Tag Archives: Raj Goyle

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday July 22, 2011

Republican populism. Timothy P. Carney writing in Washington Examiner: “President Obama, ignoring his own calls to leave rhetoric at the door, has relied on populist demagoguery throughout the debt-ceiling negotiations. But given the President’s record of bailouts, his dedication to corporate-welfare handouts, and his calendar filled with $35,800-a-plate fundraisers, Republicans ought to take the populist cudgel from Obama and use it against Democrats.” Carney recommends: “Instead of trying to defend themselves against Obama’s misleading populism, Republicans ought to return fire with some sincere populism in this debt battle.”

Cost of space shuttle. It’s a difficult question to answer, writes Carl Bialik in As Shuttle Sails Through Space, Costs Are Tough to Pin Down for The Wall Street Journal: “Some media outlets have pegged the total cost of the shuttle program, and its 135 launches, at between $115 billion and nearly twice that amount, demonstrating the challenge of tallying a bill over such a long time span.” Even at the lowest figure, that’s nearly $1 billion, or $1,000 million, per launch. In the early days of the program, Bialik writes, the cost of a launch was estimated at $7 million, and it was thought there would be weekly launches. … Me, I’m still waiting for lemon-flavored Tang.

Raj Goyle spotted. Some have been wondering what former Kansas fourth district Congressional candidate Raj Goyle is doing these days, and this photograph gives us a clue. In the caption, Goyle is identified as Executive Director of the United Nations Office of Global Partnerships.

Media Mogul Charged with First Degree Murdoch. Ann Coulter reminds us that outrage is surely in the eyes of the beholder, as she looks back at a Florida couple who were caught taping cell phone conversations for political purposes.

Authority to adjust KPERS benefits. From Kansas Policy Institute: “There is a mounting realization that the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System (KPERS) is facing a crisis and there is a need for immediate reform. Legal Authority to Adjust State Pension Plans, a paper released earlier this week by KPI, outlines the legal history of modifying public pension benefits. Ralph Benko, a senior economic policy advisor to American Principles in Action, authored the paper and participated in a media conference call on July 12 announcing the paper’s release. An audio recording of that conference call is available here. … “Exorbitant retirement benefits are threatening the ability of states and municipalities to deliver essential government services, and, in up to 20 states and hundreds of municipalities, are threatening their very solvency,” writes Benko. “There is a widespread misunderstanding in many states that the U.S. Constitution prohibits [adjusting pension obligations], but there is no such prohibition.” … A full copy of “Legal Authority to Adjust State Pension Plans” is available here. … KPI President Dave Trabert added the following, “The simple reality is that KPERS faces an unfunded liability well beyond $7.6 billion. KPERS acknowledges an additional $1.7 billion of losses that aren’t yet reported and a more likely rate of return puts the true liability well closer to $14 billion. Many states are faced with the same problem, but Kansas is one of the worst. We can’t solve this problem without having the full knowledge of the possible solutions and that means an understanding of the legal framework as well. Ralph does a terrific job of demonstrating that the U.S. Constitution allows state pension obligations to be changed for ‘significant’ purposes to remedy an ‘economic problem.’ If Kansas isn’t facing a significant economic problem right now, then that definition is meaningless.”

Should Kansas establish a health insurance exchange? A big part of the new national health care legislation is health care exchanges. Are these a good idea? From Americans for Prosperity, Kansas: “Beverly Gossage, research fellow with the Show-Me Institute, has helped pioneer health savings account policies for businesses in Kansas and Missouri and has testified on health policy bills before the Kansas and Missouri legislatures. She has explored the possibilities of ‘health insurance exchanges’ — or government clearinghouses for health care funds and programs — and has written about the likely consequences of these exchanges in the Sunflower State. … According to Gossage, a health insurance exchange in Kansas would simply result in more bureaucracy and higher insurance premiums, and would be a threat to the free market. We agree and encourage you to review the document as this will be an issue discussed by the Kansas Legislature later this year in an interim committee and during the 2012 Legislature.” … Gossage’s paper is at Should Kansas Establish a Health Insurance Exchange?.”

A new day in politics? John Stossel writes about the new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, both of Reason, the libertarian magazine of “Free Minds and Free Markets.” Ssays Stossel: “‘Independence in politics means that you can actually dictate some of the terms to our overlords,’ Welch and Gillespie write, adding that we need independence not just in politics but from politics. Welch said, ‘When we look at the places where government either directly controls or heavily regulates things, like K-12 education, health care, retirement, things are going poorly.’ … It’s very different outside of government where — from culture to retail stores to the Internet — there’s been an explosion of choice. ‘(Y)ou were lucky … 20 years ago (if) you would see one eggplant in an exotic store,’ Welch continued. ‘Now in the crappiest supermarket in America you’ll see four or five or six varieties of eggplant, plus all types of different things. … (W)hen you get independent from politics, things are going great because people can experiment, they can innovate. … We should squeeze down the (number of) places where we need a consensus to the smallest area possible, because all the interesting stuff happens outside of that.'” … Now Stossel’s television show dedicated to this topic and the book authors is available on the free hulu service.

The Left’s ‘obsession with all things Koch’

Yesterday John H. Hinderaker of Powerline wrote another article about the political Left’s obsession with Charles and David Koch and Koch Industries. It’s a lengthy piece and worth reading, but because it is long, I will try to summarize.

The Center for American Progress and its website ThinkProgress are fronts for the Obama Administration and are “lavishly funded by George Soros and several other left-wing billionaires.”

The Center for American Progress, through ThinkProgress, “has carried on a bizarre vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries.” The Kochs are active in politics on the conservative/libertarian side.

Having an “obsession with all things Koch,” ThinkProgress has attacked freshman U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, who represents the strongly Republican Kansas fourth congressional district where Koch Industries’ Wichita headquarters is located.

Therefore, the man-bites-dog story: “Republicans support Republican candidate in Republican district!”

Other things we learn: ThinkProgress charges that Pompeo “made his fortune off of a Koch backed company.” The facts are that Koch Venture Capital invested in a company that Pompeo and some partners founded to the amount of two percent.

ThinkProgress has also made an issue of campaign contributions by Koch Industries, writing “In fact, Koch Industries even ranked at top of Pompeo’s campaign contribution list, outpacing the second top contributor by $60,000.” This is true, but when we look at data at OpenSecrets.org, we can see that of the $79,500 contributed, $10,000 came a Koch Industries political action committee (PAC). The balance of this amount came from a large number of people employed by Koch Industries.

The left-wing mob behavior is noted in the story: “One of the curious media phenomena of our time is the synergy between the fever swamp of left-wing web sites, often closely affiliated with the Democratic Party and supported by far-left billionaires, and the supposedly mainstream media. Repeatedly, ‘stories’ that begin in the fever swamp attain a sort of respectability a few days later when they are picked up by the New York Times or the Washington Post, and often are disseminated from there to liberal newspapers around the country. This is a case in point. On March 20, the Washington Post, evidently inspired by Think Progress, laundered that site’s attack on Pompeo into slightly more respectable form, and brought it into polite company.”

(The story referred to is GOP freshman Pompeo turned to Koch for money for business, then politics.)

The recent congressional campaign between Pompeo and Raj Goyle is mentioned, and it is revealed that the Center for American Progress — the parent of ThinkProgress, the site attacking Pompeo and Koch Industries — contributed $8,300 to the Goyle campaign. By the way, according to OpenSecrets, Goyle raised much more money for his campaign from out-of-state donors than from people in Kansas.

Powerline also criticizes the Post story’s usage of Kansas University political science professor Burdett A. “Bird” Loomis as a source without identifying Loomis as a “Democratic Party partisan and a virulent enemy of Republicans in general and the Kochs in particular” and having written an “anti-Koch op-ed.” (The op-ed, from the Wichita Eagle, doesn’t outright criticize Koch, but you can tell Loomis doesn’t care for the Kochs and their advocacy of economic freedom.)

Powerline also notes on Loomis’ Facebook page his affinity for left-leaning politicians like Jim Ward, Laura Kelly, and Goyle, and also for the left-wing attack blog “Dome on the Range,” which exists only to poke fun at Republicans.

Summarizing — and from my observations Hinderaker is correct:

What we see here is incest to the third degree. The disgusting morass of left-wing blogs, funded by far-left billionaires like George Soros, spew up an endless stream of slimy attacks on mainstream citizens, like Charles and David Koch, and mainstream politicians, like Mike Pompeo. Democratic Party outlets that are generally presumed to be more respectable, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, watch the dirt flow by and periodically, when they see something promising, pluck it out of the swamp and take it mainstream in order to benefit their party. The Post isn’t as bad as some — I have referred to it as the most respectable voice of the Democratic Party — but when it follows this disgusting practice, plucking out the vilest unsubstantiated smear and promoting it for purely partisan purposes, it is hard to distinguish the Post from the most disreputable far-left rags, like ThinkProgress and the New York Times.

Anatomy of a Smear

By John H. Hinderaker

The Center for American Progress is generally regarded as a front for the Obama administration. Its President and CEO is John Podesta, formerly Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff and the chairman of Barack Obama’s transition team. CAP is lavishly funded by George Soros and several other left-wing billionaires. It runs, among other things, a web site called Think Progress, which cranks out a steady stream of slimy hit pieces for the benefit of the Obama administration and the far left.

Soros apparently believes that only left-wing billionaires should be able to participate in public discourse, so his Center for American Progress, through its web site, has carried on a bizarre vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries. The Kochs are two of the very few billionaires who are active in politics on the conservative/libertarian side, a phenomenon that apparently drives left-wing billionaires wild with rage. I’m not sure why; maybe they think the Kochs are traitors to their class. In any event,Think Progress has stalked the Koch brothers with video cameras and produced one false, over-the-top attack on the Kochs after another, some of which we have had fun dissecting here.

Continue reading at Powerline.

Political attacks not all bad

Dr. Mel Kahn, a political science professor at Wichita State University, gave a lecture Friday on why he believes negative campaigning is essential to democracy. Kahn said that a recent study shows that there are sometimes more lies in positive ads than in negative commercials, and as long as ads are based on evidence, they help people know what’s going on in a world full of political spin.” The lecture was at the Wichita Pachyderm Club as covered by State of the State KS.

Kahn also said that since accountability is important to democracy, he was pleased to see the activation of those who disagreed with the policies of the current administration, saying this is the essence of democracy. He quoted John Stuart Mill: “Attacks and criticism make a real contribution. In other words, if the attack has validity to it, and it brings about a feeling on the part of the populace that things could be much better than what turns out to be a flawed policy, then we benefit. Because what we’ve really done is we’ve exchanged something closer to the truth for the error that we held sacrosanct before. … Any kind of policy ought to be able to withstand the nature of sharp criticism.” Also, if policies withstand attacks, we can have more confidence in them.

Kahn also took news media to task for not really doing its job, saying media mostly covers the “horse race” aspects of campaigns — who leads in polls, etc. — rather than covering “the substance of the real policies. I think a net loss,” he said. I would add that it’s not only news media, it’s the candidates themselves that don’t want to talk about substantive issues. In the campaign for the Kansas fourth Congressional district, the two major candidates — Democrat Raj Goyle and Republican Mike Pompeo — didn’t really have a lot of substantive discussion of issues. Goyle, in particular, made charges about Pompeo outsourcing work to China. But we never had a discussion about the merits of outsourcing, except for here: Outsourcing Kansas jobs. Other issues I covered in the campaign included social security in Goyle on Social Security protection, business incentives in Business can oppose incentives and use them, and Goyle’s purported tax-cutting votes in Raj Goyle tax cut votes not exactly as advertised. My articles were mostly critical of Goyle — as an advocate of limited government and economic freedom, it just works out that way — but I believe the articles examined the issues in way that other media did not.

In responding to a question, Kahn said that those who make criticisms may do so even though they may not have a better plan that would be better. Criticism of the critic for that reason, therefore, is not valid.

On local politics, Kahn said that Sedgwick County Commissioner Gwen Welshimer told him before the election that she had tea party support, but she didn’t want her liberal friends to know about it. Kahn said that was a mistake, that many people — Democrats and Republicans both — appreciate officeholders who will object to big-spending projects. Welshimer had earned tea party support because of her positions on taxation and spending, particularly her opposition to subsidy for developers. Kahn noted that the Wichita Eagle had been unfavorable to Welshimer.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday November 4, 2010

The future of politics is here, now. After noting how California reached way back to the past to elect a governor, Denis Boyles writes in National Review Online about the future, and how it’s being made right here: “If you want to see the bright and shining politics of the future, you have to go to the country’s heartland, and specifically to Kansas, a place most Democrats only know from Thomas Frank’s liberal folklore. There, the election has yielded two new congressmen — Mike Pompeo and the remarkable Tim Huelskamp — who were not created by the Tea Party movement because their politics were already ahead of that helpful wave. Here‘s a local paper’s coverage. Pompeo is a natural leader, while Huelskamp is something even more — an inspiration, maybe. (He’s briefly sketched in Superior, Nebraska). Mark these guys. Politically, they’re how it’s going to be.”

Schools hope we won’t notice. Kansas Reporter tells of the new Kansas school funding lawsuit, filed on Election Day. Schools must have hoped that news of the filing would get swamped by election day news, which is what happened. The remedy asked for is more money, which has been shown not to work very well in terms of improving student performance … but it makes the education bureaucracy happy. I would suggest that students sue the Kansas State Department of Education for the inadequate education many have received. For a remedy, ask for things that have been shown to work: charter schools and widespread school choice.

Kansas House Republicans. Yesterday I reported that Republicans gained 15 seats in the Kansas House of Representatives. Double-checking revealed that I had made a data entry error. The actual number of Republican gains is 16, for a composition of 92 Republicans and 33 Democrats.

Kansas House Conservatives. In the same article it was noted that since some Kansas House Republicans — the so-called moderates or left-wing Republicans — vote with Democrats more often than not, there was a working caucus of about 55 conservatives. It is thought that conservatives picked up four seats in the August primary, bringing the number to 59. With most of the Republicans who defeated Democrats expected to join the conservative cause, it appears that conservatives now fill over 70 seats, constituting a working majority in the 125-member Kansas House of Representatives. Conservatives do not enjoy a majority of votes in the Kansas Senate, however.

Local smoking bans still wrong. As noted in today’s Wichita Eagle, there might be a revisiting of the relatively new Kansas statewide smoking ban. Incoming Governor Sam Brownback believes that such decisions should be left to local governments, presumably counties or cities in this case. For those who believe that the proper foundation for making such decisions is unfoundering respect for property rights — plus the belief that free people can make their own decisions — it doesn’t matter much who violates these property rights.

GOP: Unlock the American Economy Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal on spending and what Congress really needs to do: “It is conventional wisdom that what voters, tea partiers and talkers want the Republican Party to do is cut the spending. … Getting the spending under control matters a lot.” But Henninger says controlling spending is not enough: “The new GOP has to find an identity beyond the Beltway power game, a way to make the nation’s most important activity not what is going on in Washington, as now, but what is done out in the country, among the nation’s daily producers and workers. The simplest way for the Republican Party to free itself and the economy from this unending Beltway hell is by reviving a core belief of one of the country’s most successful presidents: If the government will get out of the way, Ronald Reagan argued, there’s no limit to what the American people can achieve.” Government getting out of the way was one of freshly-minted Congressman Mike Pompeo’s campaign themes. National figures are warning Republicans that they have one chance to get things right in Washington or risk losing the support they won in this election. And Pompeo urged his supporters, more than once, to hold him accountable in Washington. Maybe Raj Goyle might want to linger in Wichita for a few years to see how things work out.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 2, 2010

Only conservative and Tea Party candidates cast as extreme. “Congressional Democrats and President Obama are facing voters’ wrath because of their extreme agenda over the past two years: government-run health care; massive unsupportable spending; a proposed ‘cap-and-trade’ tax on energy, higher income taxes, etc. But MRC analysts found 35 evening news stories which conveyed the Democratic spin point that conservative and Tea Party candidates are ‘extreme,’ ‘fringe,’ or ‘out of the mainstream,’ vs. ZERO stories conveying the charge that left-wing Democrats are ‘out of the mainstream.’” Also, the label “liberal” is not used as often as is “conservative,” and “ultra-liberal” was not used at all during the study period. More from the Media Research Center findings at MRC Study: “News” Media Aid Democrats’ Tea Party Trashing.

Divisive Obama undercuts the presidency. This is the view of two Democrats, Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen, writing in the Washington Post: “Instead, since taking office, he has pitted group against group for short-term political gain that is exacerbating the divisions in our country and weakening our national identity. The culture of attack politics and demonization risks compromising our ability to address our most important issues — and the stature of our nation’s highest office. Indeed, Obama is conducting himself in a way alarmingly reminiscent of Nixon’s role in the disastrous 1970 midterm campaign. No president has been so persistently personal in his attacks as Obama throughout the fall.” On campaign finance, the authors say they favor complete disclosure and a reversal of Citizens United, but note that there is little evidence that there have been “improper or even unusual” activities. The authors also say that Obama’s attacks on individuals such as David H. Koch for his role in founding Americans for Prosperity are harmful and reminiscent of Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list, on which author Caddell was listed.

Why Obama is no Roosevelt. “Whatever the outcome of today’s election, this much is clear: It will be a long time before Americans ever again decide that the leadership of the nation should go to a legislator of negligible experience — with a voting record, as state and U.S. senator, consisting largely of ‘present,’ and an election platform based on glowing promises of transcendence. A platform vowing, unforgettably, to restore us — a country lost to arrogance and crimes against humanity — to a place of respect in the world.” Continuing, the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz describes FDR’s famous “map speech” — in which he asked Americans to have a map ready while he explained developments in the world war. “No radio address then or since has ever imparted a presidential message so remarkable in its detail, complexity and faith in its audience.” write Rabinowitz. What if Obama had done the same with the health care bill?

Left-wing echo chamber at work. A billboard message displayed by a Mike Pompeo supporter generated an instant flurry of echo messages in the left-wing blogosphere. Posts appeared on Democratic Underground, Huffington Post, Think Progress, Newsvine, Pitch Weekly, 1whp.com, and Ski Dawg’s Pound. Locally the left-wing Forward Kansas and Kansas Free Press chipped in, and the Wichita Eagle Editorial Blog threw some red meat to its band of regulars. This issue made it onto left-wing television, where MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow commented on it using her thick-as-pine sap snarkiness — not that many people take Maddow seriously. Even the Goyle campaign, in its fundraising email based on Maddow’s show, used scare quotes when describing her program as “analysis.” (Scare quotes, according to Wikipedia, “are quotation marks placed around a single word or phrase to indicate that the word or phrase does not signify its literal or conventional meaning.” When used as Goyle’s email used them — to indicate scorn, sarcasm, irony, disagreement, or disdain — they might be called “sneer quotes.”)

Kansas advance ballots analyzed. Earl Glynn of Kansas Watchdog contributes analysis of advance ballots cast in Kansas. The table breaks down the numbers by county and party. Voters registered as Republican returned about twice as many ballots as Democratic voters. Getting Republicans to vote early was a major initiative of the Brownback Clean Sweep program.

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council a Pachyderm topic. This Friday (November 5) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Bob Lamkey, who is director of the Sedgwick County Division of Public Safety. His topic will be “An Overview of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Topeka TIF district behind on taxes. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports in College Hill taxes go unpaid: But developer says project is gaining new momentum. Locally, Wichita has a TIF district in our own College Hill neighborhood which is also behind on paying its property taxes.

Wednesdays in Wiedemann. Tomorrow Wichita State University’s Lynne Davis presents an organ recital as part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes. The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University. For more about Davis and WSU’s Great Marcussen Organ, see my story from earlier this year.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday November 1, 2010

Pompeo supporter’s sign causes stir. As reported by the Wichita Eagle’s Dion Lefler, a billboard sign urging votes for Republican Mike Pompeo has Democrat Raj Goyle and his campaign crying foul and raising charges of racism. The Goyle campaign says it will file a complaint alleging violations of campaign finance laws.

Meanwhile, Democrats don’t care much for scrutiny. Not by me in a public place, anyway. See Democrats block me in Wichita.

Kansas legislative candidates surveyed. Kansas Campaign for Liberty has surveyed candidates for the Kansas legislature and has made the results available at Kansas State Candidate Survey Results. The questions are useful in identifying candidates who support individual liberty and oppose intrusive government.

Wichita Eagle voter guide. Click here. You can get a list of the candidates, along with their responses to questions, customized for your address.

Republicans look for a big day. Wall Street Journal: “‘The Democrats are about to feel the full force of a tidal wave, tsunami or a 7.0 earthquake,’ said Democratic pollster Peter Hart.” Gallup predicts 45 percent voter turnout, with Republicans leading Democrats on the generic Congressional ballot 55 percent to 40 percent. Larry Sabato predicts Republican gains of 55 seats in the House, eight in the Senate, and eight or nine governorships. Conservative Richard Viguerie boldly predicts Republican gains of 88 House seats and nine senate seats. He also predicts a net gain of 650 seats by Republican state legislators.

Obama no longer lofty, hopeful. The reality of his failed and failing policies sinks in: “President Barack Obama closed out his 2010 campaign season here with a mocking rebuke of Republicans, in stark contrast to the lofty, hopeful rhetoric that marked his 2008 campaign.” See Obama Less Lofty as Rhetoric Shifts.

GOP rhetoric shifts from social issues to the economy. The influence of the tea party is recognized as economic issues become more important than social issues for many: “The tea party’s financial fervor contributed largely to the declining emphasis on social issues, said Dale Neuman, University of Missouri-Kansas City political science professor emeritus.” More from the Kansas City Star at GOP rhetoric shifts from social issues to the economy.

What if Cannabis Cured Cancer? WSU Students for Liberty, in association with the Kansas Medical Cannabis Network, will be presenting the movie What if Cannabis Cured Cancer? on Friday, November 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm in the Sunflower Room of the Rhatigan Student Center (lower level of the Rhatigan Student Center). More information on this movie, including a trailer, may be found at What If Cannabis Cured Cancer.

Waiting for Superman. The Kansas Policy Institute will host a free screening of Waiting for Superman on Thursday November 4th. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The new film ‘Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states. The film will be shown at 7:00pm at the Warren Theatre East (11611 E. 13th St.). KPI asks that you RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 to James Franko at [email protected]. Space is limited.

Last-minute Kansas fourth district campaign finance

Analysis of late campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission finds Republican Mike Pompeo raising more money than rival Democrat Raj Goyle in the campaign for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas.

The candidates filed reports covering the period October 1, 2010 through October 13, 2010. These reports showed Pompeo raising $153,535 and Goyle $92,491 during that time frame. Ending cash balances on this report were Pompeo with $500,939 and Goyle with $133,095.

Since then, the candidates have filed several “48 hour notice” reports. The total of these reports through October 31 have Pompeo raising $141,250 and Goyle $84,101.

Pompeo also leads Goyle in polls. See Pompeo increases lead over Goyle in Kansas fourth.

Democrats block me in Wichita

This afternoon I attended a Democratic party rally at Old Town Square in Wichita. The featured speaker was candidate for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas Raj Goyle. I hadn’t expected to be blocked, but that’s what happened.

Democrats blocking in WichitaDemocrats blocking me in Wichita. “It’s freedom, dude” was his explanation as to why he blocked me.

Blocking is when someone who is considered an intruder or spy is prevented from taking photographs or video. Typically the people who might be blocked are “trackers,” people that follow a candidate and record every word they can, hoping to record something they can use against the candidate.

I’m not a tracker. I’ve been to only one other Raj Goyle event. But this afternoon it was made clear that I was not welcome at the Democratic Party event that featured candidate Goyle.

I don’t know if any meaning should be given to the fact that it was a Brandon Whipple sign that was used as the blocking tool. (Sorry for the illegibility of the sign. I’m not quite familiar with the limitations of the HDR processing on my new Apple iPhone 4.) I don’t know if Goyle himself would have approved of the blocking. I’ve been critical of his policies and generally approving of those of his major party opponent, Mike Pompeo. But I don’t think he would have approved of the blocking. We shook hands and said hello before the event started.

For what it’s worth, the Goyle campaign employs a tracker. I’ve not seen him be blocked at any Pompeo events that I’ve attended, although it may have happened. But I’ve seen the tracker allowed to take his video unmolested even at events that took place on private property, where the Pompeo campaign would have been entirely within its rights to remove the tracker from the premises. Today I was blocked on public property.

I’ve asked the Pompeo campaign if they’ve used trackers, and they declined to answer.

When I asked the young man who blocked me if he was, in fact, blocking me, he said “It’s freedom, dude!” Which, I think, tells us a lot about some young people, Democrats, and their warped concept of freedom and liberty.

Update: Someone has told me that the blocker probably committed a crime by attempting — and partially succeeding — to prevent me from enjoying a public event held in a public space.

Pompeo increases lead over Goyle in Kansas fourth

Today KWCH Television and SurveyUSA released a poll surveying the candidates for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas. The results show Republican Mike Pompeo increasing his lead over challenger Raj Goyle, the Democratic Party nominee.

Today’s poll — likely to be the last before Election Day — shows Pompeo increasing his share of the vote from 53 percent to 54 percent, compared to the previous poll released by the same organization 21 days earlier. Goyle’s share dropped from 40 percent to 38 percent. In this poll, the sampling error is 4.3 percent.

Only two percent of the voters are undecided.

Other results from the poll include Reform party candidate Susan Ducey with three percent, and Libertarian Shawn Smith checking in with two percent.

As of October 27, the FiveThirtyEight analysis of this race puts Pompeo ahead of Goyle 61.2 percent to 36.2 percent. The probability of a Pompeo win is given as 99.5 percent. FiveThirtyEight uses KWCH/SurveyUSA polls as part of its input, but considers many other factors too. This forecast does not include today’s KWCH/SurveyUSA results.

Kansas fourth district Congressional pollKansas fourth district Congressional poll

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday October 28, 2010

Final fourth district forum. Last night’s debate or forum between all four candidates running for the Kansas fourth Congressional district was the last such event before Election Day. Hosted by KSN Television and moderated by John Snyder, all four candidates appeared: Reform Party candidate Susan Ducey, Democrat Raj Goyle, Republican Mike Pompeo, and Libertarian Shawn Smith. Goyle used almost every question as an opportunity to launch an attack on Pompeo, particularly on the issue of outsourcing of jobs. No dummy — he did go to Harvard law school, after all (so did Pompeo) — Goyle used some clever and creative license to morph nearly every question into these attacks. Pompeo largely ignored Goyle’s attacks but still got in a few digs at him. … Ducey and Smith kept to their principled arguments of limited government and free markets and avoided attacks on each other and the two major party candidates. Ducey, particularly, referred to the constitutionality of programs several times and her belief in states’ rights. Smith’s belief in the superiority of free markets was crystal clear. In his final statement, he referred to the “road to serfdom.” … For those who have been following the campaigns of the two major party candidates, not a lot of new information was presented in the forum. The real news, I think, is the competent and credible performances of the two minor party candidates, Ducey and Smith. They did well in terms of their presentation. Most importantly, if you believe in individual liberty, limited government, and free markets, these two candidates deserve your serious consideration.

Kansas Republicans in control. KWCH Television and SurveyUSA released new polling showing Republicans firmly in the lead for Governor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. The only race that is close is for Attorney General, where challenger Derek Schmidt leads incumbent Stephen Six 50 percent to 42 percent. Of this race, the pollster commented: “Incumbent Attorney General Steve Six remains the Kansas Democrat with the best chance of keeping his job, but even he trails his rival Republican Derek Schmidt by 8 points, unchanged from the previous poll. Schmidt led by 20 points when polling began in August, but has led in single-digits since. 20% of Republicans cross-over to vote for Six. Independents in this contest break for the Democrat. There continues to be volatility in this race; among seniors, typically the most stable and reliable voters, the lead has changed 4 times in 4 polls.” Interestingly, all three Democratic incumbents — Six, McKinney, and Biggs — have large advantages in fundraising over their Republican challengers.

Tweet of the day. @bob_weeks: Government cake was pretty good at Wichita’s National Center for Aviation Training ribbon cutting ceremony.

Smoking ban now fiscal issue. Today’s Wichita Eagle editorial by Rhonda Holman laments the fact that there’s a possibility the Kansas statewide smoking ban might be overturned. Holman has never respected the property rights-based argument against smoking bans, nor the individual responsibility argument. Now she raises the financial argument for the ban: “Yet in Kansas, the momentum among leaders risks going the wrong way — against public health and the recognition that government has a fiscal responsibility to ban public smoking.” The fiscal responsibility Holman cites comes from the fact that the state pays a lot of the costs of health care, and if fewer people smoke, the state could save money. Perhaps. Next year, I expect Holman to use the same arguments in favor of a ban on alcoholic beverages, salty foods, sugary soda pop, cheeseburgers, and anything else that will increase health care costs. Seriously. By the way, this government regulation of behavior often does not work and produces unintended consequences, as in the recent findings that bans on texting while driving have increased accident rates in some states. Holman supported the Kansas texting ban for safety reasons.

Many more have voted. As of yesterday in Sedgwick County, 39,000 mail ballots have been returned, and 6,300 people had voted in person. Since there are about 260,000 registered voters in the county, 18 percent of all possible voters have already voted. But looking at likely voters — in the 2006 midterm election 118,258 ballots were cast — perhaps 40 percent of likely voters have already voted. In the 2008 general election — a presidential election year — 194,688 ballots were cast, so using that denominator, 24 percent of likely voters have voted.

A reason to vote early. Yesterday this column discussed reasons why voters may want to wait until close to Election Day to vote. But there is one reason for voting as early as possible. If you don’t want voter contact — telephone calls, mailings, people knocking on your door — voting early might reduce the number of contact attempts. This is because campaigns, if they want, can receive a list of voters who have returned their ballots each day. Savvy campaigns will then cross these voters off their lists so they don’t waste effort contacting those who have already voted. To make this work well, you’d want to get everyone in your household to vote early.

Vote machine “malfunctions” reported. There have been several reports that at advance voting locations in Wichita, when the machine flipped to display the page for U.S. Congress, one candidate’s name was already checked, just as if the voter had touched it already. The voters were able to un-check that vote and vote for their intended candidate. I suggested to the tipster that she have people take still photographs, perhaps using a smartphone, of each screen as the voting machine presented it. But an even better solution that would eliminate all source of doubt is this: As you vote, use your smartphone to take video of the entire process. This, I believe, would produce strong evidence of voting machine irregularities, if it is happening.

Wichita Eagle voter guide. Click here. You can get a list of the candidates, along with their responses to questions, customized for your address.

Outside spending cuts both ways. Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle: “White House adviser David Axelrod went after the Chamber of Commerce earlier this month, calling its $75 million campaign ‘a threat to our democracy.’ But as the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the public employees union AFSCME is spending $87.5 million on 2010 campaigns.”

Kansas House could shift. It’s often mentioned that Republicans have large margins in both the Kansas House of Representatives and Senate. In the House, however, there’s a working body of about 55 reliably conservative members. The other Republicans — moderates, they’re called — will vote with Democrats for things like sales tax increases. This could change, however. It’s thought by some that conservatives picked up four seats in the August primary election, getting the House up to 59 reliable conservative votes. 63 votes are needed to have a majority and pass a bill. Can conservatives pick up more seats next Tuesday? Might the prospect of a conservative majority and a conservative governor flip a few moderate Republicans? We may know on Wednesday — or maybe not.

Ballotpedia to have election night coverage. The website Ballotpedia will have election night coverage focusing on ballot issues, state legislative contests, and state attorney general races. Did you know that voters will be electing 6,125 state legislators next week? See What to expect from Ballotpedia election coverage on November 2 for details on the coverage.

Report voter fraud, by phone. American Majority Action has developed and released a voter fraud app for smartphones. Describing it, AMA says “This free, cutting edge system will enable voters to take action to help defend their right to vote. Whether you’re a campaign junkie, or just want a better America, Voter Fraud will help you report violations at the election booth and serve to uphold the democratic process.” I downloaded it for my iPhone.

Waiting for Superman. The Kansas Policy Institute will host a free screening of Waiting for Superman on Thursday November 4th. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The new film ‘Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states. The film will be shown at 7:00pm at the Warren Theatre East (11611 E. 13th St.). KPI asks that you RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 to James Franko at [email protected]. Space is limited.

Business can oppose incentives and use them

In the campaign for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, Democrat Raj Goyle criticizes leading opponent Republican Mike Pompeo for accepting economic development incentives while opposing their existence.

A Goyle press release reads: “Already a known outsourcer, Pompeo, in an act of hypocrisy, took government incentivized aid for three of his companies, including Sunflower, Thayer and Sentry. He did this despite repeatedly denouncing government assistance in the private sector.”

This criticism — that those who oppose government programs nonetheless hypocritically take advantage of them — is an important topic to examine, not only as a campaign issue, but because the conflict that leads to this form of criticism arises often. It’s something that libertarians struggle with daily — and I don’t think Mike Pompeo would describe himself as libertarian.

In an article examining whether presidential candidate Ron Paul should accept federal matching campaign funds, the libertarian scholar Walter Block described the pervasiveness of government and the impossibility of escaping it:

For the modern state is so involved in the lives of its citizens that it is the rare individual who does not accept some form of government largesse, whether in the form of money payments, services, or goods of one type or another.

For example, while not everyone goes to a public school or teaches there, it is the rare individual who does not: walk on statist sidewalks, drive on public roads, carry currency in his pocket, avail himself of the services of governmental libraries, museums, parks, stadiums, etc. Which of us has not entered the premises of the motor vehicle bureau, sued someone in court, posted a letter, attempted to attain a passport, or interacted with government in any of the thousand and one other ways it touches upon our lives?

This hints at part of the conflict — angst even — that libertarians digest internally as we go about our business in a world dominated by government. I, for example, firmly believe that we would be better off with private ownership of the streets and highways. Each time I drive my car from my driveway onto the government street in front of my house, I think of this. I get it. I understand the conflict that government thrusts on me. It bothers me daily.

But there’s no other way for me to get to where I want to go. I’m consoled somewhat by the fact that the motor fuel taxes I paid go to building and maintaining the roads. This doesn’t mean, however, that I agree that our system of primarily government ownership of streets and highways is the best system. But it’s the system I am forced to live with, and I try to change it.

Business firms are generally aware, although not always, of government incentives available for economic development. These incentives are part of the economic and political landscape that business firms face. They have to be recognized and dealt with, just like any other factor such as regulation. If business firm “A” decides not to accept incentives and subsidies when firm “B” does, is this wise, even if accepting subsidy is against the principles of firm “A”?

I would recommend firm “A” to apply for and accept the subsidy. For one thing, if firm “A” is a public corporation and doesn’t pursue these incentives when they are available, the company is likely to be sued by its shareholders.

Second, these subsidies are part of the competitive landscape. Even though from a libertarian and conservative view they are wrong and harmful, they still exist. It does no good for a firm to pretend they don’t exist and thereby create a competitive disadvantage for itself. This is especially the case if firms “A” and “B” are direct competitors in the same industry. But even if they are not, these two firms still compete in the same markets for land, labor, capital, and other generic factors.

Third, firm “A,” like all of us, is paying for these incentives and subsidies. While this may seem like conceding to the power of the state, firm “A” might as well get some back of what it paid for.

So yes, business firms need to use government incentives and subsidies. At the same time, we need to work for the elimination of these programs. This is difficult, as the more government becomes involved in management and direction of the economy, it becomes harder to get government to stop. We see this in play at Wichita city hall, as more and more firms ask the city council for various forms of assistance or corporate welfare.

The fight is important, too. The factors that made our country and its economy great are at peril. Gary North wrote in The Snare of Government Subsidies: “… those within the government possess an extremely potent device for expanding political power. By a comprehensive program of direct political intervention into the market, government officials can steadily reduce the opposition of businessmen to the transformation of the market into a bureaucratic, regulated, and even centrally-directed organization. Bureaucracy replaces entrepreneurship as the principal form of economic planning.”

Returning to the politics of the day: Isn’t is a little strange to hear Goyle, who favors expansion of public-private partnerships, criticize those who use them, even if they are opposed to the idea in principle? Doesn’t Goyle want everyone to be in “the snare” that North describes?

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday October 27, 2010

Kansas politics in National Review. Today Denis Boyles takes on Kansas politics in National Review Online, starting with well-deserved criticism of Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? He also predicts that Republicans will sweep all the statewide election contests. But the real target of this article is the Kansas Supreme Court and our state’s method of judicial selection. For those wishing to rely on the Kansas Commission on Judicial Performance as a source of reliable information about judges, Boyles describes it as a “Potemkin commission” that “spends $700,000 of taxpayers’ money annually running ads in support of retention and endorsing every single judge in the state.” Boyles says the problem with Kansas will be clear to everyone after the election: It’s the Kansas Supreme Court.

Midterm blowout forecast. From The Hill: “Republicans are headed for a blowout election win that seems certain to seize more than enough seats to knock out the Democrats and take control of the House. … The deficits facing some longtime Democratic incumbents, who have spent most of their careers relatively safe from electoral peril, are striking — a reflection of just how deeply the anti-incumbent sentiment runs this election year.”

National Center for Aviation Training ceremony today. As The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman notes in an editorial today, Sedgwick County has spent $52 million on a training facility for the aviation industry. At the time, industry leaders told us this was necessary to retain aircraft jobs in Wichita. It should be noted that this expenditure has not been sufficient, as since then Cessna, Bombardier Learjet, and recently Hawker Beechcraft have each hit up the state — and in some cases local government — for corporate welfare under the threat of locating jobs elsewhere.

New Wichita schools divert attention. Two years ago the voters of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, passed a bond issue to build new schools and facilities. Today the Wichita Eagle describes a groundbreaking ceremony for two new schools. The problems with all the planning for the schools are these: First, it looks like the district is doing something to solve problems, when the path the district is taking is not likely to produce the promised results. Second, the district’s attention has been, and is now, focused on facilities, not the real problems the schools face, like an honest assessment of student results. Third, the district was in no way honest with Wichita taxpayers about the additional expense required to operate the schools after they are built. Fourth, more spending on government schools makes it even more difficult for families who want to pursue other paths for their children. Overall, a bad day for children in Wichita.

Challenges for Kansas education. Speaking of, Kansas State Voard of Education member Walt Chappell contributes an article describing some problems with education in Kansas and some recommendations for policy changes. One problem is our priorities, as mentioned in the previous section. Chappell writes: “First, we need to change our priorities. More emphasis is needed on preparing our students to earn a living and financial literacy instead of on varsity sports. Currently, more money is spent on a few players to win the Friday night football or basketball game than to teach our kids the skills they need to get a job.” The complete piece is at State of the State KS.

October surprises more difficult now. The popularity of advance voting in states like Kansas makes it more difficult to pull off an “October surprise.” This is a campaign tactic where unfavorable information about a candidate is sprung upon the public right before the election, the idea being that the accused candidate will not have time to react to the charges and voters will go to the polls on Election Day with the negative information fresh in their minds. Journalists probably won’t have time to react, either. We see examples of this technique in Kansas now with DUI charges against third district Congressional candidate Kevin Yoder. In the fourth district Raj Goyle is raising new charges against Mike Pompeo. But with perhaps as many as half the voters having already voted by the weekend before Election Day — the favorite time to launch an attack — the effectiveness of this technique is reduced. When should a campaign release the surprise charges? The good news is that with the expanded voting schedule, campaigns have more time to rebut or clarify charges, or disprove factually incorrect information. We saw this in the Republican primary for the fourth district, where last-minute charges by the Wink Hartman campaign were found to be lacking clear and convincing evidence.

Advance voting regrets. With so many Kansas voters voting far in advance of Election Day, what happens if voters regret their vote? Suppose their chosen candidate dies or withdraws from the race? (Withdrawing is more likely during primary contests.) More likely, what if there is an “October surprise” that makes you want to change your already-cast vote? Personally, I still like to vote old-school style at my precinct’s polling place on Election Day. But for those voting in advance, there’s no need to mail in your ballot far in advance. As long as it arrives by Election Day, your vote will be counted just the same.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday October 26, 2010

Karl Rove. “Former George W. Bush aide Matt Latimer was there to observe the dealings of Karl Rove during the previous administration, and he writes that there’s no secret why most conservatives have now come to view Rove as a fraud. Latimer says that Rove has become symbolic of a GOP establishment that’s known for its utter betrayal and ruin of the Party that Reagan had left so strong. Now that his secret is out, Rove’s influence will only continue to diminish as time goes on and the Tea Parties take over.” A fascinating look at the legacy of Rove, and illustrates the tension between the tea party and the Republican establishment. From Karl Rove’s Flameout.

Waiting for Superman. The Kansas Policy Institute will host a free screening of Waiting for Superman on Thursday November 4th. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The new film ‘Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states. The film will be shown at 7:00pm at the Warren Theatre East (11611 E. 13th St.). KPI asks that you RSVP by Tuesday, November 2 to James Franko at [email protected]. Space is limited.

Brownback at Wichita Pachyderm. Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature United States Senator and candidate for Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Right to work = economic growth. In The Daily Caller, Emporia State University’s Greg Schneider looks at the history of unions in America and right-to-work laws. The number of union jobs has declined as unionized companies became less competitive, not because of right-to-work laws.

Kansas private sector loses jobs, government grows. “Roughly 7,600 private sector jobs in Kansas disappeared from August to September, while government jobs grew by 21,000 over the same time period.” Most of the government jobs were in schools, writes Rachel Whitten in the Kansas Reporter.

Tea Party plans to exert influence. As newly-elected members of Congress arrive in Washington to assume their seats, a tea party group plans to lay down expectations. “The meeting of newly elected officials, the date of which hasn’t been set, is designed to keep new representatives connected to ‘what we expect from them,’ according to the memo. Incumbent Republican members of Congress and the party’s national leadership won’t be invited, said Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, in an interview. ‘The incumbents have allowed us to get into the problems we are in now,’ he said. ‘We hope to get to the freshmen before the incumbents get to them, and start twisting their arms.”” The full story in the Wall Street Journal is Group Plans to Keep Pressure on Newly Elected Conservatives. There is definitely conflict between the Tea Party and the Republican Establishment.

Goyle numbers explained by rats and cats. Candidate for U.S. Congress from the Kansas fourth district Raj Goyle says he has voted with Republicans in the Kansas House of Representatives 80 percent of the time. While a detailed analysis of the votes would be difficult and time-consuming, the majority of measures voted on by legislatures pass nearly unanimously — the so-called “rats and cats” bills. The important cases this year where Goyle voted against his party — the big-spending budget and the statewide sales tax increase — represent either a genuine change in Goyle’s political philosophy, or election-year window dressing. Voters have to make the call.

Holland claim doubted. In an interview with the Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas governor hopeful Democrat Tom Holland said “Now I have a proven track record in the Kansas Legislature of reaching across the aisle and working with Republicans.” Evidence, however, points the other way. In the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, Holland is the only Kansas Senator that earned a score of 0 percent. KEFI is not designed to group legislators into Republican or Democratic camps, but Holland ranks alone at the extreme end of the spectrum — voting against economic freedom in all cases.

Arts in Wichita promoted. Today John D’Angelo, manager of Wichita’s Division of Arts and Cultural Services, contributes a piece to the Wichita Eagle titled How can Wichita sustain, grow arts sector? The answer to this question is: reduce government involvement in the arts, first by abolishing Mr. D’Angelo’s department and city taxation for spending on the arts. This will force arts organizations to meet the demands of consumers as expressed in free markets. Currently, a board of cronies dishes out tax money to arts organizations using political rather than market criteria. This process lets these organizations exists by appealing to Wichita’s cultural elites, rather than the broad market. See Government Art in Wichita. Economic fallacy supports arts in Wichita provides background to D’Angelo’s claim of the economic benefit of the arts, at least government spending on arts.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday October 24, 2010

Surprise endorsement from Wichita Eagle. Today the Wichita Eagle endorsed Republican Mike Pompeo over Democrat Raj Goyle in the race for the Kansas fourth Congressional district. Surprising. Still, the Eagle editorial board can’t help reveal its preference for big, expansive government by taking a few digs at Pompeo, describing his free-market, limited government views as “overly idealistic at times.” Continuing, the Eagle wrote “For example, he believes that there wouldn’t be a need for farm subsidies or economic development incentives if there were lower tax rates and a friendlier and more stable regulatory environment. That’s not the real world.” The Eagle editorial board said that Pompeo is “too ideological and wouldn’t seek practical political solutions.” Well, are the “practical” solutions imposed on us by the current federal regime working? I would say not. Other evidence of the Eagle’s unbelief in the power of freedom, free people, and free markets was noticed in its failure to endorse Richard Ranzau for Sedgwick county commission, in which the Eagle mentioned his “inflexible anti-tax, free-market views.” The Eagle prefers “nuanced” politicians.

Who is Raj Goyle? On today’s episode of KAKE Television’s This Week in Kansas hosted by Tim Brown, guests Randy Brown and Ed Flentje discussed the fourth district Congressional race race, and Goyle in particular. The reliably liberal [Randy] Brown said that Goyle made a mistake in not voting for the statewide sales tax increase, which Brown characterized as a “responsible thing to do.” This, he said, caused people — including Democrats — to view Goyle as a political opportunist, and Goyle lost a chance to distinguish himself from his opponent. Flentje said “he does appear to be quite flexible,” which elicited hearty laughter from the panel. He continued: “It’s hard to figure out exactly where he is … he’s trying to address overwhelming Republican advantage in registration. He’s been for the most part a good legislator, campaigns aggressively, but he’s going uphill … I kind of feel for him.”

Who is Sam Brownback? “Most agree that Sam Brownback will be elected governor on November 2, but what kind of governor he will be is less than clear. Even after nearly a quarter century in Kansas politics and government, his divergent political lives prompt voters to ask: Will the real Sam Brownback please stand up?” H. Edward Flentje, political science professor at Wichita State University, through State of the State Kansas. Flentje appeared on today’s episode of KAKE Television’s This Week in Kansas to discuss this column. Fellow guest Randy Brown said “In terms of being a political opportunist, he strikes me as the classic person who tells whatever group of people he’s in front of what they want to hear.” Flentje disagreed with this. The column traces Brownback’s evolution in both the personal and political spheres, and does ask the question “So, will the real Sam Brownback as Kansas governor please stand up?”

Kansas candidates score free TV. “Democratic incumbents Chris Biggs and Dennis McKinney are riding a $100,000-plus wave of television advertising their Republican opponents denounce as thinly veiled self-promotion and an abuse of office that should be stamped out by the Legislature.” More by Tim Carpenter at Topeka Capital-Journal. We shouldn’t be surprised at this, as a look at the Kansas agency websites headed by elected officials shows them using these sites as campaign billboards year round.

Jim Powell political advertisement on Facebook

Politicians advertise on Facebook. Here’s an example of a politician running for office that uses Facebook for advertising. With Facebook ads, you can target who your advertisement is displayed to in great detail.

Putting a price on professors. The Wall Street Journal covers an effort in Texas to evaluate the worth of state university faculty members from a financial viewpoint: “A 265-page spreadsheet, released last month by the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, amounted to a profit-and-loss statement for each faculty member, weighing annual salary against students taught, tuition generated, and research grants obtained. … The balance sheet sparked an immediate uproar from faculty, who called it misleading, simplistic and crass — not to mention, riddled with errors. But the move here comes amid a national drive, backed by some on both the left and the right, to assess more rigorously what, exactly, public universities are doing with their students — and their tax dollars.” The article notes some dismal statistics of the type we’re used to hearing about K through 12 education: “Just over half of all freshmen entering four-year public colleges will earn a degree from that institution within six years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And among those with diplomas, just 31% could pass the most recent national prose literacy test, given in 2003; that’s down from 40% a decade earlier, the department says.” Credit goes to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a state-based think tank that is often at the forefront of the fight for fiscal responsibility.

Pretending the union money doesn’t exist. From RedState: “Desperate Democrats have been hyperventilating for the past month over money being spent by corporate and other groups, notably the Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity, to run campaign commercials. To conservatives, running commercials to attempt to persuade voters in advance of an election is known as ‘free speech,’ and turnabout is fair play after corporate money went heavily for Obama in 2008, but let’s play along here; how much of an advantage does the GOP have here? … That’s right, three of the five largest campaign spenders this year are not business or pro-business groups but unions affiliated with the Democrats and dominated by public employees.”

iPhone screen

We forget the blessings of technology. As I write this I am plugged into my iPhone. I carry it with me wherever I go. I would rather leave home forgetting my wallet than my iPhone. As it is more than just a telephone, it also holds my music, as seen in the accompanying depiction of its screen. The ability to carry with me — wherever I travel — examples of the great works of music, in this case Beethoven violin and piano sonatas, is something that is truly remarkable. More than that, it’s a miracle. Now when I check in to a hotel, it’s not uncommon to find a clock radio where I can dock or plug in my iPhone and listen to my music as I unpack and prepare for the day’s events. The back of my iPhone reads “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” If not for this international cooperation, would the miracle of the iPhone — and other similar technology — be affordable, or even possible?

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday October 22, 2010

My best tweet yesterday. I just uninstalled the NPR News app from my iPhone. #NPR #Juan

Many have already voted. Wednesday Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale told commissioners that his office had sent 63,000 mail ballots to voters in the county, and 20,000 had been returned. In the 2006 general election, a midterm election comparable to this year, 118,258 ballots were cast in Sedgwick County. Gale’s numbers tell us that around half of voters will use the advance voting system, and perhaps 17 percent have already voted as far as two weeks in advance of election day.

Goyle on defense pork barrel spending. Yesterday Kansas fourth Congressional district candidate Democrat Raj Goyle criticized Republican Mike Pompeo for not supporting a second engine for the F-35 fighter jet program. Goyle says we need to protect 800 jobs in Cowley county by approving this project. The problem is this federal spending program is not needed and wasteful. According to Forbes: “The problem General Electric and teammate Rolls Royce face is that both the Bush and the Obama administrations concluded the single-engine F-35 would do just fine with only one engine supplier. … Defense Secretary Robert Gates has decided to make termination of the second engine a test case of whether Congress is committed to eliminating waste.” Spending money on this jet engine that is not needed is the very definition of government waste. A question: If these jobs were not in the Congressional district Goyle is running in, would he support this project? If the answer is yes, he fails the Defense Secretary’s test for whether Congress is really ready to eliminate waste. If the answer is no, he’s already engaging in the type of pork-grabbing — getting anything and everything for the home district, no matter what the cost — that he purportedly disdains.

They do this too? Here’s another example of left-wing bloggers and writers claiming to have “uncovered” something that sits in plain sight. This time it comes from Think Progress, a project of the hard left — but innocently-named — Center for American Progress Action Fund, which in turn is a project of George Soros. Jonathan Adler explains at National Review Online: “Think Progress has a breathless post up today alleging they have uncovered the Koch brothers sinister plot to coordinate corporate, libertarian, and conservative donors to outside groups and think tanks. What they’ve actually uncovered is (horrors) an invitation-only conference of generally like-minded philanthropic and other organizations that likes to discuss issues and strategies and hear from prominent thinkers and commentators (including, on at least one occasion, NRO’s Ramesh Ponnuru and frequent contributor Veronique de Rugy). Think Progress acts as if this is some sort of revelation, but this sort of thing has been common for some time, particularly on the left. The Environmental Grantmakers Association is one example of an organizational umbrella for like-minded philanthropists that has sponsored closed-door conferences for strategy discussions, but there are others. The Kendall Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, and other specific funders have, at times, also taken very aggressive steps to ensure coordination by funders and grant recipients. I wrote about this fifteen years ago in my book on the environmentalist movement. Next thing Think Progress will tell us there’s gambling in Atlantic City.” By the way, the Wichita Eagle will rely on Think Progress as a source.

Does business favor free markets? Many people naively assume that business automatically supports free markets and less regulation. The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney tells us that this is not so. Writing about his speaking experiences at an event sponsored by Charles Koch, Carney writes: “I’ve often said — and I said it at the dinner — that privately held businesses tend to favor free markets, even when they get big; while publicly held businesses (like those on the Fortune 500), tend to want bigger government as often or more often than they want free markets, depending on the industry and who’s in power.” Carney lists a number of companies — BP, Conoco, Shell, and Wal-Mart that are in favor of more government regulation. Wal-Mart, for example, favored higher minimum wage legislation because it already paid higher wages than its competitors, and the new minimum wage would hurt them, giving Wal-Mart a competitive advantage obtained through regulation. Carney also makes the case that liberals don’t often realize that they’re being played: “This may be the most important point that folks like [left-wing bloggers] Zernike, Yglesias, and Fang miss: many of these businessmen could profit even more under the policies the Left favors than they do under the free market.” As it applies to Koch Industries specifically, Carney notes that strict regulation of refineries makes entry by competitors difficult to impossible, relying on the Los Angeles Times for evidence: “California refiners are simply cashing in on a system that allows a handful of players to keep prices high by carefully controlling supplies. The result is a kind of miracle market in which profits abound, outsiders can’t compete and a dwindling cadre of gas station operators has little choice but go along. Indeed, the recent history of California’s fuel industry is a textbook case of how a once-competitive business can become skewed to the advantage of a few, all with the federal government’s blessing.” I would add that in competitive markets, business firms must seek to please a diverse array of customers, and that’s harder to do than pleasing politicians and regulators.

Kansas politics in New York Times. Particularly the governor’s race. The article contains an accurate assessment on how things really work in Kansas, and should be noted by those who blame all of our state’s problems in Republicans: “But while Republicans dominate the State Legislature and the governor was once chairman of the state party, the reality about those who currently control Kansas is far subtler — the effective majority in the Legislature is a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, while the governor defected to the Democratic Party.” See Kansas Governor’s Race Seen Redefining G.O.P.

Sedgwick County website still dark. Not exactly dark, but the county didn’t renew its domain name registration, and it expired. Usually these things can be cleared up pretty quickly, but for me it’s still out of order after about 24 hours. It works on my iPhone, though, but the county’s website is not friendly to use on mobile devices.

Energy to be topic at Wichita Pachyderm. Today’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature John A. McKinsey speaking on the topic “Cap and Trade: What is the economic and regulatory impact of Congressional legislation?” The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Goyle on Social Security protection

Raj Goyle, candidate for U.S. Congress from Kansas, pledges to protect Social Security from changes, including partial privatization and increases in the retirement age. On his campaign website, he says we must work in a “bipartisan, responsible way to adjust Social Security to ensure its long-term stability.” Goyle’s website doesn’t say this, but the only way to make these adjustments is to increases taxes or the deficit — which pushes taxation off to the future.

Goyle’s opponents in the campaign for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas are Reform party candidate Susan Ducey, Republican Mike Pompeo, and Libertarian Shawn Smith.

In his pledge, Goyle promises to “work for real solutions that strengthen Social Security for the long term.” Specifically, he pledges to oppose all efforts at privatization and raising the retirement age to 70.

The problem is that after ruling out reforms like these, there’s not much left to do except to raise taxes or borrow more. Evidence of this can be found in an editorial from the Los Angeles Times recently printed by the Wichita Eagle. Titled Ignore fearmongering on Social Security, it mostly looks back at opposition to the formation of the Social Security system 75 years ago.

But the article recognizes that the system needs “minor adjustments” to remain solvent. The authors write: “Economists say that raising the income ceiling on the payroll tax, applying the Social Security tax to nonwage income or adding a modest increase to the payroll tax could add decades to the health of the Social Security trust fund.”

Each of these policy changes is a tax increase. The article lists no other solutions than these.

These recommendations are not Goyle’s. He hasn’t said what he would do to place the system on a sound financial footing, although he uses the same term — “adjustments” — as does the Times editorial.

But the reality is there’s not much that we can do except raise taxes or increase the deficit if we want to keep the current system.

We need to do something quickly. Social Security will pay out more in benefits this year than it receives in contributions from payroll taxes. It had been thought that this milestone would not be reached until 2017 or later.

There are those who cite the Social Security trust fund and its large balance of over $2 trillion as evidence that the system is doing well. Goyle himself recently mentioned that Social Security would be solvent for the next 30 years. Goyle didn’t mention the trust fund, but that is the source of the system’s purported solvency.

The problem is, as Thomas Sowell explains, the trust fund is merely an illusion. The money in the fund has already been spent by government agencies. The only way they can pay back the fund is through tax revenues or additional borrowing, which increases the deficit and pushes taxes to future generations.

It’s not as though most Republicans are confronting the problem head-on. One of the few officeholders willing to do so is Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who is ranking member of the House Budget Committee. His Roadmap for America’s future is a plan that recognizes the seriousness of the current situation, not only with Social Security, but in other areas of the federal budget.

His recommendations, specific as they are, cause consternation among some Republicans who would rather talk about problems in general terms rather than specifics. A recent Washington Post profile of Ryan referred to “… many Republican colleagues, who, even as they praise Ryan for his doggedness, privately consider the Roadmap a path to electoral disaster. Unlike most politicians of either party, he doesn’t speak generically about reducing spending, but he does acknowledge the very real cuts in popular programs that will be required to bring down the debt.”

That frank talk about the budget and government spending might be an electoral disaster is a bad sign for America. We need Raj Goyle to be specific about his plans for Social Security adjustments, too.

Goyle continues to raise majority of funds from outside Kansas

In the campaign for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, Democrat Raj Goyle continues to gather most of his campaign funds from outside Kansas, although the margin of out-of-state funds is less than before.

Goyle and and Republican Mike Pompeo recently filed campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission. (Reform party candidate Susan Ducey and Libertarian Shawn Smith have not filed reports.) While anyone may download and analyze the FEC data, OpenSecrets.org is a helpful resource in understanding campaign finance data.

Here are the third quarter and overall campaign finance numbers for the Goyle and Pompeo campaigns. The figures below for the “Election cycle” columns are from OpenSecrets.org, and are slightly different from what I reported Saturday:

                  Third quarter        Election cycle
                  Goyle   Pompeo      Goyle     Pompeo
Opening balance 749,493  286,032          0          0
Contributions   368,902  921,943  1,624,304  1,857,027
Expenditures    776,772  692,669  1,282,683  1,321,722
Cash balance    341,623  535,306    341,622    535,306

According to OpenSecrets.org analysis, both candidates received 11 percent of their contributions from political action committees (PACs), with the remaining being individual contributions.

Funds from outside Kansas

When I took a look at the sources of campaign funds in August, OpenSecrets.org calculated that 70 percent of Goyle’s contributions came from outside Kansas. The corresponding figure for Pompeo was 21 percent. OpenSecrets.org’s analysis has not been updated to include the most recent figures. My rough analysis indicates that for funds raised in the most recent reporting period, 60 percent of Goyle’s contributions came from outside Kansas. For Pompeo, the corresponding figure is 25 percent.

Outsourcing Kansas jobs

In the campaign for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, Democrat Raj Goyle uses the issue of outsourcing of Kansas jobs as his main issue against Republican Mike Pompeo.

Goyle’s criticism of Pompeo is based on a claim that Pompeo could have created jobs in Kansas, but instead chose to create them in Mexico and China. The latest allegations are regarding Sentry International, a company servicing the oilfield industry. Pompeo is currently president of that company.

A lengthy page on Goyle’s campaign website details the allegations. Some of the criticism Goyle levels against Pompeo is for things that many Kansans would applaud.

For example, one piece of Goyle’s evidence or criticism is this: “In February 2008, the Wichita Eagle reported that Sentry International sold mostly in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until Pompeo came on board as President. After that, the company began selling in other states and international markets.”

Normally, we would applaud a company growing its markets and sales. But evidently to Goyle, a Kansas company expanding is not good news.

Goyle’s argument then proceeds to criticize Sentry International for manufacturing some of the equipment it sells overseas, when it could — according to Goyle — be made in Kansas. He further claims that trade with China has cost Kansas jobs.

So far the only plan Goyle has advanced for stopping outsourcing is to eliminate the deferral of taxation of income that U.S. companies earn overseas. Currently, companies pay the host country’s tax, and then pay the difference between that tax and the U.S. tax when those profits are transferred to the U.S. Goyle — following President Obama’s lead — would do away with this referral.

The problem is that this action will probably drive more jobs overseas. The Wall Street Journal reported that when this tax deferral was eliminated to the U.S. shipping industry, the results was “a real disaster for U.S. shipping,” with U.S. shipping capacity falling by 50 percent over a period of years following this reform.

A case study on the effects of eliminating the deferral on the U.S. shipping industry concluded:

  • In a competitive industry, taxing U.S.-owned operations at non-competitive international tax rates simply diminishes U.S. activity and advantages our foreign competitors.
  • Reduced U.S. operations result in reduced employment and lower wages for American workers.
  • Non-competitive international taxation of U.S. businesses leads to a lower standard of living for American workers.

In addition, the case study finds: “Recent analyses indicate that the 2004 legislation restoring deferral for foreign shipping income is reversing the decline in the U.S. shipping industry.”

Part of the problem is that U.S. corporate tax rates are highest in the developed world, next to Japan. Lowering U.S. tax rates — instead of increasing them, as Goyle advocates — would spur investment, including investment by foreign companies in the U.S.

Does outsourcing cost U.S. jobs?

Matthew J. Slaughter of Dartmouth University has researched and written extensively on outsourcing and its effects. Writing in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year about outsourcing and President Obama’s proposal to do away with the tax deferral — that’s the only solution Goyle is proposing — Slaughter wrote:

The fundamental assumption behind these proposals is that U.S. multinationals expand abroad only to “export” jobs out of the country. Thus, taxing their foreign operations more would boost tax revenues here and create desperately needed U.S. jobs.

This is simply wrong. These tax increases would not create American jobs, they would destroy them.

Academic research, including most recently by Harvard’s Mihir Desai and Fritz Foley and University of Michigan’s James Hines, has consistently found that expansion abroad by U.S. multinationals tends to support jobs based in the U.S. More investment and employment abroad is strongly associated with more investment and employment in American parent companies.

When parent firms based in the U.S. hire workers in their foreign affiliates, the skills and occupations of these workers are often complementary; they aren’t substitutes. More hiring abroad stimulates more U.S. hiring. … To climb out of the recession, we need to create millions of the kinds of jobs that U.S. multinationals tend to create. Economic policy on all fronts should be encouraging job growth by these firms. The proposed international-tax reforms do precisely the opposite.

So while many people assume that when a U.S. company creates a job overseas it means one lost American job, that is simply not the case.

Protectionism — the next step?

Any plan to protect U.S. jobs from being sent overseas will have to resort to protectionist measures such as tariffs on imported goods. Goyle hasn’t advocated this. Instead, he has simply criticized his major opponent for running a global business, and has not advanced a plan to protect U.S. jobs except for eliminating the tax deferral. As we’ve seen above, that would harm U.S. job growth instead of helping.

What advocates of protectionism fail to realize is that trade is a two way street. It benefits both parties, or the transactions would not take place. And when governments try to intervene and restrict trade, everyone is hurt.

When President George W. Bush placed tariffs on imported steel in 2002, it was seen as a political move to protect steel-making jobs in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states he needed for his reelection, according to Washington Post analysis.

As a result of the tariff, steel-making jobs were saved. But jobs in steel-using industries were lost, and U.S. consumers paid more for products that contained steel.

When President Obama imposed tariffs on Chinese tires last year, he increased the cost of those tires for U.S. consumers. While this undoubtedly saved U.S. tire-making jobs, U.S. consumers of Chinese tires pay more. As these tires are primarily at the lower range of prices, it is mostly low income consumers who have to pay more to prop up U.S. tire worker jobs.

Then even more harm arises. China — perhaps in retaliation — has imposed tariffs on imported chicken. According to the New York Times, “The commerce ministry started the investigation less than two days after President Obama imposed steep tariffs on Chinese tires a year ago. Chinese officials have denied that the inquiry was in retaliation, but poultry is one of the few categories in which the United States runs a trade surplus with China, making it an ideal target for Chinese trade actions.”

While protectionist rhetoric sounds good to workers who are facing pressure from overseas competitors, we again have to remember that trade is a two way street. We also need to be aware that locally, Wichita exports a lot airplanes. If foreign nations were to restrict imports of U.S. aircraft, that would seriously harm the prospects of Wichita’s aviation industry. Kansas farmers, too, are exporters.

This is what the harsh reality of economics tell us — and there’s a reason why it’s called “the dismal science.”

The politics, however, are on Goyle’s side. As recently reported: “A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sept. 28 found that outsourcing was the top reason cited by Americans as the cause of the country’s economic problems — and that for the first time in years a majority (53%) of Americans say free-trade agreements have hurt the U.S.”

The residents of the fourth district of Kansas need to ask Goyle what specifically will he do to retain jobs in Kansas, and what will be the economic impact of these policies. All evidence tells us that the result will be harmful to Kansas and America.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday October 18, 2010

Last day to register to vote. Today is the last day to register to vote in the November general election in Kansas. Contact your county election office for details.

Democratic foreign campaign money. “Democratic leaders in the House and Senate criticizing GOP groups for allegedly funneling foreign money into campaign ads have seen their party raise more than $1 million from political action committees affiliated with foreign companies. … Republicans with groups under fire from the White House say the hefty campaign contributions illustrate Democratic hypocrisy.” More at The Hill: Dems have raised more than $1 million this cycle from foreign-affiliated PACs. Related: Axelrod, Gibbs keep up Dems’ offensive on Chamber donations.

Rasmussen polls from last week. 55% Favor Repeal of Health Care Law: “The majority of U.S. voters continue to favor repeal of the new national health care law but are slightly less emphatic about the impact the law will have on the country. Confidence in home ownership falls: “Now more than ever, homeowners expect to see the value of their home go down over the next year. A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 32% expect the value of their home to decrease over the next year, the highest finding since Rasmussen Reports began asking the question regularly in December 2008.” Generic Congressional ballot: “With just three weeks to go until Election Day, Republicans hold an eight-point lead on the Generic Congressional Ballot. Polling for the week ending Sunday, October 10, shows that 47% of Likely Voters would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 39% prefer the Democrat.”

Waiting for Superman to open in Wichita. Opens October 22 at the Warren Theater on East 13th in Wichita. Check the website for show times. Of the film, the Wall Street Journal wrote: ” The new film “Waiting for ‘Superman'” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact. Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools.” In Kansas, the Wichita Eagle printed an op-ed penned by the education bureaucracy status quoSharon Hartin Iorio, dean of the Wichita State University College of Education in this case — to inoculate Wichitans against the effects of what I am told is a powerful film. Let’s hope this film gets Kansans to thinking about public schools in our state, as Kansas is way behind the curve on innovation, compared to other states.

Democratic political activists wanted. Craigslist ad: “The Kansas Coordinated Campaign (Democrat) seeks passionate and hard-working persons to do paid door-to-door voter contact in Sedgwick. This is not a fundraising position, and is exclusively focused on ensuring that Democratic voices are heard this November.” Pay is $9/hour. An earlier ad from September: “Looking for several energetic people to work with a small campaign and make sure that Kansas voices are heard in the government! Looks great on resumes, etc. Must be able to work 8-12 hours a week (weekends and/or evenings). Registered Democrats only, no felony convictions.” That job advertised pay of $10/hour.

Energy to be topic at Wichita Pachyderm. This Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm club will feature John A. McKinsey speaking on the topic “Cap and Trade: What is the economic and regulatory impact of Congressional legislation?” The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Trackers at work. The Kansas City Star explains the role of trackers in political campaigns: “Martin’s job is to follow and film political opponents — and try to catch them in a misstep. Trackers like Martin, who works for the Kansas Democratic Party, have become a fixture of modern political campaigns. They now are so common that many political consultants say campaigns are behind the times if they don’t employ one.” In the Kansas fourth Congressional district campaign, Democrat Raj Goyle employes a tracker to follow Republican Mike Pompeo. At the several events where I’ve seen him, he hasn’t asked a question. Here’s some video, apparently shot by the tracker himself, in which Republican National Chairman Michael Steele has a little good-natured fun at the tracker’s expense at a Pompeo campaign event. When asked by me, the Pompeo campaign would not reveal if they use a tracker.

Kansas owes — a lot. From Kansas Budget Watch, a project of the Institute for Truth in Accounting: “One of the reasons Kansas is in this precarious position is state officials used antiquated budgeting and accounting rules to determine payroll costs. Truthful accounting would include in the payroll costs the portion of pension benefits employees earn every year they work. Accurate accounting provides that these real and certain expenses be reported on the state’s budget, balance sheet and income statement when earned, not when paid. Because the pension benefits are not immediately payable in cash, Kansas’ politicians have ignored most of these costs when calculating ‘balanced’ budgets. More than $8.5 billion of these and other costs have been pushed into the future, and thus onto your children’s and grandchildren’s backs.” See Financial State of Kansas for more. Whenever the shortfall of funding KPERS, the Kansas Public Employee Retirement System, is mentioned, public sector employees attack the messenger rather than facing the reality of the situation. Their strategy, as it is for a majority of legislators, is to pass along this funding shortfall to a future generation. This is dishonest, and a reason why the public employee pension system needs reform — now.

Sales tax changes could scuttle grocery store CID. A proposal by Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey to eliminate the sales tax on groceries in Kansas could have an impact on a Wichita grocery store’s plans. The store, a Save-A-Lot proposed to be built in Planeview, would use the state’s Community Improvement District law to allow it to collect an extra two cents per dollar sales tax. Question: If the state stopped taxing groceries, could the store still collect the two cents per dollar CID tax? I’m guessing the answer is no. The store’s developer made the point that many of the stores customers use the food stamp program, so they don’t pay tax anyway. And non-grocery items like household supplies would still be taxed (probably), so there’s some sales tax and CID tax there. Here’s an example of how relying on government and politicians adds extra uncertainty and risk to entrepreneurial activity, as if market risk wasn’t enough already. Although I would say that those like Rob Snyder, the developer of the proposed store, who seek government subsidy to back their ventures can hardly be classified as entrepreneurs — at least not the type we need more of.

TIF for rich, bit not for poor? A letter writer in yesterday’s Wichita Eagle writes: “Tax-increment financing districts have been used to provide millions of dollars to developers in their attempts to revitalize downtown Wichita. Blocking $400,000 for Planeview implies that buildings downtown are of far greater importance than the concern for human beings living in one of the poorest communities in Sedgwick County.” This is an issue the city has to grapple with, although it was the county commission that rejected the formation of the TIF district. The writer continues with a moral plea: “What has happened to our morality and our concern for and recognition of the needs of those who are less fortunate?” Morality is one of the reasons why I and my friend John Todd have opposed all TIF districts, regardless of location and purpose. That, and the fact that they don’t work — if growth in the entire community is the goal, instead of enriching specific people.

Organist Massimo Nosetti. Tuesday Italian organist Massimo Nosetti will perform a recital as part of the Rie Bloomfield Organ Series. The recital starts at 7:30 pm in Wiedemann Recital Hall (map), on the campus of Wichita State University. Cost is $10.

Wichita Eagle Opinion Line. “Am I the only one offended by Russ Meyer’s comment that ‘Anybody who is dumb enough to run against Carl (Brewer) is not qualified to be the mayor of Wichita’? When did Meyer become God?”

Goyle, Pompeo file campaign finance reports

Here’s a summary of the campaign finance reports filed on October 16, 2010 for candidates for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas, Democrat Raj Goyle and Republican Mike Pompeo.

                  Third quarter        Election cycle
                  Goyle   Pompeo      Goyle     Pompeo
Opening balance 749,493  286,032          0          0
Contributions   368,902  921,943  1,624,308  1,877,030
Expenditures    776,772  692,669  1,283,027  1,341,724
Cash balance    341,623  535,306    341,623    535,306

The “third quarter period” was from July 15, 2010 to September 30, 2010.

Pompeo raised much more — 2.5 times as much — than Goyle during this period, which was necessary as Pompeo was engaged in a competitive primary election and spent nearly all his funds in that effort. For the entire election cycle, the amounts raised are fairly close.

For expenditures during this reporting period, Goyle spent slightly more — about 12 percent more — than Pompeo.

Going forward, Pompeo has a cash balance (as of September 30) $193,683 (57 percent) greater than Goyle.

Soon the campaigns will start filing reports of contributions received almost daily as last-minute contributions are received.