Tag Archives: Sam Adams Alliance

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday October 20, 2010

Poll: Republicans to win big. Wall Street Journal: “A vigorous post-Labor Day Democratic offensive has failed to diminish the resurgent Republicans’ lead among likely voters, leaving the GOP poised for major gains in congressional elections two weeks away, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Among likely voters, Republicans hold a 50% to 43% edge, up from a three-percentage-point lead a month ago. … ‘It’s hard to say Democrats are facing anything less than a category four hurricane,’ said Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who conducts the Journal poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. ‘And it’s unlikely the Democratic House will be left standing.'”

Faust-Goudeau, Ranzau featured. The two major party candidates for Sedgwick County Commission District 4 — Democrat Oletha Faust-Goudeau and Republican Richard Ranzau — are featured in today’s Wichita Eagle. This is an important election, as the balance of power on the commission is at stake.

Rasmussen: Health care, bailouts, stimulus not popular with voters. “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most Likely Voters think their representative in Congress does not deserve reelection if he or she voted for the national health care law, the auto bailouts or the $787-billion economic stimulus plan.” The complete story is here.

Downtown Wichita planning. The people of Wichita need to be wary about the planning for the revitalization of downtown Wichita developed by planning firm Goody Clancy. As Randal O’Toole explains in a passage from his book The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future, planning provides an opportunity for special interests to run over the will of the people: “When confronted with criticism about their plans, planners often point to their public involvement processes. ‘Hundreds of people came to our meetings and commented on our plans,’ they say. ‘So we must be doing something right.’ Wrong. Planning is inherently undemocratic. Efforts to involve the public mainly attract people who have a special interest in the outcome of the plans. … Planning processes are even less likely to attract the public than elections. Getting involved in planning requires a much greater commitment of time than simply voting, and the process is so nebulous that there is no assurance that planners will even listen to the public. … At the same time, some groups have a strong interest in getting involved in planning either for ideological reasons or because planning can enrich their businesses. The usual result when a few special interest get involved in a process ignored by everyone else is to develop a plan that accommodates the special interests at everyone else’s expense.” When we look at who is involved in the Wichita planning, we see these special interests hard at work.

More corporate welfare in Sedgwick County. Today, without meaningful discussion, the Sedgwick County Commission committed to a $25,000 forgivable loan to TECT Power. The loan agreement specifies targets of employment and wages that TECT must meet. This is not the only corporate welfare the company is seeking. The Wichita Business Journal reports: “The Wichita City Council will be asked to match the Sedgwick County loan, and the company is seeking incentives from the Kansas Department of Commerce.” Does this approach to economic development work? See Kansas spending should be cut, not frozen and In Wichita and Kansas, economic development is not working.

Heartland policy blog launched. The Heartland Institute has launched Somewhat Reasonable, described as an “in-house” policy blog. In an announcement, HI says: “It is the place friends and fans of The Heartland Institute can keep up with the conversation about free markets, public policy and current events that takes place every day among our fellows and scholars. Heartland staffers don’t always agree, which is part of the fun of working at a libertarian think tank.” Heartland is continually at the forefront of research and advocacy for free markets and economic freedom.

Tea Parties and the Political Establishment. The Sam Adams Alliance has released a new report that examines the relationship between tea party activists and the political establishment. Its research shows “shows the two entities are united on issue priorities, but differ when it comes to their level of enthusiasm and the Tea Party movement’s ability to accomplish its political goals.” One finding is that the political establishment doesn’t have much confidence in tea party activists’ ability to achieve their goals: “… only about 7 percent of Establishment respondents said the Tea Party knows how to accomplish its goals, while about 41 percent of Tea Party activists surveyed say this is true.” But the establishment needs tea party activists: “42 percent of Establishment respondents said it was ‘very important’ that Tea Partiers work with them.” In conclusion, the study states: “The Tea Parties have knowingly or unknowingly begun to promote a distinctly separate understanding of the political landscape compared to the Establishment’s. The tensions between them illustrate the underlying differences in their conception of the current political environment, their willingness to embrace populist elements, selection of means and tactics, and their acceptance of new entrants into the political world. However they share many of the same issue priorities, indicating that there is opportunity for a closer and more amicable relationship between the two factions.” The full document is at Surface Tension: Tea Parties and the Political Establishment.

Chevrolet Volt. The Chevrolet Volt plug-in car is suffering a bit of dings in its green-glamour now that GM has revealed that it will use its gasoline motor more often than previously thought. But there are substantive reasons why this car should be scrutinized. Writes Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: “Cars account for 9% of America’s CO2 output, making power plants a much more sensible target if your worry is global warming. Ironically, the Volt rolls out amid news that an investor is abandoning a big U.S. nuclear project, leaving America more dependent than ever on ‘dirty’ coal for its electricity. Storing electricity — which is what the Volt’s batteries do — is probably the least efficient thing you can do with the output of such plants. Then again, perhaps this explains the rapturous greeting the Volt is receiving from the utility industry. … The Volt’s defenders will shout that the Volt is a blow against terrorism and in favor of energy independence. Two answers: The Volt doesn’t need defenders if it’s a car that consumers want, and that GM can make and sell at a profit. But GM can’t. … The second answer is that even if every American drove a Volt, and every car in America was a Volt, it would not appreciably change the global challenges we face.” More at Volte-Face: GM’s new electric car depends on coal-belching power plants to charge its batteries. What’s the point?

Bigger danger of healthcare bill: the arrogance of Congress

By Eric O’Keefe.

We may never fully know the damage that will be done by the massive health care bill Congress passed on Sunday, but one thing is certain: It will lead to lower-quality care at higher costs.

Dozens of new health boards will come on line in the next few years, as bureaucrats gradually take control of our health care system. Who knows how many bright college students will decide to avoid medical careers because they don’t want to follow orders from these bureaucrats?

As alarming as some of the bill’s provisions are, what’s more dangerous is the arrogance this Congress demonstrated.

The House of Representatives used to represent; now it rules.

This health care reform was widely debated for a year, and it became less popular by the month. A weekend poll by Rasmussen Reports showed the depth of that unpopularity, with only 26 percent strongly supporting the reform and 45 percent strongly opposing it.

How can elected representatives defy the considered will of the people?

Because defiance becomes an easy habit when you know that there is almost no chance you will lose your next election. The loss of accountability enables public servants to indulge their own lust for power. As Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

If we do not address the problem of a permanent class of rulers in Congress, we will watch Congress bankrupt the country and destroy the republic.

Most members of the House represent specially drawn districts where one party dominates. As a result, these members face no primary election challengers and only nominal competition in the general election.

Congressional entrenchment is not a product of popularity; Congress has routinely been unpopular the past 30 years. A February survey by Rasmussen Reports showed approval of Congress at a historic low, with only 10 percent rating their performance as good or excellent. Rasmussen also found 63 percent favor replacing the entire Congress.

Unfortunately, that will not happen. Even during this year’s extreme political turmoil, you can be confident that over 80 percent of House incumbents will win yet again in November. In most modern US elections, more than 95 percent of House incumbents are reelected.

The reason is a century of entrenchment by incumbents looking out for themselves. They have large staffs and budgets to run a permanent campaign; they have pork and patronage to distribute at taxpayer expense; and they enacted campaign restrictions to hobble challengers.

With mostly one-party districts, incumbents own their seats unless they face serious primary challenges. But party organizations controlled by incumbents work to discourage primary challenges, regardless of the performance of the incumbent. In fact, only eight incumbents have lost their primary races in the past three elections combined – that’s a renomination rate of over 99 percent.

To regain congressional accountability, we must work outside the political parties to set the standard of acceptable behavior, and to enforce it in primary elections.

In 2006 and 2008, Democrats won the close House races and took control of Congress because voters were tired of big-spending Republicans. In 2010 voters will defeat Democrats in close elections, and the House is likely to return to Republican control. But what will those Republicans do? Should we trust them to behave this time?

I would say no. Congress will not behave on its own because the political parties now exist to serve the politicians, not the taxpayers.

That’s why the development of the tea party movement has been so forceful and swift. Tea party leaders stepped up because both parties had failed us. Yet they understand that you don’t solve the problem of two unaccountable parties by creating a third. What we really need is a way to hold politicians of any party accountable, and that begins with independent organizations demanding accountability, and backing primary challengers to representatives of both political parties who fail to live up to their job title: Representative.

In 2010, tossing out some big-spending Democrats may be all that voters can accomplish. But if we don’t solve the bigger problem of creating the organizations to systematically hold politicians accountable, we will only get another round of broken promises on the road to ruin. The fate of the republic depends on building an independent system to hold Congress accountable to the taxpayers.

Eric O’Keefe is chairman of Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on communicating free-market principles.

Tea party leaders analysis released

The Sam Adams Alliance, an organization that supports free market principles, has released a study that examines tea party leaders, their thoughts, and their motivations. It found that many tea party leaders are new to political activism, and having experienced empowerment, are ready to move to the next step of activism. “This is their time to act,” the report concludes.

While it is often thought that the tea party movement might blossom into a third party, that wasn’t the sentiment of those surveyed: “A striking 85.7 percent said ‘No’ when asked if they were in favor of moving in the direction of a Third Party.” Eric O’Keefe, Chairman of the Sam Adams Alliance, wrote in his letter introducing the analysis: “We found a deep distrust of current political leaders and both political parties, but strong understanding that practical considerations argue against a third party.”

Political party affiliation was largely Republican: “61.7 percent Republican, 27.7 percent Independent, and 10.6 percent Tea Party.”

Social issues were not important to the respondents. Instead, fiscal and economic issues are the focus: “91.7 percent said ‘budget’ is “very important, followed by the ‘economy’ at 85.4 percent, and ‘defense’ at 79.6 percent.”

The tea party leaders are relatively new to politics: “46.9% were uninvolved or rarely involved with politics prior to 2009.” Also: “Tea Party activists are for the most part new to this role. They are neither practiced nor polished in activism; but having experienced a taste of the empowerment that comes with action, they feel more than ever that this is their time to act.”

But tea party leaders are self-aware and want to advance the movement: “They are also motivated to take this to the next level — and are actively preparing for a phase two.”

Read the report and learn more about the Sam Adams Alliance at Activist Insights. A direct link to the report is The Early Adopters.