Link to KansasPrairie.net

7/25/2014

JOAN AND AUSTIN…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:49 am

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If you attended school in Salina in 1946, you’ll quickly recognize this couple….Joan Britegam and Austin Stedham.  They’ve been married 61 years. The thing is…they have changed very little in appearance and look just the same, only slightly older.  I’d bet their wedding attire would still fit.

Thanks for tuning in…

7/23/2014

RECIPE: HOW TO SLOW COOK TOUGH, OLD PEOPLE….

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 12:03 pm

Now, don’t read this if you don’t have a sense of humor.  It’s not for cranky people. I’m not throwing aspersions on the Palace where I live as I KNOW this is the best place in Salina for someone like me to live and I love every minute I’m here.

While holding this in mind, just know that there is hardly a day that passes that my friend, Joy, and I aren’t rolling on the floor laughing our lungs inside out at something funny that has happened here.  If you have a six story building, and several outhouses,  loaded with old folks, you better know there is something funny happening every minute of the day.  Joy and I try not to miss out on anything.

We have a new “head of maintenance” guy…with a fancy title, “Head of Environmental Services…”, something or other.  He couldn’t get to work yesterday because he didn’t have a key to the front door.  Don’t you just love it?

And, one of our residents who is usually very mild mannered, called a townhouse resident where she used to live…but hasn’t for over two years…and was mad as hops because she hadn’t brought her wheat check to her.  The townhouse resident was absolutely clueless about a wheat check or anything associated with it and more puzzled about getting wrung out like a rag over it.

And, yesterday one of the yard maintenance men was mowing around the pond and somehow drove the mower straight down into the pond.  Blurp, blurp…

But the best laugh of all occurred at “Travel and Taste”.  I opted out of the monthly “eat out with the inmates” which last night was a trip to Junction City.   We all load onto the Palace bus and go someplace different for dinner.  It’s fun, we all enjoy it and usually always something happens on the trip to bring us to tears in laughter.

Last night I didn’t go for several reasons, one being it was 110 degrees and that is “hot as hell” to me.   I can’t tolerate extreme heat like that gracefully.  The bus is air conditioned but no matter what seat in it I choose, the AC seems not to reach that far.  It’s a good thing I didn’t go, as it turns out they ran out of gas coming home when they were about two miles west of Russell Stover’s.  They pulled over by the side of the road and waited, and waited, and waited…an hour according to those being slowly cooked in the heat of the bus.

Eventually a highway patrolman came by and gave them some gas.  They continued on west and tried to buy gas in Solomon but nothing was open so they continued on west…and they ran out of gas AGAIN.  The same highway patrolman came to their rescue again and went for more gas to help them along.  Eventually, they got back to the Palace but they said they were all soaked through and dripping wet from a constant stream of perspiration.  I never would have managed…

Anyway, the stories going around today are really very funny…I just love this place.

Thanks for tuning in…

7/22/2014

ADAM FOSTER…FLYING SPECIALIST EXTRAORDINAIRE….CO-OWNER LEADING EDGE FLYING SUITS…

Filed under: prairie musings, family — Peg Britton @ 1:17 pm

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My cousin’s son, Adam Foster, and his girl friend, Gina, were here visiting.  They had been in Cushing OK doing what they both love to do best…wearing bat wing suits and jumping out of airplanes or from he top of some cloud-shrouded precipice in the Alps …and were on their way home to Colorado.  Flying is what they “do” and they teach others the intricacies of the sport and sell the suits you need for it. Adam has tallied about 1,500 jumps like this so you know he must love it. Gina, not so many, but a commendable number that draws a lot of respect.  Todd, Ally and Karen joined us for dinner last evening at Tucson’s and an evening of catching up with each other.  That’s the best kind of visit.

I ordered baby back ribs for dinner last night at Tucson’s.  They are wonderful, well-seasoned and fork tender.  Guess what we had for lunch here today?  Baby back ribs for the first time since I moved here.

My friend, Ann, invited me to go with her to hear Meredith Docking tonight and I bailed…but only because I’m “walker” dependent and the facility where it’s being held is more than I can manage.  Dang it.  At least I can still get around for most things I want to do.  Sitting in a theater seat is no longer on my user friendly list.  I simply can’t extricate myself from it.

Life in the Palace is going very well and I’m still gloating over my decision to move here.  I could not have made a better choice. I have all the freedom I want to come and go…despite my joking referrals to being an inmate….and I have some very good friends here to visit with whenever I want.  It’s the best of two worlds.  My bedroom is full of all the technological gadgets I need to stay connected to the outside world, I have a stack of good books I rotate from the Salina Public Library, and far more options for places to go and things to see than in my previous “life”.

I have a new phone number that I changed rather suddenly.  The Palace has 100 in house phone lines that are used for business purposes, health care and all their related services.  That leaves a few that are free for resident use, as they become available.  After waiting almost two years,  one became available yesterday when my name rose to the top of the list. I grabbed it and ran.  It’s cheaper by about $100 a year than Cox.  I retain my unlimited long distance service.  The only drawback is that I have to dial 9 first, which isn’t a problem as I fed it into my bank of speed dial numbers. Another plus is that my message machine now works the way I want it to and I don’t have to dial up my messages from Cox.  Life gets easier day by day.  Life is very good.

Thanks for tuning in…

7/20/2014

SCOTT STROEDE HAS BEEN EXCOMMUNICATED BY PASTOR PHILIP HOPPE AND ST. PAUL’S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH’S CONGREGATION FOR BEING GAY…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:07 am

I pass this along with permission from Scott who outed himself and was excommunicated.  It’s another example of picking and choosing.  I wonder how long it has been since Pastor Hoppe and church members have violated the prohibition against mixing fabrics (Lev 19:19) or eating shellfish (Lev 11:10–12) and pork (Lev 11:7–8)?
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7/16/2014

#NERDY

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:07 pm

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7/14/2014

NEW YORK TIMES…KANSAS’ RUINOUS TAX CUTS (IS THE PATIENT DYING?)

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 7:54 am

Kansas’ Ruinous Tax Cuts

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD JULY 13, 2014

There was a windstorm of hasty excuses in recent weeks after Kansas reported that it took in $338 million less than expected in the 2014 fiscal year and would have to dip heavily into a reserve fund. Spending wasn’t cut enough, said conservatives. Too many rich people sold off stock in the previous year, state officials said. It’s the price of creating jobs, said Gov. Sam Brownback.

None of those reasons were correct. There was only one reason for the state’s plummeting revenues, and that was the spectacularly ill-advised income tax cuts that Mr. Brownback and his fellow Republicans engineered in 2012 and 2013. The cuts, which largely benefited the wealthy, cost the state 8 percent of the revenue it needs for schools and other government services. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, that’s about the same as the effect of a midsize recession. Moody’s cut the state’s debt rating in April for the first time in at least 13 years, citing the cuts and a lack of confidence in the state’s fiscal management.

The 2012 cuts were among the largest ever enacted by a state, reducing the top tax bracket by 25 percent and eliminating all taxes on business profits that are reported on individual income returns. (No other state has ever eliminated all taxes on these pass-through businesses.) The cuts were arrogantly promoted by Mr. Brownback with the same disproven theory that Republicans have employed for decades: There will be no loss of revenue because of all the economic growth!

“Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” he wrote in 2012. “It will pave the way to the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs, bring tens of thousands of people to Kansas, and help make our state the best place in America to start and grow a small business.”

But the growth didn’t show up. Kansas, in fact, was one of only five states to lose employment over the last six months, while the rest of the country was improving. It has been below the national average in job gains for the three and half years Mr. Brownback has been in office. Average earnings in the state are down since 2012, and so is net growth in the number of registered businesses.

The experience in Maine has been similar. Cut taxes, cut funding to public education, watch the economy falter as a prosperous future for…

With less money to spend, Kansas is forced to chop away at its only hope for real economic expansion: investment in public schools and colleges. While most states began restoring education funding after the recession, Kansas has cut K-12 spending by 2 percent over the last two school years, and higher education by 3 percent since 2012.

The evidence of failure is piling up around Mr. Brownback, whose re-election campaign is faltering because of his mistake. Yet he continues to cling to his magical ideology, pleading for more time. “It’s like going through surgery,” he told The Wall Street Journal last month. “It takes a while to heal and get growing afterwards.”

But it’s not clear the patient can recover from this surgery — the reserve fund, in fact, is likely to nearly run dry next year. As Kansas has clearly shown, states cannot cut their way to prosperity. They need to use every tool of government to nurture growth, and those tools require money.

7/13/2014

PALACE REFLECTIONS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:45 pm

I knew this was coming:  I miss talking with the “young professionals”, as I like to think of them, who  are now between the ages of 30 and 50, ambitious and well-informed who appear to be on the cutting edge of life, the best ever period in one’s lifetime.  They are my grandchildren, my nieces and nephews, and young friends from Ellsworth and “around”.  They are bright, intelligent, well-educated and moving ahead with their mental GPS systems pointing them in the  direction they have chosen.  They have boundless amounts of energy and use it to the fullest.  They operate off multiple spread-sheets and have their futures planned years in advance.  They give serious thought and consideration to lifetime issues that my generation let “just happen”…like   saving and preparing for retirement, life time health care and family planning. They all know who they are and I hope they know they are missed.

They, both men and women,  are waiting until their 30s to get married, usually after they have finished their education (at least the basic BS) and after they have a career path in view.    They plan the arrival of children very carefully, sometimes well before they are married.  They are not judgmental and take people for who they are. They speak properly as if HR people were constantly on duty.  They know not to cross personal boundaries. Color, disabilities and gayness don’t enter their minds. They want equality for all. They understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights and have a much better understanding of what they mean than their elders.  For the most part, they understand the truth behind the plethora of political lies that are spewed over the airways.  Truth and honesty matter to them. Religion doesn’t play a major role in their lives, if at all.

All in all: the young professionals “get” it.  The older generations I mingle with don’t get it.  It’s neither good nor bad: it’s just the way things are. We all grow older and more set in our ways, largely because we aren’t exposed to new thoughts and ideas. There are a lot more older folk in the world than we ever expected. The young professionals are our future.  They will lead the way and I am confident they will do a better job than we can even imagine.

Our paths cross infrequently since I moved to the Palace, and I expected that they would, so the conversations that once took place regularly have been put on hold.  It’s not a negative thing; it’s  the way life is.  That’s the one thing I really miss about living here, but I’m learning how to fill the void.

Sadly, there is nothing here at the Palace to take the place of those conversations, nothing like them to stimulate our minds.  It’s likely that I and a small handful of others are the only ones who’ve noticed.  Programs and parties need to include everyone…memory unit and health care…. and they are always designed and based on the lowest common denominator, which I think is a disservice to everyone.  There are few exceptions. But…people here are happy and love living here, as I do.  It’s just all part of the adjustment to a new life style.

So, one then relies on other pockets of stimulation:  computers, books, the arts, and conversations, etc.  There are lots of reasons why conversations among the elderly are limited.  We’ve reached an age (65 to 105) where we aren’t planning vacations and trips to exotic places because travel is too difficult and tiring; we aren’t looking for jobs or spouses as most of us have already had them and lost them; we aren’t starting a family or building a house  so those aren’t topics of conversation of the elderly.

Older people get riled up over subjects such as  politics and religion, or anything controversial,  and can’t talk about them in a rational manner.  That’s because older people, in my opinion, tend to seek consistency in their beliefs and perceptions and they don’t want to be confronted with something that conflicts with another previously held belief.  We all knows that monumental progress has been made in STEM.  Young people understand.  Older people are still hanging on to creative design, deny global warming and can’t accept science. The term cognitive dissonance comes to mind when that feeling of discomfort  overwhelms one from holding two conflicting beliefs at one time.  You can see it when the “shade” is lowered and eyes get squinty. No one wants to even think about something that might cause them to slip into this quagmire.  One treads lightly around here.

Even current events are deeply infused with politics and are subjects residents avoid just as they do religion and politics.   So, in my opinion, conversations that do occur don’t require a lot of thought or information and they take place  over lunch where only pleasantries of the day and the latest spin on who is stealing the fruit cups and flatware or some thing dealing with the weather are mentioned.  I guess you call that having respect for others.

When spontaneous utterances do occur, it’s usually because someone has spent way too much time watching Fox News and is all riled up over things that probably aren’t true, or only partially true.  The inmates are overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, but the Rs who aren’t tea party folk  don’t understand how the litmus test system works now that the tea party has taken over.  For some reason I can’t figure out, they believe the Eisenhower Republicans will somehow reappear on their white horses and come to their rescue.

I particularly miss my young friends now that there is no one I live among who even comes close to filling this self-imposed vacuum of conversation-less living.  Fortunately, I still have good friends who like to have phone conversations so I can rely on them to fill my empty spaces.

This situation is one I expected when I moved here…it is, after all,  the “Presbyterian Manor” with religion infused at every turn.  And, since most people in Kansas are Republicans, you can imagine that most who live here are as conservative as they come.   Eisenhower died a long time ago and I don’t ever expect him to return.  I hate to break the news to others.   That is not to say that I don’t enjoy the people around me, as I do. Very much.  Some have become very good friends.

BUT…..there is a bright light on the horizon, which was my real reason for the blog.  Three of my good friends, who are in their early 70’s and lean the same direction I do on most things,  are moving to the Palace grounds.  It will be a joy to have them near.  That makes six of us, as far as  I know, but I’m still looking for sleepers.  Change comes with baby steps.

Thanks for tuning in…

SERIOUS CLIMBERS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Drew Britton — Peg Britton @ 6:54 am

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Here are three of my favorite mountain climbers…Christy, Drew and Sarge…atop Shavano.  Five  Colorado summits in two weekends.

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Sarge, 100 pounds of solid muscle is the luckiest dog alive.  He gets to climb mountains every weekend and carry his own personal saddle bags with his water and food and other supplies.

7/10/2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TODD…61 WISHES AND MAY THEY ALL COME TRUE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Todd Britton, Todd & Karen Britton — Peg Britton @ 7:20 am

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Todd is celebrating his 61st birthday today…that hardly seems possible.

I hope you have a wonderful day, Todd.  I wish I could bake one of the famous train cakes I once made for you!  You’ll have to settle for sushi.

I’m very proud of you and the man you have become….

lots of love always…
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Todd’s family….Tyler, Karen and Drew.

7/8/2014

FRAGMENTS FROM THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF, Drew Britton, Mackenzie — Peg Britton @ 7:00 pm

What have I been doing?, you asked.  It boils down to doing a bit of this and that everyday with no real demands on my time or brain.

Well, we have the usual new people who move into apartments that we have to meet and become acquainted with.  As with any such migration, there are those that we enjoy and have more in common with than others.  But they are all nice folk and it’s good to have their company.

We’re still down to one elevator which has its downside although we work around it.  They haven’t even started working on the malfunctioning one so I don’t know when in the near future it will be operational.  I can’t imagine what would happen if the only good elevator shot craps, as it’s been on the fritz from time to time.  I could manage to walk one flight of stairs once a day, I think….not really sure how that would be….but there are those living on the 6th floor and that is not an option for them.  None is young, and while some are far more physically able than others, it would pose a real nightmare.

I sat outside for a while tonight and visited with Jason and Nellie who always sit quietly side by side holding hands.  They are in their late 80s and have been married a very long time. Bob and Anita were there too…they weren’t holding hands but rather engaged in a lively conversation.

I loved The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and just finished “The Invention of Wings,” her newest novel that was inspired by the lives of abolitionist Sarah Grimké and her young slave.  The setting is in Charleston so I passed it on to my friend, Doris, as I think she would like it.  Her daughter lives in Charleston so we talk about that area of the country from time to time over lunch.

I’ve made a slight den in The Little Friend by Donna Tart, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Goldfinch.   In this book, “a nine-year-old boy is found hanging from the branch of a black tupelo tree in his parents’ garden. The sudden, unsolved act of violence - the inexplicable murder of the universally adored young son - becomes the unreferred-to catastrophe which sends a whole extended Baptist family of grandmothers and great-aunts into displacement and grief.”

Standing by, is Tartt’s other book The Secret History and I may jump to it.  I think as much as I love Tartt’s style and order of words in spinning her tales, I’m getting a little weary of young boys dying.

So, while trying to keep up with reading, I also have to wander around Netflix to find the next exciting adventure I want to watch.  My grand kids, and several younger friends, have long talked about how much they liked Breaking Bad.  When the series first started, I watched a couple of episodes and discounted it as another drug deal gone wrong.  But, a couple of my friends were over the other day and we talked about it again and since they were so hung up on it, I decided to give it another try. Voila!  I liked it and watched all five seasons of 16 episodes each back to back on Netflix.  That’s what I did last week. I don’t like watching weekly episodes on TV…at all…and much prefer taking the whole series in one swipe.

They give free manicures here to anyone who wants one every month.  I’ve never gone to get one and I doubt there is anyone who needs one more than I.  I did take about a dozen pair of reading glasses to Stacy Munson last week for her repair and cleaning.  She works at WalMart and once a month they provide eye glass service.  It’s very nice.

Sandwiched in with all of that was my 86th birthday which was filled with friends, phone calls, emails and greeting cards to last me forever. It was quiet and very enjoyable. My friend Lynn took me to Longhorn’s for a great steak dinner and my kids did the same the next night.  They make great “from scratch” margaritas.  It was a good event becoming a year older.

My grandson, Tyler, was here for about 24 hours to attend a friend’s wedding reception.  We  had a good visit.  He never gets to spend much time in Kansas, but that’s okay.  He’s doing exemplary  work elsewhere.  If you scroll down from this entry, you will find pictures of him and his friends on their latest trip to Peru.  He has more exciting trips planned for this fall.

This concludes the end of the first year my granddaughter has worked as a developer at Asynchrony in St. Louis.  I’m very proud of her.  She made a bold move from Dallas, a job and a lot of friends to move to St. Louis a few years ago…where she didn’t know anyone.  She’s done very well.  Now, I can only hope she works her way west.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all my grandkids lived in the Denver/Boulder area?  I think so.

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And, my grandson Drew, and his constant companion Sarge, just climbed three more peaks in Colorado last weekend.  This picture was taken atop Redcloud.  He must be close to reaching his goal of climbing all the 14,000 footers in Co.  I’m so proud of all my grandchildren.

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If you have some spare time when you are in Salina, I’d love to have you stop by to visit and see the Palace.  It’s a good place to be.

Thanks for tuning in….

6/30/2014

CHARLATANS, CRANKS AND KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP, Koch Brothers — Peg Britton @ 7:53 am

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Op-Ed Columnist
Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas

By PAUL KRUGMAN
June 29, 2014

New York Times

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

Nor is it just liberals who have long considered supply-side economics and those promoting it to have been discredited by experience. In 1998, in the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw — very much a Republican, and later chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers — famously wrote about the damage done by “charlatans and cranks.” In particular, he highlighted the role of “a small group of economists” who “advised presidential candidate Ronald Reagan that an across-the-board cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue.” Chief among that “small group” was none other than Art Laffer.

And it’s not as if supply-siders later redeemed themselves. On the contrary, they’ve been as ludicrously wrong in recent years as they were in the 1990s. For example, five years have passed since Mr. Laffer warned Americans that “we can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years.” Just about everyone in his camp agreed. But what we got instead was low inflation and record-low interest rates.

So how did the charlatans and cranks end up dictating policy in Kansas, and to a more limited extent in other states? Follow the money.

For the Brownback tax cuts didn’t emerge out of thin air. They closely followed a blueprint laid out by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which has also supported a series of economic studies purporting to show that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will promote rapid economic growth. The studies are embarrassingly bad, and the council’s Board of Scholars — which includes both Mr. Laffer and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation — doesn’t exactly shout credibility. But it’s good enough for antigovernment work.

And what is ALEC? It’s a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as “almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America’s biggest companies.” And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

And I do mean for the wealthy. While ALEC supports big income-tax cuts, it calls for increases in the sales tax — which fall most heavily on lower-income households — and reductions in tax-based support for working households. So its agenda involves cutting taxes at the top while actually increasing taxes at the bottom, as well as cutting social services.

But how can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn’t matter.

And the Kansas debacle won’t matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won’t last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn’t about evidence; it’s about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.

6/27/2014

BROWNBACK’S EXPERIMENT WALLOOPS TAXPAYERS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP — Peg Britton @ 11:27 am

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Hays Daily News 6-22-2014
Brownback’s experiment wallops taxpayers
6/22/2014

Property taxes are on track to increase by more than $400 million statewide during Gov. Sam Brownback’s term in office.

This substantial increase, however, masks a more dramatic jump in property taxes across rural Kansas. For example, from 2010 to 2013, property taxes in rural counties increased three times faster than in the five largest urban counties. Property taxes for schools grew more than five times faster in rural counties.

Property tax increases for rural counties in this period can be summarized as follows:

* 71 counties had property tax increases of 10 percent or more.

* 45 counties had property tax increases of 15 percent or more.

* 28 counties with property tax increases of 20 percent or more.

So, what’s the story?

Two fundamental shifts are underway in state and local finance:

First, Brownback’s actions are pushing state obligations to the local level and moving the state and local tax burden from wealthy income taxpayers onto local property taxpayers.

Second, as a result of state actions, property taxpayers in rural jurisdictions across Kansas are bearing the primary burden of this shift, with tax increases dramatically higher than those in urban areas.

Brownback’s tax experiment is driving these shifts. State income tax cuts are being paid for by abandoning, cutting and restricting state obligations for education, corrections, public health, libraries, social services, mental health and community arts, among others. State lawmakers have made the local dilemma even worse by removing local revenue sources, other than the property tax.

As a result, locally elected officials, primarily school board members and county commissioners, have been forced to assess whether these community services are essential, and then to make cuts in services, or to raise property taxes to maintain services, or both. Evidence suggests local officials are maintaining these services and filling in the gaps left by state abandonment with property taxes.

Why are property tax increases falling most heavily on rural areas? For most of state history, state government has leveled the playing field in the delivery of public services between wealthier jurisdictions and poorer ones. This leveling is most obvious in school finance, as state courts have demanded equity between wealthier and poorer school districts. Whether consciously or not, Brownback and his legislative allies are turning back the clock on this state role.

Less obvious in Brownback’s actions are the shifts in the state and local tax burden from those with income wealth onto property taxpayers, for example, from higher-income residents of Johnson County onto property taxpayers in rural counties with half the income, such as Norton, Cloud and Neosho.

The political irony of Brownback’s tax experiment is the tax burden is walloping the reddest of red-state voters. Rural property taxpayers — homeowners, farmers and ranchers, oil and gas producers and leaseholders, commercial property owners and landowners, among others with property wealth — comprise the heart of the Republican electorate.

Brownback likely will assert he has nothing to do with property tax increases. He might even claim President Barack Obama did it. However, rural residents just might be seeing the tip of an iceberg. The disastrous condition of state finance, now Brownback’s legacy, will not only continue to shift the tax burden onto property taxpayers, primarily those in rural jurisdictions, but likely will accelerate the trend.

H. Edward Flentje is professor emeritus at Wichita State University.

6/23/2014

NO SERVICES AHEAD…HOW THE BROWNBACK ADMINISTRATION HAS HARMED WESTERN KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP — Peg Britton @ 1:28 pm

From Daily Kos…
Kansas: No Services Ahead. How the Brownback Administration has harmed Western Kansas

by tmservo433Follow for Kansas & Missouri Kossacks

Last week, I spent time in a lot of places in Kansas.   Emporia, Hutchinson.  Wichita.  Hays.  Russell.  Manhattan.  Council Grove.  Fort Riley.  Junction City.  The countryside in Ellis, Chase, Riley, Lyon, and so many other great counties in Kansas.   On the journey between Hays and Russell, I noticed something:  closed rest stops.

Leaving Russell, the sign came yet again:

No services ahead.   It shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  KDOT, in an attempt to reduce their budget which has been cash strapped by the Brownback administration has closed off services from these rest areas, bulldozed bathrooms, removed drinking fountains.   It’s a small thing, for sure, but it represents what is happening to our state: No Services Ahead.   It isn’t just about a rest stop, it is about what is happening to once proud communities in Western Kansas.

6/22/2014

WHY IS IT YOU ARE A REPUBLICAN?

Filed under: prairie musings, LGBT, GOP, Women's Rights — Peg Britton @ 2:04 pm

To be a conservative must be so much simpler. Who cares about science, climate change, protecting our future, educating our children, saving the planet – that’s all in God’s hands. It doesn’t matter what we think or do because it’s not within our power.

Let’s see…do I have this straight?  Republicans have gone on record as being AGAINST:

…any restrictions on conceal and carry firearms…

….any restriction on gun control and acquisition of ammunition

… separation of church and state…

…minimum wage…

…women having the right to determine their own medical needs…

…women receiving equal pay for equal work……equal opportunity for women…

…Head Start…

… helping children get enough to eat and being sheltered from the elements…

…education…

…immigration reform…

…helping students reduce their student loans…

…teaching evolution/science in schools…

…universal healthcare…

…marrying who you love…

… teacher tenure …

…science and  global warming…

…LGBT individuals having the same rights as others…

…abortion under any circumstance…

…contraceptive use…

…veterans’ care…

…voter rights…

You say you don’t agree with the stand Republicans have taken on the above, but you are still a registered Republican.  Why is that?

Thanks for tuning in…

6/21/2014

END OF THE TREK…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:48 pm

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The perfect follow-up to the Inca trail: three days of building new friendships and learning from an incredible family and community dedicating their lives to the working poor of Lima. It’s been a moving and eye-opening weekend.

STAND UP TO THE BULLIES …

Filed under: prairie musings, print news — Peg Britton @ 9:23 am

by Robert Reich

I was always very short for my age, and when I was a kid relied on a few older boys to protect me from the bullies. One of my protectors was Mickey (Michael) Schwerner. Fifty years ago today, Mickey and two others, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, were in Mississippi to register black voters when they were brutally murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan, including the sheriff of Nashoba County. When I learned that the person who had protected me from childhood bullies was murdered by the real bullies of America, I began to understand the true meaning of social injustice. A decent society does not allow those with power and privilege to bully those without. Today’s bullying comes in many forms: Not just racists preventing minorities from voting but also CEOs taking huge salaries for themselves while cutting their workers’ wages, Wall Street bankers foreclosing on homeowners who got walloped when the Street’s bubble burst, multi-millionaires refusing to pay higher taxes to finance better schools for poor kids, monopolists raising prices to squeeze their customers, executives firing workers for trying to unionize, business lobbyists paying off members of Congress to vote against a higher minimum wage, and billionaires funding their own political machines to spew lies and undermine our democracy. The best way to honor the memories of Mickey, James, and Andrew is to stand up to the bullies.

6/17/2014

ELLSWORTH STRONG INFORMATIONAL MEETING TOMORROW…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 3:58 pm

SPREAD THE WORD: Ellsworth Strong Informational Meeting
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
American Legion
645 W 15th Street
Ellsworth, KS 67439
Please post this on your pages and get the word out about the meeting tomorrow. We have invited the city council, city administrator, local media and others to attend. Hopefully we can clear up any rumors/misconceptions and begin to discuss what actions we can take to stop this from happening. Please join us!

INCA TRAIL, BRAZIL AND MEXICO WORLD CUP SOCCER 2014…ZERO ZERO..

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor, restaurants/food — Peg Britton @ 3:13 pm

Great game today between Brazil and Mexico….scoreless and about over.  I know of nothing more enthusiastic than the crowd at a World Cup Soccer match. I actually find it rather frightening…too many ramped up spectators piled on top of one another.

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Tyler is having a great time at Machu Picchu….it’s not every day he gets to feed a hungry llama.

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“Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu were amazing… But the Inca Trail took the cake. Lugging around all of our own for 4 days brought a whole new appreciation for Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.”  Tyler Britton

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” More from day one: an endless uphill climb through the jungle”…Bret Kolkebeck

The International dinner (Welsh cuisine) last night was really outstanding…we started the meal with a hearty, delicately-flavored cawl made with heavy cream and served with rolls and lots of soft butter.  That was followed by baked salmon covered with a delightful leek sauce, chicken with mustard sauce, traditional meat loaf that was reminiscent of haggis (but good and with another sauce), peas and carrots, English potatoes and three kinds of dessert  (all with special toppings and loaded with calories) and a great fruity drink.  It was delicious and a lot of fun.  I’m probably forgetting half of it due to the amount of wine that was involved.

There is a degree of uncertainty about the future of our International dinners as Joomi and Tim have been unable to hire additional help.  They are going on vacation for a couple of weeks so maybe they’ll come up with something after they have time to reflect on it. We all enjoy the evenings so much we hope they can continue.

One thing we noticed last night is that I got in and out of Headrick’s car much better than any previous time when I’ve bummed a ride with them.  It just shows that all those exercise classes have helped a lot with my strength and flexibility.  It has been a very slow recovery, but I’ve made significant progress.  I still can’t manage without a walker and may never “get there”.   I just have to keep walking and moving.

Tonight is the monthly potluck supper.  I guess you like them or you don’t.  They usually have a pretty good turnout.  I can’t really cook anything then carry it to the basement.  And going through a buffet line is difficult as I can’t carry a plate and use my walker at the same time.  Hazel always takes enough to cover me should I want to attend.  I did once, and would actually rather stay home.  I’m not hungry for one thing.  Maybe that will all change in months to come, but right now, I enjoy my evenings in my apartment.  I love my apartment and living here…doing only what I want to do.

Now to watch Russia and South Korea…

Thanks for tuning in…

6/13/2014

SHOPPING IN CUZCO…

Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF — Peg Britton @ 12:18 pm

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Tyler, picking up  treasures to take home…

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6/11/2014

PERU BOUND INCA TRAIL TREKKERS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF — Peg Britton @ 4:09 pm

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Grandson Tyler and his roommates, Chris and Bret, left today from Cincinnati for 11 wondrous days hiking the Inca trails in Peru and , oh…climbing Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountains.  That’s quite an undertaking for flatlanders.

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Arrived Plaza de Armas Cuzco - Perú, June 12, 2014

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“I’m not a hobbit. But the people here are.”

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Getting acclimatized…alpaca and guinea pig and chicken oh my!

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