Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday January 17, 2011

Kansas legislature website. While there has been some improvement to the Kansas Legislature website, major problems remain. Some calendars and journals are available, but not in time to be useful. … Documents like calendars and journals are presented in OpenDocument format. This is a document format that not all website visitors may be able to open on their computers. Generally, the ubiquitous Adobe pdf format is used for documents like these, as this is a useful format that nearly all computers, even mobile devices like an Iphone, can open and view. … Bills are presented in pdf format, although still in an unconventional viewing frame that reduces functionality and ease of use. … Some files are presented with file names like “sb1_00_0000.zip.odt” which might be an attempt to deliver an OpenDocument format file in zip format. If it is, the file is misnamed and can’t be handled by most computers in the usual fashion. It would be a silly exercise to compress such small files. … Contact information is still missing for many members. … The way the statutes are presented is unusable. … At this point it seems the best course is to bring back the old legislature website. That worked.

Federal health care reform costs. Timothy P. Carney in The Washington Examiner: “In fighting against Obamacare repeal this week, Democrats portray their health care law as a money saver, claiming Republicans would add to the deficit by abolishing the legislation. But in their franker moments, the bill’s authors admit that ‘reform’ could be something of a time bomb that will cause exploding health care costs down the line. One top Senate aide plainly stated last summer, ‘This is a coverage bill, not a cost reduction bill.’ The time-bomb nature of Obamacare was presaged by Mitt Romney’s health care bill in Massachusetts, which also expanded health insurance coverage by mandating that all individuals buy insurance, prohibiting insurers from dropping customers, and subsidizing the insurance of those with difficulty affording it.” Carney goes on to draw on the lessons of Massachusetts. … Most people seem to forget that the fiscal score of Obamacare uses ten years of taxes to pay for six years of benefits.

This week at Wichita City Council. There will be no meeting this Tuesday. It’s not a holiday, but the day after a holiday, so the council won’t meet.

This week at Sedgwick County Commission. Wednesday’s meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission features two grant applications. One is from the Kansas Department of Transportation for a public transit assistance program. The second is also to KDOT for a rural general public transpiration program. From a quick look at the applications — they are lengthy — both require a local matching share. From a public policy perspective, this is the way governments control the levels of government below them: they tax, and then send back the tax money to be used for specific programs, while requiring that even more money be spent. … Also several appointments to boards such as Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition will be made, marking a transition away from commission members who favor a free market approach to economic development to those who favor increased government activism in this area.

Eisenhower on military industrial complex. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was concerned about the military industrial complex for two reasons, writes Christopher Preble in Eisenhower’s Lament. First, there was the opportunity costs of military spending. Then, there are the political and social costs of the U.S. becoming a “garrison state.” In conclusion, Preble writes: “But I suspect that the permanence of the MIC would be most disturbing to President Eisenhower, were he with us now. Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans today spend more on the military than at any time since World War II, and more than twice as much — in inflation-adjusted dollars — than when Ike left office. The general-president clearly failed to convince his fellow Americans of the need to limit the military’s growth. For all practical purposes, the MIC won.”

Rasmussen last week. “Support for repeal of the national health care law passed last year remains steady, as most voters continue to believe the law will increase the federal budget deficit.” See here. … A huge margin think that federal health care reform will cost more than official estimates. See 75% Think Health Care Law May Cost More Than Estimated. … Most don’t feel politics was motive for Arizona shootings. See here. … Few say stricter gun control laws would prevent such shootings; see here.

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