|Sam Brownback's / Koch Brothers Kansas Social Experiment|
“If there is a God, and it loves every child – the poor child, the Muslim child, the child without a church – its ways never have been more mysterious, to some, than meager state education budgets signed by well-heeled Christian governors.”
In a hypothetical Venn diagram, one circle representing extremist Christians and the other fundamentalist capitalists, the lens-shaped overlap contains Sam Brownback, the newly re-elected governor of Kansas. It also includes a broad spectrum of citizens who have supported him: working-class members of the Tea Party, wealthy members of C Street, a middle-class college student who once handed me an essay on zero-sum economics while wearing a T-shirt that read: “pro-life, pro-God, pro-gun.”
Governor Brownback, in his state of the state address, said: “Kansas is the most pro-life state in America. And we are not going back.” Kansas is also $280m short on due payments for this fiscal year, following an experiment with historic tax cuts now in its fourth year. The projected shortfall for next year is nearly $650m. On this point, too, Brownback is not going back: “We will continue our march to zero income taxes.” Indeed, while his administration recently called for slowing deep tax cuts, lofty supply-side goals remain.
This ideological juxtaposition, in which subjective morality is controlled by the state and in which citizens’ objective needs are left for the market to sort out, is by now familiar to most voters. But its most poignant setting, perhaps, was the main focus of Brownback’s speech: public education.