A public or private downtown Wichita arena, which is desirable?

(From October, 2004)

Image what our town could be like if the Wichita downtown arena vote fails and Sedgwick County Commissioners put aside for a moment their plans for the renovation of the Kansas Coliseum.

Suppose, instead, that arena supporters, along with those who would vote yes for the sales tax and anyone else who wants to, formed a corporation to build and own an arena.

Instead of having paid taxes to government, arena supporters would be investors. They would own something: their shares in the arena. They would have the pride and responsibility that comes with ownership. They would have a financial stake in its success. Even taxpayer-funded arena opponents might see merit in investing in a local business rather than paying taxes.

Instead of politicians and bureaucrats deciding what the people of our town want and need, a privately owned arena would be subject to the guidance and discipline of markets. It would either provide a valuable service to its customers and stay in business, or it would fail to do that and it would go out of business. Governments do not have such a powerful incentive to meet the needs of their constituents.

Instead of the bitter feelings dividing this town over the issue of a taxpayer-funded arena and other perceived governmental missteps, the arena corporation would act in the best interests of its shareholders and customers. Even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be the public’s business, because after all, the corporation is formed of private individuals investing their own money.

When individuals invest in an arena they are nurturing the virtues of investment, thrift, industry, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship, Wichita having an especially proud tradition of the last. There is nothing noble about politicians spending someone else’s money on projects like a downtown arena, or a renovated Kansas Coliseum for that matter.

At this time in our town we have a chance to let private initiative and free markets work, or we can allow government to continue to provide for us in ways that few seem truly satisfied with. Writing about a public utility in England that was transferred to private enterprise, economist John Blundell observed:

When it was “public” it was very private. Indeed, it was totally captured by a small band of bureaucrats. Even members of Parliament struggled to find out what was going on. No proper accounts were produced, and with a complete lack of market signals, managers were clueless as to the correct course to take. The greatest casualty was a lack of long-term capital investment.

Now it is “private” and very public. Not just public in the sense of open, but also in the sense of accountable directly to its shareholders and customers. Copious reports and accounts are available and questioning citizens will find their concerns taken very seriously indeed.

If we allow the government instead of private enterprise to build a new arena or to renovate the Kansas Coliseum, this is the opportunity we lose.

Whitewash

Writing from Dallas, Texas

Thank you to Karl Peterjohn for this excellent piece. You can read more about the Kansas Supreme Court at this link: Summary of Blogging on Judicial Ethics in Kansas

Whitewash
By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director, Kansas Taxpayers Network

There are laws and rules while there are lawyers and judges but there is truly one unique and privileged class where the rules do not apply in Kansas: The Kansas Supreme Court.

Friday, August 18 the “ethics” panel that handles ethics complaints issued their weakest penalty of an “admonishment” for the egregious misbehavior of Kansas Supreme Court Justice Lawton Nuss in the school finance lawsuit.

Nuss had been exposed discussing this pending case with several legislative leaders last March. Nuss had trampled on the judicial cannon of ethics like a tap dancer with a leg twitch (Canon’s 1, 2A, 3B(7)). For this extended transgression he received an “admonishment.” The dictionary definition for an admonishment is, “to warn,” or to “reprove mildly.”

There were a number of penalties that could be imposed on Nuss, one of the two Republicans on the seven member Kansas Supreme Court. A more severe penalty would have been censure, “to blame, to condemn as wrong.” Most severe would have recommended Nuss removal from the court. Nuss’ transgressions are so severe that he should resign or face impeachment.

Nuss’ contempt for the rule of law has a long history. As a lawyer in private practice in Salina, Nuss and his law firm had represented the Salina school district. When Governor Graves appointed his hometown neighbor onto the Kansas Supreme Court in 2002, it would have seemed obvious for Nuss to recuse himself from the Montoy school finance lawsuit that was already being litigated. The lead plaintiff named Montoy was a son of a Salina public school district principal. The Salina public schools were a lead plaintiff among the numerous public schools suing for tax money. Despite 2005 ethics complaints that were dismissed by the Supreme Court’s ethics commission, Nuss demonstrated his legal arrogance and continued on this case until his legislative ex parte meeting was exposed.

Yet Nuss’ ex parte conversations are not the sole ethics problem for the Kansas Supreme Court. A leading critic of the judicial activism in Kansas, Andover attorney Richard Peckham, filed ethics complaints against the entire Kansas Supreme Court (www.kansasjudicialwatch.org). Peckham’s complaint extends Nuss’ improper behavior and communications to the entire Kansas Supreme Court relying upon Nuss’ own defense as the basis for this complaint (the entire court went outside their ethics rules in this case). As of August 22 Peckham’s complaint is still pending in front of the court’s ethic’s panel.

Peckham criticized the Nuss ruling as “It is too light a penalty. …the other six (justices) are all culpable for the same ex parte communications.” Peckham pointed out that the court’s ethics panel was designed for transgressions from lawyers and lower court judges and is inadequate for examining the Supreme Court ethical lapses itself.

Liberal editorial pages like the Wichita Eagle were quick to declare this issue resolved and were ready to move on, “That should be the end of the Nuss fuss. The inappropriate discussion of an ongoing case has been investigated,” The Wichita Eagle editorialized August 19. “No evidence has been revealed to suggest the conversation influenced either the court’s or the legislature’s action, or that it was one of many ex parte communications.” Sadly, it looks like the Eagle did not follow the spending spree performed in the name of judicial compliance by the 2006 legislature and Governor Sebelius, or even bothered to read Nuss’ response to the charges against him which were like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar saying, “all the other kids (judges) were eating them too.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate state Senator Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, who deserves much of the credit for helping expose the legislative leaders who participated in these improper communications, has complained about the impact that Nuss’ misbehavior had on the Kansas senate. Barnett’s amendment limiting the public school spending growth to roughly $400 million failed on a 20-20 vote in the senate the day after this infamous luncheon was held. Legislators lunching with Nuss voted against Barnett. A few days later the four top senate leaders from both political parties issued their $660 million public school spending spree proposal that many legislators viewed as receiving a judicial “green light” from the court’s back channel communications.

The judicial misbehavior in the school finance lawsuit is corrosive to the rule of law in this state as well as expanding the negative fiscal climate in Kansas. Judges should not be setting budgets. Kansans need truth and not a judicial whitewash.

Tax increment financing in Wichita benefits few

Recently the City of Wichita formed a TIF (tax increment financing) district to aid a developer who wishes to build in the College Hill neighborhood.

How does a TIF district work? The Wichita Eagle reported: “A TIF district doesn’t cost local governments any existing tax money. It takes property taxes paid on new construction that would ordinarily go into government coffers and redirects it to the bond holders who are financing the project.”

In the present case, the value of the benefit the developer sought is estimated to be worth $3.5 million to $4 million. Whether this benefit is given at no cost to existing government, as The Wichita Eagle article implies, is open to debate. If the new development does not use any local government services, then perhaps there is no cost in giving the benefit. But if that’s true, we might ask this question: if the development does not consume any government services, why should it have to pay taxes at all?

There is evidence that TIF districts are great for the developers — after all, who wants to pay taxes — but not so good for the rest of the city and county. The article “Tax Increment Financing: A Tool for Local Economic Development” by economists Richard F. Dye and David F. Merriman states, in its conclusion:

TIF districts grow much faster than other areas in their host municipalities. TIF boosters or naive analysts might point to this as evidence of the success of tax increment financing, but they would be wrong. Observing high growth in an area targeted for development is unremarkable.

So TIFs are good for the favored development — not a surprising finding. What about the rest of the city? Continuing from the same study:

We find evidence that the non-TIF areas of municipalities that use TIF grow no more rapidly, and perhaps more slowly, than similar municipalities that do not use TIF.

So TIF districts may actually reduce the rate of economic growth in the rest of the city.

There’s also evidence that TIF districts are simply a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers at large to a privileged few. In the paper titled “Do Tax Increment Finance Districts in Iowa Spur Regional Economic and Demographic Growth?” by Iowa State University economists David Swenson and Liesl Eathington, we can read this:

There is indirect statistical evidence that this profligate practice [establishing TIF districts] is resulting in a direct transfer of resources from existing tax payers to new firms without yielding region-wide economic and social gains to justify the public’s investment.

This analysis suggests that the enabling legislation for tax based incentives deserves revisiting. … there is virtually no evidence of broad economic or social benefits in light of the costs.

In the present case in Wichita, the developer says that without the benefit the TIF provides, the project is not economically viable. This is the standard rationale given for the requirement of the TIF district. Without the TIF, the development would not take place.

It may be true that this project in College Hill is not economically viable. If so, we have to wonder about the wisdom of investing in this project. More importantly, we should ask why our taxes are so high that they discourage investment and economic activity.

It may also be that the developer simply wishes to gain an advantage over the competition by lobbying for a favor from government. As government becomes more intrusive, this type of rent-seeking behavior is replacing productive economic activity.

There is one truth, however, if which I am certain: when businesses and individuals pay less tax, they have the opportunity to invest more. TIFs and tax abatements are tacit recognition that the cost of government is onerous and serves to decrease private economic activity and investment.

Here’s a better idea: reduce taxes for everyone, instead of only for companies and individuals that are successful in extracting favors from our local governments.

Sedgwick County surrenders key tax advantage

Sedgwick County Surrenders Key Tax Advantage
By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director, Kansas Taxpayers Network

Spirit Aerosystems CEO Jeff Turner defended the massive spending hike that was used as the primary justification for the county’s 8.8 percent property tax hike in his editorial August 9, 2006. Turner’s support for this increased government spending ignored some important ramifications behind this economically destructive vote.

Sedgwick County has an important fiscal advantage over 19 other Kansas counties. Sedgwick County has no community college and hence no community college property tax. That property tax is a major reason why this levy makes the total tax burden higher in Butler, Cowley, and Reno counties. The Wichita Area Technical College is becoming this community’s community college. This will mean increasing pressure to raise property taxes. This would be in addition to the current 1.5 mills left over from the old Wichita University days that the county charges.

Sadly, the Sedgwick County commission seems intent on creating another tax dependent entity here in this community. If Jeff Turner, Spirit Aerosystems and Turner’s former company Boeing want to promote property tax hikes, that is certainly their prerogative.

It is a public record that Boeing tied as the largest donor for the 2000 Wichita school bond issue with a five figure donation and Raytheon was the largest corporate donor in support of the Local Option Budget property tax hike for Wichita during that 1997 property tax referendum. Cessna’s CEO Jack Pelton spoke out in support of the county’s spending plans that required this property tax hike August 9.

On the other hand, when the news cameras are generally gone, these aircraft companies return to the city or the county and seek sizable, often 100 percent property tax abatements. So a small or medium sized business gets to pay a much higher proportion of say $100,000 worth of their commercial property than the largest public businesses in this community. This is not fair.

This distorts the overhead costs shifting the fiscal burden from the taxpayer subsidized onto the businesses without the tax breaks. It also shifts this burden onto homeowners and other taxpayers. Special tax breaks provides the subsidized firms with lower overhead costs so they can afford pay more for employees too. That places small and medium sized firms that lack the political clout and leverage, at a hiring disadvantage as well. If the non tax abated firms have out-of-state competitors their extra overhead costs hurts their ability to compete. However, tax abatements are a big help in cyclical industries that are in perpetual “hiring and firing” cycles and need to pay more because of this employment instability.

There is certainly a need for qualified workers for many Wichita area businesses. This $40 million county spending hike, that is well above per foot construction costs, ignores a bigger question. How much spending in the government school establishment is enough? Property tax hike advocates are ignoring the fact that well over $3/4 billion in taxes are going to be spent on the 10 public school districts in this county in 2006-07. This figure is growing rapidly in the age of judicial edicts and Montoy.

2004 Census data indicates that Kansas has the 14th highest property taxes in all 50 states as well as the highest property taxes per capita in our five state region. Soaring appraisals have been the primary cause of this situation but the county’s rising mill levy without getting voter approval is an insult to every county voter. In 1997 almost 90 percent of county voters wanted to retain the property tax lid on local government. County officials helped kill the property tax lid in 1999 and now will not let voters decide this property tax hike at the ballot box. Creating a new level of local government in Sedgwick County with higher property taxes will hurt and hinder overall economic growth here.

Terrible Blighted Property

The link below from Castle Coalition shows some properties that have been declared as blighted by local governments, so that the local government can condemn the property and take it from its owner under the process of eminent domain. Judge for yourself as to whether these properties are, indeed, blight.

http://www.castlecoalition.org/CastleWatch/bogusblight/index.html

High tax Kansas exposed again

High Tax Kansas Exposed Again
By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director, Kansas Taxpayers Network

Businesses and homeowners know that Kansas has high taxes. The appointed and occasionally elected officials setting this state’s fiscal policy are often contemptuous of the fiscal burden being imposed upon Kansans but this is a reality that should not continue to be ignored.

USA Today reported July 28 that Kansans pay the 14th highest level of per capita property taxes among all 50 states. This was 2004 Census Department data. The high property tax in Kansas means that Kansans pay well above the U.S. average property tax too. This is a bigger problem for Kansans because income in Kansas is only 93 percent of the U.S. average. The number one and two states having the highest property taxes in this survey, New Jersey and Connecticut, both have higher than average income levels.

The high Kansas property tax creates several surprises that are being ignored by public officials. This includes residential and farm property tax hike advocates like Governor Sebelius. Since there are high taxes on property in Kansas there is a relative decline in housing prices. When relatively hidden property taxes, like special assessments, are included on newer housing, the property tax burden is actually higher since most other states do not impose this extra property tax burden.

So national surveys look at affordability in housing and Kansas scores well. There is a lot of reasonably priced housing that has large property tax bills on it in this state.

Since capital goes where it is appreciated, there is a relative decline in business here so commuting times are low. When business leaves, so go the jobs. Kansas employment growth lags behind the U.S. average. According to the governor’s most recent Economic and Demographic Report for the 2007 state budget, show Kansas job growth and income levels both lagging behind national and regional growth. So, it should not be a surprise that public school enrollment continues to decline too. Job seekers take their children with them.

When Kansas students graduate and enter the job market they often discover that economic opportunity is not in Kansas and they move to more economically vibrant and competitive areas. Even former Governor Graves joined this exodus and left Kansas. Often these folk become “Kansas tourists” who return to see family at Christmas, Thanksgiving, or maybe for a week in summer.

Affluent Kansans have a tendency to move to states without income taxes as well as states where there are limits on government growth like Colorado with their Taxpayers Bill Of Rights. Colorado scored 23rd on per capita property taxes but far exceeded national income averages.

Oklahoma, which requires super-majorities for some tax hikes and voter approval before state taxes are raised, had the lowest property taxes in this region scoring 47th nationally. Arkansas scored 49th while Alabama was 50th. Missouri was 37th. It is interesting to note that only Nebraska has a lower percentage growth in population than Kansas according to Census figures. Nebraska’s average property taxes were only a couple of notches lower than Kansas at 16th.

This per capita rating does not adjust for the wide variance in property taxes within or between states. Utility property is the highest taxed in Kansas with a 33 percent assessment that is almost three times higher than the 11.5 percent assessed on residential property. Small businesses in Wichita pay a much higher proportion of property tax on $100,000 of commercial property than Boeing or Cessna who enjoy their 100 percent property tax abatements. The details in taxation matter a lot.

The average Kansan may not know the tax details but they do know that when all else fails, they can still vote with their feet. The fact that neighboring Arkansas has now passed Kansas in population is a wake up call that is being ignored by Kansas public officials. High Kansas property taxes in particular and high Kansas taxes in general are both reasons for Kansas’ decline.

Reform the “other” welfare

Writing from Little Rock, Arkansas

A recent USA Today editorial (“Hooked on Handouts” July 31, 2006) makes the case for reforming corporate welfare, given the success of “regular” welfare reform:

Most of what the government does could be called welfare, using a very broad definition of the word. It’s not hard to find individuals, corporations, states or communities hooked on one Washington handout or another. The result of this largesse is a society that is unproductively dependent on government support — and politically organized to keep it coming.

Agriculture is a leading example. Supports have become a sad hoax on the U.S. taxpayer. According to a recent report by The Washington Post, the government has handed out $1.3 billion since 2000 to people who don’t even farm. It has sent billions of dollars in drought relief to areas where there was no drought. And, oh yes, it has paid out a staggering $144 billion over 10 years, according to the National Taxpayers Union, 72% of which went to the 10% of farmers with the largest holdings. Such spending is an insult to hardworking, unsubsidized, Americans. Wasteful farm programs should be cut.

The federal budget is replete with hundreds of payments to, and tax benefits for, other politically potent industries. This “corporate welfare” ranges from government-funded logging roads to subsidies for electric utilities. Last year, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, Congress earmarked 15,877 items worth $47.4 billion to specific recipients, many of them companies with well-connected Washington lobbyists.

This not only squanders taxpayers’ money, it also clogs decision-making in the private sector. Rather than making a smart business decision promptly, companies wait to see whether they can make more by delaying and doing something that could be less sensible.

With so much available in the form of government handouts, it is no wonder companies spend billions on lobbying, and that there are scandals.

F.A. Hayek wrote in his book The Road to Serfdom: “As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power.” Lobbying scandals are a symptom and manifestation of a government that has too much power and spends too much time rewarding one person at the expense of another.

Is there a solution? Can we persuade the rewarded class to give up their spoils? The economist Walter E. Williams relates this story and solution: “Nearly two decades ago, during dinner with the late Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek, I asked him if he had the power to write one law that would get government out of our lives, what would that law be? Professor Hayek replied he’d write a law that read: Whatever Congress does for one American it must do for all Americans.”

It could be that simple.

Kansas Board of Education election demonstrates one thing

A New York Times article said: “The races have been hard-fought.” Yes, they were.

Looking at some of the comments left on various discussion forums in the state of Kansas, the victors are joyously gleeful in their win and vindictive towards the defeated. I would hazard to guess that the victors were more interested in victory for its own sake, and more motivated by hatred for their rivals, than for the substance of what they were fighting for.

The two most-read (my guess; I could be wrong) blogs in Kansas exist, solely in one case and primarily in the other, to promote their authors’ personal agenda of whether to teach evolution in Kansas public schools.

The substance of this fight is over something relatively minor in the overall picture of a child’s education. Unless one majors in the biological sciences, evolution — no matter what side you take — is a chapter or two in a course that many students never take. Even for those working in the field of science it may not be that important. I spoke to a veterinarian friend of mine and asked what role the study of evolution played in her professional training. The answer: none. I imagine if I asked my physician I would get the same answer.

While this scuffle takes place American students continue to fall behind other nations in skills as basic as reading and mathematics. As reported in other articles published on this website, adult literacy, even for college graduates, is embarrassingly low.

From both left and right, political combatants fight to force others to bow to their view of what Kansas children should be taught. They have to fight. We have one system of government schools that everyone must use (or pay doubly to escape). The victors, then, have great power over the minds of children, and everyone must bow to their will.

This election vividly demonstrates that we are foolish to leave the responsibility for the education of children to politicians. Combining this election with the controversy over Kansas school finance provides ample evidence that politicians and education bureaucrats are more interested in their own power, their ability to force others to submit to their vision of the world, than they are about the meaningful education of children.

During the past few years there has been little discussion of what would really improve education in Kansas: simply give parents control over the education of their children. By implementing school choice through vouchers, let parents decide whether schools — public or private, secular or religious, large or small — are doing a good job for their children. By letting markets, rather than government, provide schooling, parents can choose what type of school they want for their children. They wouldn’t be subject to the whims of what elected politicians, education bureaucrats, and teachers union bosses believe is best for them.

Let the government of the State of Kansas relinquish its monopoly on the financing and production of schooling — the very type of monopoly power that, if wielded by private enterprise, would be condemned as unjust and immoral.

But the public education lobby in Kansas works very effectively to protect its monopoly. In the meantime, schoolchildren fall farther behind.

Government Charity in Sedgwick County

At the July 25, 2006 Sedgwick County Commission meeting, during the public hearing on the proposed 2007 Sedgwick County budget, a speaker said this in support of funding for mental health services: “I agree with the previous presenter and I’d be willing to forego a few cheeseburgers this year so that if I need to pay more taxes to help provide services, I’m willing to do that.”

It hardly seems necessary to remind this speaker that she may give whatever she wants of her time and money to any organization she wants. She doesn’t need the Sedgwick County Commission to do it for her.

This speaker may be thinking that if she agrees to pay a little more in taxes to support her cause, then everyone else will have to pay more, too. In this way, her small additional sacrifice is leveraged by the additional taxes everyone else must pay.

In fact, many people think this way. Everyone has their own ideas of what the government should do, and if by paying just a little more in taxes myself I can get the government to tax everyone else, why, that’s quite a good deal for me and my pet project!

The problem is that this government activity is wrong. The economist Walter E. Williams makes the case succinctly:

Can a moral case be made for taking the rightful property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong? I think not. That’s why socialism is evil. It uses evil means (coercion) to achieve what are seen as good ends (helping people). We might also note that an act that is inherently evil does not become moral simply because there’s a majority consensus.

It doesn’t matter how noble the cause. To take from one and give to another is wrong, even if it is to provide food or medical services to truly needy people.

Furthermore, this government “charity” deprives us of our ability to give true charity ourselves, and in the process, makes us less happy than we could be. Arthur C. Brooks, associate professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Affairs, in a commentary in the December 8, 2005 Wall Street Journal titled “Money Buys Happiness” tells us this:

In fact there is another explanation for unchanging happiness levels over time which is rather less supportive of income redistribution. As incomes rise, so generally do levels of government revenues and spending, and there is evidence that these forces work against personal income on the overall level of happiness. For example, a $1,000 increase in per capita income is associated with a one-point decrease in the percentage of Americans saying they are “not too happy.” At the same time, a $1,000 increase in government revenues per capita is associated with a two-point rise in the percentage of Americans saying they are not too happy. In other words, not only can money buy happiness, but it may be that the government can tax it away as well.

Mr. Brooks also tells us that donating money and time — that is, the giving of charity — illustrates the link between money and happiness: “Givers of charity earn substantial mental and physical health rewards, even more than do the recipients of charity — empirical evidence that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive.”

The operative idea is “to give.” When government takes by taxation, it is not giving.

Wichita (and Kansas) Democrats illustrate progress in education

This use of the greengrocers’ apostrophe in the headline of an article on the Kansas Democratic Party’s website on July 25, 2006 tells us something, but I don’t quite know what.

As of August 1, 2006, this mistake is uncorrected. It appears below this headline:

“Sebelius: Kansas children win in school finance decision
Ruling shows commitment to schools is improving education in Kansas”

It appears above this headline:

“Governor Kathleen Sebelius to Chair Education Commission of the States”

The promoting of our governor’s commitment to education sandwiches a glaring headline mistake that, in days past, would be recognized immediately. Now, apparently these mistakes are tolerated, or worse, not even noticed as mistakes.

I hope that no Kansas schoolchildren read the Kansas Democratic Party website, so they don’t think it’s acceptable behavior to punctuate poorly in public.

Unintended but foreseeable harms of the minimum wage

Understanding the minimum wage, and why an increase will be harmful to those it is meant to help, requires thinking beyond stage one.

Commentary by David R. Henderson in the August 1, 2006 Wall Street Journal shows how the unintended effects may harm those who are still working after an increase in the minimum wage:

… because the minimum wage does not make employees automatically more productive, employers who must pay higher wages will look for other ways to compensate: by cutting non-wage benefits, by working the labor force harder, or by cutting training. Interestingly, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a union-funded organization in Washington that pushes for higher minimum wages, implicitly admits the last two of these three. On its Web site, EPI states, “employers may be able to absorb some of the costs of a wage increase through higher productivity, lower recruiting and training costs, decreased absenteeism, and increased worker morale.” How would an employer get higher productivity and decreased absenteeism? By working the employers harder and firing those who miss work. Lower training costs? By training less.

Other things employers might to do compensate for higher labor costs include these:

  • Reduce non-wage benefits such as health insurance.
  • Eliminate overtime hours that many employees rely on.
  • Substitute machines for labor. We might see more self-service checkout lanes at supermarkets, for example.
  • Use illegal labor. Examples include paying employees under the table, or requiring work off-the-clock.
  • Some employers may be more willing to bear the risks of using undocumented workers who can’t complain that they aren’t being paid the minimum wage.
  • Some employers may decide that the risks and hassles of being in business aren’t worth it anymore, and will close shop.

Increasing the wellbeing of low-wage workers requires more work than passing a mere law.

Problem of low wages not easily solved

It seems like an easy fix for social injustice: pass a law requiring employers to pay workers more than they would otherwise. Magically, everyone has more wealth.

It would be nice if it were so easy and simple. Looking at only the immediate effects and listening to the rhetoric of some politicians and editorial writers, it would seem that a higher minimum wage is good. But considering all effects of a higher minimum wage reveals a different situation.

As Milton Friedman writes in Capitalism and Freedom:

Minimum wage laws are about as clear a case as one can find of a measure the effects of which are precisely the opposite of those intended by the men of good will who support it. Many proponents of minimum wage laws quite properly deplore extremely low rates; they regard them as a sign of poverty; and they hope, by outlawing wage rates below some specified level, to reduce poverty. In fact, insofar as minimum wage laws have any effect at all, their effect is clearly to increase poverty. The state can legislate a minimum wage rate. It can hardly require employers to hire at that minimum all who were formerly employed at wages below the minimum. … The effect of the minimum wage is therefore to make unemployment higher than it otherwise would be.

There are those who say that increasing the minimum wage won’t have any impact on the demand for labor, and therefore people won’t lose jobs. But that is false. If it weren’t false, why not raise the minimum wage to, say, $25? Most people would say that at that level, employers wouldn’t hire low-skill workers because they aren’t “worth” that much. But some workers aren’t “worth” even the present minimum wage, or they could find jobs at this wage.

(When we say workers aren’t “worth” a certain wage, we are really saying that the marketplace — that’s you and me — places a certain value on the output the worker is able to produce. It has nothing to do with their worth as a person. It has everything to do with their ability to produce goods and services that people are willing to pay for.)

Furthermore, if we are willing to agree that raising the price of employing certain workers won’t decrease the demand for their labor, we also have to be willing to ignore the law of supply and demand, which states that as the price if something increases, less will be demanded. I am confident that this law applies.

The problem is that an increase in the minimum wage does nothing to increase the productivity of workers, and increasing productivity is the only way that workers can make real progress.

How do we increase worker productivity? One way is through education. Sadly, as documented in many articles on this website, our public education system is failing children badly.

Capital — another way to increase wages — may be a dirty word to some. But as the economist Walter E. Williams says, ask yourself this question: who earns the higher wage: a man digging a ditch with a shovel, or a man digging a ditch using a power backhoe? The difference between the two is that the man with the backhoe is more productive. That productivity is provided by capital — the savings that someone accumulated (instead of spending on immediate consumption) and invested in a piece of equipment that helped workers to increase their output. Those who call for higher taxes — often the same people calling for a higher minimum wage — make it more difficult to accumulate capital.

These are the things we must do to increase productivity, and with it, real wealth. If the solution was really as simple as some claim, that in order to increase the wellbeing of low-wage workers we could merely pass a law, shouldn’t we be outraged that this law wasn’t passed a long time ago?

Then, if a law is passed to raise the minimum wage to x, shouldn’t we insist that it have been increased to x + $1, or x + $2, or x + …?

No, the solution to low wages is much more difficult than that.

Eminent Doman and the Downtown Wichita Arena

Thank you to John Todd for this excellent material.


Testimony in Opposition to the County’s use of Eminent Domain for the Arena Project.

Dear Commissioners:

My name is John Todd. I am a real estate broker and developer and I come before you in opposition to the County’s proposed use of eminent domain for the downtown arena footprint.

On August 25, 2004 and prior to the arena vote in November of that year, I presented testimony before this Commission questioning the wisdom of building a downtown arena without knowing the exact location of the parcel(s) of land the project would be located on. I asked the questions, does the Commission know the exact location of the arena project? Is the needed land for sale? Are the property owners willing to selling their land? And, most importantly, has the County secured a contract option to purchase the needed land with an exact purchase price? I believed then and now that the taxpaying public needed to know the answers to those questions before making a decision on a $184.5 million dollar project in the voting booth. From what I have been reading in the news recently, it seems apparent to me now that County officials failed in their “due diligence” responsibility to the citizens of this county by not securing the land for the arena in advance, and should now be willing to authorize another “non-binding” or perhaps a “binding” and final public vote on the arena project.

There is precedence for another vote since a “non-binding” no vote in 1992 was ignored by local officials, and perhaps a third and perhaps this time a “binding” vote could be used to settle this matter for good, with the express stipulation that any sales tax money collected for the arena to date be used to reduce property taxes in the county through a reduced mil levy over the next 2 or 3 years. As you will recall, the fear of higher property taxes was the primary argument proponents for the arena used in securing their thin 48% to 52% yes vote in 2004. Perhaps the prospect of property tax reduction would appeal to the voters. And another vote on an arena could give the county commission an opportunity to avoid the confrontational use of their eminent domain power to involuntarily strip 22 property owners of their land and in some cases businesses.

I oppose the County’s use of their eminent domain power to correct the due diligence responsibilities to the citizens of Sedgwick County they missed when they failed to secure the arena footprint land in advance of any public vote for funding on the project.

Secure private property rights are the bedrock for all of our other rights. Eminent domain abuse damages people’s faith in their own government, and people who are not secure in their own possessions cannot plan for their own future. A healthy economy is best achieved when individuals are free to use their own resources as they see fit. When government decides how the individual uses his property, the resultant system works poorly because it necessitates the use of coercion. The protection of private property rights is therefore essential to a healthy economy.

Nobel Prize winning economists Milton Friedman says, “In an economically free society, the fundamental function of government is the protection of private property and the provision of a stable infrastructure for a voluntary exchange system. When a government fails to protect private property, takes property itself without full compensation, or establishes restrictions (and follows policies) that limit voluntary exchange, it violates the economic freedom of its citizens.”

School lawsuit likely to resume after election

School Lawsuit Likely to Resume After Election
By Karl Peterjohn, Kansas Taxpayers Network

School finance lawsuits have been a driving force behind state spending policy for almost two decades in Kansas. The July 28 Kansas Supreme Court ruling only ends the latest and most expensive school finance lawsuit. This decision only creates a brief pause until the inconvenience of the 2006 election is behind us in just over 100 days.

The Democratic and liberal dominated Kansas Supreme Court issued their latest spending edict that almost invited another school finance lawsuit. Ending the case was the court’s latest effort to end the close scrutiny and political controversy concerning the ethical misbehavior, improper communications, and irregular proceedings that have dogged this case since it arrived at the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kansas lawsuits to raise state spending began in the 1980’s and the end of the Montoy case is a legal victory for Attorney General Phill Kline and the state school board but this entire legal mess is a terrible loss for Kansas taxpayers and the future of this state’s economy. One of the legislators running for Governor, Senator Jim Barnett, R-Emporia reacted to the decision saying, “Unfortunately, the decision neither approves nor disapproves the recently passed school finance bill, clearly indicating that the Court expects further involvement in school finance decisions.”

The increased fiscal uncertainty and risk contained within this legal house of mirrors will keep Kansas operating in the economic slow lane for the indefinite future. Kansas already has high tax rates in addition to being a low income state.

The sizable local property tax hikes contained within the legislation the court approved provide another problem for the already overburdened Kansas taxpayer. The cumulative cost over five years from the latest school finance lawsuit will be well over $2 billion. Ironically, the teachers unions, school administrators and the rest of the government school spending lobbyists continue to claim that Kansas spending on public schools does not keep up with inflation. Actually, Kansas spending for public schools far exceeds any and all inflation measures.

The school finance lawsuits have had a major negative impact on the Kansas economy. The Kansas and Arkansas school finance lawsuits have also led to copycat litigation in neighboring Oklahoma. Texas’ school finance lawsuit contrasted significantly with Kansas by creating a huge $15 billion cut in property taxes that nets out to an overall $11 billion tax cut there. Texas did increase teacher salaries as well as expand some school spending too.

Kansas school finance litigation has spawned another massive spending spree that has led the legislature, with today’s court approval, on a three year spending plan that will tie the hands of future legislatures and is not fully funded. This spending plan depends on state tax collections growing. If the growth in tax revenues slows, than higher taxes or some other revenue source, can you hear the casinos calling, must be found.

The dismissal of the Montoy case is a disappointment to spending advocates who were looking for this to be a perpetual increase for government school spending. The ethical violation charges and improper judicial behavior complaints that have touched all of the members of the Kansas Supreme Court to varying degrees during the last year are a prime reason the court wanted this case terminated. The judicial activism the court displayed in 2005 had disappeared in today’s ruling.

The latest edict from the Kansas Supreme Court indicated that increasing state public school spending by over $2 billion between 2005-06 and 2008-09 was approved with this cautionary note when the court said, “The sole issue now before this court is whether the legislation passed in 2005 and S.B. 549 (this year’s school spending bill) comply with the previous order of this court. If they do then our inquiry ends and this case must be dismissed. A constitutional challenge of S.B. 549 must wait for another day.” Hang onto your wallets and purses because another lawsuit will appear soon.

Adjusting the testing gap

In the July 25, 2006 Wall Street Journal, Charles Murray has a commentary titled “Acid Tests” which describes how the way that the No Child Left Behind program uses test scores is misleading.

By adjusting what states use to measure “proficiency,” states can appear to be closing the gap between different groups of students. In Texas, the gap between the percentage of white and black students that passed a test was at one time 35 percentage points. Now it is only ten. Does that mean the gap in true student learning and performance has decreased?

The answer is we can’t tell from the data we have. Perhaps Texas made the test easier, or changed the definition of passing, or “taught to the test.” Any of these could explain the narrowing of the gap. As Mr. Murray wrote: “If there really was closure of the gap, all that Texas has to do is release the group means, as well as information about the black and white distributions of scores, and it will easy to measure it.”

The fact is that these tests, administered by the individual states, are subject to manipulation that is not in the best interests of schoolchildren:

Question: Doesn’t this mean that the same set of scores could be made to show a rising or falling group difference just by changing the definition of a passing score? Answer: Yes.

At stake is not some arcane statistical nuance. The federal government is doling out rewards and penalties to school systems across the country based on changes in pass percentages. It is an uninformative measure for many reasons, but when it comes to measuring one of the central outcomes sought by No Child Left Behind, the closure of the achievement gap that separates poor students from rich, Latino from white, and black from white, the measure is beyond uninformative. It is deceptive.

You can learn more about deceptive testing from a recent study performed by The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. A press release titled “Testing the NCLB: Study shows that NCLB hasn’t significantly impacted national achievement scores or narrowed the racial gaps” is at http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/news/pressreleases/nclb_report06.php.

Kansas Taxpayers Network 2006 legislative vote ratings released

Thank you to Karl Peterjohn for compiling this valuable resource. You can examine the rankings at the Kansas Taxpayers Network website at www.kansastaxpayers.com. Following is a press release describing the ratings.

17 Legislators Earn 100% rating for 2006 Fiscal Votes

“There are 17 Kansas legislators who scored 100% on the Kansas Taxpayers Network’s 2006 fiscal scorecard,” said KTN Executive Director Karl Peterjohn. Legislators were measured on their votes on tax and fiscal issues as well as their votes on reining in judicial activists and judicial appropriations. This scorecard also measured on their votes on correcting eminent domain abuse in the wake of the controversial Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. KTN also scored legislators on votes cast that would make this state more economically competitive with the rest of the country and provide property tax relief.

“KTN has posted the 2006 legislative vote rating at www.kansastaxpayers.com,” said Peterjohn. “We hope that all fiscally concerned Kansans will carefully examine how their legislators have been voting at the statehouse during this election year.”

There are nine house members who scored 100% on KTN’s rating: Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora; Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center; Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe; Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Fredonia; Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita; Rep. Ty Masterson, R-Andover; Rep. Don Myers, R-Derby; Rep. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee; and Rep. Jason Watkins, R-Wichita.

Eight senators earned 100% from KTN. They are: Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia; Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Meade; Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville; Sen. Kay O’Connor, R-Olathe; Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell; Sen. Peggy Palmer, R-Augusta; Sen. Mike Petersen, R-Wichita; Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha; and Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita.

In addition, there were 16 senators and 50 representatives who scored 75% or higher on KTN’s 2006 vote rating and are listed as “taxpayer friendly,” by this group. Peterjohn added, “KTN’s scorecard is valuable since many other groups that used to measure legislators” votes no longer use a straightforward scoring system that is transparent and readily understandable to Kansans.”

Kansas Taxpayers Network (KTN) is a statewide taxpayer organization based in Wichita. This is the 11th year that KTN has rated legislators’ fiscal votes. Legislators are measured on both their 2006 votes as well as their lifetime score based upon votes cast while serving in the legislature since 1996. KTN also circulates the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and will be issuing a news release on pledge signers before the August 1 primary election.

Consider carefully costs of a new Wichita airport terminal

As Wichita considers building a new terminal at its airport, we should pause to consider the effect an expensive new terminal would have on the cost of traveling to and from Wichita, and by extension, the economic health and vitality of our town.

My reading reveals that airlines are starting to become alarmed at the high costs some airports charge airlines for using their facilities. A recent Wall Street Journal article (“Airports Start to Feel the Sting Of Airline Cost-Cutting Efforts” published on May 17, 2006) reads, in part:

The same economic forces in the air-travel business that have created buy-your-own box lunches in coach and fully reclining seats for long flights in business class are now showing up in a split at airports. The split is creating tensions as cash-strapped airlines balk at paying for first-class airports. Air Canada, the main tenant of the new terminal in Toronto, says it can’t afford the high fees.

Airports have long been considered economic-development tools for the communities that own them. Many, like Toronto, erected palatial terminals to showcase their cities and passed on the costs to airlines and passengers. Even as airlines have gone bankrupt, airport earnings have risen.

Now, the combination of financial woes of traditional airlines and the explosion of low-cost competitors around the world is forcing big changes in airport design and operation. Airlines, which have already won concessions from employees, travel agents and suppliers, are now putting pressure on airports to cut costs and fees. And low-cost carriers have sparked the creation of bare-bones depots, like Schiphol’s “Pier H,” in Europe and Asia.

“Many airport monopolies still operate in the dark ages. And our patience has worn out,” says Giovanni Bisignani, director general of the International Air Transport Association, the airline trade group that has spearheaded an attack on airport charges in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Closer to home, and very relevant to Wichita’s desire to attract additional low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines, we learn from the same article that Southwest is quite sensitive to the costs it faces:

Denver International, which was attacked for its high fees when it opened in 1995, has since cut costs and reduced fees, winning back low-cost Southwest Airlines. And some airports, such as Schiphol and the Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany, have moved ahead by luring new airlines with low operating costs. In the low-margin airline world, a savings of a few dollars per passenger can turn an unprofitable flight into a money-maker, especially among discount airlines charging less than $100 per ticket.

“Nowadays if you start to build a new terminal, you are no longer able to build a castle,” says Michael Garvens, chairman of the Cologne Bonn Airport, which opened a terminal for low-cost airlines in December 2004.

We certainly don’t want to be placed in the position of Seattle, where Southwest cut its service there because of costs. From the article “Airport costs climb” from the Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) on March 5, 2004 we can read this:

The $587 million cost of the South Terminal expansion at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is driving away at least one of the very carriers it was intended to attract. … But Southwest Airlines in January cut its daily flights between Seattle and Spokane from eight to five, reducing its overall daily flights through Sea-Tac to 36. According to Southwest manager of properties Amy Weaver, the move was largely due to the airport’s rising per-passenger costs for carriers.

Talking to some people and reading some remarks, it seems as though not many are too concerned about the costs of a new terminal, as it will be paid for by federal money and airline fees. But someone pays those federal tax dollars, and now we learn that airlines, especially discount carriers, are sensitive to the fees they must pay to use airports.

The Wichita Eagle recently reported that Wichita airport officials have been talking with the airlines, and the airlines are “happy with the prospect of a new terminal.” That is directly contradictory to the reporting contained in the two articles cited above.

Local business leaders tell us that we must have an airport that makes a good first impression for Wichita. A grand airport terminal is impressive until you realize who pays for such things. I have been in terminals in fine cities — Denver and Salt Lake City come to mind — where the gate area is quite spartan, being built from corrugated steel in the manner of a warehouse. And if I remember correctly, in Salt Lake City the concourse I used was not even sealed to the elements.

In Cincinnati, Comair, part of the Delta network, has its own remote gate area. That building is plain in its construction, but worked very well. (As Delta and Comair no longer fly to this destination from Wichita, I guess it doesn’t matter now.) I appreciated these facilities for what appeared to be their concerted effort to hold down costs.

In Wichita, we should remember that fewer passengers used our airport in 2005 than did in 2004. In 2006, each month’s traffic has been less than that for same month from last year. We are told not to worry about this, that air traffic is down nationwide, but the decline in Wichita is several times that of the nationwide trend.

(From the ATA Monthly Passenger Traffic Report, enplanements nationwide are down 0.6% for the first five months of 2006, compared to the same months from 2005. In Wichita, enplanements for the first five months of 2006 are 284,848, compared to 300,169 for the first five months of 2005. That is a drop of 5.1%.)

At the same time our airport traffic is rapidly declining, AirTran, the local discount carrier, is experiencing increased passenger counts, meaning that we are becoming increasingly dependent on a discount carrier. (For the first five months of 2005, AirTran’s share of traffic in Wichita was 6.7%. For the first five months of 2006, AirTran’s share is 10.6%.)

As the articles cited above tell us, these low-costs carriers are very sensitive to the cost of using airports. AirTran may not be concerned, at least not regarding its cost in using the Wichita airport, as our local governments reimburse AirTran for its losses.

Airport officials tell us that fixing what is wrong with our existing terminal will cost nearly as much as building a new terminal. It is difficult for me to believe this. We must find a way to hold down the costs that airlines and travelers face when flying to and from Wichita. Our current airport officials do not seem to agree.

Remarks to Wichita City Council Regarding the AirTran Subsidy on July 11, 2006

Mr. Mayor, Members of the City Council:

You may recall that I have spoken to this body in years past expressing my opposition to the AirTran subsidy. At that time we were told that the subsidy was intended to be a short-tem measure. Today, four years after the start of the subsidy, with state funding planned for the next five years, it looks as though it is a permanent fixture.

Supporters of the subsidy have made a variety of claims in its support: that the subsidy and the accompanying Fair Fares program are responsible for $4.8 billion in economic impact, that being a pioneer in subsidizing airlines is equivalent to the role that Kansas played in the years immediately prior to the Civil War, and that we would have a mass exodus of companies leaving Wichita if the subsidy were to end.

I believe there is no doubt that fares are lower than what they would be if not for the subsidy. That points to the subsidy’s true achievement: government-imposed price controls. Its effect is to force many airlines to price their Wichita fares lower than they would otherwise. If it didn’t do that, there would be no reason to continue the subsidy.

Economists tell us — and human behavior confirms — that when the price of any good is held lower than it would be in a free market, the result is a reduction in the quantity supplied.

We see this happening. Earlier this year the Wichita Eagle reported that there are fewer daily flights supplied to and from Wichita, from 56 last year to 42 at the time of the article. It has been explained that the financial woes of Delta and NWA are to blame for this reduction. This is demonstrably false, as NWA recently added a daily flight to Wichita, and both airlines have added (and dropped) flights on many routes while in bankruptcy. Furthermore, even though in bankruptcy, theses airlines still desire to operate as profitably as possible.

Now we learn that the legacy airlines — those established, older airlines that take pride in their comprehensive nationwide networks of routes — are revising their strategies. A Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year (“Major Airlines Fuel a Recovery By Grounding Unprofitable Flights” published on June 5, 2006) tells us that the legacy airlines are beginning to look at the profitability of each route and flight. They are not as interested as they have been in providing flights just for the sake of having a complete nationwide network.

When we couple this change in airline strategy with our local price controls, I believe that we in Wichita are in danger of losing more service from the legacy airlines. If AirTran — a new-generation airline with low labor costs — can’t earn a profit on its Wichita route at the fares it charges, how can the legacy airlines be expected to do so? And if they can’t earn a profit on a flight to or from Wichita, and if they are beginning to scrutinize the profitability of each flight, can we expect them to continue providing service in Wichita?

No government has ever been able to successfully impose price controls without the people suffering harmful consequences. As economist Thomas Sowell wrote in a 2005 column:

Prices are perhaps the most misunderstood thing in economics. Whenever prices are “too high” — whether these are prices of medicines or of gasoline or all sorts of other things — many people think the answer is for the government to force those prices down.

It so happens there is a history of price controls and their consequences in countries around the world, going back literally thousands of years. But most people who advocate price controls are as unaware of, and uninterested in, that history as I was in the law of gravity.

Prices are not just arbitrary numbers plucked out of the air or numbers dependent on whether sellers are “greedy” or not. In the competition of the marketplace, prices are signals that convey underlying realities about relative scarcities and relative costs of production.

Those underlying realities are not changed in the slightest by price controls. You might as well try to deal with someone’s fever by putting the thermometer in cold water to lower the reading.

This is my fear, that someday I will open the newspaper and learn that American, United, Delta, Northwest, or Continental has reduced or even ceased service to and from Wichita. That day, when it becomes difficult to travel to or from Wichita at any price, that is the day we will feel the harm the subsidy causes.

On a personal level, my job as software engineer requires me to make from ten to twenty airline trips each year. Some of the places I travel to — Jackson, Mississippi and Lexington, Kentucky, for example — are not served by AirTran. If I am not able to travel there, no matter what the price, I will either have to find a different job or move from Wichita.

Mr. Mayor and Council Members, I urge you to reconsider your support of the AirTran subsidy. Even though the legislature and governor have agreed to pay for most of the subsidy, I believe the subsidy is not in our long-term interest. We need to let the price system, operating in a free market, do its job in guiding the allocation of scarce resources for both producers and consumers. The result may be more expensive fares. The alternative, which is the very real possibility of greatly reduced service to and from Wichita, is much more harmful.

Other Voice For Liberty in Wichita articles on this topic:

The AirTran Subsidy and its Unseen Effects
As Expected, Price Controls Harm Wichita Travelers
AirTran Subsidy Is Harmful
Wichita City Council Meeting, April 19, 2005
Wichita Eagle Says “AirTran Subsidies Foster Competition”
AirTran Subsidy Remarks
The Downside of Being the Air Cap by Harry R. Clements. This article makes a striking conclusion as to why airfares in Wichita were so high.
Letter to County Commissioners Regarding AirTran Subsidy
Open Letter to Wichita City Council Regarding AirTran Subsidy
Stretching Figures Strains Credibility

Even the New York Times recognizes testing fraud

A July 2, 2006 New York Times editorial titled “The School Testing Dodge” realizes that nearly all states report student achievement scores, as measured by their own tests, that are much higher than what the same students do on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress exam. An extended quotation from the editorial:

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a research institute run jointly by Stanford and the University of California, showed that in many states students who performed brilliantly on state tests scored dismally on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is currently the strongest, most well-respected test in the country.

The study analyzed state-level testing practices from 1992 to 2005. It found that many states were dumbing down their tests or shifting the proficiency targets in math and reading, creating a fraudulent appearance of progress and making it impossible to tell how well students were actually performing.

Not all states have tried to evade the truth. The tests in Massachusetts, for example, yield performance results that are reasonably close to the federal standard. Not so for states like Oklahoma, where the score gap between state and federal tests has averaged 48 points in reading and 60 points in math, according to the PACE report. The states that want to mislead the government — and their own residents — use a variety of dodges, including setting passing scores low, using weak tests and switching tests from year to year to prevent unflattering comparisons over time. These strategies become transparent when the same students who perform so well on state tests do poorly on the more rigorous federal exam. Most alarming of all, the PACE study finds that the gap between student reading performance on the state and federal tests has actually grown wider over time — which suggests that claims of reading progress in many states are in fact phony.

I have written in the past about the discrepancies between state test results and NAEP test results (see No Child Left Behind Leaving Many Behind, Schoolchildren Will Be Basically Proficient, and Every State Left Behind). What is the solution to this problem? Most families don’t have much choice except to accept and use the existing public schools in their state and their fraudulent test results. With school choice implemented through meaningful vouchers, parents will have an alternative to the public school monopoly. If parents do not believe the test results the public schools report, they will be able to do something meaningful: move their children to a different school. As of now, parents have little choice and few weapons to use against the public school bureaucracy — except for the NAEP test results.

Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas

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