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SPOTLIGHT
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The cycle of an enduring economy

Published on -12/6/2012, 8:19 AM

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The elections are finished, and we now have the holiday season to occupy our time. For traditionalists, I am referring to Christmas -- it comes once a year beginning in October.

In contrast, election campaigns do not end and are now similar to a perpetual motion machine. Regardless, it appears the community has received the first gift of the season with the Hays Medical Center announcing an expansion for a new cancer treatment facility. In the near future, residents of western Kansas will have access to advanced treatment for cancer in Hays. This will complement other expansions completed in recent years by Hays Medical Center. It will save countless hours of driving for those in the west that travel to Wichita or back east to receive medical treatment of cancer, heart disease and ailments previously not addressed by our medical facilities.

Now, one can ask where the money comes from for a medical center expansion, a new retirement facility, a new athletic training facility or any improvement in the community. There is not one source and often a collaboration among entities invested in the outcome are required. Hays Medical Center solicits funds through a charitable foundation. Via Christi recruited the city of Hays to issue bonds for expansion. Fort Hays State University relies on a combination of grants and donations to make improvements. Many small towns utilize community development block grants and fundraising to improve infrastructure in their community. The actions of government, charitable foundations and private citizens to improve their community are a model for success.

It is not one-sided, and it benefits most people. There will be those who cannot see the forest through the trees and call it waste.

Investment in the future is not a bad thing. It attracts commerce, creates jobs, increases tax revenue and benefits the community. There is a simple rule I trust: If it is not growing, it is dying. This rule applies to plants, livestock, oil well production, business sales and communities. The question to be discussed should be a topic of how it can be done and not a debate of should it be done.

The money that is spent by government, charitable foundations and private citizens to achieve growth does not disappear into a black hole to never be seen again. It is circulated into the local economy and creates a return on investment for the community.

For example, a small hospital receives Medicare payments for patients, it hires staff, and the employees buy goods and services in the community. A nursing home receives Medicaid payments for residents and repeats the cycle. When new construction occurs, the contractors again participate in the cycle. Additionally, the employees from these endeavors pay taxes and now the cycle is complete. This is how you build an enduring economy. This cycle is a foundation that is proven to offer long-term stability for all participating parties. In contrast, money invested by billionaires in an offshore account disappears, seen only by those with privileged access.

So, Uncle Scrooge has arrived in time to warn us of great peril if we raise taxes on the wealthy. Tim Huelskamp is again banging his drum to reduce spending and not raise taxes for the privileged. He is like a pinch runner for a baseball team put on third base and believes he hit a triple.

Huelskamp was unopposed in the last election -- not because of his views but rather his $1 million campaign war chest -- a nice example of how an investment by billionaires affects a community.

Huelskamp's views are so radical he was released from his agriculture committee position by Speaker of the House John Boehner. While per-capita income in Kansas has declined since 2002 and wages for the middle class have not increased compared to inflation for 30 years, Rep. Huelskamp is out defending millionaires and billionaires. He uses code language of federal deficit, spending and job creators. The translation is the 2 percent have made a lot of money with the tax code, and they want to keep it. Instead, he advocates reducing Medicare and Medicaid budgets. His fellow tea drinkers ask for eliminating tax deductions rather than raise taxes on the wealthy.

Huelskamp advocates for the same old cycle of trickle down that places the middle class in the position of working for the rich and supporting the poor. I ask: How will charitable foundations raise money? How will nursing homes pay employees? How will a hospital hire medical specialist to provide cancer treatment in our community? The answer is, they will not and money that could be in the local economy is gone, vanishing into an account managed by a millionaire.

Merry Christmas everyone. If all our taxes go up Jan. 1, 2013, be sure to thank Mr. Huelskamp.

Glenn Michael Cox, Hays, was raised on farm in north-central Kansas. He is a graduate of Fort Hays State University and works as a manager of supervised services for a local private nonprofit agency.

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