Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday April 29, 2011

George Soros: Not just sinister; also stupid. Thomas E. Woods, Jr. gives us another reason to ignore George Soros. Commenting upon an article in which Soros placed Friedrich Hayek in the “Chicago school” of economists, Woods wrote: “If you think Hayek was a member of the Chicago School, you are not entitled to an opinion on matters of economic thought, period. Hayek was of course an Austrian [economist]. The Austrians are not the same as the Chicago economists, differing in method, capital theory, monopoly theory, monetary theory, policy implications, and quite a bit more. … That is a freshman mistake, one that nobody who knew anything about Hayek or either of the relevant schools would have come within a million miles of making.” … An introduction to Austrian economics is Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School by Gene Callahan, available to read at no cost.

Legislators at work for you 372 days a year. At least according to the way their annualized pay is calculated for the purpose of Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS). Mary Clarkin of the Hutchinson News reports on a method of calculating KPERS benefits for legislators that goes out of its way to calculate a large benefit for legislators. For example, legislators, when calculating their salaries for the purposes of KPERS, are treated as through they receive their daily legislative pay every day of the year, and then a few on top of that. Also, their subsistence pay, which is intended to cover the expenses of being in Topeka, is also included in salary calculations.

Kansas doesn’t benefit from alternative certification. This excerpt from Death Grip: Loosening the Law’s Stranglehold over Economic Liberty by Clint Bolick illustrates the harm that excessive regulation of occupational licensure works against economic freedom and the public schoolchildren of Kansas. “Equally pernicious are teacher certification schemes. As a certified teacher, I can attest that none of my required classroom instruction (all of which was state-required) enhanced my core subject-matter competence. Despite the fact that they often turn out ill-trained teachers, schools of education fiercely defend their monopoly status over teacher certification, resisting alternative certification and entry into teacher ranks by professionals who are demonstrably competent in their subject matter. The scheme ensures that many bad teachers enter the school system while many good teachers are kept out. Licensing is not a proxy for competence, neither in teaching nor in many other professions. However, because licensing typically requires many hours of prescribed training, it is an effective means of limiting entry into professions. Licensing requirements are lucrative for schools that teach the prescribed courses and insulate licensed practitioners from competition. But they result in higher prices and fewer choices for consumers and destroy economic opportunities.” … According to National Council on Teacher Quality, alternative teacher certification policy in Kansas is among the most restrictive in the nation. These policies, as Bolick writes, give the state’s low-functioning schools of education a monopoly over the production of teachers, and deprives schoolchildren of many excellent would-be teachers.

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