As the annual tax deadline is upon us, we should take a moment to examine our level of awareness of the taxes we pay.
Posts published by “Bob Weeks”
Former Wichita City Council member and present Arts Council chairwoman Joan Cole wrote an article titled "City needs dedicated arts funding" that appeared in the March 16, 2006 Wichita Eagle. This article advocates continued and increased government funding for arts in Wichita.
In her article Mrs. Cole mentions a policy that she seems to approve of: "Moreover, for the first time, performance measures and desired outcomes will be used to assess the progress that these organizations demonstrate." The organizations are the various groups that will receive funding from the City of Wichita.
Recently I wrote about the case of a young girl who is homeschooled, one who gives me hope in the future of youth. (See A Declaration of Independence from Public Schools.)
There are people, however, who would deny talented and dedicated young people like Mary the opportunity to be educated in the way their parents wish. In a blog post titled It's not homeschooling -- it's truancy we find someone who would, if I understand the author, deny everyone this opportunity.
Mary Moberly, a young woman just 15 years old, wrote this piece. She lives in Manhattan, Kansas. I have been reading her two websites for the past few months, ever since I saw that she referred to a post on this website.
If you look at her two websites, Tea and Crumpets Zine and Just Go Boil Something, you will discover her wide-ranging interests and accomplishments, both remarkable for someone so young. I particularly recommend her essay What Makes a Well-Educated Person?
Taxpayers have had to pay over millions to fund both the school districts suing the state for additional state spending, for the state's defense of this lawsuit, and this does not include the costs for the judicial system. Instead of chasing ambulances it has now become much more remunerative for lawyers in Kansas to chase taxpayers. You as a taxpayer will have to pay a lot more in taxes due to this odious environment. Kansas is the economic loser as school district lawyers Alan Rupe and John Robb made their case for another statehouse spending spree March 5, 2006 in the Wichita Eagle.
This book, first published in 1946, explains common fallacies (a false or mistaken idea) that are particularly common in the field of economics and public policy.
Thank you to Alan Cobb of Americans For Prosperity, Kansas for this report on this needed measure for judicial reform in Kansas.
The current system of Kansas Supreme Court selection, the mis-named "merit system," is a secretive, closed system dominated by lawyers. Kansas lawyers elect themselves to the Kansas Supreme Court selection board. There are no campaign finance filings, no reports, no public meetings. It is time to bring this system out into the light of day.
However two attempts to reform this system failed in the Kansas Senate this week. A proposed constitutional amendment that would require Senate confirmation of Kansas Supreme Court Justices failed yesterday, March 9th. What is worse is that this legislation had 28 co-sponsors and only needed 27 votes to pass. Six senators switched their support for the bill they co-sponsored ensuring the failure of the measure. The six Senators who switched their support were:
Sen. Steve Morris, R-Hugoton
Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan
Sen. David Wysong, R-Mission Hills
Sen. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac
Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka
Sen. Ruth Teichmann, R-Stafford, abstained from voting. (ed: See Karl Peterjohn's article Report From the Kansas Statehouse, March 9, 2006 to understand what "passing" means in this context.)
Thank you to Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network, for this report on happenings in Topeka.
The Kansas senate surrendered their ability to rein the activist Sebelius and leftist dominated Kansas Supreme Court Thursday afternoon. A constitutional amendment to require senate confirmation of judges barely received a majority vote Thursday afternoon as a coalition of most senate Democrats and the Senate GOP leadership of Senate President Steve Morris and Vice President John Vratil succeeded in killing this constitutional amendment that needed a 2/3 or 27 votes to pass and move to the house.
The odious nature of this defeat was that the proposal had 28 co-sponsors including Morris, Wysong, Barone and several others who voted against their own proposal. Fortunately, many senators had their reasons for voting for or against this measure in the journal so you can see why they voted the way they did. An effort to improve this constitutional amendment by eliminating the nominating commission failed during the debate on Wednesday on a 15-to-25 vote with the Democrats joining with the liberal Republicans to kill this amendment.
The profile in pusillanimous pontification goes to Sen. Ruth Teichman who ended up passing on the bill. He equivocation "passing" serves as an effective "no" vote but allows her to state that she did not against reining in the court. The voters in her south central district need to know how weasily this behavior is on this crucial issue. Passing on difficult votes has become a common form of trying to hide their position in the Kansas senate in the last couple of years.
You should not allow cities, counties and state agencies the power through eminent domain to force someone to involuntarily sell their home, their business, or their farm so they can give it to other private owners for their own private use. Under redevelopment law, city councils can essentially become the agent for the powerful, politically connected developers that tell city councils, "condemn this persons home, business, or farm, and through our development process, the tax revenue for the city will go up, and in the process you can look like visionaries." (See attached testimony presented by Tim Sandefur, attorney for the "Pacific Legal Foundation" to a California legislative committee) Until the recent Kelo decision, the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution has allowed government to take private property for "public use" only, but now "public use" means anything a governmental unit decides will "benefit" the public, including increased tax revenues. That is why Steven Greenhut in his book, "Abuse of Power: How Government Misuses Eminent Domain" explains why cities in some parts of the country are taking non-taxed church properties through the eminent domain process and turning them over to tax-paying private developers in order to increase tax revenues. A chapter in his book entitled, "God Doesn't Pay Taxes" explains that abuse in detail.
An article in the March 2, 2006 Wall Street Journal by Katherine Kersten of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tells of the large numbers of African-American families in Minneapolis who send their children to charter schools or to schools in other districts, thanks to Minnesota law that allows district-crossing.
Last week I explained how a column in The Wichita Eagle (see How a Good Column on the Bad Lottery Fell Apart) started out well but took a sharp turn downwards.
Take education. Bureaucrats like to say, you will go to this school, because we said so, and you will be taught according to this program, because we said so and we know best. Those of us with confidence in markets think you could do better deciding for yourself. Neither the bureaucrats nor the freedom lovers can judge what's in your interest better than you can. One big difference is, we know what we don't know, while they think they know everything.
A few months ago I wrote how most states, when testing their schoolchildren, post results such as "80% of our state's students are proficient in reading or math," but when tested by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the number judged proficient falls to 30% or so. (See Every State Left Behind.) It was noted that local education officials are eager to tell parents and taxpayers that students are doing well. The NAEP test hasn't felt such pressure.
Now a commentary in the February 27, 2006 Wall Street Journal by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Diane Ravitch tells us that under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which uses the NAEP tests -- not the state tests -- to measure student progress, there is pressure to water down the NAEP test so that more students test at the proficient level.
Mr. Scholfield tells us how the lottery is not a very good bet. He references a survey that tells us how about half of us believe we have a better chance of obtaining a retirement nest egg through winning the lottery rather than by saving and investing.
He then tells us that the large majority of those playing the lottery are poor and don't have college degrees.
What Mr. Scholfield writes is true. I'd like to illustrate in more detail just how true it is.
This is an enjoyable book that explains the basics of how economics works, which is to say, how the world works. Mr. Harford doesn't go into any technical detail at all, so there are no charts and graphs to decipher (although a very few are used for illustration), and there are no mathematical formulas.
From the beginning, we in the Wichita area have been told each year that the AirTran subsidy was intended as a temporary measure, that soon AirTran would be able to stand on its own, and there will be no need to continue the subsidy. Mayor Mayans said as much last year, and so did City Manager Kolb this year.
But State Senator Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, on a recent television program, may have made a revealing slip when she referred to the AirTran subsidy as a "pilot program." Now that the subsidy appears to be a permanent requirement, funded locally and perhaps statewide, we should ask ourselves if this subsidy is in our best interests.
What's ironic is that gamblers are worse off playing against the State of Kansas than the mob-run numbers rackets. As a letter-writer in the New York Times wrote: "They [organized crime] paid out about 85 percent of the amounts that were bet, retaining 15 percent or less for profits and expenses like payoffs."
The problem with most third world countries, Mr. De Soto tells us, is not that there is no capital, it's that the capital is dead. Dead in the sense that it can't be used to its full economic potential. It can't be mortgaged, it can't be divided into shares, and it simply can't be used in the same way we make productive use of our assets in the West.
Writing in a recent commentary, Stephen M. Lilienthal of the Free Congress Foundation expresses concern over the literacy skills of recent college graduates. The findings of some recent studies are quite troubling.
If you have a website, you may be interested in knowing how many people visit your site. There are many web counters and other services to give counts of visitors and other statistics, but nothing I have seen comes close to Google Analytics. This free service, available at http://www.google.com/analytics, provides detailed analysis of the traffic that visits your website. I recommend it for anyone with a website who wants to know more about the site's visitors.