseph’s son Titus — just two years old — has the amazing ability to shoot a basketball. Recently Joseph put together a video of Titus and his accomplishments and posted it to YouTube. As of this writing the video has been viewed 4,914,950 times, and that’s just since it was premiered on Sunday. (Click here to view the video.)
As a result, Titus has been receiving quite a bit of media attention. Thursday the entire Ashby family appeared on the NBC Today Show (video here). On Friday Joseph and Titus appeared on Fox and Friends (video here). There have been countless other media mentions.
Here’s an example to get started: I have received several letters from the Wichita School District using priority mail — an expensive service — to me one sheet of paper. Other government agencies are content to deliver similar correspondence by email.
This effort, like the Kansas school efficiency task force itself has been harshly criticized by those in the school system. An example from Twitter yesterday is this: “Another Brownback salvo against public education. An insult to all KS schools. Red meat for the uneducated.”
In response to the governor’s task force, another has been created by KASB, the Kansas Association of School Boards. Its purpose, as described in Topeka Capital-Journal reporting, is to “to analyze options available to local district officials to maximize educational return on investments in K-12 public schools.”
One might think that the prime mission of a school board advocacy group would already be to “maximize educational return on investments.” What could be more important when considering the lives of Kansas schoolchildren and the plight of taxpayers?
But I guess schools have to be prodded a bit. Does anyone notice the irony: Those already in charge of Kansas public schools have had the power to implement efficiency measures. They don’t need permission or a task force.
There’s an incongruity here. On one hand, the public schools are (almost) entirely dependent on tax revenue for their funding. But public school officials object to the term “government schools.” In an email from Wichita School District Interim Superintendent Martin Libhart to Wichita school employees during the 2008 bond issue campaign, he took issue with those who, using his words, “openly refer to public education as ‘government schools.'” To him, this is something that shouldn’t be mentioned.
I don’t blame them. Last year ABC News reported on the low opinion Americans have of government: “Only 26 percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say they’re optimistic about ‘our system of government and how well it works,’ down 7 points since October to the fewest in surveys dating to 1974. Almost as many, 23 percent, are pessimistic, the closest these measures ever have come. The rest, a record high, are ‘uncertain’ about the system.”
Schools want (what they consider) the good things about government — people being forced to pay taxes to support them — while at the same time they try to avoid the justifiably low esteem in which people hold government programs.
Governmental decisions are made through our political system — that is, unless we want to cede total control to bureaucrats. So we can’t keep politics out of school decisions as long as they are government schools. In today’s Wichita Eagle editorial writer Phillip Brownlee expressed concern for the role of politics in schools, especially surrounding the governor’s efficiency task force, concluding: “Though politics are swirling around the task force, it still may be able to come up with some good suggestions for reducing overhead without harming educational outcomes. If it does, great.” (Eagle editorial: School task force has rocky start)
I don’t think Brownlee meant to perform this public service, but his editorial is an example of why we need less government involvement in education. Our government — excuse me, public — schools are one of the most powerful ways through which civil society is destroyed. In the process, we replace the innovation and creativity of free markets and economic freedom with moribund governmental programs for our children.
As an example, take the controversy over what percent of school spending should go into the classroom. This is one of the motivating factors behind the school efficiency task force.
But consider this: Do we worry about how much the grocery store spends on administration versus other expenses? Do we quarrel over the number of assembly workers vs. managers at a manufacturing company?
Of course we don’t, at least we who don’t own these organizations. Instead, we recognize that these business firms operate in a competitive environment. That competition is a powerful force that motivates them to find the right mix of management and other expenses, or at least a good mix.
We also recognize that there are different types of grocery stores. Some offer more customer service than others. People are free to choose which type of store they like best, even on different days.
Schools in Kansas, however, face few competitive forces. There is little incentive for the public schools to find the right mix of spending, or to increase efficiency, or to offer the wide variety of choice that we have come to expect in the private sector. (It also seems that we’re failing to consider that different types of schools might work best with different mixes of classroom and other spending.)
This is what we are missing in Kansas. With greater choices available to students and parents, there will be less need for government oversight of schools and all the bickering that accompanies decisions made through the political process.
Unfortunately, we’re not moving in that direction in Kansas. Last week in Wichita, Governor Brownback had two opportunities to promote school choice in Kansas. On the Joseph Ashby radio program he was asked about school choice, but wouldn’t commit to it as a priority.
Later that day at the Wichita Pachyderm Club a similar question was asked, and again Brownback wouldn’t commit to school choice. The focus right now is efficiency and to get fourth grade reading levels up, Brownback said. He added that about 28 percent of fourth graders can’t read at basic level, which he described as a “real problem. If you can’t read, the world starts really shrinking around you.”
It’s a mystery why Governor Brownback hasn’t made school choice a priority in Kansas. Many governors are doing that and instituting other wide-reaching reforms.
The Wichita Pachyderm Club has announced its speaker lineup for the next four weeks.
October 12, 2012: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, speaking on “Economic Growth and Tax Policy”
October 19, 2012: A panel discussion of the fluoridation issue, which will appear on the November 6 ballot for Wichita residents. Speakers will include Dr. Stephen C. L’Hommedieu and Don Landis, spokespersons for Wichitans Opposed to Fluoridation. The club is still seeking someone to appear for the pro-fluoridation side.
October 26, 2012: Republican General Election Candidates Leslie D. “Les” Donovan (Kansas Senate District 27), Mike Peterson (tentative, Kansas Senate District 28), Susan Wagle (Kansas Senate District 30), and Emanuel Banks (Kansas House District 89).
November 2, 2012: Ken Ciboski, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University, speaking on “The Electoral College: Is it relevant for today’s presidential elections?”
The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. Meetings are held almost every Friday at noon in the Wichita Petroleum Club on the top floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway. The meeting costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch and beverage. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
During these convention weeks, advocates on both sides have been fact-checking the other side, and charges are being made about which side is the biggest, boldest liar. But when people lie about lying … that’s a whole new level. Human Events reports on DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and sums up this way: “It was already common knowledge that Wasserman Schultz is a serial liar — on one memorable recent occasion, when CNN host Wolf Blitzer called her out for lying about Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposals, she essentially insisted that the urgency of her political agenda gives her the right to lie as necessary.” See Debbie Wasserman Schultz Caught Lying about Lying.
Speaking of facts and Politifact
What happens when the fact checker of record isn’t reliable? That’s the situation Politifact finds itself in, according to reporting by Jon Cassidy in Human Events: “Once widely regarded as a unique, rigorous and reasonably independent investigator of political claims, PolitiFact now declares conservatives wrong three times more often than liberals. More pointedly, the journalism organization concludes that conservatives have flat out lied nine times more often than liberals.” More at PolitiFact bias: Does the GOP tell nine times more lies than left? Really?
This week the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Republican candidates for the Kansas House of Representatives. Scheduled to appear are: Jim Howell (District 81), John Stevens (86), George F. “Joe” Edwards II (93), Benny Boman (95), and Phil Hermanson (98). The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. Meetings are Fridays at noon, in the Wichita Petroleum Club on the top floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway. The meeting costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch and beverage. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Even garage sales can’t escape the regulatory regime
Related to garage sale signs, Wichitans can now apply to be part of the civilian sign enforcement patrol. The city has made these documents available on its website: Overview of the Volunteer Sign Removal Program and Sign Removal Volunteer Application. If you want to participate in this program, you’ll need to complete a volunteer sign removal application, complete the required training course, sign a liability release, sign an oath or statement agreeing to abide by city codes and the program rules, submit to and successfully pass a background check, have valid Kansas drivers license, have a currently registered vehicle in good operating condition, have current vehicle insurance, commit to a geographic area and time, commit to safety first; appropriately use provided vests and tools, commit to provide required reports, commit to dispose of signs as directed, commit to wear the provided identification badge, and commit to allowing only authorized (city trained and approved) persons to remove signs. The city also advises applicants to check with their insurance agents for coverage relative to the use of vehicles in this program. I can’t imagine most auto insurance companies will be happy that their customers are using their cars in a quasi-law enforcement application. … For more on why this law is a bad idea, see Proposed Wichita sign ordinance problematic.
As a result of an excellent day-long training session recently produced in Wichita by Campaign for Liberty, activists that support limited government and free markets are meeting regularly. For information about the Wichita meetings, contact John Axtell.
The seven rules of bureaucracy
In this article, authors Loyd S. Pettegrew and Carol A. Vance quote Thomas Sowell: “When the government creates some new program, nothing is easier than to show whatever benefits that program produces. … But it is virtually impossible to trace the taxes that paid for the program back to their sources and to show the alternative uses of that same money that could have been far more beneficial.” In order to understand the foundation of America’s morass, we must examine bureaucracy. At the root of this growing evil is the very nature of bureaucracy, especially political bureaucracy. French economist Frédéric Bastiat offered an early warning in 1850 that laws, institutions, and acts — the stuff of political bureaucracy — produce economic effects that can be seen immediately, but that other, unforeseen effects happen much later. He claimed that bad economists look only at the immediate, seeable effects and ignore effects that come later, while good economists are able to look at the immediate effects and foresee effects, both good and bad, that come later. … Both the seen and the unseen have become a necessary condition of modern bureaucracy. (Bastiat: That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen.) The first rule? “Maintain the problem at all costs!”
Democracy, or majority rule?
A new video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies is titled Should Majorities Decide Everything? To me, the most important part is near the end, when the speaker says that without a properly limited government, rule by majority “substitute[s] the tyranny of a king with the tyranny of a larger group.” LearnLiberty also explains: “According to Professor Munger, democratic constitutions consist of two parts: one defining the limits within which decisions can be made democratically, and the other establishing the process by which decisions will be made. In the United States Constitution, the individual is protected from majority decisions. Professor Munger warns, however, that these protections are slowly being stripped away as American courts of law fail to recognize the limits of what can be decided by majority rule.”
Watchdog reporter at Pachyderm. This Friday (May 18th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Paul Soutar, Reporter for Kansas Watchdog, speaking on “The evolution of journalism and how the new media empowers citizens.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of future speakers as follows: On May 25th: Ron Estes, State Treasurer of Kansas, speaking on “A report from the Kansas Treasurer.” … On June 1st: Gary Oborny, Chairman/CEO Occidental Management and Real Estate Development, CCIM Designated member of the Storm Water Advisory Board to the City of Wichita, speaking on “What is the economic impact of EPA mandates on storm water quality in Wichita?”
Koch = big oil?Politico: “The Koch brothers have an unlikely ally in the war of words with their liberal adversaries: the nation’s journalistic fact-checkers. Both The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog and the nonpartisan site FactCheck.org have dinged critics of David and Charles Koch in recent weeks for referring to the billionaire brothers as Big Oil. Why? Because Koch Industries’ business interests extend well beyond the company’s involvement in petroleum refining and other oil-based operations. And while no corporate midget, the company isn’t anywhere near as big as true oil giants like ExxonMobil. ‘So even if all of Koch Industries’ revenues came from its refining business — which they do not — they would still be a fraction of the revenues of the companies that actually represent ‘Big Oil,” the FactCheck.org critique read.” More at Fact-checkers and Kochs’ ‘Big Oil’. Another example of how facts don’t get in the way of Koch critics. Or try For New York Times, facts about Kochs don’t matter.
Economic freedom. Why does the political left criticize Charles and David Koch? In the following video from last year, Koch Industries CEO and board chairman Charles G. Koch explains the principles of economic freedom, something that he and David Koch have worked to advance for many years. These principles, according to Koch, include private property rights, impartial rule of law, free trade, sound money which reduces boom and bust cycles, and a small and limited government. These principles are good for everyone, I should add, including those currently at the bottom of the economic ladder.
We aren’t Greece … yet. “Once again, Greece finds the international community questioning its ability to pay its debts. Default and an exit from the Euro Zone (or countries which share the Euro as a common currency) threatens on the horizon. Here in the U.S., we face high debts and have a lowered credit rating due to Washington’s inability to agree on deficit reduction. Just how alike are our two nations?” An infographic from Bankrupting America explains.
Kansas tax reform. A message from Americans for Prosperity, Kansas: “‘Today’s vote on a much-needed tax reform bill will provide an immediate boost to Kansas families and businesses,’ said AFP-Kansas state director Derrick Sontag. ‘The approved tax bill cuts the income tax for Kansas families and small businesses, which is certainly good news for taxpayers. The current leadership of the state Senate helped lead Kansas down a path of economic destruction as indicated by the past decade being one of lost private sector jobs, stagnant population growth, and taxpayers fleeing to other states. Yet in spite of all the evidence pointing to the failure of the tax and spend approach, the actions of Senate leadership today indicated that they wanted more of the same. Today’s action by a majority of the House led by leadership was a step in the right direction to reverse the failed economic policies of the past. We applaud the leaders of the Kansas House for this bold move toward tax relief.'”
School funding. Two Wichita legislators on Kansas school funding. First, Representative Jim Ward: “The question is do we spend money on tax cuts for rich people and out-of-state corporations or do we spend money restoring the cuts to education.” … Then Senator Jean Schodorf: “Schodorf said business as usual is not funding schools. ‘That has become kind of the status quo in the legislature, and this year we desperately need to get a funding increase for schools.'” I wonder if either of these two legislators, both of whom hold leadership positions on education committees, know that this will likely be a record-setting year for school spending in Kansas, when all sources are considered? Fighting for school funding is a distraction from the reforms that Kansas schools really need.
Separation of art and state.David Boaz, writing at “Room for Debate” at the New York Times: “What do art, music, and religion have in common? They all have the power to touch us in the depths of our souls. As one theater director said, ‘Art has power. It has the power to sustain, to heal, to humanize … to change something in you. It’s a frightening power, and also a beautiful power. … And it’s essential to a civilized society.’ Which is precisely why art, music, and religion should be kept separate from the state. Government involves the organization of coercion. In a free society coercion should be reserved only for such essential functions of government as protecting rights and punishing criminals. People should not be forced to contribute money to artistic endeavors that they may not approve, nor should artists be forced to trim their sails to meet government standards.” Read more at Separation of Art and State. We failed this important test in Kansas, as funding for arts is now a concern for the state.
Stimulus spending. Robert J. Barro in the Wall Street Journal, available at the Hoover Institution: “The weak economic recovery in the U.S. and the even weaker performance in much of Europe have renewed calls for ending budget austerity and returning to larger fiscal deficits. … This viewpoint is dangerously unstable. Every time heightened fiscal deficits fail to produce desirable outcomes, the policy advice is to choose still larger deficits. If, as I believe to be true, fiscal deficits have only a short-run expansionary impact on growth and then become negative, the results from following this policy advice are persistently low economic growth and an exploding ratio of public debt to GDP. The last conclusion is not just academic, because it fits with the behavior of Japan over the past two decades.” On the idea of Keynesian solutions to economic problems: “Despite the lack of evidence, it is remarkable how much allegiance the Keynesian approach receives from policy makers and economists. I think it’s because the Keynesian model addresses important macroeconomic policy issues and is pedagogically beautiful, no doubt reflecting the genius of Keynes. The basic model — government steps in to spend when others won’t — can be presented readily to one’s mother, who is then likely to buy the conclusions. … Keynes worshipers’ faith in this model has actually been strengthened by the Great Recession and the associated financial crisis. Yet the empirical support for all this is astonishingly thin. The Keynesian model asks one to turn economic common sense on its head in many ways. For instance, more saving is bad because of the resultant drop in consumer demand, and higher productivity is bad because the increased supply of goods tends to lower the price level, thereby raising the real value of debt. Meanwhile, transfer payments that subsidize unemployment are supposed to lower unemployment, and more government spending is good even if it goes to wasteful projects.” See Stimulus Spending Keeps Failing.
Drug court to be Pachyderm topic. This Friday (May 11th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club Judge Joe Kisner of the Sedgwick County Drug Court speaking on “A new approach to an old problem.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of future speakers as follows: On May 18th: Paul Soutar, Reporter for Kansas Watchdog, speaking on “The evolution of journalism and how the new media empowers citizens.” … On May 25th: Ron Estes, State Treasurer of Kansas, speaking on “A report from the Kansas Treasurer.” … On June 1st: Gary Oborny, Chairman/CEO Occidental Management and Real Estate Development, CCIM Designated member of the Storm Water Advisory Board to the City of Wichita, speaking on “What is the economic impact of EPA mandates on storm water quality in Wichita?”
Elizabeth Warren. Writes Ann Coulter: “For liberals, it should be a mortal sin: Elizabeth Warren cheated on affirmative action.” A funny — and sad, because it tells us a lot about our country — column on how Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Senatorial Candidate, apparently lied about being a member of a minority group (being 1/32 Cherokee) and how universities lapped it up.
Failure of socialism to be shown. The Wichita Chapter Meeting of Americans for Prosperity Foundation continues its video presentation of Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” series. The next episode to be shown is “The Failure of Socialism,” followed by a group discussion on Monday, May 14, 2012 at the Alford Branch Wichita Public Library, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. There is no admission charge. RSVP not required. The Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. For more information on this event contact John Todd at email@example.com or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-681-4415.
When government pays, government controls. Although most liberals would not admit this, it sometimes slips through: When government is paying for our health care, government then feels it must control our behavior. The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman provides an example of this, when she wrote in a blog post about Kansas relaxing its smoking ban: “Especially with Medicaid costs swallowing up the state budget, lawmakers should be discouraging smoking, not accommodating more of it.”
The moral case for capitalism. “Two main charges are typically marshaled against capitalism: it generates inequality by allowing some to become wealthier than others; and it threatens social solidarity by allowing individuals some priority over their communities. … Capitalism does allow — and perhaps even requires — inequality. Because people’s talents, skills, values, desires, and preferences vary and because of sheer luck, some people will be able to generate more wealth in a free-enterprise system than others will; inequality will result. But it is not clear that we should worry about that. … If you could solve only one social ill — either inequality or poverty — which would it be? Or suppose that the only way to address poverty would be to allow inequality: Would you allow it? … More by James R. Otteson in An Audacious Promise: The Moral Case for Capitalism at the Manhattan Institute.
Funding pet projects without earmarks. Wonderful! While this plan still relies on government to some degree, it is largely voluntary, which is the direction we need to steer things. “There is a creative workaround that allows funds to flow to those prized pet projects: a commemorative coin bill.” Read more at Heritage Action for America.
Harm of taxes. In introducing the new edition of Rich States, Poor States, authors Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore explain the importance of low taxes. “Barack Obama is asking Americans to gamble that the U.S. economy can be taxed into prosperity. That’s the message of his campaign for the Buffett Rule, which raises income-tax rates on millionaires to a minimum of 30%, and for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. He wants to raise the highest income tax rate by 20%, double the rate on capital gains, add a new 3.8% tax on all capital earnings, and nearly triple the dividend tax rate. All this will enhance “economic efficiency,” insists a White House economic report. As for those who disagree, says President Obama, they’re just pushing “the same version of trickle-down economics tried for much of the last century. … But prosperity sure didn’t trickle down.” Mr. Obama needs a refresher course on the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s and even the 1990s, when government spending and taxes fell and employment and incomes grew rapidly.” More in the Wall Street Journal at Laffer and Moore: A 50-State Tax Lesson for the President: Over the past decade, states without an income levy have seen much higher growth than the national average. Which state will be next to abolish theirs?
Role of prices. Prices convey information more accurately and efficiently than any centralized organization — such a government. It provides a, well, automatic mechanism for adjusting to the changes in the world, changes which happen every day, and even every minute. Sometimes we may not like the information that price signals are sending, but they represent the truth. Daniel J. Smith of Troy University explains in this video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of the Institute for Humane Studies: “Why are prices important? Prof. Daniel J. Smith of Troy University describes the role that prices play in generating, gathering, and transmitting information throughout the economy. Information about the supply and demand of different goods are dispersed among different buyers and sellers in an economy. Nobody has to know all this dispersed information; individuals only need to know the relative prices. Based on the simple information contained in a price, people adjust their behavior to account for conditions in supply and demand, even if they are unaware of that information.”
Action on sustainability. This Wednesday (April 4th) the Sedgwick County Commission takes up the issue of whether to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. Coverage of the last discussion the commission had on this matter is at Sedgwick County considers a planning grant. So that citizens may be informed on this issue, Americans for Prosperity, Kansas is holding an informational event tonight (April 2nd), from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Spangles Restaurant, corner of Kellogg and Broadway. (Even though the Kansas Jayhawks are playing tonight in the NCAA men’s basketball title game, the television broadcast doesn’t start until 8:00 pm, with tip off at 8:23 pm.) The meeting is described as follows: “On April 4, 2012 at 9:00 am on the 3rd floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse, the Sedgwick County Commission will be holding a public hearing to consider approval of Sedgwick County’s participation as the fiscal agent on behalf of the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Consortium with an ‘in-kind’ commitment of $120,707 to implement a Regional Plan for Sustainable Communities Grant for South Central Kansas. Public comment will be invited. Learn about the Sustainable Communities Plan for South Central Kansas. Find out how you can get involved in this issue as a citizen. Consider testifying before the County Commission. Consider attending the Commission meeting as an interested citizen.” … For more information on this event contact John Todd at email@example.com or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-681-4415.
Those populist Pachyderms. This Friday (April 6th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Jordan A. Poland, who will discuss his Master of Arts thesis in Public History at Wichita State University, titled “A case study of Populism in Kansas. The election of Populist Governor Lorenzo Lewelling from Wichita, and the Legislative War of 1893.” Lewelling — wasn’t he the last governor from Wichita? … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of future speakers as follows: On April 13th: Alvin Sarachek, Ph.D., Geneticist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences at Wichita State University, speaking on “Human Genetic Individuality and Confused Public Policy Making.” … On April 20th: Senator Steve Morris, President of the Kansas Senate, speaking on “Legislative update.” … On April 27th: Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr., Professor of Finance, Friends University, speaking on “The Open Minded Roots of American Exceptionalism, and the Decline of America’s Greatness.”
We just don’t understand, they say. “Reeling from the possibility the Supreme Court might undermine ObamaCare, two members in good standing of the liberal media elite, both with the New York Times, took to the Sunday shows to lament the lack of public recognition for the great benefits of the law. ‘On health care,’ columnist Tom Friedman rationalized on NBC’s Meet the Press, ‘that’s partly a failure of communication.’ A befuddled Friedman advanced the liberal narrative that blames communication, not facts, as he wondered: ‘How do you go a year and a half where so many Americans don’t even understand the benefits of this legislation when they apply to them? And that gets to this administration, which I think has been abysmal at communicating some of its most important agenda items.’ That framework would make a lot more sense if applied to a conservative President facing a media hostile to his policies. That’s certainly not the case with this administration where the media have been consistently promoting Obamacare.” (Brent Baker, writing at Media Research Center in Sunday Guests Fret Public Naivete on ObamaCare Benefits as Friedman Blames Poor Communication. … I would say the problem is that people are starting to understand the impact of PPACA, or Obamacare. We find that the more people learn, the less they like it.
Colleges indoctrinate students. The report studied only the California university system, but it applies nationwide, writes Peter Berkowitz in the Wall Street Journal (available at the Hoover Institution at How California’s Colleges Indoctrinate Students.) He quotes the study A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California: “The politicization of higher education by activist professors and compliant university administrators deprives students of the opportunity to acquire knowledge and refine their minds. It also erodes the nation’s civic cohesion and its ability to preserve the institutions that undergird democracy in America.” … He goes on to explain: “The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work. … This decline in the quality of education coincides with a profound transformation of the college curriculum. None of the nine general campuses in the UC system requires students to study the history and institutions of the United States. None requires students to study Western civilization, and on seven of the nine UC campuses, including Berkeley, a survey course in Western civilization is not even offered.” … We should note that at the same time this has happened, the cost of college has exploded, and students are laden with debt.
Job creation. Governments often fall prey to the job creation trap — that the goal of economic development is to create jobs. We see this in Wichita where the campaign for subsidy to hotel developers was presented as a jobs program. To most of our political and bureaucratic leaders, the more jobs created, the better — without regard to the underlying economics and how much these jobs actually cost. These costs destroy other jobs. Many of our business leaders don’t do any better understanding the difference between capitalism and business. In his introduction to the recently-published book The Morality of Capitalism, Tom G. Palmer writes: “Capitalism is not just about building stuff, in the way that socialist dictators used to exhort their slaves to ‘Build the Future!’ Capitalism is about creating value, not merely working hard or making sacrifices or being busy. Those who fail to understand capitalism are quick to support ‘job creation’ programs to create work. They have misunderstood the point of work, much less the point of capitalism. In a much-quoted story, the economist Milton Friedman was shown the construction on a massive new canal in Asia. When he noted that it was odd that the workers were moving huge amounts of earth and rock with small shovels, rather than earth moving equipment, he was told ‘You don’t understand; this is a jobs program.’ His response: ‘Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If you’re seeking to create jobs, why didn’t you issue them spoons, rather than shovels?” … After describing crony capitalism — the type practiced in Wichita, Sedgwick County, and Kansas, with deals like the Ambassador Hotel — Palmer explains: “Such corrupt cronyism shouldn’t be confused with ‘free-market capitalism,’ which refers to a system of production and exchange that is based on the rule of law, on equality of rights for all, on the freedom to choose, on the freedom to trade, on the freedom to innovate, on the guiding discipline of profits and losses, and on the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labors, of one’s savings, of one’s investments, without fearing confiscation or restriction from those who have invested, not in production of wealth, but in political power.”
Markets: exploitation or empowerment? Do markets lead to a centralization of political and economic power, or do markets decentralize and disseminate wealth? In an eight-minute video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, Antony Davies presents evidence and concludes that markets and free trade empower individuals rather than exploit them.
Today Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, addressed members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club on the topic “U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development.” An audio presentation of his address is below.
Also, so that citizens may be informed on this issue, Americans for Prosperity, Kansas is holding an informational event on Monday April 2, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Spangles Restaurant, corner of Kellogg and Broadway. (If the Kansas Jayhawks make it to the NCAA basketball title game, the television broadcast doesn’t start until 8:00 pm, with tip off sometime later.) The meeting is described as follows: “On April 4, 2012 at 9:00 am on the 3rd floor of the Sedgwick County Courthouse, the Sedgwick County Commission will be holding a public hearing to consider approval of Sedgwick County’s participation as the fiscal agent on behalf of the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Consortium with an ‘in-kind’ commitment of $120,707 to implement a Regional Plan for Sustainable Communities Grant for South Central Kansas. Public comment will be invited. Learn about the Sustainable Communities Plan for South Central Kansas. Find out how you can get involved in this issue as a citizen. Consider testifying before the County Commission. Consider attending the Commission meeting as an interested citizen.” … For more information on this event contact John Todd at email@example.com or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-681-4415.
Sustainable development.Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau writes that next week the commission will vote on the issue of sustainable development, and whether Sedgwick County should participate in a planning process. Writes Ranzau: “Sedgwick County will be voting on this issue next Wednesday, April 4th, 2012. Those of you that have concerns about this need to speak up now. Please email and call the commissioners and encourage them to vote NO on this. If you are a property owner, business owner, home owner, builder, developer, farmer, or taxpayer you should strongly oppose this agenda. Now is the time to stop this. This is President Obama’s plan to use HUD, DOT, and EPA to implement Sustainable Development/Smart Growth/UN Agenda 21.” Ranzau has written on this issue. His paper is at Sustainable Development and U.N. Agenda 21: Economic Development or Economic Destruction? Contact information for commissioners may be found at Board of County Commissioners. As of this writing the agenda and explanatory material for the April 4th meeting is not available. When it is, it can be found at the same page.
Pachyderms to feature talk on sustainable development. On a related matter, this Friday (March 30rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on the topic “U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development.” DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Climate models.William Happer, professor of physics at Princeton, calls attention to the problems of modern climate science in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. He asks: “What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. … The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned.” While there has been warming over the past two centuries, Happer warns of linking this to the activity of mankind: “There has indeed been some warming, perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. Some of that warming has probably come from increased amounts of CO2, but the timing of the warming — much of it before CO2 levels had increased appreciably — suggests that a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind.” While we need high-quality science regarding the earth’s climate, the current climate models are not providing that: “It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions.” … The complete article in the Wall Street Journal (no subscription required) is Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again: The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with predictions. … Some will discount this article because Happer’s specialty is modern optics, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and spin-polarized atoms and nuclei — not climate science. But, we see the problems with modern climate science and its predictive abilities.
Shy regulators. The Obama administration is so out of touch with the public that it appears shy about publicity over its actions. The Hill reports: “The Obama administration announced landmark carbon emissions standards for new power plants Tuesday, but hardly shouted from the rooftops about them. The administration rolled out the proposal with relatively little fanfare, and President Obama — who was in South Korea at nuclear security summit — did not issue a statement about the regulation. In contrast, when the Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules to control power plant mercury emissions in December, Obama praised them as major public health protections while touting White House efforts to ensure they don’t affect power grid reliability.” … More at White House, rather quietly, advances climate change agenda.
Just say no to taxes. Those who reject tax increases under all conditions are often described unflatteringly. The New York Times house conservative David Brooks has called them “fanatics” with “no sense of moral decency.” William Voegeli, writing in City Journal explains why we should not consider higher taxes as a solution to problems. “In rejecting tax hikes, Republicans aren’t trading in fanaticism. Rather, they’re confronting a governing failure — an abiding lack of candor about what our welfare state costs — that voters grasp but Democrats refuse to admit.” … The problem is soaring spending, growing faster than the economy: “What we can say is that over the last 40 years, government revenues have kept pace with economic growth while government spending has run steadily ahead of it. … Gross Domestic Product and federal revenues, both expressed in per-capita terms and adjusted for inflation, were about two and a half times as large at the end of the period as at the beginning. Federal expenditures were three times as large.” It is welfare-state expenditures that have grown the fastest, and by far. … Voegeli lays the problem at the feet of the Democrats: “For years, the Democratic Party’s raison d’être has been to establish, defend, and expand the welfare state. The Democrats could have told us all along — forthrightly, scrupulously, and unambiguously — that their project would cost a lot of money and that, should economic growth be insufficient to pay for it, big tax increases would be necessary. Had they done so, they would be in a strong position to argue that the terms of the deal they struck with yesterday’s voters oblige today’s Americans to pay higher taxes. But that’s not what they did.” … Much more to read at Not a Penny More: The case for antitax absolutism.
Pachyderms to feature talk on sustainable development. This Friday (March 30rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development. Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of future speakers as follows: On April 6th: Jordan A. Poland, who will discuss his Master of Arts thesis in Public History at Wichita State University, titled “A case study of Populism in Kansas. The election of Populist Governor Lorenzo Lewelling from Wichita, and the Legislative War of 1893.” … On April 13th: Alvin Sarachek, Ph.D., Geneticist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences at Wichita State University, speaking on “Human Genetic Individuality and Confused Public Policy Making.” … On April 20th: Senator Steve Morris, President of the Kansas Senate, speaking on “Legislative update.” … On April 27th: Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr., Professor of Finance, Friends University, speaking on “The Open Minded Roots of American Exceptionalism, and the Decline of America’s Greatness.”
The seven rules of bureaucracy.In this article, authors Loyd S. Pettegrew and Carol A. Vance quote Thomas Sowell: “When the government creates some new program, nothing is easier than to show whatever benefits that program produces. … But it is virtually impossible to trace the taxes that paid for the program back to their sources and to show the alternative uses of that same money that could have been far more beneficial.” In order to understand the foundation of America’s morass, we must examine bureaucracy. At the root of this growing evil is the very nature of bureaucracy, especially political bureaucracy. French economist Frédéric Bastiat offered an early warning in 1850 that laws, institutions, and acts — the stuff of political bureaucracy — produce economic effects that can be seen immediately, but that other, unforeseen effects happen much later. He claimed that bad economists look only at the immediate, seeable effects and ignore effects that come later, while good economists are able to look at the immediate effects and foresee effects, both good and bad, that come later. … Both the seen and the unseen have become a necessary condition of modern bureaucracy. (Bastiat: That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen.) The first rule? “Maintain the problem at all costs!”
Civil society.Edward H. Crane, speaking nearly twenty years ago. I think things have become worse since then: “In a civil society you make the choices about your life. In a political society someone else makes those choices. And because it is not the natural order of things for someone other than you to make those decisions about your life, the political society is of necessity based on coercion. … Civil society, on the other hand, is based on voluntarism and predicated on giving the widest possible latitude to the individual so that he has sovereignty over his own life, so long as he respects the equal rights of others in society. It’s a simple concept, really, but a radical one nevertheless. It’s the concept on which this great nation of ours was founded and which was so revolutionary that it motivated tens of millions of people from around the globe to come here, often giving up everything, just to live in the ‘land of the free.’ … It does seem ironic that so many politicians in this country hold this curiously benign view of government as some kind of giant nanny, that will make everything okay if we just give it more money. Because as we enter the 21st century, government activities beyond its legitimate function of the protection of life, liberty, and property have pretty much been exposed as one of the great failures of civilization. Coercive, political society simply doesn’t work very well. Most people, whether they’re willing to admit it or not, know that now. There is a reason why East Germany produced the smoke- belching bucket-of-bolts Trabant, and West Germany produced the Mercedes, the BMW, the Porsche, the Audi, and the Volkswagen. Same people, same culture, different political system. Civil society worked; political society didn’t. Yet politicians in America continue to give credence to the idea that the political society can address our problems better than the institutions of the civil society. As Milton Friedman has observed, we seem to be saying that we know that socialism is a failure and that capitalism is a success, therefore we need more socialism.”
One down, 48 to go. “‘Building better communities’ was the slogan of the California Redevelopment Association. But the critics charged that redevelopment agencies ‘deprived tens of thousands of working and lower-income residents of their homes and livelihoods while granting vast subsidies to billionaires.’ In the end, the social justice questions didn’t matter, but the subsidies did, so to save the state billions of dollars a year, California redevelopment agencies shut down for good last week. … California invented TIF in 1952. Since then, 48 other states have passed similar laws. Now a pioneer in ending such crony capitalism, the Antiplanner hopes the other 48 states will soon follow California’s example. Good riddance to a waste of money that benefited few people other than a few politicians and developers.” More from Randal O’Toole at One Down, 48 to Go. O’Toole also authored the Cato Institute Policy Analysis Crony Capitalism and Social Engineering: The Case against Tax-Increment Financing.”
Economic freedom in America: The decline, and what it means. “The U.S.’s gains in economic freedom made over 20 years have been completely erased in just nine.” Furthermore, our economic freedom is still dropping, to the point where we now rank below Canada. The result is slow growth in the private sector economy and persistent high unemployment. This is perhaps the most important takeaway from a short new video from Economic Freedom Project, which is a project of the Charles Koch Institute. The video explains that faster growth in government spending causes slower growth in the private economy. This in turn has lead to the persistent high unemployment that we are experiencing today. … To view the video at the Economic Freedom Project site, click on Episode Two: Economic Freedom in America Today. Or, click on the YouTube video below.
Eisenhower expert to present. This Friday (March 23rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features David Nichols, Ph.D. Dr. Nichols is a recognized expert on the Eisenhower presidency and is currently working on his third book on Ike, this one dealing with Senator Joe McCarthy with a focus on Ike’s management techniques. On Friday, Nichols’ topic will be “The Eisenhower Leadership Model: What business people (and even politicians) can learn from Ike.” … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of future speakers as follows: On March 30th: Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development. … On April 6th: Jordan A. Poland, who will discuss his Master of Arts thesis in Public History at Wichita State University, titled “A case study of Populism in Kansas. The election of Populist Governor Lorenzo Lewelling from Wichita, and the Legislative War of 1893.” … On April 13th: Alvin Sarachek, Ph.D., Geneticist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences at Wichita State University, speaking on “Human Genetic Individuality and Confused Public Policy Making.” … On April 20th: Senator Steve Morris, President of the Kansas Senate, speaking on “Legislative update.” … On April 27th: Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr., Professor of Finance, Friends University, speaking on “The Open Minded Roots of American Exceptionalism, and the Decline of America’s Greatness.”
Pompeo town hall meeting. From the congressman’s office: “Kansas Fourth District Congressman Mike Pompeo will host a town hall meeting at the WSU Hughes Metroplex in Wichita on Saturday, March 24 at 11:30 am. Congressman Pompeo will take questions from constituents and discuss issues related to Congress and the federal government. The public and members of the media are welcome and encouraged to attend.” The WSU Hughes Metroplex is located at 5015 East 29th Street North.
Crises of Governments. A new short book from Institute of Economic Affairs is Crises of Governments: The Ongoing Global Financial Crisis and Recession. Barro is Robert Barro is the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics at Harvard University; a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University; and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. The complete book is available online at no cost. Some highlights from the executive summary include these: “The ‘Great Recession’ has been particularly deep. In the USA, the loss of GDP relative to trend growth has been 9 per cent. The recovery from recession has also been much slower than the recovery from the recessions of the early 1980s and early 1990s. After those recessions, the USA achieved economic growth of 4.3 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.” … “One of the major causes of the crash was the boom in securitisation whereby inherently risky loans were packaged together and sold as very low-risk securities. This was strongly encouraged by the government; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government agencies responsible, should be privatised.” … “In general a fiscal stimulus package might raise output in the very short run but the long-term fiscal multiplier is negative. This leads growth to stall after an initial increase, as is happening at the moment.” … “Spending and welfare programme entitlements grew rapidly under President George W. Bush and that growth has continued under President Obama. In many respects, as far as economic policy is concerned, Bush and Obama are ‘twins’, just as Reagan and Clinton were ‘twins.’” … “The next crisis will be a crisis of government debt. This debt consists of both explicit borrowing and also of entitlements through social security programmes that have been dramatically expanded under Presidents Bush and Obama. This crisis of government debt is not just a US problem.” … “The coming crisis can be addressed in the USA only by reforming entitlement programmes and also by tax reform to reduce ‘tax expenditures’ or special exemptions from taxes for certain types of economic activity. In the EU, fiscal and monetary policy need to be decoupled so that member states do not become responsible for each other’s borrowing.”
What are the limits of democracy? “Imagine if everything in society was determined through a majority vote.” Politics — elections, in particular — is an especially bad way to make decisions. Free markets allow people to get just what they want from an incredibly broad array of choices. In elections, we are usually left to choose between the lesser of two evils on the basis of their campaign promises. And once in office, we learn the worthlessness of promises made on the campaign trail. It is best that we remove decision-making from the public sphere, as much as we can. “Therefore it is important to remember that individual choice, limited government, and free markets are the necessary condition for a free and truly democratic society,” concludes narrator Professor Pavel Yakovlev in this video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies.
Wichita school board members to meet public. This Friday (March 16th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features members of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on the topic “A conversation with Wichita School Board members regarding current issues.” Scheduled to attend are members Lynn Rogers, Lenora Nolan, and Sheril Logan. Other members may attend. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … The club has an exceptional lineup of upcoming speakers as follows: On March 23rd: David Nichols, Ph.D. Dr. Nichols is a recognized expert on the Eisenhower presidency and is currently working on his third book on Ike, this one dealing with Senator Joe McCarthy with a focus on Ike’s management techniques. “The Eisenhower Leadership Model: What business people (and even politicians) can learn from Ike.” … On March 30th: Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development. … On April 6th: Jordan A. Poland, who will discuss his Master of Arts thesis in Public History at Wichita State University, titled “A case study of Populism in Kansas. The election of Populist Governor Lorenzo Lewelling from Wichita, and the Legislative War of 1893.” … On April 13th: Alvin Sarachek, Ph.D., Geneticist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences at Wichita State University, speaking on “Human Genetic Individuality and Confused Public Policy Making.” … On April 20th: Senator Steve Morris, President of the Kansas Senate, speaking on “Legislative update.” … On April 27th: Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr., Professor of Finance, Friends University, speaking on “The Open Minded Roots of American Exceptionalism, and the Decline of America’s Greatness.”
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.
Sustainable development, sometimes called “smart growth,” is an effort to increase government’s ability to plan many areas of the economy and the personal lives of citizens. In a letter to commissioners, Sedgwick County Manager Bill Buchanan wrote that the grant will “consist of multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic prosperity, social equity, energy use and climate change, and public health and environmental impact.”
In his paper, Ranzau wrote: “Proponents of these grants often speak in general terms that make it difficult to disagree. But as they say, the devil is in the details. It is very important for you to know what they are not telling you. We all need to look beyond the fancy talk and find out what the agenda is really about. … The intent of this paper is to share information and insight about ‘sustainable development’ so that citizens and elected officials can have a more complete understanding of what the planning grants will entail and what possible consequences our communities may face if these policies are implemented.”
Ranzau will present as part of the Wichita Pachyderm Club’s regular Friday luncheon meeting. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. The meeting starts at noon in the Wichita Petroleum Club on the top floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway). The cost of the meeting is $10, which includes a buffet lunch. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
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