Muslim Engineer in Kansas sues Boeing Employees Association

❝ A judge has rejected a move by Spirit Boeing Employees Association seeking to dismiss the lawsuit filed by a Muslim aerospace engineer alleging discrimination stemming from a party at a Kansas lake.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled Tuesday that there remains a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Munir Zanial’s rights were violated on the basis of race, religion or national origin.

❝ The Malaysian national of Indian ancestry rented a pavilion at the group’s lake in 2017 to celebrate Malaysian Independence Day. The lawsuit alleges the association suspended his rental privileges and reported him to authorities.

It alleged an American flag had been desecrated by Islamic State group symbols. But the flag was actually a Malaysian flag and the guests included people of Malaysian Indian ancestry, some wearing hijabs.

Ignorance ain’t bliss, folks. In Kansas it apparently means you might suspect someone of being a dangerous conspiratorial terrorist. Not someone who honors the nation of his birth.

Choose California, you moron!

❝ If you had to choose one state out of the 50 to use as a blueprint for America’s future growth plan, which state would you select?

Let’s add a wrinkle. There are two choices, Kansas or California

Would you select the coastal tech and entertainment giant or the heartland agriculture and industrial producer?

❝ It’s a no-brainer. Kansas has been a disaster, with giant budget shortfalls, service cuts, slashed education budgets and a brain drain with young people leaving the state. The economy has failed to keep up with growth in the rest of the country and is much weaker in terms of job gains, wage increases and gross domestic product growth than neighboring states with similar economies. In 2015, for example, Kansas had one of the worst job growth rates in the country, at 0.8 percent, adding just 10,900 nonfarm jobs.

In the five years before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, no state economy performed worse than Kansas. Things became so bad that Kansas decided to simply stop updating the public about state economic news…

The idiots’ delight

Trump wants Tax “Reforms” like Kansas — Huh? Wha?

❝ Earlier this year, Kansas’ GOP-controlled legislature voted to effectively end a five-year push to slash taxes on individuals and businesses after revenues plummeted and forced deep cuts and tax hikes elsewhere. In doing so, they overturned a veto by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who drew national attention in conservative circles when he launched his ambitious tax-cut program in 2012.

❝ For Democrats, Kansas has become Exhibit A in their prosecution of the Trump tax cuts. It’s routinely cited as evidence the new GOP proposal won’t grow the economy or pay for itself, and that proposed business tax reduction similar to Brownback’s will create a new loophole for wealthy individuals to exploit.

“It was a real-life experiment in a Republican state, similar to what President Trump announced,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor. “It added so much money to their deficit over four years that they have had to figure out ways to raise taxes now, just as Ronald Reagan did in 1986.”

The chart is revealing:

The results were not as promised:

❝ “Over the next five years, state and local governments battled over a dwindling revenue supply, including a roughly $700 million drop-off in the first year. Job growth, meanwhile, lagged behind the national average and neighboring states.

Republicans will go to their metaphorical grave swearing that dribble-down economics will save America’s workers, middle-class, you name it. Failure after failure for decades doesn’t sink into heads billiard ball-clean of experience or recorded economic history.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

A Kansas Farmer’s Message to Trump — “I need more Mexicans!”


Click to enlarge

❝ Undocumented immigrants make up about half the workforce in U.S. agriculture, according to various estimates. But that pool of labor is shrinking, which could spell trouble for farms, feedlots, dairies, and meatpacking plants—particularly in a state such as Kansas, where unemployment in many counties is barely half the already tight national rate. “Two weeks ago, my boss told me, ‘I need more Mexicans like you,’” says a 25-year-old immigrant employed at a farm in the southwest part of the state, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s trying to get his paperwork in order. “I said, ‘Well, they’re kind of hard to find.’”

❝ Arrests of suspected undocumented workers have jumped 38 percent since President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders targeting immigration in January…Michael Feltman, an immigration lawyer in Cimarron, Kan., says his firm has seen more people coming in with naturalization questions over the past six months than over the previous four years combined. “I’m really worried every little traffic ticket’s going to turn into detention,” he says.

Others feel the same way. “The threat of deportation and the potential loss of our workforce has been very terrifying for all of us businesses here,” says Trista Priest in Satanta, Kan. She’s the chief strategy officer at Cattle Empire, the country’s fifth-largest feed yard, whose workforce is about 86 percent Latino…

❝ The American Farm Bureau Federation…has proposed that, to “minimize the impact on current economic activity,” unauthorized agricultural workers already in the country should be granted permanent legal status once they prove they have worked in the industry for a set period of time. The AFBF has warned that an enforcement-only approach could slash industry output by as much as $60 billion annually.

Like any good litle proto-fascists, Trump and his followers believe the quickest and easiest means to solving any problem is someone carrying a gun and a badge.

The Great Kansas Reaganomics Experiment Ends In Disaster


Yes, I’m responsible for that smell…Saul Loeb/AFP

❝ When a governor announces an economic theory as a solution to a state’s fiscal problems, while challenging all comers to observe the results, that’s something I want to pay attention to. And so for the past five years, I have been watching the public-policy experiment in Kansas with great fascination.

❝ With the state legislature now rejecting the governor’s experiment, we can move onto to the next phase: Not recrimination and blame, though there is lots of that going around. Instead, I want to look at how the experiment played out, and what lessons there are to be learned from it.

❝ A quick refresher: Kansas’s Republican Governor Sam Brownback pushed through a substantial change in the state tax code, centered around lowering rates. He promised it would lead to more growth, tax revenue and jobs. Instead, there have been persistent tax revenue shortfalls, huge spending cuts and disappointing job creation. As my Bloomberg View colleague Justin Fox wrote, Kansas is badly lagging its neighbors, all of which have similar economies. Even worse, people (especially young people) are fleeing the state. Kansas was one of the highest outbound migration states in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The vast majority of people who have moved out were either transferring when their companies left or were seeking employment elsewhere.

Before Brownback, this wasn’t the case. As recently as 2012 and 2011, Kansas didn’t make the lists of states with high migratory outflows.

❝ Incentives matter: There was a large behavioral incentive, but it was for financial engineering. Brownback eliminated taxes on limited liability companies and sole proprietorships. It isn’t surprising that lots of companies and individuals made these legal structural changes. But this was merely an alteration in form with no beneficial economic incentives.

Set reasonable benchmarks for success or failure: Brownback, despite making large promises, wasn’t specific in how success or failure should be measured…

❝ Have an exit strategy: Because Kansas didn’t focus on specific and measurable benchmarks, it had no way to know when to pull the plug. This is important, as the legislature was forced to wait until things were unequivocally bad and getting worse before taking steps to end the experiment. An exit strategy based on specific goals would have saved a lot of unnecessary austerity-induced pain for the people of Kansas.

❝ Share information freely: We knew the Kansas experiment was going badly when the executive branch decided to stop reporting economic news about it…

Win or lose, take responsibility: Broad proof of the failure of Brownback’s tax cuts led the legislature to begin unraveling them. Rather than admitting defeat, Brownback vetoed its actions. His refusal to accept a verdict reflects a failure to recognize and take responsibility for his own policies.

❝ By just about every measure, Kansas’ economic laboratory experiment is now over, and the results are in. Supply-side tax cuts as executed in Kansas don’t generate more economic growth or create more jobs. They reduce tax revenue and forced the government to cut spending on essential goods and services like roads and schools.

RTFA for more detail. Unless you’re a Republican True Believer the cause-and-effect relationships are clear. Evidence is a bear. That the mass of Kansas voters went along with Brownback’s incompetence for so long speaks only to their obedience, lack of independence, loyalty to ideology in the face of daily evidence of failure.

Barry Ritholtz is one of my favorite writers on matters financial in the United States. That he has a fey sense of humor, refers to himself as a Recovering Republican, allegiance to evidence and facts over ideology is icing on the fiscal cake.

Student investigation into principal’s credentials — lead to resignation

❝ Connor Balthazor, 17, was in the middle of study hall when he was called into a meeting with his high school newspaper adviser.

A group of reporters and editors from the student newspaper, the Booster Redux at Pittsburg High School in southeastern Kansas, had gathered to talk about Amy Robertson, who was hired as the high school’s head principal on March 6.

❝ The student journalists had begun researching Robertson, and quickly found some discrepancies in her education credentials. For one, when they researched Corllins University, the private university where Robertson said she got her master’s and doctorate degrees years ago, the website didn’t work. They found no evidence that it was an accredited university…

The students began digging into a weeks-long investigation that would result in an article published Friday questioning the legitimacy of the principal’s degrees and of her work as an education consultant.

On Tuesday night, Robertson resigned

❝ The resignation thrust the student newspaper staff into local, state and national news, with professional journalists nationwide applauding the students for asking tough questions and prompting change in their administration.

“Everybody kept telling them, ‘stop poking your nose where it doesn’t belong,’” newspaper adviser Emily Smith told The Post. But with the encouragement of the superintendent, the students persisted…

Nice to know that even in a state with politicians as smarmy as Sam Brownback and his tame state legislature – principled actions are still protected by existing law. High school journalists are protected from censorship. More important, they did the work the school board should have done.

RTFA for the details. Worth it.

Kansas politicians aren’t bright enough – yet – to halt stupid economics. Getting close, though.

❝ It was only two months ago that Governor Sam Brownback was offering up the steep tax cuts he enacted in Kansas as a model for President Trump to follow. Yet by the time Republicans in Congress get around to tax reform, Brownback’s fiscal plan could be history — and it’ll be his own party that kills it.

❝ The GOP-controlled legislature in Kansas nearly reversed the conservative governor’s tax cuts…as a coalition of Democrats and newly-elected centrist Republicans came within a few votes of overriding Brownback’s veto of legislation to raise income-tax rates and eliminate an exemption for small businesses that blew an enormous hole in the state’s budget. Brownback’s tax cuts survive for now, but lawmakers and political observers view the surprising votes in the state House and Senate as a strong sign that the five-year-old policy will be substantially erased in a final budget deal this spring. Kansas legislators must close a $346 million deficit by June, and years of borrowing and quick fixes have left them with few remaining options aside from tax hikes or deep spending cuts to education that could be challenged in court. The tax bill would have raised revenues by more than $1 billion over two years.

❝ The Brownback blowback has been a long time coming. Though he won reelection in 2014, the governor has presided over one budget mess after another since then, and all but his staunchest conservative allies have blamed the crisis on reductions in personal tax rates and a provision that exempted 330,000 owners of small businesses from paying income taxes. Brownback has resisted efforts to undo the policies, preferring instead to raise taxes on tobacco, fuel, and other consumer goods. His relationship with Republicans in the legislature deteriorated, and in primary and general elections last year, a wave of Democrats and centrist Republicans defeated many of the conservatives who had stood by him.

The constant Republican fallback to stupid economics experiments. When it falls apart, bills come due, regressive taxes on goods for personal consumption are always the the ultimate quick fix. For corrupt conservative pols.

❝ The GOP may retain a majority in both chambers, but Brownback most definitely does not. “What we’re having is a standoff with the governor holding on to the old days where he had all these people elected,” said Senator Barbara Bollier, a moderate Republican who voters promoted from the state House last year. “They aren’t there anymore, and he can’t let go and follow the will of the people.”

As for Brownback’s legacy, Bollier said: “It’s going down in flames.”

RTFA. Brownback is the kind of economic dunce that Trump and his neo-con cadre in Congress count on for ideas. Hopefully, he’ll screw-up sufficiently that it won’t take the dullest American voters 2 terms to perceive what smells like shite — probably is.

Ultimate Republican solution to bad economic news — Don’t report it!


Doonesbury by GB Trudeau

❝ “What’s measured, improves.”

So said management legend and author Peter F. Drucker about the value of using metrics to define specific objectives within an organization.

Drucker is no longer with us; if he were, he might want to have a few words with Republican Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas. Brownback, despite promising to measure the results of a “real life experiment” in cutting taxes, has decided to cancel a quarterly report on the status of the state’s economy.

❝ Although Brownback’s spokeswoman said “a lot of people were confused by the report,” no one has been fooled. The problem was that the reports didn’t match the governor’s predictions for the state’s soon-to-be-booming economy. Local news media, including the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Kansas City Star, flagged the abandonment of the reports as evidence not only of policy failure, but as an attempt to hide that fact from the public…

❝ Since the Brownback tax cuts were passed, almost nothing has gone as promised in Kansas. Revenue plunged and the state resorted to pulling money out of its rainy-day fund to plug the holes. A number of critical services, including for road maintenance and schools, were cut. The business climate has been poor, and the economy has lagged behind neighboring states as well as the rest of the country.

Why hasn’t this worked out? As we have discussed before, the failure of the Kansas tax cuts to do what was promised is a simple combination of state budget math and human psychology.

❝ The math is simple: Tax cuts tend to reduce revenue, in Kansas’ case much more than expected. To change people’s behavior requires more substantial incentives than changing things by a few percentage points. The reduced revenue led to spending cuts that lowered quality of life. In response, rising numbers of people and companies have left the state…

❝ Kansas’ gross state product fell behind the six-state region and the nation for the third straight year…

Private industry wages in Kansas grew at a slower pace last year than they did in the region and the U.S. — as they did during the past five years…

By just about every measure, Kansas’ tax experiment has failed to meet the promised performance objectives. Killing the quarterly report won’t change this…

❝ Brownback is now said to be considering tax hikes. He has paid the deserved price for his errors, with a 26 percent approval rating, the lowest of any governor in the U.S. The people of Kansas have paid a bigger price.

Dribble-down economics fail for the umpteenth time in a Century. No, that won’t stop Republicans from advocacy. They have nothing else to offer. Modern economic analysis, 21st Century solutions for leftover Republican economic disasters are still a work in progress. The kinds of jobs that give us something that looks like full employment prove that.

And we still have a gerrymandered Congress that keeps useless turd-brain roadblocks in office for at least another 4-6 years. So, don’t get too cheerful, yet, over the possibility of ordinary American voters reforming the system. After all, ignorant Kansas voters elected and re-elected Brownback.

Colorado’s legal weed impacts Kansas – not necessarily in a bad way

❝ Early results from a survey of law enforcement agencies conducted by the Kansas attorney general suggest legal Colorado marijuana is having a big impact on Kansas, but it may not be all negative.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt received responses from 390 Kansas law enforcement agencies and district attorneys indicating that less marijuana is being confiscated, but it’s much higher in potency than pot smuggled in from Mexico.

Survey results also show that the legal system has been swept by changing attitudes about marijuana, with some jurisdictions no longer enforcing pot laws much. When they do they’re finding it tough to win convictions…

“The criminal justice system is moving in the direction of what appears to be changes in public attitude,” Schmidt said. “Obviously not moving as far as some people would like, but there is obviously an evolution or a change, and this showed that it has reached the enforcement level as well.”

❝ Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized marijuana. California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will vote on marijuana legalization this fall…

❝ Schmidt said he also is concerned about the growing popularity of edibles, which are food products made with marijuana or infused with marijuana oils.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported its seizure of marijuana edibles increased from zero in 2013 to more than 30 in 2015. Confiscated items have included chocolates and other candies, powder mix, hot sauce — even lip balm.

Got that part right. The simplest reason for me NOT smoking ganja is that I don’t smoke. Now, if it was legal for me to add Alice B. Toklas brownies to my weekly baking – I’d certainly check out some recipes.