Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday January 3, 2012

Legislators to hear from citizens. The South-Central Kansas Legislative Delegation will be taking public comments tonight (Tuesday January 3rd) at 7:00 pm in the Jury Room of the Sedgwick County Courthouse, 525 N. Main in Wichita. (Use the north entrance to the courthouse). This is your opportunity to let local legislators know your wishes on issues that will be considered during the 2012 legislative session. In the past, each person wishing to talk has been limited to between three and five minutes depending on the number of people wishing to speak. There is usually the requirement to sign up as you enter if you want to speak.

Romney seen as ‘good enough.’ Kimberley A. Strassel, in today’s Wall Street Journal, makes the case that many Republicans are starting to realize, some very reluctantly: “Voters aren’t convinced by Mitt Romney. They’re not certain of his convictions; they wonder if he is the leader for these times; they’re not sold on his policies or his personality. Yet voters may be about to make the former Massachusetts governor the Republican nominee for the presidency. Mark this down as the triumph of strategy over inspiration.” … After analyzing the rise and fall of the other Republican candidates, Strassel concludes: “So while Mr. Romney may not excite them, while he may not be ideal, in light of the other candidate’s problems, and given the election stakes, voters are buying his argument that he is, well … good enough. Which is why, barring a surprise, or a late entrant, Mr. Good Enough — through good fortune, dogged determination, and the skillful elimination of his rivals — may end up grabbing the conservative ring in this all-important election year.” … Can Romney defeat Obama? “It will not be enough for Mr. Romney to argue against Mr. Obama; he will have to inspire Republicans and independents to vote for his own vision. Mr. Romney offers decent policies, and he’s proven himself a hard worker, with growing campaign skills. The question is whether a victory in the primary will give him the confidence to break out, to take some risks, and to excite a nation that wants real change. In a presidential election, good enough might not be enough to win.” More at Mr. Good Enough: Mitt Romney lost the nomination in 2008 because of his lack of focus and a reputation for shifting his message. He’s learned something this time around.

Brownback Chief of Staff in Wichita. This Friday (January 6th) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features David Kensinger, Chief of Staff to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Of Kensinger, the Kansas City Star wrote “Even David Kensinger’s friends call him a pit bull. … Few Kansans would recognize his name, though his job automatically makes Kensinger an important figure in Kansas politics. But Republicans and Democrats say he’s much more than the top member of the governor’s staff. David Kensinger, they say, is a brilliant political strategist and a tireless, fiercely loyal Brownback lieutenant — and has made himself into the most powerful second-in-command in the state’s modern history.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. Upcoming speakers: On January 13th: Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives Mike O’Neal, speaking on “The untold school finance story.” … On January 20th: Sedgwick County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn. … On January 27, 2012: The Honorable Jennifer Jones, Administrative Judge, Wichita Municipal Court, speaking on “An overview of the Wichita Municipal Court.”

Arrogance of Trump. Appearing yesterday on Fox News On the Record, Donald Trump says he may run for president if the Republicans pick the wrong candidate. But he won’t name who, in his mind, are the “wrong” candidates. He won’t even endorse a candidate.

Ethanol. With the new year, the subsidy for blending corn ethanol into gasoline has ended. So has the tariff on imported ethanol. The mandate to use a certain number of gallons each year remains. Of that, the Wall Street Journal comments: “The fight for economic rationality goes on.” See Ethanol in Winter: Wonder of wonders, the tax subsidy and tariff expire..

180 miles in an electric car. A family’s 180 mile trip from Knoxville to Nashville took a while, requiring four stops of 30 minutes each at “fast” recharging stations. The car was a Nissan Leaf. In his commentary, Paul Chesser noted: ‘The Smiths’ experience echoed that of a Consumer Reports reviewer and Los Angeles columnist Rob Eshman, who called his Leaf his ‘2011 Nissan Solyndra.’ Eshman, editor-in-chief of The Jewish Journal, experienced the same gauge inaccuracies and range anxiety that came from traversing hills and mountains and the use of his air conditioning in hot, smoggy L.A. ‘My life now revolves around a near-constant calculation of how far I can drive before I’ll have to walk,’ Eshman wrote. ‘The Nissan Leaf, I can report, is perfect if you don’t have enough anxiety in your life.'” … Smith said he was proud that the trip across Tennessee didn’t require a drop of oil. But according to Institute for Energy Research, 52.7 percent of electricity in Tennessee is generated using coal as the fuel. Across the Tennessee Valley region, two-thirds of the electricity comes from buring coal. … More at Family’s electric car trip to Nashville hits a glitch: arrived anyway.

Kansas Policy Institute research. In its newsletter, Kansas Policy Institute writes “As 2012 begins we can be sure of one thing — the upcoming legislative session will be anything but boring.” KPI also reminds Kansans of the many policy studies it produced last year that will help legislators and citizens understand the issues Kansas faces. Following is the list KPI provided: The Effect of Federal Health Care ‘Reform’ on Kansas General Fund Medicaid ExpendituresA Comprehensive Reform of KPERSKansas Legislature’s Legal Authority to Modify KPERSA Budget Stablization Plan For KansasTax Reform is About Job Creation and Economic GrowthMajor Structural Deficits Looming in Kansas Budget…a.k.a. Thelma and Louise!A Reinventing the Kansas K-12 School System to Engage More Children in Production Learning.

Morality of capitalism. Tom G. Palmer, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, speaks about capitalism and a new bookThe Morality of Capitalism — that he edited. “One of the things that’s quite striking is when you look at criticisms of the market, in many cases what they’re complaining about is interventionism and cronyism, not really capitalism. That’s a very important distinction to make. … The financial crisis in particular is just quite evidently a failure of interventionism — trying to steer the market, and it ended up going off the rails. Now markets are trying to correct themselves and governments are struggling to not allow that to happen, with more stimulus and trying to pump up property prices, and so on.” … Palmer said now it’s time to go on the offensive for free market capitalism. That has not been responsible for the failed policies of government. … On the morality of capitalism, Palmer said that capitalism has been identified exclusively with self-interest, as though that was its defining feature. But people in other economic systems pursue self-interest, too. Capitalism is distinguished, he said, by a legal and moral relationship among persons: “People have the right to pursue their dream, they have the right to do what they want, with what is legitimately theirs under a system of the rule of law and equality before the law — for everybody. Not privileges for some with special powers as planners and dictators and so one, but all of meet in society as moral and legal equals. And we trade and we exchange. The outcome of that is morally just.” … It’s not just the greater productivity of market exchange, Palmer said. People have a right to exchange and transact freely, and the state and planners don’t have the right to tell them otherwise. … The podcast also addresses the nature of economic competition in capitalism, which Palmer described as “constructive, peaceful cooperation.” … On the rich, who are often criticized for exploiting others under capitalism, Palmer said that in the past and in legally under-developed countries today, rich people almost always became rich by taking or through cronyism. But under capitalism, people become rich by creating and producing, satisfying the needs and desires of others. … Click below to listen to Palmer in this 11 minute podcast.

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