Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Statistically, you have a better chance of being hit by lightning wearing a green hat while singing the National Anthem and watching an Andy Griffith Show rerun than of dying of the coronavirus. But why let facts get in the way of history's best made mainstream media panic ever?

Crude oil prices plummeting; stock markets collapsing; cruise ships that can't dock at port; European soccer matches held behind locked doors with no audiences. I'm reminded of Bill Murray's famous line from Ghostbusters: “Human sacrifice – dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria!”

Despite the fact a couple of thousand poor souls have lost their fight with coronavirus so far compared to an estimated 600,000 who die worldwide from the flu every year, the American mass media has staked a frenzied claim in the coronavirus realm that surpasses even its obsession with mass shootings and hurricanes. But not tornadoes, because they happen mostly in the Midwest – New York and Los Angeles media aren't exactly sure where the Midwest is.

Though he'll never get credit for it, President Trump had the only logical comments on the “crisis” to have been uttered so far: It's like the flu, it'll pass, he told us. But he was immediately inundated by the tsunami of media crazy over the virus to the point he had to spend some federal money on coronavirus just to keep mobs from burning the White House.

Bare facts of the virus' insignificance aside, the impact of the surrounding panic is very real. Even though business, industry and employment in the U.S. and for the most part abroad are booming, trillions of dollars in value has been lost, hopefully temporarily, by retiree pensions, 401ks, kids' 529 college plans and other investment vehicles due to nothing but conjecture and flame-fanning. And all of it surrounding a sickness whose only real notoriety came from being listed on your bottle of Lysol as one of many bugs killed by the disinfectant. Coronavirus isn't even a player it the scheme of likely ways to die – it's the Beto O'Rourke of the virus world.

The chain reaction has become blatantly apparent. Organizations planning public events are now terrified of liability. They've been amply warned about this "plague," so if they go ahead with their event and one of the tens of thousands of people attending becomes ill, the organization is automatically subject to lawsuits and cash settlements for putting the public at risk. When media hears about the cancellation of an event and screams it as the latest "update," the public and those organizations become even more hysterical and take more restrictive actions, which the media feeds upon again.

And it doesn't take too thick a tinfoil hat to imagine that politics in the U.S. is at least partly to blame for the panic. Think about it – the media needed something to give the Democratic presidential candidates some traction in their forever quest for Trump's crucifixion. There's trouble on that front, because the party of diversity is winnowing down to a nomination contest between two crazy old white guys. A scourging disease of Biblical proportions is a great illustration that only a big, centralized government with “Medicare for all” can save us. And by the way, the whole thing is Trump's fault.

No assessment of the media and the public's propensity toward national panic is complete without mentioning the 1938 broadcast of CBS Radio's “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. You remember the story – dial spinning listeners tuned into Welle's production on Mercury Theatre after the introduction, and became convinced that New Jersey had really been invaded by Martians. This was long before Senator Cory Booker provided proof. Even so, the grass fire example of media sensationalism still leads to a couple of important takeaways.

First, while social media is often credited with devaluing organized news operations, the reality is the rampant connectivity of billions of Facebook and Twitter accounts still depends on traditionally gathered media content and news makers – Meghan Markle excluded – to have something to talk about. Of course, like gasoline, it greatly lends to the grass fire analogy.

Second, the aroma of blood in the water is still intoxicating not only for the public but also for the media which feed that need in order to make careers, ratings and money. It isn't right and it isn't new, and it doesn't overshadow the tons of positive things the media does outside of over-exploring delectable, delicious tragedy. A free press is still a wonderful thing – even with a wart on its nose.


Eventually, the lack of substance from this panic will bore the media into finding a new hot ticket of the moment. Recovery is imminent. Like the microscopic germs that saved us in Welles' broadcast, it will be the media's own short attention span that will save us from coronavirus.

–Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Farming the taxpayers: The wind industry's cash cow

If the federal government offered billions of dollars in tax credits and other incentives to promote the stacking of Oreo cookies all the way up to the International Space Station, rich companies would line up to gobble the goodies –  and taxpayers would have to supply the milk.

And that 254-mile high column of cookies would be just about as practical as the billions pumped into the U.S. wind industry.

After all, the same type of fruitless dynamic has monetized corporate wind, which continues its race to force the 30,000 acre on-again, off-again industrial power plants down the throats of property owners and rural residents in Kansas and elsewhere in the country. The delicious addiction of tax incentives and outright subsidies has seen Big Wind grow fat without the pestering of logical accountability. Wind incentives indeed have been a cash cow so humongous only the federal government's barn can hold it.

That cow's been growing. Wind power has certainly expanded in "sometimes" capacity in recent years as the divisive developments have invaded rural communities, offering pittance lease payments to poor farmers and landowners suffering in ag economies beset by low commodity prices. But that growth's not been driven by market demand, since the market knows the only good electricity is electricity that always works. It's been driven instead by billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

The scheme is perhaps best illustrated with one question asked by each community in Kansas fighting the invasion of a taxpayer-funded wind development: Why are there no wind farms in Johnson County?

Most Americans are in the dark as to the detailed mechanics which have been used to fund the development of faulty wind power and the raw, massive bill they're footing in the form of those incentives. That scheme is designed to support an energy industry that can't and will never support itself with its own production in the market for electricity. It's a complicated array of local, state and federal subsidies, federal loans and loan guarantees which has topped $176 billion since 2000 – and most of the federal grants have been awarded since 2007.

There's no question of the chicken or the egg here. Without those subsidies and the generosity of the American taxpayer in opening his wallet for outright cash and his pledge to pay the income taxes for huge companies which escape them through production tax credits, there would be no wind industry in the United States. People in rural communities would still all be speaking to each other instead of being at odds over the giant turbines, and beautiful rural vistas across our country would still be intact instead of resembling science fiction movies.

General Electric, NextEra Energy, Berkshire-Hathaway and others – these massively wealthy companies have been the real winners in the fakery that has always defined the wind industry. The scam is clear – the environment hasn't benefited a whit with the spread of these monstrosities across our pristine rural landscapes, since stable electricity still has to be generated by conventional means to power your household when the wind doesn't blow. The only winners have been the already fabulously rich companies – both domestic and foreign – who've feathered their nests with taxpayer money and kept a willing U.S. Congress on their side.

Case in point, the Production Tax Credit – the gold mine of the wind industry that forgives taxes based on the sporadic output of the turbines – was set to expire with the coming of 2020. Its initial authors thought the industry should be self sufficient by now and ratcheted down the candy for the industry over the past several years with the intent of closing the incentive out by 2020. But at the last minute, in the glob of a temporary federal spending bill that took the place of an actual budget in December 2019, a Democrat-led congress approved the massive spending bill which conveniently rolled in a one-year extension of the tax credit for wind farms. Hence, the scourge of wind farm developers versus rural communities continues.

Famed rich guy Warren Buffet of Berkshire-Hathaway said it best in 2014 when explaining why his companies were in the wind business: "We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms," Buffet said. "That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."
For the rest of us the logic speaks for itself, but still we continue to pay the cookie stackers.

-Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Allen County, Kansas, learns a wind farm lesson


OPINION.... Contractors and landowners who hired on for the construction of wind turbines in the Prairie Queen turbine generation field in Allen County have gotten their first lesson in the economic morals of wind farms.
That lesson is this: If they don’t want to pay you what they owe, they just don’t.
That’s reflected in a whole slew of liens filed against the properties of landowners there who leased turbine sites to EDP Renewables for the skyline obliterating construction project. And as everyone eventually learns about the national financial scam which is the wind industry in the U.S., the deal is only a deal when it benefits Big Wind.
The recent encumbrance of landowners’ properties because companies haven’t honored their word to hired contractors is an unfortunate common denominator connecting numerous wind turbine field developments across the country. We saw liens filed a few years ago with the turbine field nearby in Waverly in Coffey County; projects in New Hampshire, in New York, Oklahoma, Illinois, North Dakota and Indiana and others have seen liens filed against participating landowner properties.
The other common denominator is the savvy way wind companies slip the noose when they cause havoc in accounts receivable and let the chips fall on landowners who have no interest in the project other than hoping to collect lease payments. Anyone who’s ever actually read one of the leases flashed in front of landowners, along with that nice signing bonus, isn’t surprised. The mainstay of what should be company responsibility is specified in the very language of those leases to fall squarely on the heads of the landowners signing up with them.
The leases typically require landowners to pay any litigation costs involving their sited, 500-600 foot tall monoliths. They give up majority control over much of their land through site plans and easements, which the companies use to stack equipment and parts. Worse yet, gag clauses in those leases prevent disgruntled landowners from ever uttering a peep against their new benefactors, lest they lose their lease payments and get sued for breach of contract. In fact, a recent news story on the Allen County property liens by The Iola Register quotes a sole landowner who “asked not to be identified,” but swore he still supported the Prairie Queen project. That’s a magnanimous perspective from someone who now can’t sell his own land until a debt against it is paid to someone else.
Unfortunately Governor Laura Kelly’s rural interest dog and pony show of 2019 never offered any blanket state protections for communities and landowners beset by these unneeded, tax-credit fueled landscape destroyers. So, the landowners whose view of their beautiful Kansas vista was blinded by dollar signs are left to fend for themselves. ###
– Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kansas.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Kansas Medicaid Expansion: Read the fine print

You don’t have to go around the block too many times to figure out when some company says it’s announcing a “rate adjustment” that you – the customer – are going to be paying more. It may be buried in the fine print, but it’s there.
The same goes for a term Governor Laura Kelly and some Republicans In Name Only (RINOs) in the Kansas Legislature are hoping you’ll warm up to next year called “Medicaid Expansion.” They’re going to be selling it to you and to your state senators and representatives really hard come the new session of the legislature in January, and hoping you don’t read the fine print.
If you’ve read up on the “expansion” you probably already have it pegged. If you’re in favor of it, you’re probably also in favor of Bernie Sanders’ free college for everyone and free health care for illegal immigrants and all kinds of other free stuff that “somebody else” will pay for.
If you’re against it, you probably think adding 130,000 able-bodied people who presently make too much money to qualify to the list of people who get free health benefits seems unwarranted, and you’ve probably figured out the $50 million it’s going to cost the state in the first year is going to come at least to some extent out of your pocket.
What you probably have not seen in that small print is a reminder of what Governor Kelly has already taken from you if you’re a worker or a small business person, or if you own a corporation that pays taxes in Kansas.
For starters, Governor Kelly decided she and state government were entitled to a nice tax refund you were supposed to get when President Trump cut your federal income tax in 2018. That means $190 million of our hard-earned dollars should have been refunded to us from the state which we could have used to buy a car or remodel our kitchen or pay tuition or go to McDonalds. But, Governor Kelly opted to keep it.
Then Kelly approved a 9 percent hike in state spending for 2019, and vetoed a bill that would have reduced our taxes even though the state is churning in millions of dollars in revenues above budget estimates – courtesy of the largest tax increase in state history legislators approved in 2017. Then to lower the heat from the Kansas Supreme Court, Kelly and legislators increased school spending $500 million in 2018 and added another $90 million in icing for the educational cake last spring.
So if you’re concerned about another $50 million in state spending to add able-bodied people to Medicaid, who can blame you?
Another issue in the small print of Medicaid Expansion is for the deserving people already on it. Will the new money from the federal government and that $50 million from Kansas be enough to cover 130,000 new people as well as those who already qualify? Other states that expanded Medicaid found an extra 50 to 100 percent more new enrollees than their initial estimates. That means Kansas could be adding 260,000 to 300,000 new recipients at a cost of a billion dollars per year, and $100 million in extra cost to Kansas tax payers.     
Maybe “someone else” will pay those costs so we can have it all for free? Then again, maybe not.
Kelly and those legislators need to focus on job growth and strengthening the state’s economy so Kansas workers can provide for themselves and their families, instead of adding new people to the public dole. Kansans have paid enough extra tax bills lately. That’s a message no fine print can hide.


– Dane Hicks is the publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Feminists abandon women athletes to back transgender trophy thieves



Forget burning your bras, marching for equal pay and smashing the glass ceiling – the next feminist revolution will be defined in the fight over boys identifying as girls stealing awards and accolades from women in sports.


It’s going to fracture the modern feminist movement and can be wrapped up in one declaration: it has to be Trump’s fault.

This time it’s an implosion that would confound even someone who identifies as Gloria Steinem. In the debate over transgenders and athletics, traditional feminism is going to have choose between women, whom it has tried for decades to convince they should rise up and take what they’re due from us “Y” chromosome Neanderthals, and the Neanderthals themselves who have decided they’re entitled to women’s sports championships because they identify as girls.

So far in that argument, feminism is siding with the boys. Well, sort of...

The issue revolves around high school and college female athletes who’ve worked for years to acquire their best athletic marks, primarily in track and field, worthy of scholarship hopes and collegiate championships – only to be bested by the recent introduction of male athletes into their sports who identify as females and are allowed to compete against women according to laws in 19 states. The result has been, as one can imagine, lopsided.

In a Connecticut case, two males now hold 15 women’s high school state track championship titles that were once held by girls. Some girls have been bumped out of regional finishes that would have sent them on their way to compete for state titles and the attention from collegiate scouts which comes with that.

In some cases college scholarships are at stake. In that sense, competition from biological males competing against them may in some instances be stopping women from getting an education. But women’s rights groups and the ACLU in Connecticut and elsewhere have sided with the boys, calling the girls’ concerns “unfounded fears” in one response in The Nutmeg State.

The inarguable unfairness of the issue transcends the fickleness of modern social justice warriors who've so nobly embraced LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual) communities because, in the world of science, facts know no social objective. Apples are always apples, oranges are always oranges, and only vaginas are vaginas.

Consider a 1993 study by the National Institutes of Health on strength and muscle characteristic comparisons between men and women. Research showed women on average possessed only 52 percent of men’s upper body strength, and only 66 percent of a man’s strength in the lower body. The difference was generally due to men having larger muscle fibers and higher proportion of lean tissue in the upper body. This is historically why men, in general, look like men and women, in general, look like women – a definition which used to actually matter in determining which was which.

Simply put, even men who’ve had their genitals removed and undergone hormone therapy to sound and appear more female can’t rewrite the programming in their muscle tissue, the density of their bones and the better leverage allowed by longer bones and better muscle connections. Hence, the world pole vault record for women is just over 16 feet; the record for men just over 20 feet – at least for now.

But the issue confronting the girls in the Connecticut lawsuit and in the other 18 states that allow this ludicrousy has to do more with political correctness on steroids than physical performances.

Those women who have earned their stripes and their right to compete through physical and mental work most of us can't even fathom have been abandoned by modern feminists who now pursue progressive society’s higher social justice goals: the canonizing and mainstreaming of sexual oddity.

 In this bizarro reality, everybody gets a trophy except the girls who’ve earned them. Those girls may eventually choose to throw their support behind people and organizations that have their interests more at heart. ###
–Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Looking for video editor & advertising sales person

Video Editor – Garnett Publishing, Inc., is in search of a digital video nerd who can edit raw footage and collaborate on projects within our newly launched video production department. You'll make suggestions and render technical assistance on short advertising videos for our clients destined for their social media, websites, etc. Pay is on project (contract) basis. You don't need to have worked in this field before, but you do need to know your way around video editing. Send letter of introduction outlining your interest and experience to publisher Dane Hicks at dhicks@garnett-ks.com.

Advertising/Media Sales – Garnett Publishing, Inc., publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett and The Trading Post in Lawrence, is looking for a part-time (20-30 hrs/week) salesperson to work with clients in their purchases of advertising, video, social media and other media products we offer. Flexible morning & afternoon hours, paid vacations and holidays. Good hourly wage plus bonuses on special projects. All training provided. Applicants should have polished, professional demeanor and computer/smartphone functionality. To apply or for more information send resume and short intro letter to publisher Dane Hicks at dhicks@garnett-ks.com


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Secret hearings? Where's the press?

From all the crowing journalists do about busting the occasional secret meetings of their school boards, city zoning organizations or county commissions, you’d think they’d be going full-on Watergate-Iran/Contra-Colonel Sanders’- secret-recipe-hair-on-fire about the closed-door impeachment hearings being held by Democrats in the U.S. Congress.
But oddly, not a peep. 
There’s been a v-e-r-y rare  silence from Jim Acosta; Wolf Blitzer must be tied up watching re-runs of the first night of the bombing of Baghdad in the first Gulf War; George Stephanopoulos is apparently busy buying himself another vowel.
No, us righteous wranglers of the Fourth Estate, otherwise so bent on going to extremes to protect the people’s right to know, are standing mute these past weeks about the historic abuse of power by Democrats who control the U.S. Congress. Even among a national press corps so demonstrably biased as the American mainstream media has been since the election of President Donald Trump, one would think the conduct of secret hearings to impeach a sitting U.S. president would raise just a thimble full of anxiety from journalists typically so aghast at governmental secrecy.
After all, these Star Chamber-style hearings of subpoenaed witnesses, conducted by Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee specifically so they can be done in secret (the HIC typically hears information on issues of national security), provide perfect fodder for accusations of abuse of power. Before Donald Trump became president, that used to be one of conventional journalism’s favorite and most justified targets.
         In the grand old days of impeachment hearings aimed at Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, a vote in the House declared the body’s intent to formally launch an impeachment effort and those proceedings were held publicly in the House Judiciary Committee. House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in an unprecedented move that there will be no House vote, providing cover to Democrat congressmen concerned about their prospects for re-election in 2020, so they can remain off the radar of constituents. The move toward secrecy and away from public scrutiny also further silences House Republicans who would be allowed to debate the issues in public. Because Pelosi and Democrats control the House, Republicans aren’t even allowed to subpoena witnesses in the secret hearings.
         Imagine for a minute if the investigation into the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., had been conducted by a secret panel. What if members of congress closed the door on testimony by Big Tobacco executives back in the 1990s, or on Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings? Would the American press corps have mustered up an editorial opinion if those proceedings had been covered up and kept from public view?
         No matter your opinion of Donald Trump, when a handful of congressmen have the power to attempt to threaten a legally elected president with impeachment and keep the record, testimony and witnesses secret from the American public – that ought to scare the hell out of you….unless you’re Joseph Stalin.
         But then again all the floodlights from the past three years have been shining this direction since Trump’s election win in November 2016. Democrats swore to impeach him before he even took office and have made numerous attempts with the help of a complicit mainstream media – Stormy Daniels, The Russians, Comey-gate, Mueller-gate, The Wall, Travel Ban just to name a few. Each week brings a new attack, and the mainstream press has never tired of its role as ally and collaborator, regardless of the number of failed attempts made.
         Perhaps there’s an opinion to be rendered about a party bent on nothing short of a coup of a sitting, legally-elected American president? It’s another perspective the American press is entitled to ignore, and there’s no secret about that.
-Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kan.