Kansas: A Laboratory in Which the GOP Finally Has Free Rein to Live Its Dogmas

Kansas: A Laboratory in Which the GOP Finally Has Free Rein to Live Its Dogmas October 17, 2015

is a smoking ruin. The exaltation of conservative economic theory over reality reminds me of nothing so much as Stalin’s five year plans and his penchant for shooting meteorologists for “counter-revolutionary weather forecasts”.

When a political subculture that has been so wrong about so much so many times for so long demands that I credit its “prudential judgments” over those of the Magisterium, I demand that it show me some bloody Prudence and not a track record of visible-from-space wrongness.

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  • Dave G.

    Heh. I always say that the only thing we need to compare someone’s policies to Stalin’s policies is a good, unbiased editorial as our source. FWIW, it took me two minutes to find editorials that countered the Star editorials (which apparently have been running continual attacks against the governor’s policies for some time). Not that they are right and the good Albouhalkah is wrong. I’m not an economist. I don’t know. But I do know if we want to find out what is and isn’t working, we should take into account both sides, compare the situation in question to other situations, and try to see what parts work and what don’t. We certainly shouldn’t pull one isolated editorial off of the net and move straight to guilty.

  • Captain_America

    Having grown up with Barry Goldwater, having been a member of YAF in H.S., having a particular fondness for Reagan, I have always styled myself a Conservative. After the howling monkey mob erupted in defensive accusation when my Congressperson Gabby Giffords (for whom, I never voted) was shot, I began to reassess my opinions.
    When The Great Bloviator, Rushbo called my Pope a “Marxist”, I decided what Mark calls the movement “formerly known as Conservatism” was going off the rails. When the insane Rightwing volcano spewed all over Laudato Si, I began to conclude “conservatism” is as dead as “liberalism”.
    The far/crazy/rabid/ultra Right has invaded and taken over the Center Right, just as the far/crazy/ultra/ rabid Left has conquered the Center Left.
    But the money men still rule.

    • Stu

      American “Conservatism” has always been liberalism.

      • Captain_America

        Funny you should mention that.
        A month or so back (memory fades, etc.) I read an interesting essay on another website which claimed the US only had “Right Liberals” and “Left Liberals”. IIRC, the article went on to say both sides had essentially the same outlook (worship of Mammon), and the same goals (schizophrenically ordered about Total Individual Autonomy in sphere X clustered with Total Government Control in sphere Y.). That the American Right and the American Left were so essentially incoherent in their alleged ideology was attributed to this. Still mulling it over.

        • Dave G.

          Well yeah. Conservatives today embrace things that would have embarrassed a liberal hippy in the 60s. That’s the problem with such labels. What do conservatives who are under 50 know? Disco? MTV? Saturday Night Live? Drugs and sex? Survival of the fittest? Dog eat dog? Religion is likely made up stories embellished by the latest development in monkey evolution? Not to mention the mythologizing of what they think they are defending (would Reagan fit in with FOX News today? Many believe he wouldn’t come close). So today’s conservatives may well out-liberal yesterday’s liberals. And of course today’s liberals are increasingly embracing tactics and ideals once condemned by the liberals of yesterday (it’s not censorship! It’s just public officials using the law to punish ideas that are clearly hateful!). So there you go.

        • bill

          “A month or so back (memory fades, etc.) I read an interesting essay on another website which claimed the US only had “Right Liberals” and “Left Liberals”.”

          Of course. Conservatism *has* to stay as blameless as possible. If someone treats it as Catholic doctrine (which it isn’t), then he will defend it tooth and nail.

      • bill

        Wake up, Stu. Just like with liberalism; conservatism was not, is not, and will never be infallible and perfect ideology. Whatever good principles that it did have in the past (borrowed from the perfect and infallible Judeo-Christian tradition, of course) has decayed into the crap we’re seeing today. Catholics need to stop putting their ultimate hope and trust in things that are not Divine.

        • Stu

          I’m not a conservative nor belong to any political group. I’m simply pointing out that American Conservatives are really just liberals.

          • bill

            Except I didn’t say or suggest that you were a conservative; and what you said upholds a false notion that it’s just those damn liberals that’s the problem, and not a just-as-significant corruption of that “good ‘ole conservatism”.

            The constant defense of fallen institutions is fascinating, but Americans (along with everyone else) will have to figure it out someday.

            • Stu

              My point is that liberalism is the problem of here and now. We are a liberal nation and have been from the start.

              As for conservatism or “good ole conservatism” or whatever, not my concern.

      • If you don’t carefully define your terms, you’ve said nonsense. Liberalism in the 18th century and liberalism in the 21st century are two different movements drawing from different philosophical sources. Political language has shifted in the intervening centuries. American conservatism is indeed about conserving the values of the revolution of 1776 which were, by and large 18th century liberal values, though which also had strains of older burkean conservatism in it. Today’s liberals have virtually no connection left with those sources, mostly disclaiming them as “dead white men”.

        So what do you mean by liberalism?

        • Stu

          I make no distinction between the “conservatism” which chose to draw a line in the sand at some point in history and the liberalism that the Founders based this country upon. What we have today is a product of liberalism no matter what you want to call it.

          I’m just Catholic in my outlook.

          • It isn’t a strict requirement but it helps evangelization not to confuse people. By being terminologically sloppy, you’re confusing people, one of them being me and I’ve got a leg up on your average non-Catholic.

            • Stu

              Except I don’t think it sloppy.

              • Good luck on creating a second party.

                • Stu

                  Honestly, I have no such notion of changing much of anything at this point. I sadly believe that the system has to collapse under its own weight for there to be any change.

        • Newp Ort

          “American conservatism is indeed about conserving the values of the revolution of 1776…”

          Oh TM you just slay me sometimes.

          • Another round of empty calorie junk food commentary?

  • Cypressclimber

    The story you link doesn’t really help your argument.

    It points out that that most recent change in policy was “the largest tax increase in state history just to balance the books.”

    So–was it the foolish tax cuts that caused this, or the “largest tax increase”?

    The left often makes the argument that tax cuts are bad for job growth, while tax increases are good for job growth. But inquiring minds ask more questions: can you please explain just why this is so? Without that, all you have is a variation of the correlation-causation fallacy.

    That you cited this article does more to suggest you just wanted a cudgel to whack the right wing once more; whether the argument is coherent is beside the point.

    • bill

      “Without that, all you have is a variation of the correlation-causation fallacy.”

      Irrelevant to the people who elected the polticians to office, along with their empty promises. Whatever the cause is, the fact is that they have nothing to show for their plans, and if they don’t PROVE that their plans are actually working after all, then they need to get the hell out of office.

      • Quoting a news outlet that has been after Gov Brownback’s head since forever does not actually demonstrate much.

  • Elmwood

    Pope Francis has said that trickle down wealth schemes have never been shown to work. The whole concept of liberal capitalism is just that: liberal. Why are conservatives so beholden to this stupidity? It has never been, nor ever will be, reconcilable with CST.

    • Pope Francis has also said (after the date he said what you’re citing) that he was ignorant of economics. I think it’s safe to examine further on a subject that the Pope himself has claimed ignorance.

      Pope Francis, my own bishop says, is putting out statements of Catholic moral theology. They should not be read as definitive on economics or politics. Now it happens that my bishop is pretty far out to the left on economic matters. A Tea Party adherent he is not. He is, however, a true son of the Church and I will be listening to him and Pope Francis to help guide me to Heaven.

      You ask why liberal capitalism is so linked to US conservatives. US conservatives have always sought to conserve the traditions at the founding of this country. Those revolutionaries were largely liberals. It is therefore no surprise that US conservatives remain an odd bunch globally.

      I think you are wrong about the inability of liberal capitalism to flex and conform itself to CST. Could you show your work?

      • bill

        “Pope Francis, my own bishop says, is putting out statements of Catholic moral theology. They should not be read as definitive on economics or politics.”

        Right. But here’s the thing: if any Pope speaks definitively on Catholic moral theology, you had better put it into practice, and whatever ecomomics or politics you figure out or carry out *must* adhere to Catholic Church teaching. That’s the whole point. The Pope doesn’t pretend to be an economist, a politician, a scientist, etc., but the fields that the Pope *is* an expert in (philosophy and theology) are the foundations of all other human enterprises.

        • Pete the Greek

          I think perhaps the point he’s making, and TMLutas please correct me if I’m wrong, is that when Pope Francis says ‘We have a serious responsibility to see to the needs of the poor’, he means just that, and whatever system we use, we need to keep that in mind.

          What too many seem to think is that when the pope says ‘We have a serious responsibility to see to the needs of the poor’ what they seem to think he is saying is ‘Taxation must be at a minimum of X percentage, the government should control all healthcare and we must ban WalMart.’ (or whatever pet policy they have at the moment)

          In short, they confuse guiding principles we must all follow with specific policy provision demands.

          • You’ve got the general direction of what I’m saying. More specifically, I think that Pope Francis actually gets things wrong in certain areas outside of moral philosophy because either his personal history at ground zero of peronism or because his advisors are not yielding good advice such as on global warming.

            The biggest lost opportunity of Laudato Si, I continue to think, is that Pope Francis did not ask a question, “what is the best climate for the poor”? It’s a subtle point that would have reoriented the discussion in profound ways and would have helped get the global conversation beyond the sterile consensus vs skeptic trench warfare that marks all too much of the debate at present. Answering that question could have united both sides on an interesting multidisciplinary query series that would have benefitted future generations as we eventually move into an age where we can have a planetary thermostat and adjust and tweak on purpose.

            • bill

              “What too many seem to think is that when the pope says ‘We have a serious responsibility to see to the needs of the poor’ what they seem to think he is saying is ‘Taxation must be at a minimum of X percentage, the government should control all healthcare and we must ban WalMart.’ (or whatever pet policy they have at the moment)”

              The Catholic Church has spoken on the proper role of governments before, but yes. Here’s the other thing, though: too many people also use this as an excuse to implement X policy without adhering to Catholic moral theology, or refuse to take a brutally honest look at X policy that has already been implemented to ensure that it follows Catholic moral theology. We must soundly rebuke (and be willing to soundly rebuke) any policy that doesn’t adhere to the Holy Faith, not look the other way.

              “More specifically, I think that Pope Francis actually gets things wrong in certain areas outside of moral philosophy because either his personal history at ground zero of peronism or because his advisors are not yielding good advice such as on global warming.”

              Irrelevant. At the end of the day, Catholic Church teaching rules and guides all human enterprises. To use your example of global warming, I regard it as a hoax. But, even if the current and prevaling science is shoddy or incorrect (and, by the way, Pope Francis specifically reiterates that the Church does not play scientist, and that we must always keep scientific debate and dialogue open), we are not excused from carrying out the moral teachings of the Church with regards to stewardship of humanity and the Earth. “The best climate for the poor” is given throughout Francis’s encyclical, by the way. It’s why the so-called liberals can’t HONESTLY read it without seething at Francis, because many of the policies that they endorse is detrimental to the poor (especially with regards to human life and the family).

              • bill – I’m tiring of you assuming that I do not wish to follow the Church. It’s hurtful and largely inaccurate. The problem I’m talking about is most famously illustrated by Galileo’s sin in attempting to strong arm the Church into supporting his scientific position and use the weight of the Church to shut the geocentrists up on pain of excommunication. Everybody, even a Pope, cannot help but include things that are not strictly speaking mandatory to get into Heaven alongside the essentials of the faith that are mandatory. Pope Francis is not an exception to this. Others, not mindful of this reality are attempting, as Galileo did, to make inessentials essential.

                At the same time, it’s also important to not fall into the Church’s sin with regards to Galileo and not to lose your temper or your good humor (which is why Pope John Paul II ordered a penance to make up for the over-annoyed and improperly harsh treatment that Galileo got). I hope that my own criticism has not gone too far.

                • bill

                  Just like with Stu, I’m not saying or suggesting you are. This kind of stuff is mentioned all the time, though, by many people who really *do* seek to find any excuse not to follow Church teaching (e.g., “The Pope is not an economist”, “The Pope is not a scientist”, etc.), so what I said bears emphasis.

                  As for Galileo, lots of people (and beings, with the devil being the main liar) try to strongarm the Church, true. And they also try to mislead the shepherds of the Church, including the Pope. But, since I know that the Church will never be strongarmed by any being, that Truth will always be proclaimed regardless of the Pope’s own personal viewpoints, and that Truth is the foundation for everything else we do, I don’t worry about if the Pope is not the biggest expert in the particulars of other fields. I put that aside, and ask myself how I can better carry out what the Holy Church teaches.

                  • I would suggest that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do what I’m talking about. I hope that I’m doing it the right way but I might be mistaken, or I might be presenting badly and showing secondary “markers” that lead people to think I’m doing it badly. What’s the right way to make this point (that papal pronouncements not on faith and morals are subject to prudential judgment) that wouldn’t lead to this song and dance?

                    • bill

                      Knowing the difference between prudential judgment and economic policy (from the so-called left or right) that doesn’t demonstrate adherence to Holy Church teaching would help.

                    • Not helpful because it doesn’t actually show anything external that others can use to judge between a difference of opinion in inessentials and a dissent from matters essential to the faith.

                    • bill

                      The Holy Church is crystal clear on what needs to be followed, regardless of whatever prudential judgment is being applied. Yes, you know the difference. We are not skeptics.

                      Ask yourself: is the policy I’m proposing in accordance to the Holy Faith? Proof, demonstration, evidence. If you can’t provide it, you had better rethink your policy.

                    • The Church is perfectly clear. It’s idiots who claim further restrictions unnecessarily that muddy the whole thing up. And yes, you know the difference. Or do you?

                    • bill

                      “It’s idiots who claim further restrictions unnecessarily that muddy the whole thing up.”

                      They’re out there, especially among the so-called left. The author of this blog, however, is not one of them. He *does* call into rightful question the fullfillment of Catholic duties, because that’s often forgotten by the so-called right.

                    • Mark’s weakness in the area seems to be more concentrated in falling for “too good to check” stories which is a different issue. The story above seems to be a case in point. The Kansas ATM withdrawal limit story ended up that way too.

                      In case you didn’t notice, I was mirroring you for a bit. There’s a reason.

                      I have an open offer from my bishop to collaborate on a project to use information systems to help the poor. He apparently liked the idea of creating apps to make fulfilling Jesus’ commands easier. I have to (literally) get my house in order first but this sort of thing is on my to do list because I think it is important. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to get more uptake on the right than on the left but I’ll be happy to be surprised by this when the numbers eventually come in.

                    • bill

                      “Mark’s weakness in the area seems to be more concentrated in falling for “too good to check” stories which is a different issue.”

                      More like the man has seen it all from the so-called left *and* right for many decades (as I also have), and has his BS meter turned on. Both sides have garnered that rep; and the so-called right has the ear of many American Catholics, hence the article. The general criticism is warrented; whether the so-called left uses the false pretense of “caring for the poor” in order to maliciously eliminate the fundamental principles of private property and subsidiarity, or the so-called right uses the false pretense of “prudential judgments” in order to line their own pockets while blatantly screwing over the poor (including the unborn).

                      I’ll leave it there for now.

                    • My working theory is that Mark unknowingly purveyed a falsehood while yours seems to be that he did it knowingly, a significant difference. Are you sure that is what you want to say?

                    • bill

                      “…while yours seems to be that he did it knowingly…”

                      Since you can’t get the premise correct; like I said, I’ll leave the discussion there.

                    • It is rude to try to pull in the moral authority of the Church on your side when you are, in fact, having a factual dispute not related to moral theology. From start to finish, my commentary on this article has been premised on a factual challenge that Kansas is not, in fact, producing horrible economic results.

                      Mark was misled. You are an active misleader.

                    • bill

                      Mark wasn’t misled, at all. Despite the “factual challenge” that you presented above (which completely misses the mark, by the way; it’s not like Brownback didn’t promise a bunch of jobs or anything upon re-election), he seems to be perfectly content to stand by his remarks. And you may expect many more articles from this blog that demonstrates how the so-called right wing fails to live up to their promises and obligations time and time again; that is unless they stop playing you for a fool.

                    • There’s a difference between getting middle of the road performance in a challenging economy and a smoking crater of a state. Your hacktastic conflation of the two is kind of sad. Saying that *this conflation* is a mandatory part of Catholicism is offensive.

                    • bill

                      He didn’t promise “middle of the road”. He promised a crapton of jobs during his tenure, and boasted that Kansas is where you will want to have your families live…and he is *not close* to fullfilling those things thus far. Enough, TMLutas.

                    • You seem to have difficulty following the thread so I’ll recap. Mark Shea described Kansas as a smoking crater economically. This proved to be partisan hackery when a few people dug into the numbers. What actually seems to have happened is bad enough, a lackluster performance, though apparently good enough for reelection. Fair enough to criticize that record as a matter of politics but not as a Church matter. You disagree and there is the problem. I’m perfectly happy to have both people on the small government side and the big government side in the Church. I’m happy that the Church has two wings that squabble over politics because it means we’re being truly universal and not closing our doors in anybody’s face because their politics are different.

                      Now I don’t know enough about Kansas politics to make a detailed analysis and nobody’s paying me to take the time out to do that so I’m going to be modest in my defense of Brownback. The man is accused of major governmental malpractice in his economic policy and that’s just not supported by the evidence. For people who aren’t hacks, that should matter.

                    • bill

                      “This proved to be partisan hackery when a few people dug into the numbers.”

                      Nope. You took the numbers and spun them away, without remembering what the man promised as he went into office for in the first place. This wasn’t a modest goal that has produced so-so returns so far. This was a bold endeavor and claim that has fallen *well* short. The funny thing is that if Brownback actually produced the job numbers that he said he’d produce, it would be held up as proof that the proposed policy works from the so-called right. You wouldn’t have an argument from me or others if Brownback just put his money where his mouth is. This isn’t a “you like apples, I like oranges, but we both get our fruit” policy thing. This is a failure to fulfill promises and obligations thing, and it’s a moral matter, especially if those involved are looking the other way.

                    • David

                      So true: “The funny thing is that if Brownback actually produced the job numbers that he said he’d produce, it would be held up as proof that the proposed policy works from the so-called right.”

                      Just like clockwork. I can imagine what would happen if Gov. Brownback’s economic policy was truly on track to add (or actually added) the 100,000 jobs it was supposed to add. The GOP wouldn’t let America hear the last of Brownback’s accomplishments. TMLutas and his clueless band of GOP sympathizers would also be here in the comboxes, throwing the jobs added data in Mark’s face and demanding that he never bad-mouths the “infallible” Right again.

                      I can’t stand the Left –they are a group of trained liars. The Right, however, are just as adept at lying, and arguably more adept at using selective amnesia.

                    • “Is a smoking ruin” is not the same thing as over promising and under delivering. Oh, wait a minute, among partisan hacks it does mean the same thing (when it’s your disfavored party that achieves that result).

                      I thought this was a Catholic board.

                    • David

                      Being a consistent cellar-dweller in jobs added every month for a YoY period is a smoking ruin, however. This is despite the GOP’s grandiose plan to turn Kansas into the next job market powerhouse. You have no argument.

                    • Didn’t somebody do the numbers up thread and put Kansas at number 28 of 50 on jobs? Cellar dwellers aren’t mid pack. They’re bottom 5, maybe bottom 10. Mid pack is ranking 25 plus or minus 5 or 10. Come on, use the english language in an honest way.

                    • David

                      My English isn’t the issue. Your English is, though, along with your logic, because the numbers pertain to unemployment. That is a different topic than the actual topic that is being discussed, which the number of jobs that have been added to the state, a.k.a. the backbone of Gov. Brownback’s econmoic reforms. Kansas has added only 8,700 jobs since Sept. 2014 (the first full month of Gov. Brownback’s policies). The over-the-year percent change (0.6%) is near the bottom over that period (going by your definition), tied for 8th-worst and well less than that of the nationa average (2.0%). At the current pace, Gov. Brownback’s plan will have added about just one-third of the promised number of jobs by 2018. Gov. Brownback made his jobs added plan THE selling point for Kansas citizens and non-Kansas citizens alike. He has pissed the bed with his plan, and he has not made Kansas the job paradise he said it would be. You have no argument.

                    • Your english isn’t the issue because you say so. Ok, right. Does that work for you very often?

                      Gov. Brownback started his tour in that position in 2011. You claim that 9/14 is the first full month of his policies. Really? Does getting basic data wrong by three years work for you very often? I’m not a Kansan so I have to double check basic data to try to discern the truth. I’m glad I did before I went through the trouble to dig up the job creation numbers (a more difficult job).

                      According to this article, Brownback’s first term job creation numbers were 4.6%. The article isn’t exactly cheerleading the subsequent cuts:


                      So why did you try to disappear the man’s first term?

                    • David

                      I wasn’t. For clarity, I was talking about the start of Gov. Brownback’s policy with respect to yielding 100,000 new private sector jobs for Kansas during his second term. Why you want to go back to his first term (which has nothing to do with this) is beyond me.

                      Just for fun, and this is completely besides the point that I made earlier, I got the data for Kansas’s private job sector % change during Brownback’s first term, before and after his famous income tax cuts went into effect in Jan. 2013. Kansas had some more % change after the income tax cuts (3.1% to 3.9%), but it got no closer to the national % change over the same respective periods (4.5% to 6.1%). Your quoted % change numbers for all jobs during Brownback’s first term are correct, but the same phenomenon takes place with Kansas’s % change in all jobs compared to the rest of the country (that is, the numbers haven’t caught up with the nation’s % change). But, back to my main point, Gov. Brownback wants to turn Kansas into a job market powerhouse, particularly for the private sector. I’m supposed to want to skip states like Texas, and work in Kansas instead. He has not done what he said he would do. Stop apologizing for Gov. Brownback.

                    • Congratulations, you’ve now established that we’ve been talking about two entirely different things.

                      Not worth my time to sort it out.

                    • David

                      Later, apologist.

                    • bill

                      It’s better to use the job numbers after Brownback began his 2nd term in January – that’s when his “promise” went into effect – and to also look at private-sector jobs. Not that any of this helps Brownback, because Kansas has added about 7,500 private-sector jobs since then. That won’t get Kansas *anywhere close* to the 100,000 private-sector jobs Brownback both promised for his 2nd term, and also used to get re-electe.

                      TMLutas will happliy refer to irrelevant previous terms, however, and pretend that the policy in question isn’t the one that was made for the addition of these 100,000 private-sector jobs.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      Yeah, you know it would be easier to believe he was “misled” and is just “mistaken” and “sloppy” all the time if he would actually put updates & corrections in his articles after being informed.

                      Otherwise there is no other term but liar for someone who doesn’t correct and stands by a falsehood after they’ve been told about it.

                    • Don’t forget charity. Mark could just knock his more contentious commenters out and ban them. He doesn’t as a rule. He is not just another thin skinned leftist which makes him worth reading, even as he comes after the right on economics with intent in unjustified ways.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      “Mark could just knock his more contentious commenters out and ban them.”

                      There for a long while he would. I don’t know whether some of us previously banned are now allowed back intentionally on his part or if it’s because of a disqus hiccup but we’ll be generous and say he did it.

                      But I will point out that – especially given the rule of the internet “don’t read the comments” – far more people will read the misinformation he put on the main post than ever see any of the corrections in the comments. It’s the same trick the Left has been using to grind out a pop culture victory for years (put the lie on page 1, put the correction on page 12, and not enough people see the truth before the lie cements itself as “popular wisdom”).

        • I have no argument about with what you’re saying. For example:

          Pope Francis has not talked as I wrote but I’d like to think that he’d approve. As I’ve written multiple times, Pope Francis speaks with a voice that right wingers are often going to find annoying but he’s worth the work of digging through and not just using tone and style to quickly judge him as just another leftist because to our ears and eyes he sounds and reads leftist at first.

      • Elmwood

        have you ever read even one encyclical on CST? They nearly all reject liberal capitalism and marxism as two sides of the same materialistic coin.

        of course there are elements of both socialism and liberal capitalism that can be reconciled with CST, but neither are conservative in the catholic sense because neither put the human person made in the image of God at its center.

        i could start quoting but i’m not sure that will help.

        • The tradition of Catholic guidance of non catholic ideas so that they become compatible with Catholic thought predates capitalism. I was asking why this old strategy was not applicable with capitalism. Your response was not helpful.

          • Elmwood

            sorry, misunderstood what you wrote. i’m sure liberal capitalism can flex to conform itself to CST, but then maybe it would be called socialism by people like brownback and jindal.

            maybe not, in theory if everyone is a saint, trickle down wealth policy would work fine. but that’s never going to happen hence we’re left with wealth redistribution schemes.

            • It would only be called socialism very early in the conversation or if the person describing it to people like Brownback and Jindal are enemies of the Church. Really, we’ve had a number of Popes doing the “two cheers for capitalism” song and dance illustrating how to do what I’m talking about at a pro level, likely much better than I’ll ever be able to manage, most famously John Paul II. Pope Francis is chasing after a different lost sheep and I understand and support that work. That doesn’t invalidate what previous popes have said or done.

              Trickle down wealth policy (a phrase invented by the small government ideological grouping’s enemies) is almost besides the point in terms of CST at least in the US. The statistical analysis of economic growth at different tax rates under the same federal policy has had several decades of experience and the evidence is pretty good that lower taxes do encourage growth and better economies. Population migration numbers that the IRS puts out every year that are based on state of filing over time tell the story pretty well.

              The interesting stuff, the part that needs a great deal more work intellectually and practically is in getting out of crisis mode and the “last ditch defense” politics. The victory on the pro-gun side in Heller vs DC is an example of that, taxes are another example. What Pope Francis calls “radical involvement with the poor” is something that small government ideology is much more likely to carry off well in the US than large government supporters that can’t even get a healthcare signup website through the procurement and build out process on time and functional. Radical involvement with the poor is a much more ambitious policy goal.

              But to make any practical progress, everybody’s going to have to take a few deep breaths and a pause with the everyday political cudgelings. Rep. Paul Ryan, for example, made a speech about Republicans needing to get out of the suburbs and start helping out in urban areas from the response, it seemed like he was the third coming of the KKK. Ryan is a politician who recognizes a no win situation when he sees one and he’s shut up about it since then. That was a missed opportunity. Had Catholic leftists stepped up and defended him and offered practical suggestions for cooperation, we would be in a better place today.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Neither liberalism nor socialism will work well if they are not engaged in by Christians. Absent Christian charity, the first will degenerate into greed and the second into envy. And consumerism, which conquered all, into gluttony.

      • Joseph

        And, eventually, they will both degrade into human slavery and sacrifice.

  • It really helps to go into the follow on links. Mining and logging are cratering in Kansas, with a 9.5% drop in activity year over year. Government is also dropping, with a 1.3% yoy drop but you’d expect that in a small government governorship. Manufacturing is down 1%. Construction, up 8.1%, Information, up 2.9%, and Business and Professional Services, up 0.9% are the top three on the up side.

    The administration policies seem to be aiming at catering to small businesses at the expense of attracting big business, at least according to Forbes:

    For a site that has had pretenses of supporting “small is beautiful” distributism, that support sure does seem to evaporate when it comes in contact with Democratic party ambitions. Figuring out the actual economic policy line on this blog gets more difficult as the election approaches.

    • Elaine S.

      “Mining and logging are cratering in Kansas”

      From what I understand, mining is pretty much “cratering” everywhere, as is the fracking industry because oil prices are way down. I dunno about the logging industry in general — I’m just kind of surprised that there would even BE a logging industry in Kansas, which isn’t exactly known for its forests 🙂

      • There may not be any loggers. These SIC codes are uniform and thus treeless plains have economic questions regarding logging activity.

    • capaxdei

      I don’t think there’s much more to this blog’s actual economic policy line than: 1. Economic policy should be consistent with CST. 2. Economic policy is better judged by empirical results than theoretical completeness and consistency.

      • I think that Mark Shea is just a bit more opinionated than running a CST compliant economic rorschach test but perhaps you are right. The article above shows little evidence of neutrality.

        • capaxdei

          I’d say Mark’s opinions come through in his selection and interpretation of evidence for empirical results.

          • Cypressclimber

            Except this article is not an example of good judgment in selecting “evidence.”

      • Art Deco

        1. Economic policy should be consistent with CST.

        Characteristic of the social encyclicals is that they are fiendishly difficult to operationalize. It’s doubtful anyone has a serious handle on what “Economic policy consistent with CST” might be.

        • bill

          “Characteristic of the social encyclicals is that they are fiendishly difficult to operationalize.”

          Of course it is. And that’s because *we’re* the ones with the problem, *not* Catholic Social Teaching.

          • Art Deco

            No, it is because the enunciated principles are in fact difficult to operationalize, the discussions of prices and wages in Rerum Novarum being one example.

            • bill

              The principles themselves are for our greater good; and, ultimately, for our perfection. Any difficulty of putting them into practice is due to our fallen nature.

              It doesn’t help that many are America are joined at the hip to their party line of choice.

              • Art Deco

                “Any difficulty of putting them into practice is due to our fallen nature.”

                No, any difficulty in putting them into practice has to do with formulations which need work.

                • bill

                  And our fallen nature is the *cause* for flawed formulations. Okay?

                  Catholic teaching – any Catholic teaching – is difficult for that reason. It means to step up, embrace it, and ask for God’s help to live by it; not type replies about how “fiendishly difficult ” it is to “operationalize” Catholic teaching. This has to be the favorite go-to excuse for both the so-called left and the right.

                • Hezekiah Garrett

                  Don’t bother arguing CST with gnostics, Bill, it ends in tears.

                  • foulweatherfan

                    Now that is stupidly funny. Art is “often” pedantic and “occasionally” petulant, but he is not remotely a gnostic unless one employs the term to mean “one who disagrees with thou.” What Art “always” is is thoughtful.

      • chezami

        That’s pretty much it.

  • Elaine S.

    My question is: if Gov. Brownback’s tax policies were such a disaster for Kansas, why did he get reelected in 2014? The same could be asked regarding Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin — I keep seeing articles claiming that the economy in Wisconsin is totally in the tank because of his (Walker’s) anti-union policies yet he also got reelected. Don’t tell me it’s just because of “big money” supporting them or weak candidates on the Democratic side; if things were really as bad as they have been painted, citizens of the respective states would have been chomping at the bit to vote them out, and they didn’t. What gives?

    • The news media is populated with writers that are largely Democratic party voters and when surveyed tend to come from the more left wing side of the party. The ratio is generally 9:1. If you are in a dying industry and your employer goes under, being a straight line party man means that you have a good shot that some ideological hack is going to try to make sure that you get a job elsewhere. Iconoclasts that are hard to peg politically tend not to have that lifeline thrown them. Since the entire industry is in crisis and looking to get much worse before it gets better, even the pretense of neutrality has gone out the window in the majority of news outlets over the past decade.

    • bill

      “My question is: if Gov. Brownback’s tax policies were such a disaster for Kansas, why did he get reelected in 2014?”

      The same reason President Obama somehow got re-elected despite the destruction he and his administration brought to our country: people are stupid.

  • Art Deco

    Growth in real gdp in Kansas averaged 0.7% per annum over the period running from
    2008 to 2014, which is rather under par vis a vis the national mean of
    1.2%, but no worse than 21 other states and the District of Columbia. The (non-farm) employment to population ratio in Kansas during the period running from mid-2014 to mid-2015 stood at 0.48. That in the country at large stood at 0.44. (And farming tends to comprehend a rather larger share of the labor force in Kansas than it does elsewhere). The current unemployment rate in Kansas is 4.6%. That nationally is 5.1%. Per capita personal income has varied between 96.3% of national means and 100.3% of national means over the last 5 years.

    Kansas has some problems with unfunded liabilities re its public sector pensions. A dozen other states have worse problems. The only state which was ship-shape as of 2011 was Wisconsin, which we all know is run by Jesuit Peronists. Per the Mercatus Center, Kansas overall fiscal condition ca. 2013 was about the national median and incorporated a modes budget surplus.

    You are aware of what the phrase ‘smoking ruin’ means?

    • Elaine S.

      If you’re looking for a GOP governor who truly embodies all the worst aspects of the contemporary Republican Party and really is threatening to reduce his state’s economy, government, and infrastructure to “smoking ruin” if he doesn’t get his way, look no further than Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

      Kansas and Wisconsin are shining examples of fiscal stability and prosperity compared to us!

      • Art Deco

        Your public sector pension system ca. 2011 was 43% funded, the worst in the nation. New York’s was 100% funded at that date. Gov. Rauner did not cause that problem.

        I’m not sure what ‘the worst aspects’ of the ‘contemporary Republican Party’ would be in Illinois. On Capitol Hill, that would be an inclination to sell out your popular constituency to do the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce lobbyists and an obsession with marginal income tax rates to the exclusion of anything else one might concern oneself with re taxes and public spending. Only the latter is really a Republican Party signature. The Democratic Party is all for crony government; they just have a different array of sectoral interests for which they carry water and really no faction opposing that (which the Republicans do have).

        • Elaine S.

          By “worst aspects” I mean indifference, if not outright contempt, for the social/moral issues (abortion, gay marriage/religious freedom) and constitutional issues (gun control) combined with laser like focus on taxes, public spending and public union busting to the exclusion of all else.

          • Art Deco

            You’re not referring to the worst aspects of the Republican Party as a collectivity. You’re referring to annoying traits of business Republicans.

      • Art Deco

        I might also remark that state government policy over the course of a business cycle is a modest vector in influencing overall economic performance. Much of Kansas outside of the four major cities has the same challenge it has had since 1930 – building commercial and industrial enterprise as more and more labor is released from agriculture.