Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday March 29, 2011

Follow-up to Koch profile. A few pieces have provided amplification and commentary on the Weekly Standard profile of Charles and David Koch, notably Politico and Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. … Has a secret conspiracy been uncovered by Politico? Groups identified as lined up against the Kochs include a non-profit group titled Brave New Films, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Ruckus Society, AFSCME (an arm of AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union, and Center for American Progress with its attack blog ThinkProgress. Asks Post’s Rubin: “[a conspiracy] not of the Kochs but of the left-leaning groups that have mounted a campaign against them. … In other words, groups that purport to be nonpartisan are actually involved in a coordinated effort to smear the Kochs.” … Rubin notes the commonality shared between many of these groups: they receive millions from “foundations controlled by or linked to Soros,” referring to left-wing cause financier and anti-capitalist George Soros. … And are the Koch donations overly generous? Writes Rubin: “Left unsaid in all of this is the degree to which the Kochs’ political giving has been exaggerated. How much do they give? Over the last 20 years, about $11 million. Not chump change for you and me, but kind of stingy actually for billionaires whom the left would have us believe are taking over the American political system. By way of comparison, Duke Energy — the third-largest nuclear power plant operator — has been a major donor to Democrats, including the president. That would be the same Duke Energy that just forked over a $10 million line of credit for a single purpose — the 2101 Democratic Convention. Just the sort of thing Common Cause would be concerned about. After the next conference call with the other members of the Soros gang, I’m sure it’ll get right on it.” … Both articles are worth reading.

The decline of Detroit: a lesson for Wichita? William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal: “Most Americans did not need to be told that Detroit is in a bad way, and has been for some time. Americans know all about white flight, greedy unions and arrogant auto executives. The recent census numbers, however, put an exclamation mark on a cold fact: A once-great American city today repels people of talent and ambition.” How did this happen? McGurn quotes Rev. Robert A. Sirico: “Detroit is a classic example of how a culture that was legendary for enterprise and innovation was slowly eroded by toxic politicization from the 1960s on.” … Later McGurn asks “What happened to this Detroit? In many ways the answer is liberal politics and expanding government.” … Could this happen to Wichita? Our population is not declining. But Wichita has been said to be more dependent on one industry (aircraft manufacturing) than Detroit was on automobile manufacturing. And Wichita government is becoming more liberal — notwithstanding the protests of several self-styled conservative city council members who will soon be leaving office. Increasingly business looks to city hall rather than markets for inspiration and financing. Our mayor, city council members, and bureaucrats want more “tools in the toolbox” for intervening in the economy. … Yes, the devastation seen in Detroit could happen here.

Moran to vote “no” on debt ceiling. United States Senator Jerry Moran, a newly-elected Kansas Republican, has informed President Obama that he won’t vote for an increase in the national debt ceiling. Wrote Moran: “Americans are looking for leadership in Washington to confront the problems of today, not push them off on future generations. To date, you have provided little or no leadership on what I believe to be the most important issue facing our nation — our national debt. With no indication that your willingness to lead will change, I want to inform you I will vote “no” on your request to raise the debt ceiling.” The entire letter from Moran is at I will vote “No.”

Golden geese on the move. Thomas Sowell: “The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.” Sowell notes that blacks, especially those young and educated, are moving to the South and suburbs. “Among blacks who moved, the proportions who were in their prime — from 20 to 40 years of age — were greater than in the black population at large, and college degrees were more common among them than in the black population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with liberal policies.” Detroit, he writes is “the most striking example of a once-thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies.” Finally, a lesson for all states, including Kansas: “Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run — and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.” (Mass Migration Of America’s Golden Geese.) The migration statistics concerning Kansas are not favorable, although some are trending in a better direction.

Legislators will have more access to SRS case files. Kansas Health Institute News Service reports” “Parents whose children have become state wards now have the option of signing a one-page form that gives state legislators unrestricted access to information in their family’s case file.” Previously legislators had access to the information, but “social workers decided what information from the file would be shared. And legislators were not given documents or copies from the files but verbal briefings.” Some are concerned that information harmful to children will be made public.

Wichita unemployment rate improving. Writes Friends University finance professor and Mammon Among Friends blogger, Malcolm Harris, as saying, “‘We’re seeing a trend, and that trend is in the right direction’…But, he cautioned, ‘we’ve got a long way to go.'” More at Wichita’s Unemployment Rate Falls Compared to Last Year.

Government planners vs. individuals. Another reading from Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School by Gene Callahan. The topic is individuals acting in markets vs. government planning: Economics does not hold that the desires of the consumers are pure or virtuous. It does illustrate that the market process is the only way to approximately gauge those desires. All other systems must attempt to impose the rulers’ values on the ruled. Those who plan on doing the imposing have a very high regard for their own judgment, and a very low regard for that of the rest of us. To paraphrase the economist G.L.S. Shackle, the man who would plan for others is something more than human; the planned man, something less. … [Ludwig von] Mises describes those who would coercively replace the value judgments of their fellow men by their own value judgments: [They] are driven by the dictatorial complex. They want to deal with their fellow men in the way an engineer deals with the materials out of which he builds houses, bridges, and machines. They want to substitute “social engineering” for the actions of their fellow citizens and their own unique all-comprehensive plan for the plans of all other people. They see themselves in the role of the dictator — the duce, the Führer, the production tsar — in whose hands all other specimens of mankind are merely pawns. If they refer to society as an acting agent, they mean themselves. If they say that conscious action of society is to be substituted for the prevailing anarchy of individualism, they mean their own consciousness alone and not that of anybody else. (The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science)

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