Kansas should be more like Texas
In "Tax cuts aren't magic formula for growth" (July 10 Opinion), Bernie Koch of the Kansas Economic Progress Council contrasted the difference between two studies: the American Legislative Exchange Council's "Rich States, Poor States" and CNBC's "Top States for Business." He suggested that Kansas should not follow Texas' lead in lowering taxes, and implied that Kansas is doing just fine.
These studies evaluate various policies, but the true measure of policy is the amount of jobs created by the climate within that state. So let's look at the numbers.
From 2001 to 2011, Kansas ranked 42nd in jobs created, and between 2010 and 2011, Kansas was 49th, only ahead of New Jersey. In fact, Kansas didn't create jobs; we lost jobs. This is awful.
Now let's look at Texas. Texas ranked No. 1, creating more jobs over the past 10 years than any other state in the nation. And since the recession ended, Texas has created about 40 percent of all jobs in the United States.
We can't let Kansas continue on this course. We have to change. Why wouldn't Kansas try to mirror other states' tax policy that creates jobs? Why wouldn't we want to change tax policy to be more attractive to all businesses? Why wouldn't we start with the restructuring of tax policy that leads to growth and job creation? We must create jobs.
Ways to reform
I attended the recent forum in Wichita on Medicaid reform, and I am encouraged that officials have been doing their homework and asking for the public's input on the Medicaid problem. I offer my thoughts on their proposals:
* Decrease enrollment. I agree, if they do it by eliminating those who shouldn't be on Medicaid to start with and promote getting current members back to work. We have too many healthy third-generation welfare recipients who know how to play the system.
* Decrease services offered. I'd rather see them promote case management and getting everyone into a "medical home." Project Access did a pilot program for the state on case management and saved Medicaid $5 million on a $450,000 investment. This program could have been even more efficient without a lot of regulatory restrictions.
* Decrease reimbursement. More and more medical facilities are limiting the number of Medicaid (and Medicare) patients they see because of poor reimbursement paired with paperwork and hassles. I'd rather see a focus on decreasing the cost of care (protect against frivolous lawsuits, limit fraud, expand home health, limit specialty referrals, etc.).
* Promote healthier lifestyles. That's easier said than done, but requiring Medicaid recipients to visit their medical home once or twice a year would pick up illnesses earlier and at least expose them to education about their illness or lifestyle.
Let kids golf
If the Wichita City Council closes one of the public golf courses, 120 kids each year will be denied the opportunity to learn a new skill, be off the streets, make friends and have fun.
The Wichita Junior Golf Foundation has sponsored an eight-week program at the public golf courses since 1972. The total cost to the junior golfer is $10 per year. The foundation furnishes golf equipment, supervision and tournament medals.
The Wichita Park Board permits the first tee at each course to be used by the junior golfers from 7:30 a.m. to noon Mondays for eight weeks each summer. Each course accepts 120 junior golfers each year — the number determined as the maximum who can be supervised and scheduled to play in the time allotted.
Each course has a waiting list. There are no available golf courses to start a new program. If one course is closed, 120 kids will not be able to participate next year and every year thereafter.
We conservatively estimate that more than 31,000 junior golfers have benefited from the program since its inception. How many of those kids have continued to play at the public courses? Where will the public courses secure future players if they cannot be introduced to the game?
Wants to rule
Richard Crowson's July 10 editorial cartoon about Gov. Sam Brownback was very funny and, at the same time, hit the nail on the head (July 10 Opinion). It seems to me that Brownback is going to force what he wants down our throats whether we like it or not, and a large majority of people do not like it.
Anyone who is halfway paying attention can see that the governor wants to rule. What he did to the Kansas Arts Commission and the abortion clinics gave you a glimpse of the man and the way he wants to do things.
I am beginning to get the feeling, as the dog said in the cartoon, that "Sam don't really give a damn."
REGINALD S. NULAN
I have an idea for how the courts in Wichita can increase their revenue: Install cameras at all major intersections that will photograph all red-light runners.
Modesto, Calif., had a problem with many accidents at major thoroughfares. When it installed cameras and collected $360 fines for running red lights, the number of accidents plummeted.
I recently had to wait at a Wichita intersection while a city of Wichita pickup and trailer ran a red light. Police and sheriff's officers also should be fined.
If the city would install cameras all over Wichita and ticket red-light runners $360, the revenue would quickly pay for the cameras.
WILLIAM E. BAUCOM
Finally, policymakers are addressing the Depression-era dinosaur known as agricultural subsidies. The United States has endured paying the rich with taxpayers' dollars for long enough.
Contrary to brainwashing attempted by farm lobbyist groups, these subsidies and tax breaks generally reach the wrong people, such as Tom Cruise.
Thanks to well-intentioned measures to control price fluctuations and provide safety to small farmers, the majority of these subsidies actually wind up in the hands of big agribusiness. The Environmental Working Group estimates that just 10 percent of America's largest and richest farms collect 74 percent of federal farm subsidies.
Maybe someday soon Americans once again will award their farmers through purchasing power, not tax dollars.
DONALD "TREY" MALONE III
I liked seeing Adam Smith mentioned in "Tax favoritism is bad economics" (July 13 Letters to the Editor), but the writer greatly oversimplified Smith's views and overlooked his failings.
Smith advocated for low taxes, but also saw the necessity of them in certain situations, such as during war. When Smith published "Wealth of Nations" in 1776, he contended that the American Colonies' push for independence would fail. Smith was an advocate for free trade, but he thought that Britain would always be safe from any economic harm it might cause because no other nation could ever match the quality and abundance of English beef or wheat.
Smith based the concept of the invisible hand in part on the idea that laborers could always learn the rudiments of new jobs in a few weeks' time. But he couldn't understand that no one would hire a worker with only rudimentary skills. For Smith, people who work didn't lead lives important enough to be severely disrupted by a loss of livelihood.
Stock, in Smith's time, meant the literal stock of a company, not abstract shares of a company's value.
Smith's views, while important, were of his time and class. Use caution when applying them to our situation now.