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Voice For Liberty

How government makes us unhappy

Arthur C. Brooks, associate professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs, has a commentary in the December 8, 2005 Wall Street Journal titled "Money Buys Happiness." Rich people, the author tells us, are much more likely to say they are happy. Although we are becoming richer as a whole, the percent of people saying they are "very happy" is the same today as it was 30 years ago. Some people say it's the rich having relatively more than others that makes them happy. This excess happiness of the rich being bad, they say, we should use progressive taxation to improve our "moral fiber" by making after-tax incomes less divergent.

More Under Reported Kansas News

More Under Reported Kansas News
By Karl Peterjohn, Executive Director Kansas Taxpayers Network

There are at least two stories that have not received the mainstream news media attention that they deserve in Kansas. Kansans need more information than they have received and the readers should decide whether the following is unreported or just under reported in their daily, mainstream newspaper coverage.

It was headlines across Kansas when Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison announced his candidacy for Attorney General. Morrison, a liberal Johnson County Republican prior to his announcement, bailed out of the GOP said he was going to run as a Democrat. This announcement and the headline news stories that followed led to analysis pieces discussing the split in the Kansas Republican Party and the “problems” facing Attorney General Phill Kline’s 2006 campaign for reelection.

What is fascinating in seeing the mainstream Kansas press’ bias was a couple of weeks later when Attorney General Kline announced that 89 of 105 county sheriffs were endorsing him for reelection. Even more remarkable was the fact that 8 of 13 Democrat sheriffs were among the 89.

Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity

This is a wonderful book that can teach anyone what is important to know about economics. It teaches the insights that people can use to understand and evaluate the mechanism of our economy and government themselves. It is not a textbook with charts, graphs, and formulas. It requires no special prerequisite from the reader.

Wal-Mart. More hypocrisy.

Currently it is quite fashionable to criticize Wal-Mart as the starting point for everything evil about American business. Critics allege that Wal-Mart earns too much profit, pays its employees too little, doesn't provide its employees health insurance so they have to rely on the government, it exploits low-paid workers in China, and might even be responsible for avian flu, for all I know.

The Random Walk Guide to Investing

The title of this book derives from the author's famous book A Random Walk Down Wall Street, published in 1973. That book, and this too, refer to the theory of efficient markets. In the author's words: "The main premise of the theory is that the stock market is an extraordinarily efficient institution for reflecting without delay any information that arises. When news arises, an army of profit-seeking Wall Street professionals pounces on it rapidly, driving stock prices up or down. As a result, stock prices reflect whatever good or bad news there is about each individual company or about the economy as a whole."

Every state left behind

In Kansas, according to Standard & Poor's Statewide Education Insights, about 60% to 70% of students are proficient in reading, as evaluated by the Kansas state reading test. But on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, only 33% to 35% of Kansas students are proficient. A similar discrepancy exists in the math test scores.

Book review: Class Warfare

In Lake Wobegon, "every child is above average," Garrison Keillor says. In my personal experience, I can't think of any parents I know who don't have children who are not gifted or doing much better than average. After learning about the theory of Multiple Intelligences in chapter four of this book, I now know why all children are gifted.

Hypocrisy over oil profits abounds

The recent swell of criticism over oil company "windfall" profits, some even coming from people who should know better, is truly remarkable in its hypocrisy.

Big government is thoroughly entrenched

Faced with even this barely noticeable reduction in spending, advocates of big government are in full fighting trim: "Their Congressional leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, have denounced even these paltry GOP savings as 'shameful' and 'immoral.' They even brought a dozen Katrina Hurricane victims to Washington, trotted them out in front of the national media, and proceeded to lambaste Republicans for shredding the social safety net."

Kansas Income Growth Lags

By Karl Peterjohn

You will earn more if you do not work in Kansas. That is nothing new but the size and scope of the economic problem facing Kansans has become more vivid. National data has regularly shown that Kansans’ incomes are lower than the national average and this is impacting the economic climate in this state.

In September, Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research issued a report showing how badly Kansas lagged with the fastest and slowest growing parts of the United States. In this report Kansas vividly contrasted with fast growing Colorado in all of the measurements being used.

Colorado, which has been benefiting from their Taxpayers Bill Of Rights limits on state and local government spending increases, had the best economy in our region. Colorado was in the ten fastest growing states when total personal income, earnings per job, per capita income, full, and part-time job growth were measured. Naturally, jobs and income then have an impact reflected in Colorado’s fast growing population too.

What the Wichita State University study did not report was how Kansas measured when compared with all four of our immediate neighbors. This is bad news for Kansas.

Vincent Dubois, Organ

On November 8, 2005, young French organist Vincent Dubois played a recital as part of the Rie Bloomfield Organ Series at Wiedemann Recital Hall, Wichita State University.

I attended his recital last year, and again a most remarkable thing about watching Mr. Dubois play is how effortless he makes it appear. He plays from memory, so there are no scores to fiddle with. He seems totally relaxed, his hands and feet merely skimming and floating over the keys and pedals. Managing the resources of the organ never seems to get in the way of making music, and wonderful music he makes.

This recital lasted fully two hours including an encore. It was attended by the largest audience I have seen for an organ recital at Wiedemann Recital Hall.

One piece Mr. Dubois played was the C-sharp minor prelude by Rachmaninoff, transcribed for organ by Louis Vierne. To me, this piece, one of the most famous in the piano repertoire, is so closely associated with that instrument that it was somewhat bizarre to hear it on organ.

Mr. Dubois played a piece titled Evocation II by the French organist and composer Thierry Escaich. This was an exciting, contemporary, virtuosic piece that prompted an outcry from at least one audience member at its end.

As the last piece, Mr. Dubois improvised on a theme. The improvisations are amazing. Last year he improvised a prelude and fugue on a submitted theme. This year the improvisation was what I would describe as a prelude.

Local economic development in Wichita

There is an interesting academic paper titled "The Failures of Economic Development Incentives," published in Journal of the American Planning Association, and which can be read here: www.planning.org/japa/pdf/04winterecondev.pdf. A few quotes from the study:

Given the weak effects of incentives on the location choices of businesses at the interstate level, state governments and their local governments in the aggregate probably lose far more revenue, by cutting taxes to firms that would have located in that state anyway than they gain from the few firms induced to change location.

Tax reform and simplification

Our tax system has a bias against saving and investment. That slows capital formation and wage growth.

Taxpayer Bill Of Rights (TABOR) eviscerated

By Karl Peterjohn

Governor Bill Owens won a Pyrrhic victory in his campaign to eliminate the Taxpayers Bill Of Rights (TABOR) limits on government growth in Colorado. Owens' short lived Proposition C victory will lead to a host of long term consequences that are mainly negative for Coloradans looking for a better economic future for themselves and their families. Passage of Proposition C is huge defeat for economic freedom across the country and a setback for fiscal responsibility.

The passage of Proposition C will mark a key political and public policy turning point that ends Owens' career as a fiscally conservative Republican. Owens is truly now a political lame-duck who will be known forever more as the individual primarily responsible for the demise of TABOR. Among fiscal conservatives nationwide he is now a political dead-duck. A couple of years ago National Review featured Owens as a potential presidential model for GOP conservatives. Now he is nothing more than another Republican office holder who "grew in office."

While it is certainly true that the entire Colorado Democrat Party, their mainstream media allies, and the usual leftie academic types also bear significant responsibility for the outcome of this vote, the face on the evisceration of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights will be, and should be, Governor Bill Owens. Now, TABOR is wounded but it not dead. Here's what the Left will target next based on the Kansas model.

Reports of TABOR’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

by Alan Cobb

The supporters of Big Government were overjoyed this week when 52 percent of Colorado voters backed an effort to fix a glitch in that state's hugely successful Taxpayer's Bill of Rights by allowing the state government to keep an estimated $3.7 billion in scheduled tax relief over the next five years.

This vote, they claimed, was a sign that the voters of Colorado had rejected their Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, and that taxpayers across the nation should consider the Colorado vote a reason to oppose similar tax-and-spending limits in their own states.

On the contrary, what Coloradoans actually did on Tuesday is vote to make their Taxpayer's Bill of Rights look more like the improved version that is currently being proposed here in Kansas and in more than 20 other states.

Colorado approved the nation's first constitutional Taxpayer's Bill of Rights in 1992. It limits the growth in state spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth, and it requires voter approval before politicians can raise taxes or spend above that limit.

Since Colorado enacted its Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, millions of that state's citizens have reaped the benefits. For example, in the eight years before Colorado voters enacted the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), the state ranked 43rd nationally in median family income growth. Since then, Colorado is 7th. Before TABOR, Colorado ranked 33rd nationally in job growth. Since then, Colorado is 6th. Before TABOR, Colorado ranked 43rd nationally in economic growth per capita, and since then it ranks 7th. TABOR opponents give the credit for Colorado's recent economic success to the Rocky Mountains, apparently forgetting that the Rockies didn't just spring up from the Plains in the 1990s.

What Is the true state of public education in Kansas?

So what is the true state of public education in Kansas? There are many studies and statistics available. Many contradict the conclusions made by others. Constituencies such as the teachers unions and the education establishment tell us they have only the welfare of the children as their concern, but many times they act otherwise. Who is qualified to decide what to do?

How one school found a way to spell success

In the October 14, 2005 Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger wrote about an elementary school in Little Rock, Arkansas that experienced a remarkable turnaround in student achievement. This poor school, where 92% of the students live at or below the poverty level, was able to increase its scores on an achievement test by 17% in one year.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

This is an interesting book that tells us that often the way to affect change is not through heavy-handed techniques, but by paying attention to small things that can make all the difference. Mr. Gladwell tells us about the Law of the Few (connectors, mavens, and salesmen), which means that the personal characteristics of people make a big difference. The Stickiness Factor explains how small changes in the presentation or characteristics of something can make a huge difference in its effectiveness. The Power of Context tells us how seemingly small changes like the vigilant effort to remove graffiti in New York City subway cars led to a larger reduction in serious crime in the subways.

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