Archive | October, 2014

Conservatism (posted by John Willoughby 10/26/14)

26 Oct

Conservatism means saving what is best. The word usually suggests sticking to time-tested,values, such as love, peace, freedom, justice, sharing, beauty, truth, progress, compassion, sustainability, patience, courage–the list could go on and on, and the examples given here are not intended to represent any specific order or priority.

Conservatism is a cognate term to conservation. Concern for the environment, for air, water, and soil, for all forms of life, for societies and cultures, for individual people–these are parts of the environment deserving conservation and should be parts of conservatism.

Conservatism is not only conservation of the past, although that is a very strong component of conservatism. Conservatism means commitment to building a better future, seeking out new ideas for building a better future, testing new ideas through open discussion, listening to proposals which at first glance might seem different from what would produce the best future. Conservatism usually prefers incremental improvement rather than revolutionary change, This means providing opportunity for individuals throughout the world to become free from poverty, misery, violence, authoritarianism, corruption, and injustice–all breeding grounds for revolutionary change.

Conservatism is not only economic and does not place accumulation of wealth as a necessary component of success, although it certainly has no objection to accumulation of wealth, as long as the accumulation of wealth by part of society and parts of the world is not at the expense of keeping other parts of any society down.

By this definition of conservatism, I am a solid conservative.

Issues: Health and Human Services (posted by John Willoughby 10/17/14)

17 Oct

Brownback and the tea-party Republicans have pushed through an administrative takeover of federal programs (KanCare) in the human services area. It has already cut down on the funding for human services in both the purely governmental area and the previous private-public collaborations. The result has been catastrophic cutbacks in services available to the disabled, the poor, the elderly, children, and the chronically ill. All the indications are that the administration and its tea-party puppets in the legislature are planning further cuts in services for the most needy Kansans, using the budget problems caused by their own elimination of one source of revenue after another as justification..

Now they are planning takeover of Medicare from the federal area in order to make cuts in the health services for these same disadvantaged Kansans, after having already turned back Medicaid funds already paid for by Kansans (the rejected funds to be distributed to states which have already accepted the original funds). The ultimate aim seems to be lowering medical service to Kansans unable to cover the steadily increasing costs of health care, with no attempt to control or alleviate those rising costs.

I see no compassion for anyone except the most wealthy in this policy.

Issues: Education (posted by John Willoughby 10/16/14)

16 Oct

Kansas has a longstanding, bipartisan tradition of solid support for education at all levels, from pre-school through post-graduate university education, and adult education. This tradition was built into its very Constitution from the beginning.

Recently, this tradition has been abandoned by the tea-party extremists who have hijacked the Republican Party. They want to weaken education at all levels. They want to cut back on state support for public education, leading to a series of lawsuits based on the Kansas constitutional requirement for state support. These lawsuits cost the State of Kansas unnecessary expenses and end up weakening the quality of education in Kansas, delaying the adequate funding of education at all levels, postponing the introduction of pre-school education, forcing higher costs for counties and cities throughout the state, forcing large tuition increases for colleges and universities in Kansas, and discouraging qualified teachers from choosing to teach in Kansas.

Education funding in Kansas has dropped back from the level it reached ten years ago, while inflation has increased. Minor increases in education funding last year were exaggerated by counting some replacement of the money needed to guarantee adequate funding for pensions (including pensions for government employees in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Kansas government) as if it were direct funding for education. The bill including the minor increases for classroom instruction costs was offset by ideologically based removal of most legal resources available to teachers to protect them from arbitrary, even whimsical, firing at will without any attention to the performance of the teachers as teachers and of pension availability to new teachers.

The tea-party extremists give budgetary issues as the spurious reasons for what is an ideological desire to weaken public education and replace it wherever possible by private schools inaccessible to the poor. The budgetary problems only exist because the tea-party extremists have cut income for the State of Kansas as a whole by reducing taxes on those who don’t need the reductions, the extremely wealthy (which has resulted in no net increase in employment by businesses owned by the extremely wealthy), on mid-sized businesses, and on start-ups which are not yet making enough money to pay any taxes (and these start-ups are the largest source of new jobs).

The tea-party Republicans need to be voted out of office.

Issues: Income Inequality (posted by John Willoughby October 12, 2014)

14 Oct

Michael Piketty’s Capital, based on the most exhaustive study of data available about wealth and income inequality in Europe and North America demonstrates a close correlation between income inequality and declining relative national wealth, with the United States currently declining somewhat more rapidly than Canada or the principal countries of Europe. (Rapidly developing countries and underdeveloped countries may in some cases have even more income inequality and perhaps not so rapidly declining wealth, but good data is often hard to obtain, and some countries are starting at such a low level of national wealth that a decline is unlikely and significant growth can be expected.

The Republican party nationwide (and particularly so in Kansas) has been flirting again with Leffler’s discredited ideology of trickle-down “economics” and its slogan that “a rising tide raises all boats,” a truism in regard to oceanography and boats, but totally inapplicable to economics. Leffler’s theory was quietly repudiated by Reagan in his second term and even by right-wing economist Milton Friedman after the rapid increase in national wealth following Clinton’s tax increases. Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but government cannot operate without income.

The economic reasons for reducing income inequality are compelling. The ethical and moral reasons are even more important. The United States was founded on the basis that all people are created equal and should have equal opportunity to achieve success. At present, educational opportunities are inequal: the poor have less access to education, particularly at the preschool level, and, without a good educational foundation, the poor are less likely to achieve their potential. It is wrong for the wealthy to have better educational opportunities than the poor. And the same goes for access to health services, access to social services, access to financial services, and access to support from business and political leaders. It is wrong for the wealthy to have better access to government and private support services than the poor

At present, the Republican leadership in Kansas is totally blind to the needs of the poor, kowtowing to the wishes of the rich. The poor are being locked into a situation where they can feel stuck in a second-class status, where it is increasingly difficult for them to move into a middle-class status, where they are being encouraged to accept a culture of dependency, angry at their lack of opportunity, in some cases concluding that criminal activity is the only way they can hope to advance.

This is unacceptable, Kansas needs new leadership to reduce income inequality.

Issues: Global Warming (posted by John Willoughby October 13, 2014)

14 Oct

Global warming is generally acknowledged to be a scientifically established trend, with measured steadily rising temperatures of the worldwide average, steadily melting icecaps and glaciers, and steadily rising sea levels. Also generally acknowledged is that this constitutes a climate crisis and that release of methane and carbon dioxide due to human activity is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

The Heritage Foundation and other groups funded by and representing reactionary commercial interests attempt to downplay the climate crisis, and there may be legitimate questions as to exactly how much the human activity contributes to global warming, but the consensus of scientists in the United States and worldwide is that human activity is the most significant variable in the steadily increasing problem, far more important than the recent volcanic activity in Chile, Iceland, Indonesia, and Japan, although that is probably making the problem worse than it would otherwise be.

Kansas is not at risk for flooding from rising oceans, but it does have a national interest in the problems faced by the coastal states, and it faces its own problems from the likelihood of rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall accelerating the water problems of the Western half of Kansas as the Ogallala Aquifer is depleted. Wichita and Central Kansas in general must make massive investments to assure its adequate water supply in the future, and those investments need state support which is not available under the present reckless administration’s unnecessary cuts in income taxes for the very wealthy, which makes Wichita turn to a regressive sales tax to improve its needs for water, infrastructure, and an improved employment situation.

Willoughby for Kansas

7 Oct

I am John Wallace Willoughby, and I am running for the Kansas 100th House District seat.

The key issues in this race are the basic ones of truth, values, justice.

Each Kansas legislator is charged with doing what is best for everyone in Kansas, for the future of Kansas. That future is the children of Kansas, their children, their children’s children, countless children not yet born. Each Kansas legislator must seek the truth and values that will enable the future of every child in Kansas to be the best it can be. This means that each child must have the best education possible for that child, with no discrimination in favor of children from wealthy families or socially prominent families. It means that each child must have the best protection from harm possible for that child, with no discrimination in favor of children from wealthy families or socially prominent families. It means that each child should have the best health services possible for that child, with no discrimination in favor of children from wealthy families or socially prominent families. It means that each child should have the best opportunity for work possible for that child, with no discrimination in favor of children from wealthy families or socially prominent families.

In order to work towards the best for every child, each Kansas legislator will have to consider a broad range of issues which impact the education, safety, health, and work opportunities for children. Some of these issues are taxes, budgets, employment, energy, and transportation. All of these issues involve rigorous attempts to discover the truth, the values, and the justice which might best lead to a sustainable future for the children of Kansas.

Subsequent posts to this blog will address these issues one by one. I hope that readers will comment on this posting and all later ones, so that we may have a conversation about what is best for all Kansas legislators to do, not just those in the 100th District.

The 100th Kansas House District

1 Oct

The 100th Kansas House District is a wonderful place to live. It include 12 precincts, 7 of them in the North-South tier between Maize and Tyler from Maple on the South to 37th on the North, with 3 to the East between Tyler and Ridge from 13th on the South to 29th on the North, and 2 to the West between Maize and 119th from 21st to 37th.

It contains the 2 highest-rated public non-magnet elementary schools in Wichita (McCollum and Peterson) and is immediately adjacent on the East side of Tyler to the highest-rated public non-magnet middle school, Wilbur, and the highest-rated public non-magnet high school, Northwest. The 5 precincts North of 21st are in the highly-rated Maize School District. And the topnotch Catholic schools, St Francis of Assisi Elementary School and Bishop Carroll High School are also immediately to the East. Cowley County College’s administrative headquarters for Wichita are in the district, as are Tabor College’s Wichita center and a National American University center, plus numerous learning centers.

For health care, Wesley’s Emergency Center and its Rehabilitation Hospital, Via Christi’s 21st Street at Reflection Ridge Clinic, and a large number of specialized hospitals, doctors, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, audiologists, and other health service providers are scattered through the district and its immediate surroundings.

The 100th District contains over a dozen churches, the New Market Square shopping area. over 50 other businesses (not counting home businesses), a dozen banks, and well over a dozen restaurants. It has two country clubs with golf courses, Rolling Hills and Reflection Ridge; the Reflection Ridge Retirement Village has unique luxurious features. The Westlink Neighborhood Association, comprising the southernmost 3 precincts, is regularly recognized by the Wichita Independent Neighborhoods as an outstanding example.

Housing in the district ranges from affordable to highest luxury, with new houses and apartment buildings going up steadily. Parks abound, and open fields are still to be seen.

That’s enough puffery. The 100th Kansas House District is a wonderful place to live–and vote.