As Healthcare Firm Flees Kansas, CEO Says Gov. Sam Brownback Should Resign in Shame

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

It is generally irrelevant what a person bases their particular worldview on so long as they keep to themselves, but it is relevant if their particular bent is founded on a failed ideology that adversely affects millions of people. That is precisely what has been happening to the citizens of Kansa with their debased Republican governor and trickle down acolyte Sam Brownback. As if there has been a dearth of bad economic news coming out of Kansas, this past week there was more bad news for the state and it is entirely down to trickle down Sam.

For a business, especially a large company, to decide to pack up operations and relocate to another state there has to be both financial incentives and, on some level, a moral imperative to uproot a growing business and the employees who make it successful. For Jeff Blackwood, the CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations, there was what he called “a motivation of conscience” that factored into the healthcare company’s flight from Kansas and he said, “It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas.”

That’s right, due to the abject dereliction of Brownback’s monumental economic debacle as a result of Republicans’ love affair with trickle down economic policy, Kansas lost a large and growing healthcare company, the desperately-needed tax revenue it generated, and the steady job growth it provided to the state wallowing in financial despair. There is a sense of irony in Blackwood’s decision to get out of Kansas simply because Brownback’s promise to Kansas residents was that by giving the rich and corporations epic tax cuts at the expense of education, social services and tax revenue, a stampede of new businesses would flock to the state to set up shop.

The idea of a growing company fleeing a catastrophically-damaged state like Kansas is not necessarily noteworthy; who in their right mind would want to stay in an obviously failing state with a tyrant like Brownback decimating it with every new economic disaster? Economic cataclysm aside, it was the Pathfinder CEO Blackwood’s stinging indictment of Brownback and his Republican cohorts’ filthy assault on the people of Kansas that should be the news story of the month; particularly during a general election campaign season.

Mr. Blackwood did what too few business owners with a conscience have done and used his voice to lash out at what he called Sam Brownback’s “destructive policies.” Blackwood slammed Brownback with a publicly released letter announcing the company’s escape from Kansas replete with a serious message to the governor and Kansas Republicans explaining why Pathfinder Health Innovations can’t get away from Kansas fast enough.

In part Blackwood wrote:

There are a lot of things that factor into this decision. For one, the company has outgrown our current space. There are no seats left, and we have new employees coming on every month. The state of Missouri is also helping us with some tax incentives, but these are minor considerations.

I can’t in good conscience continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored.

I believe that it is the responsibility of business owners and people with some voice in society should speak up against these destructive policies. And I believe it is far past the time that Sam Brownback and his cronies admit the damage they’ve caused to the people of Kansas and resign in the shame they deserve.”

Now, it is not often that a CEO slams his company’s home state, and its pathetic Republican leader(s), for giving extremely generous tax cuts that conventional wisdom dictates should be grounds for unwavering loyalty. However, it is glaringly apparent that Mr. Blackwood has a moral compass and a social conscience not often witnessed in the corporate world, especially from a CEO. It is worth taking the time to read all of Blackwood’s assault on Brownback because he diligently takes apart trickle-down economics including citing they originated from economic fool Arthur Laffer during the Reagan administration.

Blackwood noted that after giving ridiculous tax cuts to the rich and veritable tax exemption to LLCs and professional firms, Brownback shifted tax burdens onto the people who can least afford it. He particularly railed on Brownback for a heavy toll on children and the developmentally disabled, destroying a previously excellent public school system, and slashing healthcare in what he said was “a test center of ‘trickle down’ economics.” As Blackwood said, “Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations…and nowhere has there been as dramatic failure of government.”

It is unclear how long Mr. Blackwood has been following Kansas politics, but causing a failed government was, and still is, the primary goal of the conservative trickle down policy. This is according to Governor Sam Brownback himself, who pledged that his massive tax-cutting goal is to shrink government in accord with conservative’s anti-taxation agenda to a manageable size that can easily be “drowned in a bathtub.”

At least Mr. Blackwood will have extracted his company from Brownback’s Kansas disaster and hopefully his exit-announcement will serve as a valuable lesson the rest of the nation should, but will not, learn from. In fact, as Esquire writer Charles Pierce and many, many other political opinion writers have noted, “The sorry condition of Kansas under complete tea party dominance serves as a textbook, laboratory-tested example of what unchecked Republican policies lead to.”

The real tragedy of Kansas, and it is a self-imposed tragedy, is that despite Mr. Blackwood’s screed outlining the despicable actions of Governor Sam Brownback and his Republican destroyers, nothing is going to change. Brownback has been assailed by members of his own party, the Kansas Supreme Court, and several ratings agencies over his trickle down disaster. To think that one CEO announcing he was moving his growing company, more jobs and tax revenue out of Kansas because Brownback is an economic failure and social monster will have any effect on Brownback is a pipe dream. However, although Brownback will never admit he and his cronies have wrought untold damage to the people of Kansas, one can only dream that as Mr. Blackwood believes, Brownback and his cronies should “resign in the shame they deserve;” something that could only happen if Republicans like Sam Brownback had the capacity to know shame.