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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday April 3, 2012

Arts funding. For a view of government arts funding from an actual artist, please read The Government, art funding and Sam Brownback in KS by Christopher Allen. He makes an important point: “The government not paying for you to make something is NOT censorship.” I haven’t heard government arts funding advocates use the “censorship” word yet, but you can tell it’s on the minds of those who feel they should be receiving taxpayer money to support their work. … Allen also draws attention the incredible freedoms we in America and the free world enjoy regarding art: “If you want to make art, nobody’s stopping you. In some countries of the world, you get beheaded for making art that others disapprove of.”

Arts censorship. I thought that no one in Kansas had used the “Censorship” word regarding government funding of arts, but I now realize I spoke too soon. Reporting on a recent visit by Rocco Landesman, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, the Lawrence Journal-World reported: “Kevin Willmott, a KU film professor, asked Landesman if he was concerned about what Willmott called ‘corporate censorship’ of the arts, saying if a movie he created wasn’t perceived as being able to make money it wouldn’t get seen. Landesman replied with a line that drew applause from the audience. ‘The reason we have public funding of the arts, and the reason we have the NEA at all, is so the marketplace is not the sole determinant of what is seen and what is excellent,’ he said.” … I think Wilmott ought to be more concerned that the people of Kansas will continue to fund university film departments at the same time our universities are having trouble producing graduates equipped for a modern economy.

Comparison of state comparisons. There are a number of studies that have ranked the states based on economic competitiveness. Emily Washington of the has looked at three reports produced by organizations that favor free markets and reports on the differences. Included are State Business Tax Climate Index by Kail M. Padgitt of The Tax Foundation, Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index from American Legislative Exchange Council, and Freedom in the Fifty States: An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom from Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Washington’s report is at A Comparison of Indices that Rank State Economic Competitiveness.

Ryan tax plan. Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards comments: “The goal is to simplify the tax code and spur economic growth, and you can do that without changing the total revenue raised or who it is raised from. Ryan’s strategy is to eliminate tax deductions and credits while replacing the current six-rate income tax structure with two rates of 10 and 25 percent. The result would be less tax paperwork, more jobs and more investment, which would be good for everybody. Liberals rail against the idea of cutting the top income tax rate from the current 35 percent, but Ryan’s lower 25 percent rate was not picked out of thin air. IRS data show that taxpayers with the highest incomes currently pay an average of about 25 percent of their income in income taxes. At the same time, middle-income taxpayers pay an average of roughly 10 percent. That is why Ryan’s two-rate tax structure of 10 and 25 percent would collect about the same amount of money from the same income groups as the current code if we got rid of the deductions and credits.” See The Truth about Paul Ryan’s Tax Plan.

Are earmarks returning? “After just 14 months at the levers of power of the House, it appears that some House Republicans are ready to admit that they have been unsuccessful in kicking their spending addictions. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) is suggesting to House Republicans that the ban on earmarking be lifted so that members of Congress could ‘grease the wheels’ of legislation in an effort to pass bills faster. The ban was put in place shortly after Republicans, backed heavily by Tea Party conservatives calling for more fiscal responsibility in Congress, won the majority in the House during the Fall 2010 midterm elections. The ban is set to automatically expire at the end of this session of Congress at the end of the year. Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government, said, ‘This is an open acknowledgement that earmarks are nothing more than legislative bribery to buy votes. But what it represents is a further repudiation by leadership of the principles that got them in power in the first place. In 2010, Republicans pledged to ‘put us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt.'” See Are earmarks returning?

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