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Viewing the seen and unseen

Viewing the seen and unseen

The lesson of the book "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt is this: "The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups." (The Ludwig von Mises Institute has published an edition of this book which is available at no cost at its website; click here. Amanda BillyRock has illustrated most of the chapters in video. Click here for the playlist.) Looking beyond what we see at first glance,…
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Open Records in Kansas

Open Records in Kansas

Kansas has a weak open records law. Wichita doesn't want to follow the law, as weak as it is. As citizen watchdogs, I and others need access to information and data. The City of Wichita, however, has created several not-for-profit organizations that are largely funded by tax money. The three I am concerned with are the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. I have asked each organization for checkbook-level spending data. Each has refused to comply, using the reasoning that they are not "public agencies" as defined in the Kansas…
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Wichita Chamber of Commerce: Why these panelists?

Wichita Chamber of Commerce: Why these panelists?

Last week the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce conducted a panel discussion about economic development and job creation in Wichita. The experts selected as panelists tells us a lot about why the Wichita economy has suffered. In case anyone is not aware of the performance of the Wichita-area economy, the Wichita Eagle reported "Exhibit No. 1 in their presentation was a Chamber of Commerce chart showing that, five years after the recession ended, Wichita had regained few, if any, jobs from the depths of the economic downturn -- while other cities across the region have rebounded strongly." (Wichita must step…
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Our Kansas grassroots teachers union

Our Kansas grassroots teachers union

Letters to the editor in your hometown newspaper may have the air of being written by a concerned parent of Kansas schoolchildren, but they might not be what they seem. It's fashionable for school advocacy groups to bash their critics as mere lackeys of a top-down driven power structure. It is the advocates for school spending -- teachers, parents, children, school principals -- that are the true grassroots, they say. So it might be surprising to learn that Kansas' largest teachers union has a plan and mechanism for distributing its message. It's called the KNEA Media Response Team, and it…
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Kansas school finance lawsuit deflects from issues that could help schoolchildren

Kansas school finance lawsuit deflects from issues that could help schoolchildren

Regardless of which side wins the Kansas school finance lawsuit, we know who loses: Kansas schoolchildren. Talking about school spending is easy, even though most Kansas public school spending advocates refuse to acknowledge the totality of spending. (Or if they acknowledge the total level, they may make excuses for the spending not being effective.) Advocating for more spending is easy. It's easy because the Kansas Constitution says the state must spend on schools. Parents want more spending, and so do teachers, public employee unions, and children. It's easy to want more spending on schools because anyone who doesn't is demonized…
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WichitaLiberty.TV January 26, 2014

WichitaLiberty.TV January 26, 2014

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The City of Wichita’s performance report holds a forecast for increasing debt in Wichita. Then, the government sector in Kansas has grown faster than the private sector. What does this mean? Finally: What can the story of “Bootleggers and Baptists” teach us about regulation? Episode 29, broadcast January 26, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
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Kansas school employment: The claims compared to statistics

Kansas school employment: The claims compared to statistics

Claims made about Kansas schools don't match the state's statistics. Responding to the State of the State Address delivered by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Kansas House of Representatives Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis provided figures regarding Kansas public schools, telling Kansans: "On top of that, public school class sizes are growing, [and] teachers have been laid off by the thousands." Statistics from Kansas State Department of Education, however, show that school employment has rebounded, both in terms of absolute numbers of teachers and certified employees, and the ratios of pupils to these employees. The story is not the…
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Would you pay $48.62 to visit the art museum?

Would you pay $48.62 to visit the art museum?

The normal adult admission to the Wichita Art Museum is $7.00, but that isn't anywhere near the cost of each visit. According to most recent edition of Wichita's Performance Measure Report, the cost per visitor for the Wichita Art Museum in 2012 was $48.62. That's a little higher than the three previous years, but much lower than 2009, when the city reported a cost of $59.00 per visitor. As can be seen in the nearby table (click it for a larger version), other city cultural attractions registered costs per visitor that are much higher than their admission costs. The Mid…
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Wichita’s legislative agenda favors government, not citizens

Wichita’s legislative agenda favors government, not citizens

This week the Wichita City Council will consider its legislative agenda. This document contains many items that are contrary to economic freedom, capitalism, limited government, and individual liberty. Yet, Wichitans pay taxes to have someone in Topeka promote this agenda. I've excerpted the document here, and following are some of the most problematic items. Agenda: Existing economic development tools are essential for the continued growth and prosperity of our community. First. The premise of this item is incorrect. We don't have growth and prosperity in Wichita. Compared to a broad group of peer metropolitan areas, Wichita performs very poorly. See…
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