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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday August 15, 2011

Kansas economic development welfare promoted. An email from the Kansas Department of Commerce Business Development department informs us that “Kansas continues to add to its incentive tool box making it an even more competitive state for business.” A link in the email leads to a list of incentives, which include (and I don’t think this is a comprehensive list): Site location assistance; customized incentive proposals (including coordinating with local officials on local development incentives); Promoting Employment Across Kansas (PEAK), which allows companies to retain up to 95 percent of the state withholding taxes their employees pay; wind and solar bonds, paid off from the payroll withholding tax of the new jobs; Kansas Economic Opportunity Initiatives Fund, providing zero percent interest forgivable loans (if the loan is forgivable, why does it carry interest, I wonder); industrial revenue bonds which allow companies to escape paying property and sales taxes; community development block grants; partnership fund; Kansas Bioscience Authority; Investments in Major Projects and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT), Kansas Industrial Training (KIT), and Kansas Industrial Retraining (KIR), which pay for the employee training needs of companies; enterprise zone program; High Performance Incentive Program (HPIP); machinery and equipment property tax exemption; property tax abatements; sales tax exemptions; and machinery and equipment expensing deduction. … Missing from this list is the formation of the Job Creation Program Fund, which is a slush fund under control of the governor and Department of Commerce. And as the email message promoted, some of these programs have been expanded due to action of the recent Legislature. … There are perhaps one or two of these measures that conform to free market and economic freedom principles. The remainder amount to the state taking an “active investor” role in economic development, as explained in Embracing Dynamism: The Next Phase in Kansas Economic Development Policy by Dr. Art Hall, and reported on in Kansas economic growth policy should embrace dynamism. … Looking forward: Kansas officials — starting at the top with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback — want to reduce or eliminate the Kansas income tax in order to make the state more competitive for business. Will we then be able to eliminate all these incentives and the bureaucrats who promote and administer them?

‘Birth of Freedom’ screening. Tonight (Monday August 15th) the film The Birth of Freedom will be shown for free in Wichita. The film is a product of the Acton Institute, whose mission statement describes the institute as “[promoting] a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” This free event is Monday from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. The event’s sponsor is Americans for Prosperity, Kansas. 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. … I’ve been told by those who have viewed the film that it is a very moving presentation.

Kansas Republicans meet. At its summer meeting in Wichita, the Kansas Republican Party establishment warmed up to tea party and grassroots ideas and concepts, according to reporting by Paul Soutar at Kansas Watchdog. As an example, delegates approved a resolution rejecting all aspects of Obamacare (a tea party agenda), instead of an alternative resolution by GOP Chair Amanda Adkins, who represents the establishment Republicans in Kansas. … Earlier reporting by Soutar (Ideology, Political Reality Split State GOP on Health Care ) illustrated the division between the establishment and the tea party and grassroots wings of the party over health care, particularly the early innovator grant that Kansas recently rejected.

Wichita City Council. The Wichita City Council in its Tuesday meeting will consider these items: Repair or removal of two unsafe structures and a conditional use permit for a nightclub which the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission rejected. The council will consider final approval of an ordinance regulating seasonal haunted house attractions, even though the need for this seems nonexistent. … The council also considers a letter of intent for Hospital Facilities Improvement and Refunding Revenue Bonds to benefit Via Christi Health System, Inc. These bond are similar to industrial revenue bonds. In each case, the city is not the lender, and it does not guarantee the creditworthiness of the bonds. In the case of IRBs, the benefit is that the borrow generally escapes paying property taxes, and also perhaps sales taxes too. But as a non-profit entity, Via Christi would not pay these taxes. … The council will receive a quarterly financial report for the quarter ending in June. … As always, the agenda packet is available at Wichita city council agendas.

Kansas values to be topic of speech. This Friday’s meeting (August 19th) of the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Jay M. Price, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of the public history program at Wichita State University, speaking on “Clashes of Values in Kansas History.” His recent Wichita Eagle op-ed was Kansas a stage for “values showdowns.” In that column, he wrote “The most visceral conflicts in our society arise when deeply held values are at odds. Time and again, Kansas has been a visible stage for such ‘values showdowns.'” The column closed with: “Picking just one value, such as freedom or liberty or private property, without the desire for a law-abiding society that embraces civil rights for all can lead to very unpleasant consequences, and vice versa. However, if we struggle with these ideals, the result can be akin to a suspension bridge that functions precisely because there are numerous forces put in opposition to one another, resulting in a strong, stable structure.” … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club … Upcoming speakers: On August 26, Kansas State Representatives Jim Howell and Joseph Scapa speaking on “Our freshmen year in the Kansas Legislature.” … On September 2 the Petroleum Club is closed for the holiday, so there will be no meeting. … On September 9, Mark Masterson, Director, Sedgwick County Department of Corrections, on the topic “Juvenile Justice System in Sedgwick County.” Following, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Pachyderm Club members and guests are invited to tour the Sedgwick County Juvenile Detention Center located at 700 South Hydraulic, Wichita, Kansas. … On September 16, Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, great grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, will present a program with the topic to be determined. … On September 23, Dave Trabert, President of Kansas Policy Institute, speaking on the topic Why Not Kansas,” an initiative to provide information about school choice. … On September 30, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita on “An update from Washington.”

Libertarianism explained. Dr. Stephen Davies of the Institute for Humane Studies explains in this short video message the basic ideas behind libertarian political philosophy: “[Libertarians] also argue that human beings are ultimately autonomous, self-defined, choosing individuals. And the kind of social order which is most conducive to the widest and most diverse range of human flourishing is one in which the role and power of government is kept to the minimum. Now this does not mean, however, that they need support a particular moral code or anything like that. It’s perfectly possible for someone who is a traditional Christian, someone who is a complete atheist, to both be libertarian in the way I’ve just described.” He listed policy issues that libertarians support, if they are being consistent: Free markets, free trade, free movement of people, free speech, constitutional and limited government, and opposition to coercive paternalism. But, for some policy positions, the libertarian position is not as clear and there can be disagreement. Foreign policy and abortion were mentioned as two such areas. Davies also addresses the accusation that libertarianism is an irrelevant political creed. … This video is from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, and many other informative videos are available.

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