Roots of tea party. Richard A. Vigeurie writing in Politico: “Asked about what stirred the tea party movement, [Former VU.S. Senator from Virginia George] Allen blamed President Barack Obama and the Democrats. ‘It’s what has happened in the last year,’ he said. Allen is flat-out wrong. Americans didn’t elect Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as much as they threw out Republicans in 2006 and 2008. Americans were angry about the GOP officials’ lack of discipline and courage, and their profligate spending and abandonment of small-government, Republican principles.” Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott reacts: “Viguerie is right, of course, and his oped ought to be a reminder to all professional politicians in both major political parties that the Tea Party movement is at its most fundamental a reaction to the horrendous mess they have made of things in the nation’s capital.”
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer announces run for reelection. Here’s a list of Brewer’s prominent supporters, as reported by the Wichita Eagle’s Brent Wistrom: “Jack DeBoer, chairman of Consolidated Holdings and owner of WaterWalk; downtown developer David Burk; theater mogul Bill Warren; council member Sue Schlapp; Dave Wells, president of Key Construction; and Jeff Turner, CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, where Brewer worked before being elected in 2007.” As noted in comments to the article, the business people listed have benefited mightily from the city’s corporate welfare programs, which Brewer wholeheartedly supports as he readily accepts campaign contributions from those who benefit. Curious is the inclusion of city council member Sue Schlapp, who is quick to remind us of her conservative credentials, but nearly always votes for developer giveaways that end up costing city taxpayers. One name that is surprising to see on this list is Dave Burk. Earlier this year the Wichita Eagle reported this: “Downtown Wichita’s leading developer, David Burk, represented himself as an agent of the city — without the city’s knowledge or consent — to cut his taxes on publicly owned property he leases in the Old Town Cinema Plaza.” It’s telling that Brewer would have him stand nearby as he announces his reelection plans.
Overheard on This Week in Kansas. Referring to Louisiana possibly using federal relief funds to pay for incentives to entice Wichita’s Hawker Beechcraft to relocate near the Baton Rouge airport, I said: “If we’re talking about Hurricane Katrina money being used to get these jobs, to my knowledge Baton Rouge wasn’t destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It’s not like these jobs are going to the ninth ward in New Orleans, which was hurt.”
Many Americans see government as a threat. Gallup Poll via ARRA News Service: “The percentage of Americans who think the federal government poses ‘an immediate threat’ to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens has increased significantly over the last seven years, rising from 30 percent to 46 percent, according to a Gallup poll. Only 51 percent of Americans now say they do not think the federal government poses ‘an immediate threat’ to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Similarly, the percentage of Americans who think the federal government has too much power has also significantly increased, from 39 percent in 2002 to 59 percent today.” I would be interested in seeing similar polls for state, county, and city government, as well as school districts.
Markets tell us the worth of things. William Anderson writing in the Freeman: “A public-works project such as the proposed tunnel makes sense if over time the marginal benefits outweigh the marginal costs. If they do not, then it provides a benefit to some at the expense of others, something the ancients might have called ‘unjust.’ Since the output of public works is not priced in the market, how would we know if costs exceed benefits? … Today, we see economic analysis turned on its head. Projected cost overruns suddenly are justified because ‘they provide jobs,’ as though higher costs mean more wealth created.” As Wichita begins to plan for spending on downtown Wichita revitalization, we need to rely on market signals for the relative worth of things. Despite the claims of planning firm Goody Clancy that downtown Wichita will be market-driven, it is in fact driven by politics, which is the opposite of markets. Nonetheless, the Wichita Eagle covers downtown revitalization as a business story, when it is really a political story.