You Don’t Have To Be Crazy To Live In Kansas, But It Helps

I spent my first 30 years living in Kansas. When I left there in 1988, I left there as a right-wing dittohead. It would take another dozen years or so to get the Kansas out of me, to get the ditto out of my head, and to get right with reality. And though I am glad I escaped, I feel sorry for those I left behind, those who still live there, who have to live under Sam Brownback, a Christian extremist and governor whose “experiment”—his word—with supply-side economics has caused real harm to real people.

I’ve gone over the details before on this blog, so no need to do that again. Suffice it to say that yet another round of budget cuts are necessary because the Brownback experiment, which failed years ago, is an experiment that won’t stop giving because the governor won’t stop the experiment. The other day he again nixed the idea of raising taxes on the rich, taxes that he cut in order to make Kansas a thriving place that lots of job-creators would want to come to and create lots of jobs that would bring in lots of revenue and everyone would see how wonderful Republican governance was. It seems like a cruel joke now. But it ain’t a joke.

The practice of giving rich people large tax cuts and then believing that such generosity will increase the state’s revenue is faith-based economics. It really is voodoo, as a critic of Ronald Reagan’s economics, George H. W. Bush, once called it before he became a convert to it out of political necessity. In Brownback’s case, his faith in his economic program is a lot like his right-wing Christian faith: zealous and doctrinaire and unbending in a gale of contrary evidence.

As I said, the governor isn’t interested in debating the tax issue but he does have yet another plan: “Instead, we will focus our support and attention on controlling government spending more efficiently.” When the working class and the poor hear that in Kansas, they know they are about to take another beating. And, as the old saying goes, the beatings will continue into morale improves.

There was some good news coming out of the state, though, believe it or not:

A federal court rejected the argument from a Christian group in Kansas which said that evolution was religious “indoctrination” and should not be taught in schools.

As Ars Technica pointed out,

This case, COPE v. Kansas Board of Education, is a notable victory for science—and a blow to the creationist crowd and its progeny.

Now, if only someone could deliver a similar blow to a similar group of zealots—those who are ruining the state via supply-side superstition—maybe, just maybe, the long and crazy and nightmarish economic experiment in Kansas would finally come to an end.

[Brownback photo: Gage Skidmore]



  1. melk39

     /  April 26, 2016

    Here’s what I wonder. knowing what we all know now, there is no way that even these folks can rationally believe that supply side economics works. I wonder then if this is really just a strategy to first transfer wealth upward via the tax cuts and play “starve the beast” later with spending cuts on the back of working people. it would be an incredibly cynical game to play but not outside the realm of possibility knowing how these folks think.
    As an aside I saw a clip of Art Laffer on TV the other day supporting Trump’s harebrained statement that he could balance the budget in four years. When pressed for specifics Laffer said we should sell off assets like the National Parks.
    That’s the kind of folks you are dealing with.


    • Laffer will never admit his pet theory is a farce. Never. That’s the kind of thing I am talking about when I compare such thinking to religious zealotry. Facts either don’t matter, or they are not considered facts. 

      I used to follow quite closely the cultural “debate” over evolution. The anti-evolutionists always question whether evolution is a “fact,” saying that it is only a theory. Of course, these folks either don’t understand, or refuse to understand, that a theory in science doesn’t mean the same thing as it does to a layman. And neither does a “fact.” But for the average person following the arguments, an anti-evolutionist can score a lot of debating points by calling into question the facts associated with evolution. And all the zealots are interested in is winning the debate, not whether they are being accurate. You see, they already possess “the truth,” having received it from an ancient book. Their goal was to convince others of their truth, and if deliberately or accidentally misleading folks about the issues did the trick, then so be it. 

      I think you are right that the whole supply-side idea seems, at least these days (Jack Kemp, I believe, actually thought it a good and sound idea that would benefit the country), to be a long-term strategy to starve the beast or, as Grover Norquist would have it, shrink it to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. That is really the only thing that explains the persistence of the idea, which has always failed but never lacks enthusiastic defenders.



  2. Let’s also not forget another of the conservative right’s convenient memory lapses, the seven-year climb to economic recovery after W’s disastrous tenure. It would have been wonderful indeed to have done that even with the help of Congress, but to do it despite opposition at every turn, even to shutting down the government, miraculous! Apparently, the reality of the recovery is so profound that even they don’t want to talk about how the economy never did tumble over the fiscal cliff. Reality is no obstacle to these people.


    • History will tidy up the narrative of just how “miraculous” the recovery was, given the obstructionists in Congress. It’s just too bad we have to wait that long. 

      I worry about not just the right’s “convenient memory lapses,” but about the lapses on the left, too. If you were to listen to Bernie Sanders talk about the economy, you would think a right-wing Republican had been in office the last seven years. And Hillary, having to compete in such an I-forget-how-bad-it-was environment, also has to act like there hasn’t been much of a recovery and that things are really bad out there.

      Well, things aren’t that bad for most folks, speaking relatively. And by relatively, I mean compared to the consequences of supply-side voodoo, the kind the GOP pushed on the country at the beginning of the Bush II administration and the kind that Kansans are suffering under right now. Democrats should still be attacking the policies that bring such disaster upon us instead of fighting with each other over whether the minimum wage should be $15 or $12, neither of which is possible at the federal level while Republicans control Congress.



  3. melk39

     /  April 26, 2016

    Good point Jim, if you compare where we are now with the European’s following of the austerity model., well there is no comparison. We are light years better off. But if you listen to the talking heads on Fox and other places you would think it’s 1930 out there. And their solution is to go back to 1910.


%d bloggers like this: