Opinion: Does legislation reflect Kansas?

February 19, 2014


After the past few weeks of legislative activity I find myself absolutely confused and appalled by what has been going on in Topeka. So much so that I am almost at the point of wondering whether we are witnessing the utter breakdown of our representative form of government. I cannot help but ask whether some of the bills introduced and the statements made by some legislators are actually what their constituents want.

Has our state become so intolerant that we now want to allow overt discrimination against people who are different from us? Have we actually reached a point when we believe bizarre Internet stories of children’s minds being drained by nefarious machines operated by school officials? Have we become so intolerant and hardened to human suffering that we no longer consider those who are different from us to be human beings?

I love Kansas. I came here 20 years ago because I believed in what Kansas stood for. Kansas is the state that valued tolerance and hated slavery so much that it endured attack after attack from pro-slavery forces coming across the border from Missouri. The “border wars” were not about basketball; they were about human dignity and an abhorrence of treating human beings as being less than human.

I embraced the Kansas populist tradition, the tradition that held that big business would not be permitted to manipulate and oppress ordinary citizens in the name of profits. I loved the independent tradition of Kansans, men like William Allen White, Alf Landon, and Dwight Eisenhower. I am not a liberal. I am a libertarian. I believe that government should not interfere in people’s lives beyond the minimum necessary for good government. That does not mean that I believe that government should condone and enforce bigotry and ignorance. But it seems that there are members of our Legislature who think that they have a mandate to support bigotry and impose their values on the whole population however immoral they may be.

The Legislature’s attempt to legalize bigotry against gay Kansans is both wrong and reprehensible. The Legislature’s efforts to force unhappy people to stay married is horribly wrong. Gays are human. Unhappy people make bad spouses and worse parents.

The Legislature’s efforts to continue to favor large corporations at the expense of the common people goes against everything that Kansas and Kansans have stood for since our state was founded. Where is compassion? Where is charity? Where is the Christian obligation to care for our brothers and sisters? How can the Legislature continue on the path it is on in the face of protests not only by ordinary citizens but by our clergy? The madness must stop. Those who hold high office must accept their responsibilities. If they do not, our state, its people and its future are in grave peril.

— Mike Hoeflich, a distinguished professor in the Kansas Unviersity School of Law, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.


William Enick 4 years, 4 months ago

Stop wondering. It's been a corporatocracy nation wide for quite a while now. Profits before the needs of the people and the planet is the Law. Democracy has been financially captured and rendered obsolete under the direction of the 1% who now write most of the legislation (which of course is d-regulatory) .This is old news. Capitalism as a way of organizing society has been undermined. Another Great Depression will be most difficult to avoid, with many well known economists estimating one in the next four years (2018). The signal to look for? When QE hits 100 billion a month.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 4 months ago

Interesting, I will have to look in this more in general, rather than as one specific point. Bottled water, energy, vehicle, brewing, health insurance, and pharmaceutical companies are constantly pushing for deregulation so they can do more with less, I'll have to look at other examples as well and see who pushes for what.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 4 months ago

"The best thing for the consumer is the free market"

Well we all know historically this fact is clearly not true. An unchecked free market is one of the fastest ways to completely funnel money to as few sources as possible and establish the strongest of monopolies.

Greg Cooper 4 years, 4 months ago

Bart, I do not agree or disagree. Would you be so kind as to give a couple of examples? You do not need to write a long dissertation, just, if you can, point me in the right direction. I'd appreciate it greatly.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 4 months ago

Imagine if the Koch brothers controlled congress and all state legislatures. USA would be exactly like Russia,China,Iraq and Nazi Germany. After all the Koch brothers are John Birchers.

The country will be controlled by ALEC legislation written up in secret meetings.

The Koch brothers have spent $8.2 million alone thus far on their conservative North Carolina Senate Race.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 4 months ago

Wow...that's...a terrible leap of logic and understanding.

Phillip Chappuie 4 years, 4 months ago

The people of this state have been hijacked and most of them don't even realize it. I like the above term "corporatocracy". I comes to us disguised as theocracy so it is swallowed easier. Moderate reason is what made our State a good place to live. I can only hope the glittering gold soon tarnishes and an electorate can wake up and fix this.

Larry Sturm 4 years, 4 months ago

No it does not our republican legislators take their orders direct from ALEC and the Koch brothers. BROWNBACK AND THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ARE BAD FOR KANSAS.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

Any and all Libertarians are bad for any population of people.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

Unfortunately Libertarians lack plain, ordinary common sense. They do not analyze what their policies would do to average people. Nor the results of what they wish to inflict on all of us.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 4 months ago

Most people don't use violence and threats to get what we want, though we all let others do that for us.

Seth Peterson 4 years, 4 months ago

Libertarians tend to use bad logic to arrive at false conclusions that often sound good in theory and terrible in practice. There is no single method to reach stability, context is relevant in many situations which need to be addressed on a case-by-case method.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

The only thing consistent about Libertarians is their total lack of common sense, ethics and logical thinking.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

But most, if not all Libertarians lack these these simple qualities, ethics, common sense and logical thinking. Never met one yet who possesses these qualities, most are plain nuts.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

As I previously noted: "most are plain nuts." And this belief is constantly reinforced by countless posters all over the web.

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

Still cLueless, very definition of Libertarians

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink

Meaning: You can show people the way to find something or to do something, but you cannot force them to act after that. In the case of Libertarians, facts are something they either can't see or refuse to understand and use.Or Maybe it is simple logic that they fail to use or understand. Just continue their mindless rant that all government is bad, but they have no options for change.

Munchma Quchi 4 years, 4 months ago

What makes you think that the current legislation doesn't reflect Kansas? The legislation is proposed by our elected officials, who, unless I missed something, were legitimately voted into office. Also, to the best of my knowledge, these same elected officials are doing EXACTLY what they said they would do once they got there. There were no lies, no misdirections, no deceptions... they said they were going to do these things, now they're doing them. Now, I'm relatively new to this state, but it seems to me that, given the circumstances, the hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia oozing out of the Kansas state legislature and govenor is the democratic expression of the will of the people of Kansas. If it isn't, why did they vote that way?

Julius Nolan 4 years, 4 months ago

Read Thomas Frank's book. "What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America". Can buy from Amazon or possibly Lawrence Public Library has a copy. Very good book and sure explains a lot about Kansas and the people who live here.

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