Letters to the editor on tax policy, libertarianism, education funding, Medicare

06/25/2013 12:00 AM

06/24/2013 5:59 PM

Who will prosper in Kansas?

Who will prosper under the budget plans endorsed by the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity-Kansas? Given the outcome of the 2013 legislative session, my husband and I, who live on a fixed income, will not. We certainly will pay higher sales tax and likely will pay higher property taxes.

My children and their spouses, as well as my married grandson and his wife, also will pay higher sales and property taxes. My college-age grandchildren’s parents will pay more in tuition. My high school-age grandchildren will see more cuts in their public school budget, leading to program cuts and classroom overcrowding.

The only Kansans who will prosper are wealthy folks like the Kochs. It has become a cliche to say Kansans are their own worst enemies when it comes to voting. Many Kansans vote according to a politician’s stand on ending abortion rights, broadening gun rights and getting government out of their lives. What they will achieve is a hole in their household budgets, fewer social services and a decrease in the quality of public education.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s “glide path to zero” promises to be a glide path for people leaving the state to escape the economic atmosphere unfriendly to the average Kansan.



As free as possible

It’s rather telling that most arguments against libertarianism exhibit a general lack of understanding of its principles. “Still waiting to see libertarianism work” (June 19 WE Blog excerpts) was a case in point.

Libertarianism is not a utopian worldview. At the core of the philosophy is the understanding that man has inherent constraints – such as self-interest and limited knowledge – that necessitate societies work within these limitations. Contrast that with modern-day liberals and conservatives who believe that a society’s flaws can be eliminated so long as its leaders are smart and powerful enough.

Take the issue of self-interest: How does it makes sense that people are greedy and selfish in the private sector, but put them in government and they become magnanimous, sacrificial servants? When confronted with a contradiction, check your premises.

Because libertarians understand that people don’t diverge from basic human nature, the philosophy seeks to lessen the negative impact of these predispositions. In a self-interested world, free exchange requires mutual benefit, and vice versa. Thus libertarians desire exchange be as free as possible – not mandated by a government with the backing of coercive force.

Alas, there was a libertarian nation from 1776 through the 19th century. It built the greatest superpower and force for human progress the world has known.



Save education

As someone who has been in education 45 years, including 22 in California and 17 in Kansas, and spent a half dozen more in higher education, I know something about the effects of decreased funding of public education.

In California, Proposition 13 had devastating effects on funding education. I taught in an old junior high that could only afford to have one counselor for its 420 students. In another, I had 14 learning-disabled and emotionally disturbed students without the benefit of a paraprofessional. Classes with one teacher for more than 40 students were common.

As an itinerant instructor in scores of Kansas public schools, I have seen excellent instruction with strong support producing extensive positive outcomes. That is now at serious risk of being replaced by what I experienced in California.

The Kansas Constitution requires suitable funding of K-12 education. Our state lawmakers have failed to follow legal requirements.

What were we thinking when we elected those people? Perhaps our best hope now is to unify to combine our best efforts to save Kansas public education. Or are we just going to let the bleak alternatives happen?



Lacks credibility

State Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, has raised some legitimate questions about university costs ( June 12 Letters to the Editor). Since a university depends upon state funding, a citizen is not sure whether the university’s mission is dollars or education. It’s a good issue for the Legislature to examine.

Still, the public and the media – including The Eagle editorial board – blame the Legislature more than the universities. Why?

It is a question of credibility.

To begin with, a word from a university official is taken at its face. A politician’s speeches before and after an election have different tones. Also, the Legislature went back on its commitment that the sales-tax increase would expire in 2013.

The governor made a tour of the state in support of universities. Did he really mean to help higher education, or was it a public relations tour? It is interesting that his party follows him in nearly all matters except for higher education.

The poor people pay sales tax. They pay it in lieu of contributions for elections. Rich people get benefit from reduction of income tax but contribute to elections for reasons obvious to all.

Credibility is more important than dollars. A person or a business or government is as good as its word is.



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