I Don’t Think We’re In Kansas Anymore

As can be expected, serendipity finds an article by Matt Phillips, appearing with the online Quartz, exemplifying what was presented rather abstractly in the previous post (Are We There Yet?). From the article, “America’s tax-cut obsession is colliding with reality in Kansas” (8-6-14):
“Kansas may be foremost among them. Its governor Sam Brownback, a former US congressman and senator, led an aggressive effort to cut taxes soon after winning office. The idea is that tax cuts would reinvigorate job growth and bolster the state’s economy, replenishing state coffers along the way. It hasn’t worked out all that well. Kansas’s job picture has improved since 2011 when Brownback took office. But rates of job growth have been slower than the country as a whole and compared with nearby states like Nebraska and Missouri. Meanwhile, and predictably, revenues have fallen faster than spending, forcing the state to dip into reserves. Moody’s downgraded its debt rating on Kansas in April, citing “sluggish economic recovery and a structurally imbalanced budget.” S&P followed, axing Kansas’s debt rating today. S&P analysts say that “substantial shortfalls in individual income taxes” will likely eat into the state’s cash cushion at a very low 0.6% of expenditures, far too thin for a period of economic expansion.”
Of particular note is the use of “rate” rather than any substantial indicator of increase or growth. Although there has been real, actual growth or increase in Kansas in the last three years, the “economy”, recognizing only “rates” of growth, determines otherwise. This is reinforced by Moody’s and S&P’s “ratings”. The folks residing in that state, who get up in the morning and look out their window wondering how things are doing this fine day, don’t realize they aren’t in Kansas anymore. They are now in some statistic rated state of the “economy” where the sun never shines. Toward the end of the short article, Phillips writes:
“But from a political tactician’s standpoint, undermining state finances probably isn’t a bad thing. After all, the backdrop of declining state finances makes it much easier to argue that the time for steep spending cuts has come.”

The article is, of course, about governance (“governor Sam Brownback” “time for steep spending cuts has come”). Those being governed live in a state of the “economy”. Those governing (residing in whatever state they desire – Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Oz) utilize the currency of the “economy” (such as financial “ratings”, the promise of jobs creation or growth, “expansion”) to meet expectations attainable only within the “economy” itself (and not found elsewhere). Cool! In light of the Licking County commissioner’s recently stated preference for a public system over a private one, the residents of Newark get up daily to find the “public system” transit service being cut, the “public system” of roads, bridges, sewer and other infrastructure being ever more minimally maintained, the “public system” of fire, EMS, police and health workers continuously understaffed, the “public system” of pre-school programs, of community centers, of housing, of accessible education/training eroding. Etc. But that’s OK. The state of the “economy”, where the citizens reside, is rated up there with the likes of Emerald City.

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