Role of government

Things have changed at Social Security Administration

Remember when your Social Security card stated that it was not to be used for identification purposes? You'd have to be of at least a certain age to remember this, according to SSA: "The first Social Security cards were issued starting in 1936, they did not have this legend. Beginning with the sixth design version of the card, issued starting in 1946, SSA added a legend to the bottom of the card reading "FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PURPOSES -- NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION." This legend was removed as part of the design changes for the 18th version of the card, issued beginning…
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Free will and government charity

Those who call on government intervention to take care of the less fortunate and who rely on Christian teachings to support such government action, often conveniently forget that government is based on coercion, not the free will that God created us with. As P.J. O'Rourke wrote: "There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as 'caring' and 'sensitive' because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a…
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Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer on role of government

When President Barack Obama told business owners "You didn't build that," it set off a bit of a revolt. Those who worked hard to build businesses didn't like to hear the president dismiss their efforts. Underlying this episode is a serious question: What should be the role of government in the economy? Should government's role be strictly limited, according to the Constitution? Or should government take an activist role in managing, regulating, subsidizing, and penalizing in order to get the results politicians and bureaucrats desire? Historian Burton W. Folsom has concluded that it is the private sector -- free people,…
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Wichita fluoridation debate reveals attitudes of government

Is community water fluoridation like iodized salt? According to Wichita City Council Member and Vice Mayor Janet Miller (district 6, north central Wichita), we didn't vote on whether to put iodine in table salt, so Wichitans don't need to vote on whether to add fluoride to drinking water. There's a distinguishing factor, however, that somehow Miller didn't realize: Consumption of iodized salt is a voluntary act. Not so with fluoridated water. At the August 21, 2012 meeting of the Wichita City Council, Miller went on to name other substances added to our food supply that she said are beneficial to…
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Wichita-area economic development policy changes proposed

The City of Wichita and Sedgwick County are considering a revision to their economic development policies. Instead of promoting economic freedom and a free-market approach, the proposed policy gives greater power to city bureaucrats and politicians, and is unlikely to produce the economic development that Wichita needs. A new feature of the proposed policy implements property tax forgiveness for speculative industrial buildings, with a formula that grants a higher percentage of tax forgiveness as building size increases. And, in a stroke of pure bureaucratic central planning, the ceilings of these buildings must be at least 28 feet high. The policy…
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Walter Williams on government in a free society

Walter E.Williams Last September in Wichita economist Walter E. Williams spoke on the legitimate role of government in a free society, touching on the role of government as defined in the Constitution, the benefits of capitalism and private property, and the recent attacks on individual freedom and limited government. Williams' evening lecture was held in the Mary Jane Teall Theater at Century II, and all but a handful of its 652 seats were occupied. It was presented by the Bill of Rights Institute and underwritten by the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation. Williams said that one of the justifications for…
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Sedgwick County considers a planning grant

This week the Sedgwick County Commission considered whether to participate in a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant. A letter from Sedgwick County Manager Bill Buchanan to commissioners said that the grant will "consist of multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of economic prosperity, social equity, energy use and climate change, and public health and environmental impact." The budget of the grant is $2,141,177 to fund the three-year plan development process, with $1,370,000 from federal funds and $771,177 of…
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Walter Williams: Government must stick to its limited and legitimate role

Walter E.Williams At two events in Wichita today, economist Walter E. Williams spoke on the legitimate role of government in a free society, touching on the role of government as defined in the Constitution, the benefits of capitalism and private property, and the recent attacks on individual freedom and limited government. The evening lecture was held in the Mary Jane Teall Theater at Century II, and all but a handful of its 652 seats were occupied. It was presented by the Bill of Rights Institute and underwritten by the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation. Williams said that one of the…
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Sedgwick County considers a federal grant

Remarks delivered to the Sedgwick County Commission as it considered accepting a federal grant. The terms of this grant required that the commission hold a public hearing. Commissioners: With regard to the wisdom of accepting this grant. Milton Friedman said: "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program." Is this true? Or is it just rhetoric and speculation by the brilliant and freedom-loving economist? If we ask the question: Do federal grants cause state and/or local tax increases in the future after the government grant ends? We now have an answer. Economists Russell S. Sobel and George R. Crowley…
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The promises politicians make

Recently John Stossel produced a television show titled Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong. The show features segments on government programs and why they've gone wrong, with a focus on the unintended consequences of the programs. Particularly illuminating are the attempts by programs' supporters to justify their worth. Now the program is available to view on the free hulu service by clicking on Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong. One of the segments on the show explained the harm of Cash for Clunkers, in which serviceable cars were destroyed so that new cars could be sold. The program simply stole…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday April 11, 2011

Social security entitlement. In today's Wichita Eagle Opinion Line, this comment was left: "Please stop calling my Social Security an 'entitlement.' I paid into it all my working life, and I just want my money back." Two points: The writer seems to believe that just because people pay into Social Security, they're entitled to benefits as through there was a contract in place. But there is no contract. Social Security benefits are what Congress says they are, and Congress can make changes at any time. ... Second, the writer wants his money back, as though the money was paid onto…
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Classical liberalism explained

In a short video, Nigel Ashford of Institute for Humane Studies explains the tenets of classical liberalism. Not to be confused with modern American liberalism or liberal Republicans, classical liberalism places highest value on liberty and the individual. Modern American liberals, or progressives as they often prefer to be called, may value some of these principles, but most, such as free markets and limited government -- and I would add individualism and toleration -- are held in disdain by them. Here are the principles that Ashford identifies: Liberty is the primary political value. "When deciding what to do politically --…
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In Wichita, start of a solution to federal spending

At the Sedgwick County Commission, newly-elected commissioner Richard Ranzau voted three times against the county applying for grants of federal funds, showing a possible way that federal spending might be brought under control. During the meeting, Ranzau asked staff questions about where the funding for the grant programs was coming from, which, of course, is the federal government, sometimes routed through the Kansas Department of Commerce. Sometimes local spending is required by these grants. In opposing the programs, Ranzau said that federal government spending is too high. Also, our level of debt is too high, and that the cost of…
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Stossel on politicians’ promises

Recently John Stossel produced a television show titled Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong. The show features segments on government programs and why they've gone wrong, with a focus on the unintended consequences of the programs. Particularly illuminating are the attempts by programs' supporters to justify their worth. Now the program is available to view on the free hulu service by clicking on Politicians’ Top 10 Promises Gone Wrong. One of the segments on the show explained the harm of Cash for Clunkers, in which serviceable cars were destroyed so that new cars could be sold. The program simply stole…
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Prices mean something, even life and death

In the five years since Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, some $15 billion has been spent rebuilding and strengthening that city's flood defenses. The goal is to protect against the loss of life and property that happened in 2005 when the levies failed. Is this wise? Will it work? Mark Thornton wrote "The sad truth is that the government is only making things worse over time. Higher levies only increase the destructive force of future levy breaks." But engineers say that if Katrina arrived today, the city would experience only light flooding. But what will happen in the future? The…
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Private enterprise does it better

While some believe that government is the best provider of services, John Stossel, in the following article, shows us that this is not always the case. In fact, it is rare that government is able to do a better job at lower cost than the private sector. One motivating factor that private business has that government does not is profit. Liberals view profit as an extra expense that must be paid to private sector businesses. They say that profit is a cost that can be avoided if government -- which has no need for profit -- provides a service. But…
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Andrew Napolitano: Man is free, and must be vigilant

At Saturday's general session of the RightOnline conference at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano told an audience of 1,100 conservative activists that the nature of man is to be free, and that government and those holding power are an ever-present danger to freedom. Napolitano is Senior Judicial Analyst at the Fox News Network and the author of the books Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History, The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land, and A Nation of Sheep. Napolitano…
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The bamboozled public

The intellectual arguments used by the State throughout history to “engineer consent” by the public can be classified into two parts: (1) that rule by the existing government is inevitable, absolutely necessary, and far better than the indescribable evils that would ensue upon its downfall; and (2) that the State rulers are especially great, wise, and altruistic men -- far greater, wiser, and better than their simple subjects. In former times, the latter argument took the form of rule by “divine right’ or by the “divine ruler” himself, or by an “aristocracy” of men. In modern times, as we indicated…
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Importance of economic freedom explained in Wichita

Yesterday Robert Lawson appeared in Wichita to deliver a lecture titled "Economic Freedom and the Wealth and Health of Nations." The lecture explained how Lawson and his colleagues calculate the annual "Economic Freedom of the World" index, which ranks most of the countries of the world in how the "policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom." The conclusion is that economic freedom is a vital component of well-being, income, health, and both personal and political freedom. Robert Lawson The Economic Freedom of the World annual report is available in its entirety at FreeTheWorld.com. Lawson started his lecture…
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Wichita Eagle letter promotes taxes, big government

Today's Wichita Eagle carries a letter to the editor that, like many we've seen before, makes claims and espouses beliefs that are totally opposite to freedom and liberty. In today's example, Omer C. Belden of Wichita argues that we should "concentrate on saving such successful programs as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security." To call these programs "successful" is quite a stretch. Each faces actuarial difficulties in the near future, when these programs will not be able to continue in their present form. In fact, Mr. Belden seems to recognize this, as he acknowledges "... their trust funds have been sorely…
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