15.11.04

YOU CAN SEE A LOT JUST BY LOOKING. Thomas Frank, author of What's The Matter with Kansas? (details or compare prices) apparently has not.

The object of Franks's particular scorn, his home of Shawnee and the rest of Johnson County, seem to have done especially well. For three years during the last expansion, the Shawnee area's unemployment rate actually dipped below 3 percent, for one of the tightest labor markets you'll find anywhere. And when the recession set in, Shawnee's unemployment rate still stayed below the U.S. average.

And though Franks describes the place as practically empty and destitute, Shawnee's population was up by 27 percent in the last Census. Just 3.3 percent of its citizens live below the poverty level, vs. about 12.5 percent nationally. "It's possible his view of us is outdated," says Jim Martin, executive director of the Shawnee Economic Development Council, in a classic bit of Midwestern understatement.

In any case, Franks' main thesis — that people struggling economically should vote as liberals — is questionable. As a Wichita Eagle editorial put it: "There's nothing wrong with many Kansans wanting to hold onto a little more of their paychecks . . . or preferring that when they need help it comes from their family, their church, their community — not an intrusive federal government."

(Hat tip: Presto Pundit.)

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