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.


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