Letters to the Editor

Absurd model

December 15, 2010


To the editor:

I was astounded by the details of the “model budget” for Kansas prepared earlier this year by Kansas’ new budget director and the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity. (Journal-World, Dec. 9)

Their first idea is to cut back on Medicaid. Apparently, the idea is to protect the well-heeled by balancing the budget on the backs of the sick and powerless.

Another idea is to funnel tax dollars into school vouchers. Besides being a boondoggle designed to enrich the wallets of those whose children already attend private schools without freeing a single space for an underprivileged student, how could this preposterous idea help balance the budget?

Another idea is to raise college tuition. (Again?) This is based on two premises. First, that most Kansans don’t have children in college and therefore shouldn’t bear the cost. Do Kansans want their doctor to have attended medical school? Do they want to cross a bridge designed by a trained engineer? How about their pharmacist? Their dentist? Shall we fold up Kansas’ aeronautics industry?

The second absurd premise for this budget move is that “it is only the more affluent citizens who are more likely to have children enrolled in higher education.” Incredible! Most students need financial aid to attend college, hold down jobs while there and graduate with a large burden of debt.

The notion of Steve Anderson guiding the future economy of Kansas is truly frightening. The only real idea here is demagoguery: making average hard-working Kansans suspicious of the sick, the disabled, public education and the educated “elite.”


cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

JustNoticed, I wasn't submitting a response. I was making a comment. Based on your prior posts, I'm sure you don't know the difference.

emceelean 7 years, 5 months ago

I think that might qualify as a response.

Kookamooka 7 years, 5 months ago

Really? You think this letter is absurd? What planet do you live on?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

"assuming that government and society are the same thing"

No, they are not the same thing. Government is a tool. If used wisely it is fully owned by the people at large, and used to address their needs, fairly and comprehensively.

Or it can be abused and twisted to meet the needs of a very small, but powerful and wealthy segment of the population. This is the model that we currently have, and the model that Republicans (and way too many Democrats) are seeking to intensify, and make permanent.

And fundamentalist libertarians like LO think that merely abolishing government will lead to a Utopia in which the oligarchs won't abuse the permanent stranglehold on wealth and power that LO and his compatriots would grant them.

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

When you use phrases like "all liberals," don't be surprised to be lumped in with "all Libertarians." Address the individual, not the group. All liberals do not think society and government are one and the same. Since that claim is what you base your statement on, then your statement must be considered false from the beginning.

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

Funny, another sad wannabe calling others clingers.

madameX 7 years, 5 months ago

Liberty, I've tried to explain this before in a roundabout way, so I'll say it simple this time.

Your "liberals" are perfectly capable of understanding the difference between society and government. They (including me) do not assume that if someone objects to having government involvement in some activity then that person must object to the activity itself. However, they do recognize the reality that there are some things that are needed for the good of the community but for whatever reason are not being taken care of by the market. And they recognize that but for government intervention (in some cases. Not all, but some) needed things would likely become prohibitavely difficult to obtain.

The letter writer is not assuming that Americans for Prosperity are against higher education or against doctors and engineers being properly educated simply because they are against government funding for it. His point is more that if the state funding for higher education is cut and tution is raised the result will be that fewer people will be educated. He's not asking "Don't you want this particular end?" because he thinks the answer is no, he's asking "Don't you want this particular end?" because the answer probably is yes, but the people being asked don't seem to see the end is less likely to be achieved if you cut off the means.

You're a smart person, don't you get that?

madameX 7 years, 5 months ago

How does that prove your point? This honestly does not make sense to me.

And I'm sure you're going to tell me that there were more doctors per 1000 people back in olden times, so I'll ask you, how good were those doctors?

Paul R Getto 7 years, 5 months ago

American's for Prosperity is a cute name, but it really means: "American's for perserving the prosperity we (those funding the group) already enjoy," and screw the rest of you.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

That's a good, and interesting point.

verity 7 years, 5 months ago

TomPaine---well said.

"Their short-sightedness and failure to see how this plays out in the long-run shows that affluence is no sure mark of intelligence or wisdom -- and is often only the product of dogged greed and overblown self-regard. We'll all go together when we go."

I've been saying essentially this ever since the Bush administration set about destroying the middle class. A strong, healthy economy can only exist with a strong, healthy middle class.

Assuming that only the more affluent people are likely to have children in higher education? Maybe that is the way Brownback/Koch want it, but historically the way to improve your prospect of earning more money has been to pursue a higher education. Seems like they're very transparent about wanting to keep the less affluent less affluent.

JustNoticed 7 years, 5 months ago

Well yeah but those with college degrees get to root for their school's teams. Isn't that what it's all about?

bangaranggerg 7 years, 5 months ago

Hansel... He's so hot right now... Hansel.

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

Liberty, you really have gone out on this one. On just the most basic level, studies have shown that money earned over a lifetime is higher for people with college degrees than those who do not. The link is from the United States Census Bureau http://www.lorainccc.edu/Future+Students/College+Graduates+Earn+More.htm

However, even if you don't believe those findings, consider this -- it doesn't matter if you are using your education in a direct way to the job you are doing, it is still a benefit.

As you state, employers are using the college education as a screening tool. So how would the potential employee benefit by not having pursued higher education? If the degree is what is needed to make it past the screening and actually land the job then the person with the degree is better off, even if the education won't directly apply to the work at hand. The person without the degree won't make it past the screening, so they do not benefit by not having the degree. The non-degreed person is not better off.

Your statement, for it to be true, should be, employers are foolish to require a college education for jobs that are ultimately unrelated to college coursework.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 5 months ago

"I have no doubt of this. But you are not considering that perhaps they would have earned more over their lifetimes anyway because of their higher intelligence and not because of their higher education. " This is a fallacy. The Peter Principle (and it's corollaries) has been around for a very long time and proven to be a true image of both American and global business. There is also a fallacy in comparing native intelligence to an educated intelligence. Education teaches things that having native intelligence cannot replace; most importantly the ability to think critically. Being intelligent and able to think is one thing. Being intelligent and being taught how to think more effectively is quite another. Is anyone going to use those classes on the Punic Wars in the workplace? Of course not! What they will use is the ability to write a coherent, cohesive sentence and the ability to think critically without having to think about it.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 5 months ago

A prime example of the lack of critical thinking skills.

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

LIberty, interesting that you take wealth out of the equation of who goes and who doesn't go to college. For you, it is all about who is more intelligent. You leave out the opportunites necessary to attend college, like having wealthy parents who can help pay the way. Children of wealthy people are far more likely to attend college than children of poor people. Are you suggesting that this is because the children of the wealthy are inherently more intelligent? That is, of course, nonsense.

Regarding the person who went to college and is now in debt -- I can just as easily find plenty of people who didn't go to college and are in debt. Your single example means nothing, except that the one person you mentioned didn't know how to manage their college debt.

I also wasn't indoctrinated into believing anything about college. I come from deep blue-collar roots and ended up going to college well after high school, paying my own way when I did. I was the first in my family to do so, and I am the youngest of a large family. My career is directly related to what I learned in college. So, for a single example to counter your person in debt, I can attest to college being very good for me.

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

How would you "do research" on global warming "on your own"? You could read reports done by researchers and draw your own conclusions (if you are sufficiently educated to understand the material), but you can't conduct any original research on climate yourself without equipment. I daresay persons who have engaged in primary research are more likely to be able to assess critically the primary research that other scholars have done. It's not a matter of possessing a degree, but having proven one's ability to conduct and assess primary research.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

If your point is that a degree is not required for a person to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment, and, depending on the subject, spend years traveling and/or gathering data, then I have to agree with you.

If you're asserting that there's a lot of that going on, then you're crazy. So, as a practical matter, the people with the degrees are the only ones with first-hand, comprehensive knowledge.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

So you'd prefer to end government subsidization of education and research and have no one with first-hand, comprehensive knowledge of complex issues?

Or perhaps you think for-profit education will spend time and money researching issues with no clear profit potential?

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

Go ahead and purchase all the equipment yourself, Liberty_One. Learn how to use it all on your own. Set up and fund your own research group (and don't hire a single person with an academic degree). Gain all the background knowledge you need to compile, analyze, interpret, and contextualize your evidence. Present it and get it acknowledged as legitimate by the most knowledgable people in the world on this topic through the process of double-blind peer review. What will you have accomplished? You would have recreated the wheel--namely, the university and scientific research centers. Except that yours won't be as good, and it will be a lot more expensive.

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

Comrade Liberty_One, Let me explain it to you with an example that might be easier for you to understand. In order to be a practicing attorney in most places, you don't need to have a degree from a Law school. All you need to do is pass the Bar exam. It's not difficult to get the books you need to study law. It's not difficult to buy access to LEXIS and other law-related databases. Any moderately well-to-do person could afford to buy them. (It's not like the millions of dollars it costs to conduct scientific research on global temperature.) So why isn't the US flooded with self-educated attorneys? Because they want the degrees for show, along with the tens of thousands of dollars of educational debt? Hardly. It's because self-educated lawyers rarely can pass the Bar exam. That's not because the examiners are biased against non-degree holders. When they grade the exams, the examiners don't know who the exam takers are. It's not because the exams are esoteric, unrelated to the real practice of law, either. Self-educated lawyers rarely pass the Bar exam because they aren't knowledgable enough. The process of the education (that culminates in a degree) provides the necessary skills and knowledge. You seem to think that the only one who benefits from a person's education is that individual. That fallacy was debunked about 2500 years ago. The entire society benefits when its indviduals have specialized knowledge. And that is why societies through their governments have been investing in education for centuries. We are all the beneficiaries of the knowledge that was created with--public moneys. Most of our knowledge of diseases and their treatments. Most of our complex financial instruments. Most of our agricultural improvements. Most of our knowledge of human psychology. Many of our engineering advances of the past century.
If you think that all these things aren't worth our tax moneys, Liberty_One, you can reject them all and live hand to mouth with a shotgun and a mule on 40 acres in the wilderness. But if you use them, stop whining about "government subsidies." Be grateful that you live in a country which has (traditionally) made the production and free dissemination of knowledge to benefit humanity a priority.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

"...if I told you I had a BS in physics from MIT, a masters in meteorology from Columbia, and a PhD in climatology from Harvard, would you be more inclined to believe what I said about global warming than if I had none of those degrees and simply did research on my own?"

That depends: By "research," do you mean traveling to the arctic to study melting permafrost, including measuring the release of CO2 from thawing peat, or do you mean surfing conservative websites written by contrarians.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

Absolutely! Only a fool wouldn't be distrustful of the opinions of people with no education in the complex subjects on which they are opining.

So if I decide to "research" medicine by reading a few books and visiting a few websites, will you be my patient - or are you distrustful of my lack of a medical degree?

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

And where, Liberty_One, will you find a doctor with 10 years experience and no degree? No place. Because in order to be permitted to practice medicine, a would-be doctor needs to pass exams.
Don't think that there ought to be exams, Liberty_One? Think that the government ought to get out of the business of licensing physicians? Think that patients ought to just take their pick of everyone who claims to be a doctor, and live (or die) with the consequences? The system of licensing developed, Liberty_One, before the "capitalism" you so love came on the scene. And it developed because governments recognized that allowing unqualified practitioners to pose as doctors and treat patients was detrimental to the patients, and thus to the health and prosperity of the country.

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

School vouchers are a form of taxation without representation. When we pay taxes for the public schools, we get a say in how they are run. We vote for the local school board, which determines the structure of the schools, the staff, and how and what children are taught. We vote for the state board of education, which sets curriculum and standards statewide. If we don't like what they do, we can tell them so and as elected officials, they ought to listen. If they don't listen, we can vote them out. That's democracy, and it has happened in the city and in this state. Private schools will be under no obligation to listen to the voters, and they can thumb their noses at the voters' concerns. If we don't approve of teaching "intelligent design" (it's fake science and blasphemous theologically), the private schools can just ignore us. That's unacceptable.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

Sure, make education a for-profit business so grades and degrees can be awarded to the highest bidders; no more inefficient studying needed.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

Cherry-pick your data much? For every Harvard and Yale, there are hundreds of bottom tier private face-to-face and online schools issuing worthless degrees. Perhaps you'd like a graduate degree based solely on your life experience? They'll gladly sell you that. You have a bad habit of ignoring the obvious in order to reach the conclusions you desire.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

Well, given the number of private degree mills, and the number of students willing to give them money, I assume the degrees are worth what students pay for them. Surely you aren't suggesting that private business is cheating these poor dupes just to make a buck?

Private schools have the luxury of picking and choosing their students, if only on the basis of their parent's wealth. Let's see how a private school performs when it has to deal with inner city at-risk youth.

Once again, your ideas are all based in theory rather than reality.

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

So, Liberty_One, private universities are always so much better? Among the best universities in the country: University of Virginia (founded by Thomas Jefferson); University of Michigan; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Texas; University of Illinois; University of North Carolina; Indiana University; University of Washington; University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, etc. Which private universities are as good or better? Depending upon the field, maybe Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and University of Chicago. High school diplomas aren't worth very much by themselves, whether from a private high school or a public high school.
Who has "a bad habit of assuming things conveniently in your favor"?

gudpoynt 7 years, 5 months ago

"[Libety_One has] a bad habit of ignoring the obvious in order to reach the conclusions [he] desire[s]"

+1. Totally. Classically myopic ideologue.

Watch. His retort will be that I have been brainwashed.

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

Our founding fathers established public education, and for good reason: they recognized that all Americans need to be educated in order to guarantee our republican form of government. Only tyrants want to confine education to the few who can afford it.

voevoda 7 years, 5 months ago

Northwest Ordinance. Look it up. I already know a great deal more about the history of public education than you'll find on an internet site. Go to the library and read.

KSManimal 7 years, 5 months ago

When you distill it down to the basics, what the AFP/Teabagger types really want to do away with is...civilization.

We should start calling a spade a spade. I suggest a new name: "Feral Americans".

Scott Morgan 7 years, 5 months ago

The post office is billions in debt. They are a monopoly.

Name one government agency which does a better and more efficient job than the private sector besides the military?

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

The Post Office isn't a monopoly, its alternatives include FedEx and UPS. If the Post Office were allowed to set its rates to cover costs, it wouldn't be in debt. Then again, rates are kept artificially low so that people who can't afford the private alternatives can still mail a letter. In general, government services aren't meant to compete with private business, they exist to provide alternatives to private business that people can actually afford and trust because they aren't run on greed.

Name one government agency that does a worse and less efficient job than Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, the American car industry, the worldwide banking industry, etc.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

These are your opinions, you have no objective evidence that these agencies harm the country as opposed to make it the superpower that it is.

In fact, that's the "elephant in the room" for you isn't it? How is it that we have the strongest economy, technology, military, public education, etc. if these government agencies are destroying us? What country would you rather we were modeled on? Let me guess: Something from the 18th century?

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

The elephant's still there. The Federal Reserve has been around for a long time and we've had the world's strongest economy. I wonder if there's a connection...

It must be difficult to be a Chicken-Little contrarian in the face of such success, huh?

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

I've spent a few minutes researching the issue of mail, so, according to you, my opinion is just as good as anyone else's on the subject.

More importantly, I've sent documents via FedEx, and, as best I can tell, there is little, if any, substantive difference between "First Class Mail" and what I can have delivered by FedEx.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

The USPS' "monopoly" on the words "First Class Mail" is meaningless given what FedEx and others will deliver. Do you doubt that you can mail a letter, bill, or other document via FedEx?

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

Cost to mail a package weighing 1.6 oz. via USPS: $1.39, estimated delivery: Tuesday 12/21 Cost to mail a package weighing 1.6 oz. via Fedex: $7.82. estimated delivery: end of 3rd business day (weekends don't count), or Tuesday 12/21. So how's private business superior,again?

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

Fedex profits from those "subsidies", since the post office delivers their ground packages.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 5 months ago

Some time in 2011 or 2012 USPS Saturday service (including delivery) will cease to exist.

SnakeFist 7 years, 5 months ago

You must have missed this one, Liberty_One, or else you have no response:

The elephant's still there. The Federal Reserve has been around for a long time and we've had the world's strongest economy. I wonder if there's a connection...

It must be difficult to be a Chicken-Little contrarian in the face of such success, huh?

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 5 months ago

L1 has hijacked this thread and spread fallacy after fallacy. This is a shame as what the LTE writer said has merit. I think what is almost funny about this (if it weren't for the cost in human suffering this is going to cause) is that the Libertarians and ultra conservatives seem to have no idea that they are setting themselves up for their own demise. Put enough people into grinding poverty and one of two things will happen; civil war and chaos or serfdom. Neither will do anything for society and will eventually cause it's collapse. The rich need the middle class. Without it there is no one to sell goods and services to and no way to actually make money off the labor of others. By severely narrowing the middle class and concentrating wealth to a small percentage of society and not allowing that wealth to be invested in people, not "business", they are setting themselves up to die. What do the Koch brothers need with their billions? To buy another house? Perhaps they have bought into the fallacy that money equals power. It doesn't. And when this society collapses under the weight of their greed all of the gold they own will mean nothing because it will be worthless. Believe me, electronic transfers aren't very tasty. Everything I have said is based in historical fact (when it hasn't been politically revised) and been proven by the observation of civilizations and societies that have risen and fallen over the course of thousands of years. It's sad that the Koch brothers haven't the foggiest that they are simply a pimple on the butt of history and sooner or later it will pop.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 5 months ago

Enjoy your revisionist history. Seeya in the fall.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 5 months ago

"History has shown that civil war and chaos come about when people are oppressed by tyrants who violate property rights and suppress free markets."

This country was founded on massive violations of property rights.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 5 months ago

"Those who grumble about entitlements for the less fortunate, yet feel entitled to profit from the misery of others have no sense of irony or decency." (Anonymous)

Scott Morgan 7 years, 5 months ago

We've gone round and round again. Entitlements to many, including me forces citizens into generational poverty. And all generational poverty has to offer in other forms, education, health, and crime.

The United States Postal Dept is a monopoly. A strong one at that. Try putting unstamped mail in your neighbors mailbox. Did you know it's a crime? When's the last time you heard of the UPS Inspector General tossing folks in jail?

The U.S. auto companies more of less rescued the free world during WW2. Fueled our economy for many decades too. I for one will not abandon them, or treat them as the enemy. Might even try one of those Italian Jeeps coming out in 2012.

beatrice 7 years, 5 months ago

Right at the beginning, I see the line "let me explain." One would assume that you actually wrote this.

Too bad you didn't.: http://www.dailywealth.com/

Not only a wannabe, but a full-blown plagarist as well. How sad. Major Fail.

devobrun 7 years, 5 months ago

When it comes to America? When was it not here? Where and when did it not exist in the history of the world? There are bums, hobos, urban outdoors-men and alternative life-stylers in every culture now and for all time.

Our poor have cell phones.

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