Kansas Governor, Wichita Eagle: why ‘pigs’ at the trough?


When the Kansas Chamber of Commerce recently referred to the need to control Kansas government spending and taxes, a few politicians and newspaper editorial writers embellished what the Chamber actually said in order to make their own political points.

Here’s what the Kansas Chamber said in its press release dated May 8:

“As of today, the legislature has failed to address the needs and wishes of the business community. It has instead catered to the needs of those at the government trough. The Kansas legislature has turned a deaf ear to the hard-working businessmen and women who have made the decision to invest in Kansas and provide jobs for our citizens. Instead of responsibly funding state government without raising taxes, a coalition of liberal House and Senate members have instead chosen to slash crucial services and push for a historic tax hike on Kansas families,” said Kansas Chamber President Kent Beisner.

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, an advocate for greater government spending and taxing, seized this opportunity for political gamesmanship. His press release on May 10 stated “It is heartbreaking to think that somebody would equate the disabled, the elderly, school children, veterans, law enforcement and the poor to pigs at a trough.”

His message used the “pigs at a trough” symbolism several additional times.

The Governor’s use of the word “pigs” — inflammatory imagry, to say the least — started making the rounds. It was picked up by editorialists and other writers, including the Wichita Eagle’s opinion editor Phillip Brownlee. In his editorial Kids, disabled aren’t pigs at a trough (Wichita Eagle, May 13) Brownlee wrote: “So schoolchildren and individuals with disabilities are akin to pigs at a trough?”

Brownlee’s editorial starts by complaining that the Kansas Chamber used some “over-the-top rhetoric during the state budget debate.”

Well, the Kansas Chamber didn’t use the word “pigs.” That was the governor’s language, then repeated by liberal editorial writers like Brownlee and the Winfield Daily Courier’s David Seaton when he editorialized: “Efforts by the president of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce to characterize educators, the elderly, the disabled and public safety employees as pigs at ‘the government trough’ did not succeed.”

Since Governor Parkinson brought it up, we ought to think about it for a moment. Schoolchildren, of course, aren’t pigs at the trough, no matter what the governor and Wichita Eagle say. For one, children don’t make the decision to attend public (government) schools, as their parents make that decision for them. It is the schools themselves, specifically school spending advocates in the form of Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA, the teachers union) and the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) that are the pigs.

If these school spending advocates were truly concerned about the education of Kansas schoolchildren, they would allow for government spending on education to be targeted at the child, to be spent wherever parents feel their children’s needs will best be met. But the school spending lobby in Kansas vigorously resists any challenge to their monopoly on public money for education, which reveals that they’re really more interested in spending on schools by any means, at any cost rather than on education.

If we need any more evidence of the never-ending appetite of schools for money, consider a story told by Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Arlen Siegfreid (R-Olathe) of a conversation he had with Mark Tallman, lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards: “During our discussion I asked Mr. Tallman if we (the State) had the ability to give the schools everything he asked for would he still ask for even more money for schools. His answer was, ‘Of course, that’s my job.’”

The Eagle editorial mentions a number of local chambers of commerce that have split away from the state chamber. We should recognize that in many cases, local chambers have become boosters for big government taxes and spending. An article titled Tax Chambers by the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore explains the decline of local chambers of commerce: “The Chamber of Commerce, long a supporter of limited government and low taxes, was part of the coalition backing the Reagan revolution in the 1980s. On the national level, the organization still follows a pro-growth agenda — but thanks to an astonishing political transformation, many chambers of commerce on the state and local level have been abandoning these goals. They’re becoming, in effect, lobbyists for big government.”

This was certainly the case with the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce. Under its president Brian Derreberry, it had been in favor of increased government interventionism instead of free markets. An example was its support of proven fiscal conservative Karl Peterjohn’s opponent in the campaign for Sedgwick County Commissioner in 2008. In that campaign, the Wichita Chamber spent some $19,000 — 44% of all it spent on campaigns that year — on Peterjohn’s opponent, a small town mayor who had just increased taxes.

Last year the Wichita Chamber hired former Kansas House Member Jason Watkins to be its lobbyist. The hiring of Watkins, a fiscal conservative, seemed to signal a possible shift in the Wichita Chamber’s direction. The fact that the Wichita Chamber did not break away from the Kansas Chamber’s opposition to tax increases validates that perception.

We should also note that many of the goals of the Kansas Chamber, such as efficient government, reducing taxes, encouraging business investment and growth, and promoting economic growth in Kansas, are good for all Kansans, not just business. Even government employees — and the governor himself — must realize that government does not create wealth. Instead, it is business that creates wealth that provides for our standard of living. It is business that creates the economic activity that generates the tax revenue that makes government spending possible.

The Eagle’s repetition of the governor’s attack on the Kansas Chamber fits right in with its pro-government, anti-economic freedom agenda.


15 responses to “Kansas Governor, Wichita Eagle: why ‘pigs’ at the trough?”

  1. Well, I’m shocked that someone would associate “pigs” with the phrase “at the trough”! Wait, no I’m not:


    The real problem, as I see it, is the Chamber’s view that all government spending takes place “at the trough” —a phrase that implies total subservience— when, in fact, spending on kids, the elderly, law enforcement and the disabled are among the ways that Kansans consistently choose to empower each other.

    Those who favored continuing to spend on these and other important functions of government have won the argument this time; this post looks like sour grapes, IMO.

  2. Kerr Avon

    Definately sour grapes.

    The message is crystal clear of what the Kansas Chamber was trying to convey.

    Bob admit it, you are all about creating “wealth” not about doing what is right for society.

    This is sad, very sad.

  3. Anonymous

    Wow, Kerr, that’s quite a pessimistic view of wealth. Is it better for people to become wealthy by serving their fellow men through voluntary transactions in markets, or is it better to take money through taxation and waste it on government monopoly, as Bob said?

    I would refer you to an article I saw that Bob wrote recently where very few Kansas kids were ready for college. Is that an example of creating “wealth” through government?

  4. Kerr Avon

    How exactly is making profit “serving your fellow man”.

    You make it sound sound so absolutely evil that taxes are invested (or as you put it “wasted”) on social services (as you put it a “government monopoly”).

    What you teagbaggers need to get through your heads is that life isn’t all about someone making a profit off of others.

  5. Joseph

    I find it the height of conceit when politicians claim that, without their ‘heroic’ efforts, the vulnerable and disadvantaged would go uncared for. The truth is that Americans, in their private lives, cared for the poor long before and far better than government ever has.

    Those “at the trough” are not the Elderly whose money has been siphoned away for decades trough taxes. They are not the children whose parents spend thousands and thousands of dollars a year to buy little-to-no control over schooling.

    The trough is populated by the bureaucrats and politicians who thrive by forcing us to part with our money instead of persuading us to do so (as in the free market).

  6. sue

    Joseph, I totally agree with your excellent summation.


  7. Anonymous

    Wow, Kerr. Compare government and markets. Can the richest man in the world (I think it’s Bill Gates of Microsoft; lets say he is for now) force anyone to buy his products? No, of course not. Bill Gates gets rich and earns profits only when people want to buy his goods and services.

    Government, on the other hand, is able to compel people by force to pay for things they don’t want, things they can’t use, and is able to provide incredibly poor service in the areas it does operate in.

  8. Wildhorse

    At first I thought you were a compassionate person who really cares for our fellow man. But when you refer to others as “teabaggers”, implying that creating wealth and/or profit is commiting evil against society, I see that you have been studying Cloward/Piven way too long. You ooze with theory. It’s time for you to take the needle out of your vein, my friend.

    Where do you work? Does your CEO or Proprietor set goals to LOSE money, so that you do not receive payroll for services rendered? Maybe you are self-employed and you just love working for people who wish that YOU would not make a profit, paying you only what they think you are worth. You know, the kind of profit that helps you put shirts on your childrens’ backs?

    Maybe, in truth, you might be actually profiting. But that would not be fair…your profiting so much that, not only are your children wearing shirts….why, they are even wearing underwear! Who decides if that is fair?

    Are you on food stamps? Who decides if you are receiving too many stamps? What happens when all are so taxed, that those receiving entitlement are taxed for how many stamps they have at the end of the day? Due to the fact that the “profiteers” are on stamps now.

    In nearly six decades of living and breathing free air, this is what I know: If I don’t profit, I can’t help others, even when I want to. When I have profit, I share it….anonomously.

    This is one “teabagger” who is grateful and eagerly shares his bounty. I do not need any beaurocracy to pretend to fulfill my responsibilities to my fellow man for me. My wealth-building and profit plans require risk, courage, discipline and tenacity. By engaging in these activities, I, and my fellow believers, actually DO right for society…and that’s not theory, brother.

    Collectively, (no pun intended), government creates repeat business, (Departments, mind you), by enabling their own inflated overhead to bastardize the very charity they claim to offer the intended recipient. Collectively, it’s their nature, it can’t help it; even when they are considered a lean governing body.

    When the independant benefactor works and gives, there is no creeping overhead nor strings attached.

    That sir, is compassion.

    Fare thee well,

  9. Kerr Avon

    It would appear that “Wildhorse” drinks the “Free Market cures all ills” kool-aid.

    Government provides essential services to all people without the profit motive attached. This is as it should be. My whole point is that the “profit motive” cannot be allowed to rule all aspects of life.

  10. Mike


    Unfortunately, my experience in the various list: “spending on kids, the elderly, law enforcement and the disabled…” is that those in power USE the kids, the elderly, LEO, and the disabled to create a way for they and their friends to enrich themselves. Need a raise, “trot” out a kid in a wheel chair. If you want another unnecessary school for the local construction company to build, trot out the cute second graders, preferably minority ones. EVERY time that USD 259’s budget come up, what is the first thing on the list to cut? LEO in the schools. Why you ask? Because no one will cut that.

    Jaded, but realistic.


  11. Kerr Avon

    Angry much Mike?

    Your “trot out the cute second graders, preferably minority ones” comment sure shows the underlying racism that drives the RW/teabagger movement doesn’t ?

  12. Mike,
    I don’t disagree; sometimes schools do get used like a political shield to prevent other cuts; in this case, schools were targeted by special interests:

    If there were other cuts that could/should have been made, I didn’t hear about them. All I heard was “cut schools, cut schools, cut schools” — maybe there’s someone else I should be listening to.


  13. Mike


    WRT “Your “trot out the cute second graders, preferably minority ones” comment sure shows the underlying racism that drives the RW/teabagger movement doesn’t ?” Nope, not racist, just realistic. Besides, I didn’t say I didn’t like them, just that they’re getting USED.


  14. Wichitator

    The largest and mainly unreported story of the 2010 legislature was the successful defense by the most powerful lobby in Kansas, the KNEA teachers’ union, of state government school spending. As a left-wing entity, the KNEA gets a pass from the lamestream leftie Kansas news media that loves to whack business.

    In addition, the pension mess was kicked down the road and the state/local employees pension system, KPERS, will continue to deteriorate financially. That will be another burden for Kansas taxpayers. What a disgrace.

  15. Kerr Avon

    That big, bad teachers’ union. Is that all the RW has got?
    A bunch of teachers collectively outsmarting the Kansas Chamber and their Koch masters, that’s it?

    If that were true, then there would be a story there.

    Do tell Wichitator, what would you have the mainstream media actually report about KNEA?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.