What should Missouri and Kansas lawmakers’ New Year’s resolutions be? Break down barriers to opportunity for the least fortunate.
Specifically, politicians in Kansas City’s City Hall, Topeka and Jefferson City should roll back burdensome occupational licensing regulation.
Before you can work in many professions, you must get permission from the government through an occupational license. You often pay hundreds of dollars or spend months or years in training.
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One recent estimate puts the number of licensed jobs at nearly one in three.
The Institute for Justice says no fewer than 31 of 100 common low- and moderate-income jobs in Missouri require licenses. In Kansas, it’s 34 of 100. Barber. Manicurist. Cosmetologist. And more.
This causes significant harm to people. One recent study suggests licenses have prevented the creation of nearly 3 million jobs and have cost consumers $203 billion in higher costs annually.
Another study found burdensome licensing leads to an 11 percent lower entrepreneurship rate in low-income communities.
Breaking down these barriers is both morally praiseworthy and economically beneficial.
For Kansas and Missouri lawmakers, that’s a New Year’s resolution worth making — and keeping.
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Kansas Rep. John Rubin, Rep. Gary Merritt, Gov. Sam Brownback and other state officials are not stupid, nor have their actions and public statements over the past five or so years regarding the state budget and sources of income been ignorant of what would result.
They have championed the discredited trickle-down economic philosophy that parallels making government smaller. “We don’t have the money, so we’re going to have to cut back (fill in the blanks),” state officials have said.
The latest example comes from The Star’s Jan. 4 article, “Kansas short on prison guards, troopers.” The state’s lack of sufficient funding is part of the problem in recruiting and retaining the good people we need in those jobs.
In that article, Mr. Rubin opined that it would be folly not to look at areas where we can reduce spending in education. Mr. Rubin has repeated this message over the past few years but has been silent on where we could make such savings.
So I think it’s time for him to put up or shut up.
Again, this is the far-right-wing agenda at work. It’s time for us to vote in a more moderate group and raise taxes back to at least where they were.
I was delighted to receive the Kansas-News, a newsletter from Congressman Kevin Yoder printed in full color on a 10- by-10-inch double sheet of glossy, heavy stock. It quite likely is the most expensive way to print such an item.
Congressman Yoder prides himself in being a fiscal conservative. Quoting him in that same newsletter, “One of my top priorities in Congress has been reducing overall federal spending.” (Well, but maybe not my own budget.)
Most of the newsletter features increased spending — for National Institutes of Health research, for higher pay for Medicare doctors and by implication for Head Start.
I applaud these efforts but I did not see his companion proposals to reduce overall spending. Perhaps less aid to farmers? Fewer bombs?
Do hypocrites bother you as much as they do me? Congressman Yoder wants to have it all ways. Sort of like swimming in the dark of night with no clothes.
In “The Elements of Style,” Strunk and White advise writers to “make the paragraph the unit of composition.” The Star’s Sam Mellinger’s Jan. 5 account, “One for the ages,” of Monday’s University of Kansas-University of Oklahoma men’s basketball game demonstrates that principle.
Each paragraph takes the reader into the salient moments of the unique event — whether fact, emotion or sensory detail — deftly flavoring it with pithy quotes, informed analysis and historical context. He completed his story barely two hours after the final buzzer.
By doing so, Mellinger distinguishes himself from less-skilled writers and reminds us of what sports journalism can be. I’m grateful.