Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday August 5, 2011


More jobs, but … Today’s jobs reports shows more jobs created than the small number many feared would be reported. Commenting on this is Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson: “Today the Labor Department’s announcement of the unemployment report showing 117,000 new jobs created is a testimony to America’s job creators who are fighting hard against the economic headwinds created by Obama’s bullheaded adherence to a failed 1930s economic philosophy. … The drop in the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent though is a false signal as the drop is largely attributable to even more Americans giving up hope of getting a job and dropping out of the workforce. Since Obama has become president, Americans have been leaving the workforce in droves. For them, and the almost 14 million unemployed, Obama’s change has robbed them of hope.”

Sedgwick County budget. Wednesday’s meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission featured some actual legislative action as two fiscally conservative commissioners sought to reign in some county spending as the commissioners considered the 2012 budget. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn offered an amendment that would have reduced county spending by almost $500,000 in net spending reduction by eliminating one county center in health data, eliminating the new county lobbyist position, cutting $125,000 in airline subsidies as well as other business incentive spending, and several smaller categories of county spending. This amendment failed with only Commissioner Richard Ranzau voting with Peterjohn. A second amendment by Peterjohn deleted the new county lobbyist position to save $83,546. This amendment failed by the same vote as the first.

There are emergencies, and then there aren’t. KAKE Television reports that during Wednesday evening’s storm, about 65 percent of the calls handled by the 911 system operators were for non-emergency reasons. “A majority of the calls from the storm were people requesting to be transferred to the electric company,” the station reports. Story and video at Majority Of Emergency Calls Were Non-Emergencies .

Debt ceiling bill seen as feckless. The Cato Institute’s Jagadeesh Gokhale sums it up quite colorfully: “It’s been a frustrating two months watching politicians alternately squirm and spin only to achieve a damp squib of a deal.” He also writes that “The President and leaders in Congress have basically thrown in the towel.” The problems, he writes are “far too little by way of spending cuts, keeps open the possibility of new taxes, and hikes the debt ceiling substantially.” The major problems of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were not addressed, he adds. More from Gokhale at The Debt Deal: Failures of Leadership and Resolve. … His colleague Daniel J. Mitchell notes the path American is taking: “America is on a path to becoming a Greek-style welfare state. Thanks to the Bush-Obama spending binge, the burden of federal spending has climbed to about 25% of national economic output, up from only 18.2% of GDP when Bill Clinton left office.” Of the spending cuts, he writes “federal spending will actually be higher every year and that the cuts were based on Washington math (a spending increase becomes a spending cut if outlays don’t climb as fast as some artificial benchmark).” It is thought that spending cuts amount to only $22 billion next year. Out of likely $3.6 trillion budget, that’s 0.6 percent. Mitchell concludes: “One group of people, however, unambiguously got the short end of the stick in this budget deal. Ordinary Americans are caught in the middle. They’re not poor enough to benefit from the federal government’s plethora of income-redistribution programs. But they’re not rich enough to have the clever lobbyists and insider connections needed to benefit from the high-dollar handouts like ethanol subsidies and bank bailouts. Instead, middle-class Americans play by the rules, pay ever-higher taxes, and struggle to make ends meet while the establishment of both parties engages in posturing as America slowly drifts toward a Greek-style fiscal meltdown.” More from Mitchell at Debt Deal: Politicians Win, Middle Class Loses.

Higher fuel standards mean higher death toll. It’s simple physics, writes the Washington Examiner. Weight is the main enemy of fuel economy, so higher fuel economy standards from the government mean lighter cars. This lighter weight translates directly into highway deaths: “In 2003, for example, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimated that for every 100 pounds of weight taken out of a car weighing under 3,000 pounds, the death rate goes up more than 5 percent; the increase is slightly less than 5 percent for those weighing more than 3,000 pounds. Two years before that, a National Academy of Sciences study estimated that the lighter vehicles required to satisfy CAFE were responsible for as many as 2,600 highway deaths in one year alone. And in 1999, a comprehensive multiple regression analysis by USA Today of the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System data concluded that 7,700 people died for every one additional mpg attributable to CAFE regulation.” … Thomas Sowell warned us of this in 2005 when he wrote “Many of the same people who cry ‘No blood for oil!’ also want higher gas mileage standards for cars. But higher mileage standards have meant lighter and more flimsy cars, leading to more injuries and deaths in accidents — in other words, trading blood for oil.” … This is another example of the unintended consequences of regulation, although many times the consequences are intended.

Myths about markets. Tom G. Palmer has a wonderful paper that tackles the criticisms of free markets that have evolved into myths. For example, the first myth is that markets are immoral or amoral. Palmer states the myth: Markets make people think only about the calculation of advantage, pure and simple. There’s no morality in market exchange, no commitment to what makes us distinct as humans: our ability to think not only about what’s advantageous to us, but about what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral. His destruction of the myth: “A more false claim would be hard to imagine. For there to be exchange there has to be respect for justice. People who exchange differ from people who merely take; exchangers show respect for the rightful claims of other people. The reason that people engage in exchange in the first place is that they want what others have but are constrained by morality and law from simply taking it. An exchange is a change from one allocation of resources to another; that means that any exchange is measured against a baseline, such that if no exchange takes place, the parties keep what they already have. The framework for exchange requires a sound foundation in justice. Without such moral and legal foundations, there can be no exchange. Markets are not merely founded on respect for justice, however. They are also founded on the ability of humans to take into account, not only their own desires, but the desires of others, to put themselves in the places of others. A restaurateur who didn’t care what his diners wanted would not be in business long. If the guests are made sick by the food, they won’t come back. If the food fails to please them, they won’t come back. He will be out of business. Markets provide incentives for participants to put themselves in the position of others, to consider what their desires are, and to try to see things as they see them. Markets are the alternative to violence. Markets make us social. Markets remind us that other people matter, too.” … The entire paper is at Twenty Myths about Markets.

What are rights? “Individuals have rights. But are they natural? And how do they compare and contrast with legal or constitutional rights? Are legal or constitutional rights similar to those inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence? Professor Aeon Skoble distinguishes such constitutional rights, such as the right to vote, from the rights protected by governments and constitutions — natural rights not actually granted by governments themselves. He concludes that legal systems should create rights that are compatible with natural rights.” This video is from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, and many other informative videos are available.


One response to “Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday August 5, 2011”

  1. west sider

    Unemployment is dropping because people have given up looking for jobs in the age of the obamanation. Our master in washington’s approval numbers should be in single digits with the economy now settling into another downturn. Instead, he parties in the White House (see today’s Drudge Report on the festivities) while the American people give up finding work. That’s the key reason behind the 1/10 of 1 percent reduction in the unemployment rate that the leftie media types will bray on their reports today.

    Yesterday the DOW lost 512 points or about $500 billion in market capitalization. That is on top of another $800 billion in market capitalization losses that had preceeded it in the last two weeks.

    Today, the market continues to fall but everyone had a great time at the White House party. Perhaps Michelle will offer the leftovers to the masses, “let them eat cake,” she can say. This phrase was used about 230 years ago, and it did not work out so well for another pampered power princess.

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