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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday November 3, 2011

Energy bill to be introduced today. According to a press release, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita will introduce the “Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act.” This bill would eliminate all tax credits related to energy production. For more, see Pompeo to introduce ‘Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act.’

Crony capitalism disputed. At yesterday’s meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission, chair Dave Unruh objected to my use of the term “crony capitalism” on the basis of the term having a pejorative connotation. A dictionary definition of “crony” is a “close friend especially of long standing.” Applied to government, the implication is that jobs or favoritism is given based on friendship or patronage. But when talking about capitalism, the term “crony capitalism” the definition is “Government spending on business only aggravates the problem. Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.” This is the description given by Charles G. Koch in his Wall Street Journal piece Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out: Crony capitalism and bloated government prevent entrepreneurs from producing the products and services that make people’s lives better. It precisely describes what happened when the county granted a forgivable loan to Johnson Controls. More about this issue is available here.

Kansans For No Income Tax. The new group Kansans for No Income Tax is, according to its website, “a nonprofit working to educate Kansas taxpayers about the benefits of eliminating the state income tax.” The problem, as the group sees it: “Kansas has the 19th highest state and local tax burden in the country and our economic outlook is ranked 37th in the nation. With this economic environment, it is no surprise that Kansas continues to lose businesses, revenue and its citizens. We cannot continue down the path of reckless spending and policy that includes one year fixes to get us by. We must instead focus on a long-term path to prosperity for our state. This path includes the regulation of our tax base with less volatile taxes paired with a more business friendly regulation environment.” … The groups is conducting a bus trip across Kansas this Friday and Saturday. More information, including locations and times, is in this press release.

Misguided efforts to improve capitalism. From Eamonn Butler: Ludwig von Mises — A Primer on how efforts by government to intervene in markets fail: Indeed, our efforts to manipulate the market economy, and make it conform to a particular vision, are invariably damaging. Capitalism is superbly good at boosting the general standard of living by encouraging people to specialise and build up the capital goods that raise the productivity of human effort. But when we tax or regulate this system, and make it less worthwhile to invest in and own capital goods, then capitalism can falter. But that is not a “crisis of capitalism,” explains Mises. It is a crisis of interventionism: a failure of policies that are intended to “improve” capitalism but in fact strangle it. One common political ideal, for example, is “economic democracy” — the idea that everyone should count in the production and allocation of economic goods, not just a few capitalist producers. But according to Mises, we already have economic democracy. In competitive markets, producers are necessarily ruled by the wishes of consumers. Unless they satisfy the demands of consumers, they will lose trade and go out of business. If we interfere in this popular choice, we will end up satisfying only the agenda of some particular political group. A more modest notion is that producers’ profits should be taxed so that they can be distributed more widely throughout the population. But while this shares out the rewards of success, says Mises, it leaves business burdened with the whole cost of failure. That is an imbalance that can only depress people’s willingness to take business risks and must thereby depress economic life itself.

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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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous November 4, 2011

    Unruh put a beat down on you, as you deserved. It’s time to be accountable for the the innuendoes and accusations, implied or otherwise, of “crony capitalism” and “petty corruption”. Argue the merits of the decision but stop the personal attacks on our elected official’s integrity.

  2. Jason November 11, 2011

    T.

    I think Bob quite successfully puts together his own arguments without the help of others that you despise. I guess it is easier to just lump everyone together that you disagree with and hate them en-masse.

    I find it comical that so many folks of liberal persuasion can not fathom the idea that a liberty minded individual can independently come to the same conclusion as another person without being told by an official that “knows what is better for us than ourselves”. I’ll concede that not everyone on the right is an independent thinker however.

    What is really ironic is that the quality of the opposing viewpoints on this site are often such poor quality that they backfire in a way that supports Bob’s assertions!

    I enjoy seeing the opposing viewpoint that is put together intelligently -unfortunately they just seem to be few and far in between.

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