Kansas Senator Lee to tax court. State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate — another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices — and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than some other Senate Democrats — and some Republicans such as Senate President Steve Morris, for that matter. Lee’s replacement will be selected by the Democratic Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen in that senate district.
Saving is good. A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle holds this observation: “Rich people don’t spend money in hard times. Give them a tax break, and they will stash it away. That’s why they are rich.” This letter contains a misconception that news media mistakenly repeats over and over: that consumer spending is good and saving is bad. What happens to savings — the “stash it away” the letter writer refers to? Few people stuff cash in the mattress or in a safe. Instead, they do several things with they money they decide not to spend on immediate consumption, which is the definition of savings. If put it in a bank, the bank lends it to others who will spend it. If used to pay down debt, that frees up funds for others to spend. If used to buy stocks and bonds, that provides funds for business to invest. Importantly, these funds usually go into increasing the nation’s stock of capital. This capital spending is especially desirable, as it supports current economic activity — that is, the people and companies that work today to produce capital goods — but it sets up the country to produce even more wealth in the future.
Voters express pessimism. Consistent with other recent Rasmussen polls, voters are not optimistic that Congress will be able to accomplish very much in the next two years. See Voters Hold Little Hope for What New Congress Is Likely To Achieve.
KDOT seeks public comment on public involvement policy. This seems almost like circular reasoning, but the Kansas Department of Transportation seeks public comment on a document titled “Sharing the Future — Public Involvement in the Kansas Transportation System.” The document — all 113 pages — may be found on this page. Comments should be directed to Kansas Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Involvement, 700 S.W. Harrison, Topeka, 66603-3754, (785) 296-3526, fax (785) 368-6664, or [email protected]
Texas stimulus spending — not. Texas Watchdog takes a look at federal stimulus spending in Texas and finds some disturbing results. An example: “A closer look at spending by each agency shows wild differences in the amount of money spent and the number of jobs created. At least eight agencies have reported spending $500,000 or more for every job claimed. In the case of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, its $883,993 per job is an estimate because more than a year after it was awarded nearly $8 million for a statewide library broadband upgrade project, nothing has been spent and none of its projected nine employees have been hired.”
Who stole Election Day? A candidate for Maine governor wonders whether the rise of advance voting — “convenience voting,” he calls it — is good for the country. Besides meeting a voter who expressed regret in having already voted for his opponent, Eliot Cutler writes this of convenience voting: “At a time when sea changes are roiling our democracy, political parties are in decline, and public confidence in the political system is plummeting, convenience voting is having all the wrong effects. In Maine, at least, it appears to be discouraging voter engagement, providing life support to withering political parties, and undermining one of our most enduring and important institutions.” More in the Wall Street Journal at Who Stole Election Day? Too many voters are making decisions when horse-race coverage dominates the news, attention to issues is limited, and key debates haven’t taken place.
Adapt, don’t overreact to climate change. Bjorn Lomborg — The Skeptical Environmentalist — of the Copenhagen Consensus Center argues in the pages of the Washington Post that mankind has shown that it can adapt to climate change. This record, he argues, means we should not panic about climate change. We can afford a long-term perspective: “… when it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change, we’ve compiled a pretty impressive track record. While this doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore climate change, it provides a powerful reason not to panic about it either.” He cites the example of the Netherlands: “Keeping Holland protected from any future sea-level rises for the next century will cost only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.” Concluding, he writes: “[adaption] will enable us to get by while we figure out the best way to address the root causes of man-made climate change. This may not seem like much, but at a time when fears of a supposedly imminent apocalypse threaten to swamp rational debate about climate policy, it’s worth noting that coping with climate change is something we know how to do. ”