Archives for category: Government

My local state representative, Andy, shared an article by John, a former teacher turned legislator (by statute, not choice, a statute I’m not sure I support). Andy and John are in the minority party in Oklahoma. I seldom agree with the minority party, but I find myself supporting them almost as often as the majority party. I’m registered independent. I can’t even aline with the Libertarian Party. I think I’m about as Libertarian as anyone might be, but I can’t get into the Party aspects of it and some of the policies.

Anyway, in the article that John wrote, he said, “As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.”

I absolutely oppose such a course of action. It is abuse of power. It is abuse of children. Teaching is not a political act, at least not by honest people who only care about children learning and gaining mastery of tools to meet the challenges of life.

I replied with several comments on Andy’s Facebook page. I’m listing some.

Andy, it truly saddens me that you and Mr. Waldron advocate politicizing our government run classrooms. He decries partisan politics but advocates for indoctrinating our children in the policies of the Democratic Party. How do either of you justify that?

Andy promptly replied that he does not advocate that, but he didn’t explain why he shared the article. Perhaps I’ll ask specifically.

I also commented:

“As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.” There are no public resources. The only money government has was taken under threat of force from supposedly free individuals who earned their wages by the honest sweat of their own brows.

Why are my policies bad and yours good?

John replied:

I really don’t know where to begin. You apparently believe there should be no taxes for schools, or I suppose roads, national security or public health. I don’t think we can bridge that gap over facebook. Perhaps you would like to meet face to face? I promise to read up on Bastiat to prepare for our discussion.

His reference to Bastiat might stem from the fact I’ve posted a few items about Bastiat recently, and I invited Andy and my local senator, Rob, to comment. So, a couple of my Facebook shares about Bastiat showed on Andy’s page just below Andy’s shared article.

I replied to John that he assumes too much.

I appreciate Andy’s comment:

I absolutely do *not* advocate for politicizing classrooms. Teachers should teach students how to think for themselves — not *what* to think.

Not all parents are like you. There are tens of thousands of kids in this state who don’t even live with their parents. They are institutionalized, shuffled in foster care, living with distant relatives, etc. 

What of them?

To which I replied:

Them, I won’t forget. I do not advocate for no government school, just no government coercion. I want less government because I see the net result of more government as causing more harm than good. Less government might find us a sweet spot where we seldom complain of it, or the other political party. Less is often more.

I don’t believe government schools will be driven out by school choice. I don’t like vouchers, and Epic is a rotten taste in my mouth at the moment. I’ve never supported the schemes and plans for choice. The plans all seem to have too many flaws. Government money invariably leads to waste, fraud, and abuse, and giving government money to private parties has the most likelihood of graft and selfish ambition ensuring waste, fraud, and abuse, and good intentions too often have bad side effects.

End truancy laws, and let parents be in charge of their own children with full responsibility. Most parents will step up. It is government as fallback that is the root of most of the deficiencies that lead to so many parents being in tough circumstances. It isn’t a perfect world. Life really is suffering, and government cannot fix that. Democratic Party policies cannot fix it. GOP policies cannot fix it. Advocacy groups of whatever stripe cannot fix it. Only personal responsibility can fix it. Be the change you want to see in the world. DON’T write a law pretending the State can fix it. Don’t assume sending the guys with guns will set all to rights.

How long will we keep screaming that more money will fix the schools or the police? It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It isn’t a matter of policy. It is a matter of misplaced responsibility and accountability. The State is not accountable. The State cannot be held accountable. The State can only be limited. When the power of the State is too limited for power-seekers to abuse it, government will stop being abusive. Then out-of-balance party politics won’t be so corrupting. Government is the problem, not balance. We have to have some authority, but we have gone much too far, especially in government enforcement of schooling.

If government schooling is so good, why can’t it be given the chance to fend for itself? I believe enough people will demand it for it to continue. I think there is ample justification for our current system until we have something clearly better. (I don’t see anything clearly better taking over in our lifetimes.) I don’t want rid of government-funded public schools. I want rid of coercive laws that make mothers feel powerless to fight for their children. I want Momma to be able to stand up for her child for herself, not dependent upon support from government and teachers’ unions.

Do you not understand that parents with children who have problems in the schools feel powerless? It is not because of lack of programs. It is because the parents have no alternatives. That is the fault of truancy laws and current government policies, policies mostly advocated by both major parties. (I again emphasize it is NOT a party problem.)

Literacy rates [in North America] were highest before government schools and truancy laws. Government schools have not helped. How many copies of Common Sense sold? How many were pirated and copied by anyone with the wherewithal? It seems to me too many had (and have) motive to exaggerate the numbers, but the pamphlet was not light reading, and it was widely read, and widely read aloud. There is no doubt the written word and civic responsibility were strong in our land long before any of our modern conventions. “Knowledge is power.” What parent doesn’t know that? What parent conscientiously deprives offspring of any and all tools that might equip them for the trials of life?

The point isn’t schooling. The point isn’t even education. The point is learning and mastering tools for living meaningful lives. The goal of every parent is helping children achieve their potential, or at least to do better. Each generation wants the next generation to do better. Our government-enforced schools are thwarting that now. Our government at all levels works at cross purposes to all that free citizens try to accomplish, and it applies to citizens of all ages.

We err when we consider children as less than citizens. Every individual at every stage of life is self-sovereign. We are all partners. Yes, children are childish, and we parents have extra responsibilities, but it is a partnership. It is not a dictatorship where the parent rules. It is a gradual turning over of responsibility to the child at each stage of maturity.

Obviously, I’ve grown too verbose. I hope there is something in this that gives you a bit of insight into my perspective.

I support school choice, but I haven’t found any programs or laws for choice that I can back. Such programs still depend on government authority and threat of force no matter how it is set up. I want freedom of choice, not programs for choice. Children learn if we let them. A gentle guiding hand can accomplish wonders in a child’s own learning.

Constitutionally outlaw truancy laws.

I added:

The key challenge to choice is leaving the choice to the individual. When an authority dictates, or simply endorses, the authority is responsible. No bureaucrat can satisfactorily be held accountable under all but the most extreme situations of criminality. We have the wherewithal now in our digital age to hold everyone individually accountable by reputation. The systems are immature and flawed, but I doubt most individual-based review systems are more error-prone than our bureaucracies.

Leave choices to the individuals. Don’t rule by law. Law is power. Power corrupts. There are no exceptions. Knowledge is the only power I’m eager to leave unfettered.

Andy and John haven’t had time to reply more.

John’s article listed significant credentials for him. I suggest John Taylor Gatto had more credentials and a more fascinating story.

https://www.johntaylorgatto.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

https://fee.org/articles/john-taylor-gatto-1935-2018-remembering-americas-most-courageous-teacher/

https://www.naturalchild.org/articles/guest/john_gatto.html

For those who hold to authoritarian views and formal organization and lesson planning by “experts” I suggest looking into the work of Sugata Mitra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugata_Mitra

http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/

His TED talks are easy to find, and here is a recent article:

https://universe.byu.edu/2019/03/26/physicist-encourages-change-in-the-use-of-technology-in-education/

Personally, I advocate for homeschooling without rigid standards. Reading aloud to a child from the earliest age, and routinely, is the most effective thing we can do for children. There really aren’t any hard and fast rules for what a person needs to know now. We need to know how to read, but living the example as adults is far better than a schoolroom. There isn’t much else we need to know to get along in the world because of the ease of use of technology.

Decry tech and screens all you want, but that is our world now. We are not going back. I have access to anything I want to study, anything. A screen and internet access extends my reach to anything I might need. Children will learn all they need if we just guide a little and let them learn. They will learn to love the classics because that is why they are classics, because we love them. The same goes for anything they need. They will want it, and if we don’t hinder them, they will learn it. They will master the tools they need to reach their potential and to be assets to partners, families, communities, and society at large.

For further reading, go to FEE.org , and I especially recommend Kerry McDonald, https://fee.org/people/kerry-mcdonald/

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In case you didn’t know, here is a good explanation of why the pharmaceutical companies aren’t the cause of drug problems and are the cause of the runaway costs and prices. You should know the problem is our government. Yes, the unelected officials are the direct cause, the ones we might consider holding accountable, but we can’t. The only possibility we have of holding anyone accountable is our elected officials, including attornies general. We elected them, and we haven’t done squat since. We let our legislators create unaccountable power structures that can’t help but become corrupt and spread their corruption.

Why are we letting Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter grandstand so? What we are doing is funding his run for Governor (or Senator).

The trial is harmful, and no good will come of any of it.

Finally, insulin is expensive because your lawmakers thought that is what you wanted. More regulation, more “safety”, more third-party meddling. Like it or not, it is what you made them believe you wanted.

Source: A Government Guide to Keeping Insulin Unaffordable – Foundation for Economic Education

It was reported that our current Congressional clown is advocating for pay raises for herself and fellow congress-critters. The assertion is it would reduce the tendency to corruption and bribes. Of course, the obvious reason is she wants more money for herself.

Regardless of her motive, the assertion that increasing the salaries of public officials will counter corruption is like saying Lori Loughlin wouldn’t have committed fraud and bribed officials if she’d been a little more rich and famous. (I mean, her 19-yo daughter’s net worth is only estimated at $400k; it’s not like she’s a millionaire or anything. /sarc)

Power corrupts. Money can sometimes provide power, especially for those who are already powerful.

It struck me that the author of the article I happened upon uncritically claimed “studies show” higher salaries reduce corruption. The notion is absurd on its face. We all have firsthand experience of money worsening bad people. Corruption is innate. Empowering further cannot have results that are good.

Here is the result of a moment of research: http://cega.berkeley.edu/assets/miscellaneous_files/118_-_Opoku-Agyemang_Ghana_Police_Corruption_paper_revised_v3.pdf

It concludes increase the salaries of the police increased their level of graft. Power corrupts.

Given my revulsion by the idea, I trust you will forgive that my research was limited. I googled “raising politicians salary reduces corruption” and found only negatives. Higher salaries do not reduce corruption.

I live in Oklahoma House District 94.

Our district is fully within Oklahoma County, and Del City is one-third, with Oklahoma City encompassing the remainder. Most of us consider ourselves Mid-Del, I suppose, though folks south of I-240 might think of themselves more as a part of Moore.

Anyway, there are about 37,000 of us in the district in general. That, of course, includes children and others not eligible to vote, but 19,238 of us were registered as of 01 November 2018 (for the general midterm election). Thus, 52% of residents (whom the Congresscritter is to represent), can vote.

I’m guessing, since my half-hearted effort to look it up revealed nothing; if there are 10,000 residents under 18, then our registered percentage is roughly 72%. Seems decent, but I’m not looking up anything to make a comparison.

8,634 D; 6,707 R; 108 L; 3,789 I (registered voters in our district)
44.88%; 34.86%; 0.56%; 19.70% (percentage of registered voters)

It is sad that so many want to identify with the overtly self-serving major parties. It is sad that so few are willing to identify with the party that stands for the liberty of the people and restrictions on the government. It is not surprising many Okies identify as independent. Most of us are, but politics is politics. Tribalism is instinctive, but we rational and educated adults should be able to do better.

ABSENTEE MAIL EARLY VOTING ELECTION DAY TOTAL
JASON SANSONE (REP) 279 118 3458 3855 39.61%
ANDY FUGATE (DEM) 488 317 5072 5877 60.39%
Total 767 435 8530 9732

The table above is cut-paste from the State Election Board’s official results. Roughly 43% of the district registered voters he represents voted for Andy. Less than a third (31%) of all residents he represents voted for him. I suspect most of the Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents, and some minority of Democrats feel unrepresented (at least at the gut level). That is our system. I do hope it helps Andy keep perspective and a sense of humility.

I’ve friended Andy on Facebook. I have higher hopes for him than our prior representative. We shall see. Still, I honestly suspect that even if Andy treats nearly all his representees with respect and reasonable attention, he is still going to be voicing positions that most of us do not agree with, at least on most subjects. (The situation is similar or reversed in most districts.) Again, that is our system.

How does this situation qualify as a representative democracy?

Our system is broken. It isn’t working. Leaving our system as-is proves we are lobotomized sheep, willing to be fleeced by the political bosses.

By the way, I’d register Libertarian, but I just can’t accept the party system in general. I cannot condone the party system by registering in one of the parties. Thus, I have my registration as an independent.

That causes restrictions for votes. The party system restricts voters in primaries and other “party” elections. Not being an active member in good standing of one of the parties results in one being shut out from most of the political process. Again, a broken part of our system. It is broken and unjustifiable. It needs to be fixed.

The parties get to set their own voting rules for the “party” elections, and they change often. Generally, they won’t let voters registered with a different party to vote on their ballot, but sometimes they allow those registered as independents.

Ideally, our representatives study the legislative issues that arise in the legislature, and, hopefully, they consider our suggestions, weigh alternatives and arguments for and against, and they raise these issues in the legislature for us. Ideally, they spend most of their time improving existing laws, repealing bad laws, and improving the liberty of the citizenry while reining in and restricting the long arm of the law to infringe on the liberty of the citizenry.

Party politics and rules encumber the process and restrict our representatives, especially when in the minority party, but the idea is they take our input, add in all they can learn, and make the best decision they are capable of. If Andy does that, I’ll be satisfied. I’ll feel I’m represented.

Party politics stand in the way, especially for aspiring pols. Scott Inman is a good example. I supported his opponent each of the seven elections he ran for. (Eight if you count his abortive run for OK Governor.) Despite opposing him, I found him to be a great guy, and I liked him. There was even an off-year when I got so annoyed at the OKGOP that I told Scott I was going to support him. Apparently, I had bad timing. That is when Scott stopped listening to me. He became a grandstander, continuously beating the drum for the Democratic Party, continuously denigrating, deriding, and accusing all who weren’t in line with his stances (which seemed fully aligned with DNC policy). Scott went so far as to unfriend me, and block me, on Facebook, deleting many of my comments on his page. (I am (and was) a legal and voting resident of his district. I had known him (as a politician) since 2003, actively (generally cordially) engaging him often.)

It didn’t take me long to realize Scott was first a politician. It truly disappointed me as he more and more routinely threw his constituents under the bus in order to advance his standing in Democratic Party politics. He had his sights set on the highest ranks of Democratic politics and office. His whole strategy of campaigning his last four years in office (and make no mistake, it was a 24/7 campaign from just after the 2014 elections) were aimed at the Oklahoma Governorship, followed by a jump to national politics in the course of time.

Perhaps my opinion is colored by his treatment of me and so much of what I try to stand for. Regardless, I see him as a quintessential example of what is wrong with US politics and what our representative democracy has degenerated to. Scott seemed to represent the district honestly his first four years. He grew more vocal and more confrontational as he became more prominent in the Democratic Party, both in Oklahoma and nationally. He proved to be corrupted by his power. He ruined his life and family because of it. He failed to represent his professed Catholic faith. He did not represent the people of District 94 in any reasonable and honest way his last four years in office, especially for those who are not staunchly aligned with the DNC.

Following up, on 06 November, shortly after the polls closed, I walked over to our precinct to review the vote-tally that is always posted in the window by the door. Two fellows were eagerly helping the pole official complete the task. (I mean that complementarily; they were being appropriately helpful.) They quickly took a couple of notes and snapped a couple of photos, and they were hurrying on (obviously collecting information for a campaign or party). And, I recognized the voice of Scott Inman. As he hurried off, I queried. His associate heard me and responded in the affirmative. That caught Scott’s attention, and he waved and shouted, “Good to see you,” as he hurried to their vehicle. I asked how life was going, and he replied, “Quite well, thank you, but we must hurry to the next precinct.” Fair enough, but no, his life isn’t going well at all by any standard I hold. Oh well. Not my business. Not my call. Regardless, it shocked me that I would see him in our district. After his fall from grace, Scott reportedly moved to Tulsa as a banking executive. (Tulsa World) I still cannot fathom why he was collecting poll results in his old district so far from Tulsa. I assume his disgrace has been forgotten by the Democratic Party. I won’t be surprised if I start seeing his name in the news again.

I’ve waxed too verbose. I’ve vented, but I mean it. I’ll never succeed in politics if I unwisely decide to try, because I’m too open, too transparent. I have no intention of changing that. I’m getting better at keeping my mouth shut (face to face), but when asked, I’m going to be as clear, and honest, and open as I can be.

Here is looking forward to representation by someone more focused on representing us than on headlines and securing votes for higher office. Andy Fugate, we are counting on you.

 

State Totals 781,091 D; 1,003,182 R; 8,675 L; 327,895 I; Total 2,120,843
Oklahoma’s 2017 estimated populate was 3,930,864. (Approximately 54% of residents are registered to vote.)

 

I appreciate all who have signed a blank check and served our USA.

It is significant that World War I is now a full century in the past, but the War to End All Wars did nothing to accomplish such an ideal.

We can help today if we, as a nation, refocus our international goals and make the top priority of the Federal Government to provide for the common defense, with strong emphasis on defense.

Our defense budget is overly stingy given the objectives our foreign policy sets. It would be lavish and gluttonous if the national focus was on keeping our own homeland safe and adequately defended.

War is hell.

We, the USA, are doing too much to add to the hell on earth.

May we honor our veterans and current servicemembers by refocusing and bringing most of them home. May we stop contributing so much to the unrest and bloodshed of the world.

 

The New York Times restricts readership, but if you visit them infrequently, you should be able to read this entire article:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/09/opinion/expanded-house-representatives-size.html

The article is even and well-reasoned. It is the kind of useful journalism the Times used to be known for. Perhaps they can still do it when they block The Donald from their minds.

We simply must increase the House of Representatives. It is a major factor in our current political unbalance and unrest. People know they are not represented, yet they are taxed more and more. It is hard to shake the adversity of it. It is, after all, what separated us from British rule.

I’m generally opposed to anything that increases government, and I may regret it, but this seems too essential. The pros outweigh the cons substantially. We must increase the number of seats in Congress substantially. I honestly don’t think the proposed increase here is enough. Perhaps going back to the Constitution and per-30,000 is too many, but I believe changing the rules to do most of the Representative’s work from their respective home districts, and coordinating everything on openly viewable social-media-like electronic-media, it can work well, and openly, and with solid representation for the people of these United States.

It is doable. It is workable. It may take a few election cycles to iron out the kinks, but with so much more accountability, I bet it gets done. I bet it will work well and solve many of the political problems within a decade of implementation.

The first step is to increase the number of Representatives. It is an essential step in trying to balance the many diverse concerns and interests of We-the-People. Let’s all push to increase the size of the US House of Representatives. Write your Congresscritter and Senators. Start talking about it when political and governmental subjects come up.

Shouting louder and instigating violence is certainly not helping. This suggested change is positive and doable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My comments:
793 seems an easy yes. Your current doctor will keep the same office. This will allow normal competition and eliminate the state-imposed restrictions that keep costs high and horn out the little guys.
794 seems good, but it will increase costs for law enforcement.
798 seems silly and irrelevant either way.
800 sets up a retirement fund for the state. That is, we start putting in a little now, and that amount increases a little each year as we go. After five years, some of the gains from investment are used to fund regular state budget. After 3 or 4 decades, there will be enough money in there, and enough gains, to start paying for most everything the state does, and hopefully, that will reduce taxes. The notion of making it constitutional is intended to make it hard for short-sighted lawmakers to screw it up. Of course, no guarantees. The question is, do we want to set up a retirement-type fund for our state government (to fund the government, not retirement)? I say we should try.
801, well, it won’t help much, but probably a little. It gives more local control and less government control. That is a general positive.
• State Question 793 – a citizen-initiated referendum to allow optometrists and opticians to operate in retail establishments;
• State Question 794 – expanding the constitutional rights of crime victims, known as ‘Marcy’s Law’;
• State Question 798 – providing for the election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor on a joint ticket starting in 2026;
• State Question 800 – creating a new budget reserve fund, the Oklahoma Vision Fund, to receive a portion of gross production tax revenues;
• State Question 801 – allowing local building fund revenues to be used for school operations.
 
Learn more about each state question with our fact sheets, which include a brief summary of the state question, background information, what supporters and opponents are saying, the full ballot language, and links to other resources. Find links to all five fact sheets on our #OKvotes page: http://www.okpolicy.org/OKvotes
https://okpolicy.org/state-question-798-governor-and-lieutenant-governor-joint-ticket/
https://okpolicy.org/state-question-800-new-reserve-fund-for-oil-and-gas-revenue/
I don’t understand calling this a “reserve” fund. It will be a state-owned asset for the state budget. It isn’t reserved. It will be five years before it pays back anything to the state budget, and it will probably be at least 30 years before it puts substantial money into the state budget, but the idea is that it will be a self-sustaining asset for the state budget. It is like a retirement account, an investment account. Save a little today so tomorrow eventually becomes more well funded. The notion is to reduce taxes eventually, especially considering we may stop using oil and gas in a few decades. Without them, the state will have MUCH less tax base. This “Vision Fund” will hedge against such possibilities, and will probably be able to lower the state tax burden in coming decades.
https://okpolicy.org/state-question-801-allow-building-fund-revenue-for-school-operations/
If you want to help the schools, make a state question that constitutionally bans truancy laws and any other attempts to coerce people into schools. Let freedom prove education can be done better.

“Perryman Comments on Wind Catcher Project Cancellation”

State Rep. David Perryman issued an official statement from the State House regarding the cancelation of the Wind Catcher project. Typical of politicians nowadays, he disparaged and cast blame. I’m not sure why the most important industry in Oklahoma was the target, but maybe it is good for votes in his district (but I doubt it). How does casting blame and disparagement make the world a better place?

Oklahoma dodged a bullet, and we should be appreciative to Texas for taking the brunt of the blame.

Big money investors, including Warren Buffett’s folks, were backing Wind Catcher. Their spiel was that the $4.5 billion would be rewarded over the next 25 years with net savings to the whole project (of which Oklahoma only had about a fifth) would amount to $7 billion. Of course, Oklahoma bears all the property value costs, none of which would ever be recovered. If it was so good, why did they need ratepayers to foot the bill so early?

I think politicians mourning the loss are disingenuous at best.

Oklahoma didn’t need Wind Catcher, and we don’t need make-work government projects, which is more or less what it would amount to.

https://kfor.com/2018/07/03/oklahoma-landowners-speaking-out-about-proposed-wind-farm-construction-project/

Wind Catcher is almost certainly going to be built; so we will see. The video in the above-linked report contains a lot of untruth in the last half-minute. Scott Norwood outright lies. He stumbles through his statements.

The rated capacity of 800 towers with 2.5-megawatt turbines is easy to calculate. The power production project is not like current, standard power plants. It will be limited to wind availability and to other inefficiencies. It will be irregular and uncontrollable regarding power production. The tell is the disputed power line, which will obviously steal value from all landowners near it; it is only being rated for 600 megawatts, a third of the pretentious rated capacity. They were calling this a $4B project. That number went to $4.5B soon after. The latest total cost estimate I’ve seen is now $5.4B. Also, keep in mind that the majority of the power from these bird choppers will be delivered to neighboring states, not the poor folks having to live in the midst of an industrial power generation facility.

What a mess!

Over and over for over 3,000 years we have abandoned windmills. We will this time, too, and someone will have to clean up the mess.

I applaud our State Attorney General for opposing the current request to start charging Oklahomans for the construction costs long before any power production.

Some years back, State Treasurer, Scott Meacham, similarly opposed a proposal to start charging for a conventional power generation facility. It was killed. That power plant will never be built. It was being built, in accord with agreements and published plans, next to an existing power plant. It already had millions of costs. Construction was far enough that OG&E asserted the project could not continue without cost recovery. Thus, when the State Treasurer started grandstanding (Who? Why?), the project was killed. It cost us Oklahomans millions and subjected us all to the suffering imposed by industrial fans. Scott Meacham owes us!

The State Attorney General is standing on legal grounds. Meacham simply threw a temper tantrum on emotional grounds.

https://newsok.com/article/5600278/oklahoma-corporation-commission-wraps-up-testimony-on-proposed-wind-catcher-settlements-but-no-decision-was-made

Many questions and responses centered on whether the project would benefit the utility’s typical residential customer, especially during the last 15 years of the project’s expected 25 year life.

For what it’s worth:

Commission Chairwoman Dana Murphy again discussed concerns she has about complaints the agency has received from various Oklahoman landowners that could be impacted by a proposed 360-mile line to get power from Wind Catcher into the utility’s Tulsa-area grid. Many have said the utility and the land company it has been using to acquire needed line rights of way have used deceitful and bullying tactics.

Note:

But in Oklahoma, a commission administrative law judge who considered PSO’s proposal recommends the commission deny the utility’s request.

The judge recommends denial because the utility did not seek competitive construction bids for the project and because that work had started before PSO filed its request.

While PSO estimates its 545,000 customers would see a rate increase of about $78 million in 2021 if the cost recovery were granted, it also maintains lower energy costs and connected federal wind production tax credits would offset that increase.

I’ve found no explanation of how Federal dollars (taken from us) will offset rate increases. If rate powers will collectively pay an extra $78M in 2021, how do they get back their money? PSO and the investors get the Federal tax credits. When does the homeowner (electricity user) get the money back?

Over the years, money people, like Warren Buffet, have invested heavily in wind and solar startups. They always pull their money out of the projects soon after starting, soon after they’ve collected all or most of what the Federal Government gives them from taxpayers. It is hypocritical, but it is a good way to fleece America. I really don’t see how taxpayers and ratepayers in Oklahoma are going to benefit from any of this.

Here in Oklahoma, a quarter-century from now, our children will have to figure out how to clean up the mess left by Wind Catcher. The fat cats will be gone, made all the fatter by those too greedy for a little extra revenue into municipal and county coffers. The short-term gain is small. The overall costs are large and enduring.

Production of energy is never free. There are always costs. Industrial fans happen to be the most certain long-term high-cost way to produce electricity. We will live to regret it. Our bird and bat populations already regret it.

Winds blow. Windmills suck!

 

 

 

Philadelphia Dec. 23. 1791.

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it. — Thomas Jefferson

A friend posted on Facebook about the Oklahoma State Question 788 legalizing marijuana per doctor’s note. I had commented about the legal prohibition forcing me to be responsible for the harm caused by the law.

I was camping for a few days, so now I’m able to take time to write a bit. We Oklahomans vote on the matter tomorrow (26 June 2018).

To be blunt, I oppose all legal prohibitions of vices. If there is no victim, there can be no justification for laws criminalizing the action. (Rationalizations and mental gymnastics should be employed for liberty, not for coercion.)

I’m using the word vice to mean actions that are reasonably called bad, even harmful to oneself, and perhaps, by extension, hurtful to ones loved-ones. I mean actions that are done willingly, even if unwisely, with malice toward no one. That is, if I abuse a substance, I will likely harm myself, but I’m not doing it with malice. I don’t intend to harm anyone, even if the end result will hurt those who care about me. On the other hand, there are natural crimes where my actions intentionally, or at least directly, harm someone else. The most obvious is murder.

It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have. Will Munny (Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven.)

If I may use “natural crimes” to mean that which victimizes at least one other, and vices to mean that which harms no one directly except the doer, then perhaps I can be clear.

I first must set forth my consideration of law, any law, every law. When I consider whether a law is justifiable, I use this criterion: If someone was about to violate the law, and if I had a gun to the would-be criminal’s head, would I be willing to say, “Stop, or else!” If they persisted, would I be willing to pull the trigger?

If the law they are violating is life, if the perpetrator is about to commit murder (a natural crime), or inflict grave injury and harm, then, yes, I could suppose I’d be willing to pull the trigger, and I suppose I would be justified.

If the law they are violating is texting while driving, or smoking a joint, no. Don’t be absurd. Of course not. Yet, we have the laws.

Sure, driving while intoxicated or negligently distracted is dangerous, but it is not intentionally malicious. If someone is negligent along such lines, we have reasonable and justifiable liability laws. We hold them accountable.

Someone might object that a negligent driver may accidentally take a life as a result, and liability and reparations cannot bring back the dead nor satisfy the bereaved. Certainly, but let us consider the natural and often likely extreme; if law-enforcement attempts to apprehend the negligent driver (for citation or arrest), the driver may refuse to comply, and it doesn’t take much for someone to die in such circumstance. A high-speed chase is too often fatal. A “criminal” who objects to being criminalized for a vice often becomes belligerent, and, far too often, such situations end in someone dying.

In many instances, our protection is merely hypothetical. How can we justify proactively coercing someone to protect a life, when the coercion itself is an evil act and very well may result in loss of life. Life for life in the abstract is not justifiable. Life for life can only be justified when the threat of death is clear and imminent. Even in war, it is morally reprehensible for me to take the life of an enemy combatant who is clearly attempting to surrender.

Here is the point I hoped to make on Facebook regarding State Question 788 and the decriminalization of marijuana if a doctor signs off on it. The Law currently criminalizes the possessor or seller of a naturally grown plant. Said criminal is subject to all manner of force and coercion at the hands of law enforcement officials. I cannot justify sending our police to enforce such unjustifiable laws. Our police are armed, and they are trained to use force, even deadly force, to uphold the law. Whether the law is justifiable or not, I am literally responsible, given that is our system, and in it, I am the authority and basis of the government. The government rules by my consent. If I consent, I am responsible.

As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, I am much more willing to deal with the problems attendant to too much liberty. I do not have a clear conscience if I am responsible for too little liberty. I am responsible, in our society, here in the USA, here in Oklahoma, if our government is, in fact, tyrannical. I will act in legal, civil, and voluntary ways to increase liberty and to minimize tyranny. I must make a legitimate effort to repeal unjustifiable and unnecessary laws. I must support decriminalize of drug use, even if it is only halfway.

The same goes for immigration, but that is not the topic here. We must have constraints on immigration, but our laws are too restrictive, and worse, too complicated and hard to enforce. Many of our laws are based on fear. Many of our laws are based on favoring some at the expense of others. That is tyranny, and it is wrong.

I hope my point is clear. I oppose prohibitions on vices because I find the prohibitions more immoral than the vices prohibited. I oppose prohibitions on vices because such prohibitions require our police to enforce unjustifiable laws. Further, unjustifiable laws result in unfair enforcement and unfair judicial practice because mercy and justice cannot be consistently considered. Further still, excess laws, unjustifiable or simply unneeded, push our police beyond their warrant. Excessive laws force our police to overextend, increasing their risks unjustifiably.

Specifically, how many police have died because of a marijuana arrest? How many times have drug raids and drug enforcement deprived a more worthy use of police capabilities?

Again, all of this is my fault, our fault, collectively, because we vote for it. We don’t bend the ears of our legislators and peacefully persuade them to repeal the unjustifiable laws. We don’t vote them out and install representatives who will listen.

Prohibition of vices causes more harm than good. Prohibition of vices is more immoral than the vice.

We have the example of alcohol. Of course, it is different. Yet, it is simply a vice. Many people, good, bad, innocent, and otherwise, died trying to prohibit alcohol in our country. We have many problems associated with alcohol. Many people suffer, and many people die. Yet, we don’t cause it. We, collectively, are not responsible for suffering and death resultant from free choices of free people. Our responsibility ends with our innate obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. I have a simple obligation to my neighbor, my relative, my friend, who has a problem with addiction, or whatever, in so far as I care about them and want the best for them, within my capabilities.

Passing a law and sending the police to enforce it is not the same; it is not a way to fulfill my obligation to love my neighbor. It is coercion, and coercion is evil.

Coercion, being evil, is only justifiable when the coercion enforced is obviously less evil than the harm prevented. By obvious, I mean a clear and imminent harm.

Again, I stand with Jefferson. No doubt, there are problems associated with decriminalizing drugs, but the problems of liberty are not immoral. The problems caused by coercion are immoral. Let us all choose to stand for liberty. Let us all honor every individual as self-sovereign. Let us all refuse to coerce.

 

 

 

Per the OK voting site:
Tuesday, June 26 Primary Election
Last day to register to vote: June 1 (already past)
Deadline to request absentee ballot: 5 p.m. June 20
Early voting: Thursday, June 21, 8 AM – 6 PM
Friday, June 22 8 AM – 6 PM
Saturday, June 23 9 AM – 2 PM
 
Get your personalized sample ballot there (approximately 15 days before). Mine is ready already.
There is a primary ballot. If you are registered with a party, you will see their ballot for the primary. If you are independent, you will probably see the Democratic primary ballot.
You will at least see the State ballot. It includes nonparty items, like judges, and the State questions. Only 788 this time. I’m with Jefferson. I much prefer the problems associated with excess liberty than the want thereof.
 
The text of 788 is: “This measure amends the Oklahoma State
Statutes. A yes vote legalizes the licensed use,
sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for
medicinal purposes. A license is required for
use and possession of marijuana for medicinal
purposes and must be approved by an
Oklahoma Board Certified Physician. The
State Department of Health will issue medical
marijuana licenses if the applicant is eighteen
years or older and an Oklahoma resident. A
special exception will be granted to an
applicant under the age of eighteen, however
these applications must be signed by two
physicians and a parent or legal guardian. The
Department will also issue seller, grower,
packaging, transportation, research and
caregiver licenses. Individual and retail
businesses must meet minimal requirements
to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees.
The punishment for unlicensed possession of
permitted amounts of marijuana for individuals
who can state a medical condition is a fine not
exceeding four hundred dollars. Fees and
zoning restrictions are established. A seven
percent state tax is imposed on medical
marijuana sales.”
 
Good enough for me. My bottom line, prohibition doesn’t work.
 
I still vote and probably always will, but I’ve grown cynical. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Whoever wins will do what they want, not what we want. (Just ask Scott Inman.) If we can get some Libertarians in, maybe there is some hope of smaller government, but the fact is, government will continue to grow, taking more of our money and more of our freedoms. The nature of government is to oppress. The less we stand up for ourselves, the more government will beat us down, and they take our money to pay for it all.
 
So, vote if you want to. Register if you feel like it. It is too late for the primary and state question, if you haven’t already registered, but you can register for the next round.
Regarding drugs in general, I realize legalization will have its own set of problems, but we already deal with most of that. What we will lose with legalization is knowingly criminalizing people who aren’t actually hurting anyone (except themselves). You can pretend dealers hurt users, but that is silly. Vehicles kill many, many people continuously. Are car dealerships hurting users?
Think it through. Get past the superficial. We can eliminate drug crimes and the associated deaths by decriminalizing and letting freedom ring. People engaged in criminal activity cannot call the police. They resort to violence. Decriminalize and end such violence. Sure, problems will continue, but at least we are not sanctioning such violence. At least we will not be forcing our police officers to execute drug dealers for trying to defend themselves (in their mind).
It isn’t easy, but I cannot approve of my government killing people for simply suffering from vice or addiction. We have legal vices. We have problems accordingly, but they are problems we can deal with legally and peacefully. Prohibition simply doesn’t work. It doesn’t! Why keep prohibiting things that don’t obviously hurt people?
Coercion is evil.
If you coerce, you are sinning against your neighbor.
If you coerce, you are culpable.
Laws, by definition, are coercive. Do the laws you favor clear your conscience? Let me ask it this way: Is the law under consideration so important to you that you would personally kill to enforce it? Example 1, a bloody adult is running at a child with a knife raised and fire in his eyes, while he screams his intent to kill, and you have a gun, drawn, aimed at the crazed adult–you are well trained and a good shot. Do you aim center mass and pull the trigger? I would hope so. Example 2, a 17-year-old is texting while driving. You have a gun, drawn, aimed at the careless adolescent–you are well trained and a good shot, and the car will certainly veer harmlessly into the adjacent ditch and halt. Do you aim center mass and pull the trigger? I hope not.
See the difference? The one law is reasonable in the extreme. The other really isn’t justifiable at all. It is coercive, and sooner or later, suffering results from the coercion, from the law.
Prohibition actively causes pain, suffering, and death.
Sure, vices cause the same, but we, as a society, as a collective conscience, are blameless. Each of us has a moral obligation to do good and assist our neighbor, but if our neighbor refuses polite advice and wisdom, we stand blameless. If we outlaw an action that has no direct victim, we stand guilty of the harm caused.
Our laws against drugs make us guilty of the harm caused by our law enforcement, harm caused even when assiduously following the letter and spirit of the law. The law is bad, the harm is evil.
Stop it. We are worth more than the ephemeral security of vices outlawed. Our police are worth more. Take responsibility and end prohibitions of vices.

I do not understand why someone would file for office as a total unknown.

Take me for instance, if I had filed yesterday, anyone with access to a computer could immediately find reasons to laugh at me, reasons to oppose me, or maybe for the rare few, find reasons to support my candidacy. (Hypothetical, of course.)

There would be no reason to wonder if I might be lying. You can look it up. I’m here. I’m on Facebook. I’ve statements scattered far and wide. You can figure out what I think without asking me to lie about it.

The fee for filing is nontrivial. It costs $1k to file for US Congress. The links are here: https://www.ok.gov/elections/Candidate_Info/Candidate_Filing/ All 794 of these folks plunked down at least $500. I suppose most had someone encouraging them with at least some portion of the fee. (For better or worse.)

Regarding the US Congress, each representative has nearly no significance for the state, except for bringing home some bacon. Not a thing I appreciate, but some find it paramount. My BS detector alarm goes off when I hear too much about “for the people” from candidates for US Congress. I want to know your principles, and I want to know what you intend to work hardest for. Beyond that, Congresscritters just don’t matter to the state, being stuck too close to the political-middle between anything useful.

It is this lot that has me writing at the moment:
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE – DISTRICT 05
Democrat
00107 W KENDRA HORN, 41, 5909 N Ross Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73112

00295 W TOM GUILD, 63, 2109 Rushing Meadows, Edmond, OK 73013

00444 W LEONA KELLEY-LEONARD, 47, 905 Lincon St, Seminole, OK 74868

00507 T TYSON TODD MEADE, 55, 1728 NW 13th, Oklahoma City, OK 73106

00555 T ED PORTER, 67, 4205 NE 116th St, Oklahoma City, OK 73131

00668 F ELYSABETH BRITT, 39, 13600 N Blackwelder Ave #239, Oklahoma City, OK 73134

Republican
00546 T STEVE RUSSELL, 54, 1291 Scenic Trl, Choctaw, OK 73020

00568 T GREGORY DUNSON, 49, 123 NE 2nd St #365, Oklahoma City, OK 73104

00652 F DeJUAN EDWARDS, 36, 13717 Kirkland Rdg, Edmond, OK 73013

(BTW, WTF? What is W, T, or F on each?)

Ms. Kendra filed first. Cool. Gung ho! I found her with no problem. She looks like the Democratic candidate already, but where is her history? All I can see is lies about bipartisanship and pledges to make the Federal Government more meddlesome in Oklahoma. (I say lies because the Dems are no-nonsense when it comes to toeing the party line. Bipartisanship for Dems is purely partisan. Cooperate only when the party bosses tell you to, or you are out.) Regarding Ms. Kendra’s promise to involve the Fed more, I believe you, and that’s the trouble. (Nyves) (Don’t get me wrong; GOP is similar, but not as Draconian.)

Mr. Tom, need I say more than hope springs eternal?

I’m totally unable to find anything worth mention regarding Ms. Leona. Ms. Leona is sufficiently unknown that my internet searches didn’t find that she filed and ran in 2016 and in 2014, receiving about 7,000 votes both rounds, coming in third both times. I happened to notice the fact looking at other candidates on Ballotpedia.

Regarding Mr. Tyson (I’m sticking with first names), he’s a rocker. Cool, but what does he stand for? The name of his old band (in the political sense) just might foretell the results of his run, but who knows how much his celebrity will gain him.

Mr. Eddie was easy to find, although only political. His bio is worth acknowledging. His Facebook page makes me think I’d appreciate his thoughts on corrections. He seems a general contrarian, though.

Ms. Elysabeth was just as easy to identify politically, and reasonably identifiable otherwise. I applaud her for trying to make herself known.

There is this: http://newsok.com/article/5582043/steve-russell-regains-fundraising-edge-kendra-horn-continues-to-lead-democrats

For the GOP, Mr. Steve is incumbent, and minds are pretty made up. I have a lot of respect for him, his experience, and knowledge, but he isn’t a stickler for precision. He doesn’t always bother double checking before he says things. He’s been in politics too long to find anything nonpolitical, but he’s been in politics long enough, you know what you are getting.

Mr. Gregory and Mr. DeJuan aren’t hard to identify, but they don’t seem to have any politics. Perhaps last-minute decisions.

I just keep wondering why anyone would wade into the muck. Well, no, I understand why someone would wade into the muck and the slime and the stench of politics, because I’ve always felt the pull. But it only takes a little exposure to snap me to my senses. These folks not only took time and made the effort to go down and file, they put their money into it. Those campaigning and fundraising have no out-of-pocket expenses. They let the campaign pay for everything. But, per the news-blurb, there are only three of them with any significant funding. Complain all you want about money, but it is just talk. Money really is speech and protected when used as such. It takes a dollar to do a dollar’s worth of getting the word out. Also, money isn’t everything, just ask HDR. She out spent the Donald two to one.

For me, the bottom line is that it costs me no money to find out. If I can research and do my own homework at no cost beside my time, then I’m okay with any money anybody wants to spend on it all. I can look up news articles. I can research at the library and online. I can find folks on Facebook and LinkedIn, et al. I see it as my responsibility to figure out where the candidate is on positions, and where they are talking out of both sides of their mouth, and where they are likely to compromise effectively, and where they are likely to compromise their principles and disappoint me.

Bloomberg complicates the things involved here, but presents some things well. It is clear that if money was the key, HDR would have won. https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2016-presidential-campaign-fundraising/

While about 800 people signed up for about 200 elections, there were still unchallenged positions, with only the incumbent. http://newsok.com/governors-race-tops-oklahoma-candidate-filings/article/feed/2002984 I would like to remind everyone that we were used, especially the teachers. The only real point to the teachers’ strike, especially its timing, was the politics of the Democratic party. Undeniably, we were used and abused, and most people seemed not only eager but happy to oblige. I know it hurt me. I know others suffered in silence.

Elections are messy business. Respectable people will have nothing to do with elections. (Let that sink in.)

That points makes it rather shocking to me that people are willing to give up teaching positions to run for elected office. It will be a rude awakening, a slap in the face. For those few who succeed, the regrets are almost certainly going to outweigh any gains they can point to. I suspect the former teachers who are in office now will admit the life of an elected official is harder than that of a teacher, and generally with fewer rewards.

I’m looking at a lot of research requirements just for the statewide positions and the ones in my district. 15 candidates filed for governor. (15 x $2,000 = $30,000, I would suppose money like that will keep the polls open.) 15 candidates, lots of homework to do, but none of it matters per the experts. The frontrunner is clear. We shall see if the race muddles any. I’d like to see the Libertarians getting some press and stage time. I like their ideas and their flair. (I mean, who doesn’t appreciate that tragic soul, Joe Exotic?)

It will be a relief to have a new representative in District 94. I’ll be doing my homework, but I’m already worried. My main hope is to not have another grandstander.

I noticed something. My initial hypothesis is that there is a causative correlation between district wealth and the number of candidates filing. I’ve tabulated the races with more than four candidates, at least the ones I noticed.

First number is always D, second R, third is L or I, and fourth is I.
Senate 16 has 3 & 3
Senate 30 has 2 & 7
Senate 36 has 2 & 4

House 5 has 1 and 4
House 14 has 2 and 3
House 17 has 2 and 5
House 20 has 1, 6, and 1 (grudge match–people love to hate Bobby)
House 22 has 3, 2, and 1
House 26 has 3 and 3
House 27 has 1 and 5
House 31 has 2 and 3
House 36 has 0 and 5 (Rs)
House 41 has 3 and 6
House 43 has 2 and 4
House 47 has 3 and 4
House 48 has 2 and 3
House 53 has 3, 3, and 1
House 63 has 2 and 4
House 66 has 2 and 3
House 68 has 3, 4, 1, and 1
House 69 has 3 and 2
House 71 has 1 and 5
House 79 has 2, 3, and 1
House 80 has 4 and 3
House 81 has 1, 3, and 1
House 82, jeeze! has 1 and 12
House 86 has 3 and 2
House 91 has 3 and 2
House 95 has 4, 1, 1, and 1
House 98 has 2, 6, and 1
House 99 has 5 and 0
House 100 has 2 and 3
House 101 has 4 and 4

I didn’t double-check my hypothesis or data. I’m mostly noting several races have excessive candidates. The sad part is, it matters so little. No person’s vote really matters. We pretend every vote counts, but it is much more realistic to assume no vote counts.

Larry Norman said it well in many ways so long ago. When he asked who would lead us if none of us would vote, I always knew the loudest mouth or biggest fist would.

I haven’t given up voting, but I sure understand those who neglect it, and those who denigrate it. Voting, democracy, really isn’t all it is cracked up to be. The tyranny of the majority is tyranny nonetheless.

Plato talked about inferiors ruling, but that is inevitable. The only guards are restrictions and limitations on government. Otherwise, the violent do violence, and the manipulative use and abuse us all, far too often in the name of the children or some other vulnerables, never actually helping anyone but themselves.

Bottom line, do your own homework and be an informed voter. Or, forget about it; don’t sweat it, knowing you’ll almost certainly live just and long and die just as happy.

Only Matthew records the tale of the day-laborers in the vineyard.

http://biblehub.com/cev/matthew/20.htm

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

The commentaries expound well, but they don’t dig deep. http://biblehub.com/matthew/20-13.htm http://biblehub.com/matthew/20-15.htm

I think it important to remember Jesus’ closing of it, “The last shall be first, and the first last.” We know, we experience so often, this truth. Mark tells us, and Matthew records two instances, where Jesus tells us that from he that hath not, even what he had will be taken away.

http://biblehub.com/matthew/13-12.htm

http://biblehub.com/matthew/25-29.htm

An obvious point is the fleeting nature of worldly goods.

Paul seems to have noticed, and he stated he was content regardless of what he had.

There is a lot in the parable, a lot for every era and time, but I think especially for our time. The day laborers, the notion of fairness, the uprightness of faithfulness even without generosity.

Wikipedia, of all places, has a nice note and interesting details, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Workers_in_the_Vineyard

Perhaps Jesus expected us to assume the owner of the vineyard remembered the command, “You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.” http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/24-15.htm

This instruction seems a good thing to remember when considering migrant workers, even foreign workers. (That is a thorny and complex topic. I’d settle for few, limited, simple laws, consistently enforced, that considered each as an individual, not a labeled-group.)

The central point seems to be an individual responsibility to be content with agreements. If I agree to a price, or a wage, that is it. I have agreed. If other considerations make it seem unfair, my obligation is to remain faithful to the agreement. I’m responsible for what I agreed to and fulfilling my part of the agreement. Me, each of us, individually. I am responsible for my agreements and obligations. (Yes, I like redundancy.)

Jesus seems to be condemning the attitude of envy, and that seems consistent with all we know. Life rarely works out fair. Don’t begrudge the fortune of others, for no life is trouble-free. Wealth and influence generally make life less hard, but life, in general, is hard.

I note and emphasize that the owner asserted the right to do with his own as he pleased. That seems especially obvious when the use benefits others.

The owner had no obligation to explain or justify. He had a need, he hired workers to accomplish it. Each worker agreed to work for pay, and apparently only the first hired had established the set amount. (Note that the amount was the then current wage for a day’s work for a day laborer.) Those who went out for less than a full day likely expected a fair portion of the full-day rate. Those last hired were probably resigned to fasting for the day, so what little pay earned could go to feeding the family. Can you imagine the joy and relief each felt while accepting the full portion of pay?

Note that the money belonged to the owner. He, apparently, had earned it. He seems likely to have been a good and honest man. He chose to be generous with his worldly goods, and he chose to pay a full day for everyone that worked for him, even for only a twelfth of that day.

Changing tack, people who work for the government are in a different circumstance. People who work for the government are paid from taxes, money taken from others, for no reason other than the majority voted for it, at least in some roundabout way. Tax expenditures are governed by law, not generosity.

Again, tax expenditures, even if worthy wage paid for worthy work, are governed by law. Generosity is the sole domain of the individual. The government has no positive value. It makes no money of its own. It takes from citizens, and it uses the money according to law. While individuals run a mutually enriching system of agreements and exchange, the government’s system is zero sum. Whatever it gives to one, it took from another (and wasted some along the way). There are valid activities we want the government to do (but that doesn’t address governmental overreach), but when one group riles and rouses the majority and demands more, the fact remains, the favored are gaining at the loss of others.

This brings me back around to envy. It is an individual responsibility to avoid envy, especially that which begrudges and hates others.

Also, faithfulness. Fulfill your obligations, even if someone claims a higher calling. You can’t faithfully fulfill an obligation by abandoning another.

Finally, given the parable is about the kingdom of God, I take the lesson as showing us God treats all equally, and it often doesn’t seem fair.

Oklahoma is in crisis.

The unions are reporting increased parental support, but they’ve lied so much already I won’t accept anything they say.

I’m heart torn. I hurt. We homeschool. So, it doesn’t directly affect my family, but we’ve always supported our local schools and the teachers we know. The slogan is the walkout is for the kids, but the only fact establishable by empirical evidence is the teachers walked out on the children. It is abandonment, betrayal.

I don’t understand it. I know so many teachers, friends, family (including my daughter), younger, older, former, and current. I cannot doubt the heart of any one of them. I honor and respect everyone one of them. They each have accomplished so much, given so much. I trusted them, would have trusted them, but they did not remain faithful.

Again, I don’t understand. I know these teachers have the biggest, most giving, most loving hearts of any people I’ve known; yet, they walked out.

Not only did the teachers and their unions warn they would hold the children hostage and extort the parents, the parents (and legislators) believed them that their plight was dire (It was.), and the State paid the ransom. The legislators bit the bullet and raised taxes, a large tax increase. Sadly, the old adage held. Pay the ransom and embolden the extortionists.

It is interesting, even praiseworthy, how the teachers have acted, and, moreover, how many in our community have responded. Many private people and businesses have provided goods, services, and cash. It is with very mixed emotions that I watch it all. Despite being intimidated and threatened, we love our teachers and continue to work with them.

Of course, there is very little of anything good can be said of any politician in this whole mess. (Well, a small few, but that is not of concern here.) It is hard to condemn the politicians being under so much stress, intimidation, and disparagement. Some messed up, some just didn’t act right, and a few grandstanded and put on the show at every opportunity, never shying from any deriding or devise remark.

An oft-repeated chant aimed to deride the legislators was, “Do your job!” while teachers constantly thronged them and posted derogatory reports whenever the legislator was trying to attend business rather than offer a sympathetic ear. Teachers have boasted of overcrowding the legislators. Teachers complained when their disruption wouldn’t be tolerated. Teachers (and the grandstanding pols) pitched royal fits when the legislature adjourned early one day, and started slightly late the next. Lose-lose for all the legislators but the grandstanders.

As to doing their job, what is their job? The teachers seem to think it is to raise taxes and give the failing education system more money. Is it the job of the legislature to penalize the citizens of the state to appease the teachers unions?

No, the job of a legislative representative is to represent the people who elected him or her. Being in the district of the chief grandstander, it just might be that the majority in my district did so want more expensive failure in education, and the majority may very well have thought it right that grandstander-in-chief opposed all tax increases for being too small, until the strike was certain. (I wrote him often asking him to not raise my taxes and to not make such spectacle of himself.)

However, it is clear from recent history that most of the voters in most of the districts wanted their legislators to represent their interest in holding the line on tax increases. Maybe moods have changed, but it is simply disingenuous to assert the representatives were failing in their job. The legislators were, in fact, fulfilling their duties and obligations. Again, there is blame can be handed round all round, but on the whole, the legislators were doing their jobs, even while being railed against by the grandstanders and union activists.

Amongst the railing and intimidation and threats, the legislatures settled on a package of tax increases that drew compromise agreement of the required supermajority. A large, and likely painful, tax increase, and there were celebrations and dancing in the streets, even a high-five from the Governor as she rushed to sign the measure.

Yet, the strike was still on.

Come Monday, with new tax increases and new laws funding education confirmed and in the books, the strike came. The teachers walked out of their classrooms leaving students and their parents holding the bag. Betrayal of trust by any objective evaluation.

Yet, the parents bucked up and voiced support. I’ve heard no estimates of how many people had to take off work. The cost has to be over several millions of dollars, just for that first day of the walkout. In Oklahoma, it is illegal for teachers (unions) to strike against the school board (their actual employer). However, the school boards also believed the dire circumstances, and many authorized the walkout, keeping it legal.

Still, day two. Surely the teachers had made their point. Surely, with the extraordinary raise (16 to 18% per teacher, and more money for this and that) and tax burden tolerated, the teachers would be happy, but no. The unions had started the mantra Monday that it was never about the raise, never about “the money,” but about the classrooms, about education in the state as a whole. Oklahoma already spends half of its budget on education. One can argue particulars, but one cannot claim Oklahoma doesn’t care about education. That fact mattered not to the unions.

Now, we’ve muddled through the week. Some schools have called the teachers back to the classrooms. A few never walked out at all. (At least one small district sent a delegation of teachers to represent them while classes continued. Quite reasonable, I believe.)

Still, most, including all the larger districts, day by day canceled class for want of teachers. I know not what most of the school boards have done, but they face the very real possibility of having to fire, perhaps even prosecute, teachers if they (the board members) grow stubborn and insistent. There is no win, only harm, in that prospect. It is still possible. It may come to it in some instance.

I’ve waxed verbose, and I offer my appreciation for reading and sharing my pain. I aim to express my disappointment in the teachers, even in those who have vehemently supported them, but my primary aim is to end the betrayal. I hope the teachers will return to class. It is a sad fight. It is sad that it is a fight at all.

While the teachers say the government has failed, it cannot be said the education system is better. There are systemic problems of myriad sort in our education system, even more than our government system. Both are flawed from inception, with error compounded upon error over the decades. Our defects have grown for more than a century. No thorough fix is possible in even a few years.

But we can start, but not while teachers raise ruckus and disgraced politicians show no shame. The legislators cannot do their job while teachers hinder them.

While I sincerely hope the teachers will return to class Monday, we citizens of Oklahoma, all of us, must continue to call upon our legislature to address the flaws in our systems, all our state systems. They are badly broken. The problems are clear, but the causes are not. The remedies are even more elusive, but we must. We simply must find repairs, and we really must install workable systems before we make them all more expensive. We may find we need more taxes. We likely must revamp our taxing system overall.

No easy answers. We won’t find any if we get complacent. We will repeat this hurtful, tragic fiasco again in a few years if we don’t keep at honest effort for accountability and solutions.

 

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