Monday, October 23, 2006


Kansas Gov Cadidate Barnett Visits Adult Sunday School Class

State Senator Jim Barnett honored my "Issues and Us" class by visiting with us recently and sharing his ideas for the future of Kansas.

Such a nice man, a doctor, and pretty well-informed. He is, of course, wrong on many things, but I must say, he struck me as sincere. He just needs someone with a deeper understanding of public service to brief him.

He opposes school vouchers, for the same reasons right-thinking Kansas everywhere oppose them. Vouchers undermine public schools by taking tax money and spending it on private schools.

He is running against the state government, a time honored tradation now - to run on a platform of attacking the institution you wish to head. He says the state government in Kansas has grown faster than the governments of the other 49 states, and points to numbers of employees as evidence.

This is worth talking about, because the number of employees is only one indicator of the size of government. Because many government services are contracted out, the actual numbers of employees could decline markedly over a few years while the size of the government mushrooms. (In fact, this is precisely the situation at the federal level - we now have far fewer feds, but the size of the national goverment has exploded. We now have vast numbers of "shadow" employees through contracters.)

A more interesting measure would be percentage of gross state product spent on government - sort of GDP at the state level.

I asked Barnett about the school finance formula. He said he would change it by increasing the local option budget, but not by too much. In essence, he would leave the present system in place, with only minor adjustments that would appeal to Johnson County.

If you read my posts of a few months ago, you know I feel the whole rotten system must be scrapped.

He did take the time to denounce governor Sibelius, although his manner was polite.

Barnett feels very strongly that the current system of health insurance does not meet the needs of the state. He would patch the current system by requiring insurance companies to offer low cost coverage to certain classes of poor people.

He rightly identifies part of the problem, but the solution still escapes him. His proposal simply shifts the cost of an expensive, ineffective system to those who already have insurance, with a dollop of gravy reserved for the insurance companies.

Barnett would require proof of citizenship before any state services would be permitted to an individual. When asked if he would give medical treatement to somebody without papers, he said he would.

As a nation, we are moving towards having a national i.d. card. Resistance to the idea has waned in the face of terrorism. I can forsee a day, soon, when any person can be stopped at any time, and have to produce proof of identity. Although I'm sure Barnett would argue that his proposal does no such thing, I fear it is another step down that path.

Barnett looks you right in the eye. He says "I'm not a politician." For the record, he talks like a politician, walks like a politician, shakes hands like a politician, and thinks like a politician.

Right on, Mike. I agree having heard Barnett speak. I don't know what I think about a national ID card, but I do know that I am very troubled by the NIMBY thinking about people who come to this country from other countries seeking to survive, to provide for their families, and to gain an education - and they come from many countries, not just Mexico.
And guess what! My ancestors did the same thing. In fact, one of my son's grandparents on his father's side entered illegally. In the bible, those who were disenfrancised were always provided for.
When I saw Mr Barnett, he definatly walked the walk and talked the talk of a professional ploitician. You hit the nail on the head again.
Mike, in case you want to know, there is a law already on the books about having an ID on your person. If you don't have an ID and have less than either $25 or $50 on you, you may be declared to be a vagrant.
Yes, I think these are city ordinances, and vary from place to place. A search of the Kansas Statues doesn't turn up any vagrancy statue at the state level that I can see.
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