Progressives

In Wichita, three Community Improvement Districts to be considered

In Wichita, three Community Improvement Districts to be considered

In Community Improvement Districts (CID), merchants charge additional sales tax for the benefit of the property owners, instead of the general public. Wichita may have an additional three, contributing to the problem of CID sprawl. This week the Wichita City Council will hold public hearings considering the formation of three Community Improvement Districts. In Kansas Community Improvement Districts, merchants charge additional sales tax for the benefit of the property owners, instead of the general public. [1. Weeks, Bob. Community improvement districts in Kansas. Available at https://wichitaliberty.org/kansas-government/community-improvement-districts-kansas/.] Each of these CIDs will charge customers additional sales tax, with a cap on…
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Decoding Duane Goossen

Decoding Duane Goossen

The writing of Duane Goossen, a former Kansas budget director, requires decoding and explanation. This time, his vehicle is "Rise Up, Kansas." Duane Goossen was Kansas budget director from 1998 to 2010.[11. Goossen, Duane. Kansas Budget Blog. http://www.kansasbudget.com/.] He is critical of the administration of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and recent sessions of the Kansas Legislature. It's useful to examine his writings so that Kansans may become aware of the ramifications of his recommendations, and how during his years as budget director he was unable to adhere to the principles he now advocates. Following, some language from his recent article…
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How would higher Kansas taxes help?

How would higher Kansas taxes help?

Candidates in Kansas who promise more spending ought to explain just how higher taxes will -- purportedly -- help the Kansas economy. Are low taxes important to an economy, especially a state economy? When the Tax Foundation looked at the issue, it concluded this: "In this review of the literature, I find twenty-six such studies going back to 1983, and all but three of those studies, and every study in the last fifteen years, find a negative effect of taxes on growth."[1. McBride, William. What Is the Evidence on Taxes and Growth? Tax Foundation, 2012. http://taxfoundation.org/article/what-evidence-taxes-and-growth.] Many of these studies…
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They really are government schools

They really are government schools

What's wrong with the term "government schools?" A recent op-ed in the Wichita Eagle read: "Some have begun to call public schools 'government schools,' a calculated pejorative scorning both education and anything related to government."[1. Merritt, Davis. Can traditional conservatism save Kansas schools? Wichita Eagle, May 17, 2016. Available at www.kansas.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article77969617.html.] This is not the only time people have objected to the term "government schools." Public schools bristle at use of the term. In a 2008 email from Wichita School Interim Superintendent Martin Libhart to Wichita school employees, he took issue with those who, using his words, "openly refer to…
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Intellectuals vs. the rest of us

Intellectuals vs. the rest of us

Why are so many opposed to private property and free exchange -- capitalism, in other words -- in favor of large-scale government interventionism? Lack of knowledge, or ignorance, is one answer, but there is another. From August 2013. At a recent educational meeting I attended, someone asked the question: Why doesn't everyone believe what we (most of the people attending) believe: that private property and free exchange -- capitalism, in other words -- are superior to government intervention and control over the economy? It's question that I've asked at conferences I've attended. The most hopeful answer is ignorance. While that…
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Wichita Eagle editorial board on county budget

Wichita Eagle editorial board on county budget

When someone invokes "ideology" in their criticism of you, you know that they've either run short of actual arguments based on fact, or they don't know what ideological means. In its op-ed this Sunday, the Wichita Eagle editorial board blasts the Sedgwick County Commission for cuts to various programs, mentioning "Sedgwick County Zoo, Exploration Place, the Arts Council and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition" specifically. I might invite the Eagle editorialists to revisit the county's recommended budget for 2013, prepared under the leadership of then-chairman Tim Norton, the body's sole Democrat, both then and now. According to county documents, Norton's…
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Tax rates and taxes paid

Tax rates and taxes paid

Those who call for a return to 90 percent tax rates should be aware that few people actually paid tax at those rates. Progressives are calling for higher income tax rates on the rich. The top marginal tax rate -- that's the rate that applies to high income earners on most of their income -- was above 90 percent during most of the 1950s. From 2003 to 2012 it was 35 percent, and is now 39.6 percent. Some see that as a lost opportunity. If we could return to the tax rates of the 1950s, they say, we could generate…
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The purpose of high tax rates

From February 2014. "The purpose of high taxes on the rich is not to get the rich to pay money, it's to get the middle class to feel better about paying high taxes." This is what Jim Pinkerton, the journalist, Fox News contributor, and co-founder of the RATE (Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably) Coalition told an audience at a conference titled "The Tax & Regulatory Impact on Industry, Jobs & The Economy, and Consumers" produced by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Pinkerton was referring to the economist F.A. Hayek. Others have also noted that changes to marginal tax…
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Blubaugh, Mayor vote for licenses for undocumented workers to drive to their illegal jobs

The Wichita city council voted to recommend that the Kansas Legislature create drivers permits for undocumented workers so they could drive to their jobs. In December the Wichita City Council voted to include drivers permits for undocumented workers in its legislative agenda. The item as presented to council members read: "RECOMMEND: The Wichita City Council supports legislation that provides a driver’s permit to undocumented workers for the sole purpose of obtaining vehicle insurance for work-related transportation." In his remarks, as presented in the meeting minutes, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer stated "he has given this a lot of thought and he…
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Kansas personal income grows

Kansas personal income grows

A recent spurt of growth of personal income in Kansas is welcome, considering the history of Kansas in this regard. Kansas personal income grew in the quarter ending in June, with the Wichita Business Journal reporting "Kansas ranked 14th among states for second-quarter personal income growth." The article also noted "According to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal income grew by 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2014, faster than the national growth rate of 1.5 percent." Strong growth in personal income is good. But strong growth is not the norm for Kansas. The nearby…
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Labor unions have harmed our standard of living

This Labor Day, as progressives promote their protection and advancement of workers, let's become aware of the harm that labor unions have caused. George Reisman summarizes: Far from being responsible for improvements in the standard of living of the average worker, labor unions operate in more or less total ignorance of what actually raises the average worker’s standard of living. In consequence of their ignorance, they are responsible for artificial inequalities in wage rates, for unemployment, and for holding down real wages and the average worker’s standard of living. All of these destructive, antisocial consequences derive from the fact that…
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Meet ALICE. Who knew?

Meet ALICE. Who knew?

Progressives criticize "bill mills," but the movement has its own. Criticism of policies based simply on their sources is a weak form of argument. But this is the substance of criticism leveled against ALEC, or American Legislative Exchange Council. Opponents of ALEC say it is a "bill mill" that "pushes" legislation upon unsuspecting state legislatures. Since the goal of ALEC, according to its website, is to "advance limited government, free markets, and federalism at the state level," it's good that legislators are being advised by an organization with these goals. There are, of course, forces on the other side that…
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CBPP misleading Kansans on revenue

From Kansas Policy Institute. Debunking CBPP on tax reform and school funding (Part 1) By Dave Trabert If Ronald Reagan were alive and saw the latest piece from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), he would say, “Well, there they go again ... not letting the facts get in the way of the story they want you to believe.” The premise of their March 27 piece is that “Kansas’ huge cuts have left ... schools and other public services stuck in the recession, and declining further -- a serious threat to the state’s long-term economic vitality.” That’s not…
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After Gannon, will Kansas public school spending boosters still love courts and constitutions?

After Gannon, will Kansas public school spending boosters still love courts and constitutions?

Will Kansas Progressives' expressed love for courts and constitutions hold up in light of the school finance decision? In January Paul Davis, a prominent Kansas Democrat and candidate for governor, tweeted "With the school ruling due any day now, will Brownback comply w/the court order or try & rewrite the KS constitution?" These words were followed by a link to Davis' website that copies an article from the New York Times. (That article has its own host of problems, explained in New York Times on Kansas schools, again and More about the New York Times on Kansas school finance.) This…
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The relevance of income tax rates

The relevance of income tax rates

Jim Pinkerton, the journalist, Fox News contributor, and co-founder of the RATE (Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably) Coalition told an audience this: "The purpose of high taxes on the rich is not to get the rich to pay money, it's to get the middle class to feel better about paying high taxes." Pinkerton was speaking last week at a conference titled "The Tax & Regulatory Impact on Industry, Jobs & The Economy, and Consumers" produced by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. His remarks, as he told the conference attendees, were based on the work of economist F.A. Hayek.…
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The purpose of high tax rates on the rich

The purpose of high tax rates on the rich

"The purpose of high taxes on the rich is not to get the rich to pay money, it's to get the middle class to feel better about paying high taxes." This is what Jim Pinkerton, the journalist, Fox News contributor, and co-founder of the RATE (Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably) Coalition told an audience at a conference titled "The Tax & Regulatory Impact on Industry, Jobs & The Economy, and Consumers" produced by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Pinkerton was referring to the economist F.A. Hayek. Others have also noted that changes to marginal tax rates often have…
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Kansas school test scores, a hidden story

We hear a lot about how Kansas shouldn't strive to become more like Texas, especially regarding schools. Defenders of high school spending in Kansas portray Texas as a backwater state with poor schools. This video takes a look at Kansas and Texas school test scores and reveals something that might surprise you. (Click here to view in high definition at YouTube.) Narrative explanation follows. Superficially, it looks like the Kansas school spending establishment has a valid point. Scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress, a test that is the same in all states, has Kansas scoring better than Texas…
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For Kansas progressives, it’s all about school spending, not performance

Once again, Kansans are subjected to a rant by Kansas House of Representatives Democratic Leader Paul Davis. On Facebook, he continually complains about the lack of funding for Kansas schools, recently writing "What do you think is more important: tax cuts for millionaires or funding for your local school?" Here are some concepts I wish Davis would explain to his Facebook fans. This might be good practice as he considers a run for the Kansas governorship. First, Kansas schools have increased employment. Second, Kansas schools don’t spend all the money they’ve been given, and the pile of unspent cash continues…
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Inside the progressive mindset

When I read this opening paragraph of a letter from the leaders of Media Matters, I double-checked that this wasn't a story from The Onion, the humorous and satirical news source: Five years ago, Media Matters was founded with a few staffers dedicated to a singular, and daunting, goal: restoring accountability and integrity to American journalism after both had been systematically eroded by decades of conservative attacks. Until then, no progressive organization had been solely dedicated to this crucial task, allowing the right-wing media machine to run roughshod over one of our democracy's most vital institutions. The consequences were obvious,…
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