Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday April 2, 2012

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 john@johntodd.net or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at sestes@afphq.org or 316-681-4415.

Economic development through competitiveness. Next week (Wednesday, April 11th) Kansas Policy Institute will host an educational event focusing on local economic development. This event is vitally important as it is becoming apparent that Wichita’s traditional process of economic development is not working very well. Also, we’ve recently learned that in both Kansas and Wichita, business tax costs are very high, with only a handful of states ranking worse. The full agenda for this event, which is open to the public and which KPI is generously hosting at no charge to attendees, is A true path to economic growth and prosperity. A link to registration is there, or call 316-634-0218.

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.

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