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:
Voice For Liberty
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.
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 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.
Understanding the minimum wage, and why an increase will be harmful to those it is meant to help, requires thinking beyond stage one.
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.
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.
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.
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?
"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.
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.
I cannot recall another city government that has spent so much money on entertainment. The city wanted to make downtown a destination but they but a bland science muesum on the best location. They have bailed out way to many private ventures all in the name of quality of life.
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.
A 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.
A Wichita Eagle article published on June 29, 2006 explores the need for a new terminal at the Wichita Airport. I have some issues with the reporting in this article, as it is quite biased in favor of those advocating the new terminal. When you combine people eager to spend others' money with sloppy newspaper reporting we have a situation where reason -- not to mention sanity -- is not likely to prevail.
However, Gander Mountain and its developer, Oppidan Investment Co., argue granting special favors to any one retailer leads down a slippery slope. "If you give [a tax break] to a Wal-Mart, should you give it to Target? If you give it to Home Depot, then should you give it to Lowe's? And if you give it to Bass Pro, shouldn't you give it to Cabela's and Gander Mountain? How about we just don't give it to anybody?" Oppidan CEO Mike Ayers said to the Toledo Blade for a March 22 article.
There is no doubt in my mind that smoking cigarettes and breathing secondhand smoke are harmful to health. If a young person asked my advice as to whether to smoke cigarettes, I would strongly urge them to avoid smoking.
But it doesn't follow that we should have laws against smoking, or laws that govern how businesses such as bars and restaurants must accommodate smokers and non-smokers.
The recent news that Warren Buffet is giving away the bulk of his fortune to charity is good news to me, as I greatly prefer private charity to government spending of taxes. That's true for me even if Mr. Buffet were to use his philanthropy to support causes that I might not agree with.
But there is an irony here. Mr. Buffet is a vocal supporter of the inheritance tax (or estate tax or death tax). By giving away much of his wealth, he escapes paying the tax he wants others to pay. Mr. Buffet is wealthy enough that he can give away a lot, but he stills retain great wealth for supporting himself in his declining years and providing very well for his children.
One of the appeals of big government is that is has so much to offer everyone. Those, myself included, who want government to radically reduce its size, intrusiveness, and power have nothing to offer except freedom and liberty. Sadly, those things don't seem to matter to many people today. Or perhaps people have forgotten what these words mean and how much government infringes on both.
In a June 20, 2006 Wichita Eagle editorial, Rhonda Holman writes about the WaterWalk project in Wichita.
Evidently there is controversy over the public not knowing the name of the "destination restaurant" that is being courted and favored with a gift of $1 million. To me, the controversy is not the identify of the restaurant or when and how the city should conduct its negotiations, but that we are paying for a restaurant to be built.