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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Does legislation reflect Kansas?

February 19, 2014

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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.

Comments

William Enick 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

"which of course is d-regulatory"

Nope. Corporations love regulations because they are almost always aimed at squashing the competition.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

True. Wal-Mart lobbied for a raise in the minimum wage. That was because when the minimum wage was $5.15/hour Wal-Mart's average starting wage was around $8/hour. By raising the minimum wage, Wal-Mart's competition would have a lot harder time competing. Regulations benefit Big Business because they can better absorb and distribute the costs than smaller firms.

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Seth Peterson 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

The Health insurance companies are the ones that wrote the ACA, a huge new set of regulations that forces people to be their customers. Doctors demanded state licensing, which limited the supply of doctors thus enabling them to raise prices. The railroads demanded the ICC, which was able to put an end to the low prices brought about by competition and raises prices throughout the industry. The banks lobbied for the Federal Reserve so that they could all inflate the money supply without consequence. Pharmaceutical companies push for regulations which ban drugs made by foreign companies that are far cheaper. Etc., etc. etc.

Regulation is all about protecting Big Business and special interests, not about the consumer. The best thing for the consumer is the free market. The free market is a place of cutthroat competition where firms are constantly having to cut prices, compete for workers and innovate with new products and methods of production.

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Seth Peterson 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

False. The facts prove that monopolies cannot exist in a free market. In a study of the 55 biggest anti-trust cases, the facts showed that in EVERY SINGLE case the firm in question was lowering prices and increasing quality. It was their non-competitive rivals that could not compete that had brought suit and claimed "unfair practices."

The facts prove that the free market is good for the consumer and that government regulation is bad. There is no question about this, and those that think different simply do not know the facts.

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Greg Cooper 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

Sure. During the late 1800s when the Sherman Act was passed, the industries accused of being monopolistic and bad for consumers were actually lowering prices and increasing production. Rockefeller's Standard Oil lowered the price of kerosene by 90%, making it affordable for the average person for the first time in the history of the world. Another firm accused was Alcoa, which was reprimanded in the Supreme Court for just how efficient its operations were and how their foresight lead them to such market success. Alcoa had been lowering prices and increasing production and their competitors complained to the government about how that wasn't "fair." American Can actually tried to be an evil monopoly. They tried to buy up all their competitors and shut down production so that they could raise prices. It completely failed. Every time they bought someone out and shut them down, two more canning businesses sprang up. Everyone knew that if you started up a canning business, American Can was going to buy you out, so everyone was getting into that business. It is simply impossible to create and sustain a monopoly on the free market. The only way you can do it is to get the government to pass regulations that prevent competition.

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Richard Heckler 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

Did you expect any different? The more power you give the government, the more attractive it is to buy that government and use that power. The only practical solution is no government.

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Seth Peterson 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

No, that's logical consistency. Anarchism is the logical conclusion of ethics.

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Phillip Chappuie 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Larry Sturm 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

"BROWNBACK AND THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ARE BAD FOR KANSAS."

Yes! All government is bad for Kansans. Get rid of the State!

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Julius Nolan 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

You are a libertarian. You don't use violence and threats to get what you want.

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Julius Nolan 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

Libertarians are the only people who have common sense. They are the only ones who actually analyze what our policies would do for the average person. Statists only dream about what their policies could do, but they never stop to think about what their policies actually do.

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Seth Peterson 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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Seth Peterson 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

Libertarians tend to use consistent logic to arrive at consistent and true conclusions that always are good in practice. The only method to reach stability is to use ethics and logical thinking to extend ethics to all aspects of life on a consistent basis. People who suggest addressing issues on a case-by-case basis do so because they have no consistent ethics and are having to constantly come up with different excuses for evil.

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Julius Nolan 6 months, 1 week ago

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

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Bart Johnson 6 months, 1 week ago

Libertarianism is based upon ethics, common sense and logical thinking. You are a libertarian. You live your life as a libertarian and you wouldn't think of doing otherwise. This is because libertarianism is logical and ethical and makes practical sense. The only difference is, you make this weird exception for the group of people that call themselves the state. You have a completely different set of rules regarding violence and theft for that group of people than you do for everyone else in society, including yourself. That's just weird.

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Julius Nolan 6 months, 1 week 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.

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Bart Johnson 6 months ago

To be a libertarian, one must possess a firm grasp of ethics and common sense. Otherwise, you'd be a statist.

"most are plain nuts."

Actually it's the statists who are all nuts. You have to be nuts to think that theft and murder are ethical. Libertarians are just regular people who don't make exceptions when applying ethics.

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Julius Nolan 6 months ago

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

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Bart Johnson 6 months ago

You have to be nuts to think that theft and murder are ethical. Libertarians are the only people who don't think this.

QED

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Julius Nolan 6 months ago

Still cLueless, very definition of Libertarians

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Bart Johnson 6 months ago

Your arguments are airtight.

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Julius Nolan 6 months ago

Facts can be hard to dispute.

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Bart Johnson 6 months ago

That's why you stick to just opinions.

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Julius Nolan 6 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.

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Munchma Quchi 6 months, 1 week 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?

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Julius Nolan 6 months, 1 week 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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