Archive for Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letter: Looking at Kansas

June 4, 2013


To the editor:

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Kansas Senate have finally agreed on something. In regards to the tax fiasco, the Journal-World has quoted Senate President Susan Wagle as saying, “People are going to look at this all over the nation.”

Commenting on the Kansas Legislature’s attempt to dictate curriculum, Senate Democratic leader Anthony Hensley stated, “This is another example of why Kansas has become the laughing stock of the nation.”

They are both correct. People across the nation are looking at us, laughing, and being grateful they don’t live in Kansas.


Brock Masters 5 years ago

I don't believe people are laughing at us. Kansas is a wonderful state and I am proud to be a Kansan.

jafs 5 years ago

You can believe what you like, but many people consider Kansas laughable, especially on the East Coast.

What's wonderful about it right now and what are you proud of exactly?

Brock Masters 5 years ago

jafs you are always quick to demand proof and sources. So please back up your claim.

I am proud of the good people here. I travel a lot and I have not met a better group of people than here in Kansas. Sure we have our problems but on a whole the people in Kansas are kind and caring.

jafs 5 years ago

I was born and grew up in NYC, and have friends there still.

I know what they think of KS - folks from that area don't pull their punches.

In my travels, I've met good people in many places, so they're not unique to KS. And, if the people on the whole are good and caring here, how do you explain how our current governor and legislature got elected, given their policies?

jafs 5 years ago


Hard to see how current political policies in KS fit a "good and caring" description though.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

I know people on the east coast too and they envy the freedom we have here and the protection of the second amendment. I know and have spoken to 23 people that aren't laughing at KS. How many do you know?

Seriously, it amazes me that I get challenged about being proud of my state.

jafs 5 years ago

I was just asking, that's all.

Given the current make up of the legislature and the governor, many folks in KS aren't happy about that, even if they were proud of KS in the past, and you've posted many comments critical about Brownback and the legislature.

So, I wondered what you were proud of.

Personally, I'm not proud of where I happened to be born, or where I live, etc. I've always found it an odd idea - all places have positive and negative attributes, in my experience.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

Oh yeah, I've been critical of Brownback in the past and that is unlikely to change but he is not Kansas.

And perhaps you didn't mean it but the way you framed your question made it seem like you didn't like Kansas.

jafs 5 years ago

Well, I suppose that's one of the basic questions - what defines a state?

For most outside of any given state, I'd say that the politics of that state are what they know the most about, and what informs their opinion. So, when folks outside KS form their opinion, it's largely oriented around what the governor and legislature, school board, etc. are doing.

I don't like the current political climate in KS at all either.

globehead 5 years ago

I'm from the upper East coast. Most people I know don't even think Kansans can read the 2nd Amendment. I know about two who would like to live out here. The rest would rather die.

bevy 5 years ago

Well, we don't want them out here anyway! Kansas has many good qualities - one of which is, we have long memories and we're pretty smart. Hopefully those memories will hold good come November 2014.

jafs 5 years ago

I am in fact a "transplant", having been born and raised in NYC.

I've lived in many places, including Chicago, and a variety of smaller towns as well, so your odd comment about "venturing outside of Lawrence" is off, of course.

Having lived in many places, I've met good (and bad) people in lots of places - KS has no monopoly on good people.

jafs 5 years ago

Well, you sure told me then, huh?

I didn't say I agreed that KS was laughable, just that many people find it to be so.

It's one thing to say we don't care what folks think of us, and very much another to pretend that they don't think that.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

When I said I don't believe people are laughing at us I meant on any meaningful level. Of course people laugh at people with whom they disagree.

Late night talk show host laugh at the president all the time. Lots of jokes about Obamacare so I guess with your logic that means the president and Obamacare is bad?

A few of your friends laughing at us isn't the same as the nation laughing at us.

jafs 5 years ago

Why are folks so defensive? I didn't say I agreed with them.

globehead 5 years ago

Exactly my experience. I must admit, Chicago is a tough one. But, D.C., New York, anywhere in the South, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize...I've found most all to be very pleasant. It's the norm. Kansans are no better or worse. Just people. Ought to get out more.

somebodynew 5 years ago

"Lawrence baffles me."

Well, that says it for me. Lawrence is the ONLY place I want to live in Kansas.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

jafs is correct. Kansas has a very bad reputation, as simple and ignorant at best, and as a crazy right wing insane asylum at worst.

It is why all of the tax breaks in the world will not lure high tech businesses and jobs of the future here. Smart, motivated business people want to live in a state that values ideas, education, and infrastructure. Kansas has proven again and again that it does not. It is a sad but true situation. For proof, speak to folks from around the country and read popular media reports about Kansas.

BigDog 5 years ago

Amen. There are many in Lawrence who want Kansas to be more like the East Coast. If you want the East Coast move to the East Coast. Kansas doesn't need to be the East Coast .... or the West Coast for that matter. There are many people in Kansas satisfied with being the Midwest with Midwest beliefs and values.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

Come on, BigDog. There is room for all of us in this town. One could just as easily say "There are many in Lawrence who want it to be more like..." Topeka, Manhattan, Wichita, Garden City, Marysville.... Then, follow it up with "If you want Russell, move to Russell." Saying that people who want to improve a place should move to another place that already has those improvements is not helpful to advancing the conversation.

fiddleback 5 years ago

"I remember when there were no WalMarts and a lot of businesses were closed on Sundays. Families ate meals together and cell phones didn't rule life. It'll never go back, but valuing keeping things less stressful is not ignorant. "

Congrats, havecents. Bristling at a caricature of East Coast decadence and turmoil is a perfect straw man argument, false dichotomy, and red herring all in one...

Sorry, but the topic isn't the least bit about supposed rural simplicity/integrity vs. urban complexity/decadence. The article and this thread are about a legislature that reacted to common standards in math and reading like a Soviet conspiracy. It's about a legislature that even Sam Brownback views as too punitively austere in its funding strategy and reactionary in its priorities.

SO you can wax sentimental about Midwest values all you like, but it's a ridiculous diversion not even tangential to the very real economic and social devolution we're facing. But I can see why you persist in this self-flattery, as most Kansans who voted for these clowns would hardly admit to being totally bamboozled and would much rather invoke their homespun values and all things wholesome about their lifestyles.

Such obvious compensating also helps me to see why you went with "cents" rather than "sense" in your handle... yes, no need to be ashamed at all. Bravo.

fiddleback 5 years ago

I call your tactics exactly what they are. I use those terms frequently because people such as yourself have no idea what a "debate" actually is or how they are obscuring and obstructing it. This article is all about politics and how they are disgracing our state, so if that bores you, then you've picked a very odd place to linger. But yes, feel free to avoid me, as you'd otherwise be forced to reflect on how asinine your ramblings truly are. Good luck with your "debate" about which region has the folksiest folk....

oldvet 5 years ago

"It is why all of the tax breaks in the world will not lure high tech businesses and jobs of the future here."

While Brownback is trying to get Kansas to a position with no income taxes, he probably read the recent Wall Street Journal article that showed the seven states without any income tax accounted for 60% of all new job growth in the US.

chootspa 5 years ago

Did the WSJ mention that natural energy reserves were what accounted for that job growth, and that cutting taxes won't put oil deposits in the ground?

ScottyMac 5 years ago

Chootspa already told you: natural energy reserves.

streetman 5 years ago

I, too, would like to see a source supporting the last sentence of Wagner's letter. I doubt that folks in Virginia (or Montana, or Arizona, or . . .) pay any more attention to what is going on in Kansas than Kansans do about those states' daily activities or politics.

notaubermime 5 years ago

In my experience, they don't. Most pay far more attention to the storms that move through Kansas than they do the politics.

Joe Blackford II 5 years ago

"Check out Manhattan."

I assume that's meant to be a reflection on something positive here in Manhattan?

A Native Kansan, I've lived here since 1992, & was a student, 76-78.

There is a tremendous prey base here, what with the students & military. Technology? UH, CivicsPlus? Buying Hibachi Hut with city eco-devo $ was a great PR stunt.

Before lauding anything NBAF-related, do yourself a favor & develop an understanding of what Dual Use Research of Concern really means in Governmentspeak:

"the small subset of life sciences research with the highest potential for yielding knowledge, products, or technology that could be misapplied to threaten public health or national security is referred to as "dual use research of concern."

Do you really think Manhattan can keep a smile on the faces of 300 dual use researchers for the next 50 years? Keep in mind the rescinded LGBT ordinance; the cyclic demand to remove the UN flag while enshrining the 10 commandments? This is a town where diversity is tolerated only on the surface.

As soon as my wife retires (also a native Kansan, & yes, we're both well educated), we'll be leaving Kansas.

The NBAF Monkey On My Back

The NBAF Monkey On My Back by Joe Blackford II

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Of course people make fun of Kansas. And we make fun of Missouri. And anyone from Appalachia, Texas or California. Everyone outside Texas makes fun of them while they make fun of everyone from elsewhere. California's governor moonbeam gets his fair share of ridicule. So does Rick Perry and so does the Chicago political machine. Detroit is in bankruptcy and the mistake on the lake (Cleveland) is still the butt of many jokes.

We live in a free country. Those of us in Kansas have made a choice to be here. Those in California or Texas or New York City have made their choice.

jafs 5 years ago

You seem awfully defensive and angry.

I never bashed KS - I simply pointed out that fred is wrong if he thinks that folks don't laugh at KS, especially on the East Coast.

Every place I've ever lived has had a combination of positive and negative attributes, and I'm quite content in Lawrence, and have been for a while. There are of course things I miss about where I grew up, but also other things that I don't miss at all.

Should I call you "Mr. Kansas" then?

Also, not that it's any of your business, but my wife was born and raised in KS on a farm, one of her uncles is a minister in DeSoto, etc. There are certainly many things that are valuable about slower paced simpler lives in harmony with nature.

jafs 5 years ago

Thank you!

At least one person can read my posts without adding and projecting, thank goodness.

Joe Blackford II 5 years ago

Kudos on your commenting 3 times.

From your statements, one might guess you live here in Manhattan.

Do you post on ljworld for the same reasons I do? The diverse values expressed on the Manhattan Mercury forum?

fiddleback 5 years ago

"Mr. East Coast"

Yes, yes. While totally facile, it's so much easier to paint those who criticize your "home on the range" as villainous outsiders rather than admit that your state is a rotting cautionary tale because of those who you voted into power. Provincial pride: the last resort of the rube.

overthemoon 5 years ago

Anyone who is not aware of the press Kansas gets in the national press is not paying attention. The Brownback 'experiment' is definitely being watched...and analyzed and ridiculed as extraordinarily bad policy. And its not just the 'liberal' press. The criticism is coming from all corners.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

Provide a link to a credible news source that confirms KS is being ridiculed for its policies. Id like to read about it.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

OTM I didn't see where it was ridiculing KS. Disagreeing with the tax policy yes, but not ridiculing.

The other articles report on what is happening but without reading all the links I didn't see where they were ridiculing us either.

gatekeeper 5 years ago

Like I said (reading comprehension!!), read the comments left by the people reading these articles. That's where you see the ridicule.

Here's a lesson for you. Only opinion articles will express opinions. READ THE COMMENTS!

gatekeeper 5 years ago

I travel a lot, have family and friends spread out all over this country and my job involves doing business with people from multiple countries around the world. People do make fun of Kansas. Kansas does make national and international news quite frequently. They see lots about Westboro BC. They see us fighting over dumbing down education standards. They see lots about the BS politics going on in our state.

All this BS talk about how Kansas is better than the east coast, blah blah blah. People on the east coast are great. People on the west coast are great. Most of us do share the same values. People in the midwest somehow think they're better than people that live on the coasts, probably because the only time they've spent on either of those coasts was on vacation and they only really base their opinions on what they see on tv. We have these grand thoughts that we have better morals, etc... I'm married to a California guy. I have a lot of family that lives out there (not just my inlaws). Guess what? They're just like us, only have more fun things to do and a beautiful ocean to play in. People across this nation aren't very different, we're just spread out over a huge, beautiful country.

The letter writer is correct. People are laughing at us. Not because we are Kansans living in the great, flat state in the middle of nowhere. They're laughing because we are going backwards. I'm ashamed that the state I was raised in that used to pride itself in being progressive has become so backwards and corporate controlled. I'm still here because of my elderly mother. When the unfortunate day comes that she's no longer with me, I will leave this state if we don't turn things around.

For those that forgot that Kansas didn't used to be backwards and was the center of the progressive movement, read this.

The Exodusters came from the South to KS, the free state, to start their lives over as free people. Why? Because Kansas was the progressive, free state that fought against slavery.

Kansas was a leader in the women's rights movement. Women in KS could vote in school district elections in 1861, then municipal elections in 1887. In 1912, we became the 8th state to allow women to vote in all elections.

Read up on W.A. White and his fighting chain stores and trying to protect Main St America and fight corporate America.

Did you know we fought the KKK in the 20's and kicked them out of the state?

Brown v Board of Education.

I would love to be proud of my home state again, but because of the leaders and the idiots that keep electing these right-wing nutjobs that only help their rich, corporate buddies, I can not. I so wish you people could see how they use a few hot-button issues to convince you to vote against yours and everyone else's better interests. I am fortunate to know many life-long replublicans that have left the party and hope it's a sign that we might take back over this state and make it a place to be proud of again.

Daniel Dicks 5 years ago

You took the words right out of my mouth Gatekeeper. Thank You!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

I have traveled to and lived in quite a few places. Like many other KU grads I decided to settle down here to raise my family because I thought it was a better place than a big city for children.

I like the quiet which was the first thing I noticed when I returned. I have talked to international students on the bus who say they like the space here, it is so crowded where they are from.

I like the mix of architectural designs, apart from the ticky-tack houses, and the details on the buildings. After all this time I just noticed that the Natural History Museum on campus has scientist names on the window lintels. I like having access to all the campus museums and libraries.

I like the events at Woodruff Auditorium and those at the Lied Center. I like the concerts in the park and the brown bag concerts.

I like the way people do come together to help others. I have found that when I hear someone make a statement such as, all students are wealthy and only party, I can point out that there are many who work their way though school and are very serious about getting an education. Some simply go though life repeating the same things and actually appreciate the opportunity to rethink. Just do it in a quiet, respectful manner. Works for me.

Of course there is a cross mix of people in Lawrence and the rest of Kansas. The only thing that gets in national or international news is when the state legislature makes a controversial decision.

bad_dog 5 years ago

Keep that in mind when the pendulum swings...

tomatogrower 5 years ago

I am going to try and stay and stand for awhile longer. I've already gone in and registered as a Republican so that I can vote in the Republican primary. Please encourage your friends in other towns to do the same. If we come together to help moderate Republicans get back their party, then we can go back to being Independents or Democrats. If this tactic doesn't work to get rid of these people, then I will consider selling all and leaving Kansas, but I'm not ready to give up yet. Sign up as a Republican and take back Kansas.

chootspa 5 years ago

I'm barely staying. I nearly left after Brownback signed that horrible tax plan last year. Not idle threat nearly left, but calling moving companies and real estate agents nearly left. I hope I don't regret my decision to stay. I still feel like I have one foot out the door.

jafs 5 years ago

If we could leave now, we very well might, although we love our neighborhood and our home.

It's really too bad, since it's taken us a while to find the best place for us to live in Lawrence, and we've invested a fair amount in the house since we bought it.

I'm sort of ambivalent about it - on the one hand, I'd like to stay where we are forever, because we love it, and on the other, I'd like to leave KS as soon as possible.

chootspa 5 years ago

I'm now fixing my house for selling, not for my personal tastes. It's a weird shift.

jafs 5 years ago

I understand - it is a very different way of thinking about it.

We try to set things up so that we like them, but also with an eye towards resale and what buyers care about, having learned that those two things aren't always the same.

Joe Blackford II 5 years ago

We crossed this threshold as we recoiled from the NBAF propaganda tactics hurled at anyone who dared question long-term risks to KS agriculture.

We live on an acre, just outside Manhattan's city limits, in a subdivision with paved streets, no streetlights nor traffic. Just 1.6 miles from the NBAF site, as the germs fly. The subdivision is surrounded by KSU ag lands & associated feedlot, poultry, pig & silage aromas.

We've spent ~ $64K on improvements since deciding they'll be attractive to the 300 well-paid NBAF government scientists (more likely contact employees of Midwest Research Institute).

As KS does not tax Fed retirement, that should be a big incentive for us as Fed retirees. Then again, those states not having any income tax are not particularly appealing.

My maternal ancestors brought the first steam-powered thresher to KS in the 1880s It has not been easy to accept our disillusionment with KS.

Brock Masters 5 years ago

jafs. Where will you move? Where is better and why?

I can think of some places I would move but they'd be in the Midwest and like KS.

NYC is a cool city, but I couldn't live there. I am too used to less people.

jafs 5 years ago

Most likely the State College PA area - we have siblings near there, both mine and my wife's. We seem to like living in/near college towns.

We couldn't live anywhere else in KS, especially my wife, who was born and raised here in rural KS.

Having grown up there, I also wouldn't live there now - it's too crowded and much too expensive. But it was a great place to grow up, especially as a teenager. And the food is amazing - I do miss that.

As far as "better and why" - I would prefer to live in a state that isn't dominated politically by right wing extremists. Other than that, college towns across the country seem to have similar positive and negative sides to them, although in retirement the issue of jobs won't apply for us.

fiddleback 5 years ago

As far as the midwest goes, Iowa and Illinois are at least moderate blue states.

chootspa 5 years ago

At this point I worry that no state is safe from the wrecking crew. Social safety nets and public education are being systematically eroded and dismantled everywhere.

bevy 5 years ago

So all of you posters above would rather run than fight? What are you, cowards? We have the power to take back our state - but we can't do it if we let them run us off. Get mad - and get busy! Do something! Let the Legislators know that they can't get away with this. Hang around long enough to vote in the next election, if nothing else.

I could live in another state, probably make more money. But my roots are here, my family is here, my heart is here, and I will be damned if I will run away - or stand by and see our once proud state dragged through the mud!

FlintlockRifle 5 years ago

East coast people huh, if I remember correctly that's when most of our "CLOWNS IN THE GOVERMENT WORK & LIVE"" and the whole is laughing at THEM &US.

globehead 5 years ago

Mr. Flintlock:

"...that's when most of our "CLOWNS...." "when" what? And what "whole"? I think you've explained in one totally disjointed sentence why they ARE laughing at us. Thanks for the clarification.

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