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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday December 31, 2010

This Week in Kansas. On This Week in Kansas guests Rebecca Zepick of State of the State KS, Kansas Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Stephen Koranda, and myself discuss the upcoming session of the Kansas Legislature. Tim Brown is the host. This Week in Kansas airs on KAKE TV channel 10, Sunday morning at 9:00 am.

Tax increment financing. “Largely because it promises something for nothing — an economic stimulus in exchange for tax revenue that otherwise would not materialize — this tool [tax increment financing] is becoming increasingly popular across the country. … ‘TIFs are being pushed out there right now based upon the but for test,’ says Greg LeRoy. ‘What cities are saying is that no development would take place but for the TIF. … The average public official says this is free money, because it wouldn’t happen otherwise. But when you see how it plays out, the whole premise of TIFs begins to crumble.’ Rather than spurring development, LeRoy argues, TIFs ‘move some economic development from one part of a city to another.’ … In Wichita, those who invest in TIF districts and receive other forms of subsidy through relief from taxes are praised as courageous investors who are taking a huge risk by believing in the future of Wichita. Instead, we should be asking why we have to bribe people to invest in Wichita. Much more on tax increment financing at Giving Away the Store to Get a Store: Tax increment financing is no bargain for taxpayers from Reason Magazine.

Lessons for the Young Economist. The Ludwig von Mises Institute has published a book by Robert_P._Murphy titled Lessons for the Young Economist. Of the book, the Mises Institute says “It is easily the best introduction to economics for the young reader — because it covers both pure economic theory and also how markets work (the domain of most introductory books).” From my reading of samples of the book, I would agree, and also add that readers of all ages can enjoy and learn from this book. The book is available for purchase, or as is the case with many of the works the Institute publishes, it is also available to download in pdf form at no charge. Click on Lessons for the Young Economist.

The worst Congress. While liberals praise the 111th Congress as one of the most productive ever, not all agree. The Washington Examiner reprises some of the worst moments of this Congress, and concludes: “Our Founding Fathers were always wary of those who wanted government to do lots of big things. That’s why they created a system that separated powers among three more or less equal branches and provided each of them with powerful checks and balances. When professional politicians become frustrated with Congress, it is a sign that our system is working as intended. Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley told Bloomberg News recently that ‘this is probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s.’ When Congress votes on bills that no one reads or understands, it can be quite ‘productive.’ Americans have already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington.”

China has seen the future, and it is coal. George Will in The Washington Post: “Cowlitz County in Washington state is across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., which promotes mass transit and urban density and is a green reproach to the rest of us. Recently, Cowlitz did something that might make Portland wonder whether shrinking its carbon footprint matters. Cowlitz approved construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually. Both Oregon and Washington are curtailing the coal-fired generation of electricity, but the future looks to greens as black as coal. The future looks a lot like the past.” Will goes on to explain how it is less expensive for coastal Chinese cities to import American and Australian coal rather than to transport it from its inland region. China uses a lot of coal, and that is expected to increase rapidly. The growth of greenhouse gas emissions in China trumps — by far — anything we can do in American do reduce them, even if we were to destroy our economy in doing so.

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One Comment

  1. craig December 31, 2010

    The City of Wichita has alredy invested millions in downtown development, $11 million in special assesment financing, for Real Development, 3.2 million on the Exchange project for the same and many others. The net result last year was that the taxing district for downtown actually lost $4 million in value.
    While over all county property values rose by 1.5 million. Seems like a very meager return for millions of dollars invested.

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