151 Band

Monday, December 06, 2010

Monday Morning Meadows

From Charlie Meadows' email (nothing redacted):

The timeline, Thanksgiving day the upsetting article appears in the Oklahoman, later that day Representative Terrill issued a press release calling on Spaker-elect Kris Steele to issue a statement clarifying and repudiating certain aspects of the article. On Tuesday the 30th I sent out the weekly OCPAC e-mail announcing that the Oklahoman had not printed Terrill’s press release, so I published it. The next day the Oklahoman did an article which included an interview with Representative Terrill. This past Wednesday, Representative Steele issued a response to clarify his positions, but still left many concerned about certain issues. Steele’s response was published yesterday, in Sunday’s Oklahoman as a point of view.

First, let me say the tone of the response was good, it even had some well thought out verbiage regarding the economy. As an example he said: “I believe our agenda must take a balanced approach that focuses on conservative solutions to fiscal and social policy.” Well stated in my opinion. He went on to say: “ Because the national recession has left many jobless and created a $600 million state shortfall, it is clear we must enact sensible reforms that ALLOW (emphasis mine) Oklahomans to reach their economic potential and grow our state economy.” Steele continued, “My hope is to ESTABLISH AN ENVIRONMENT (emphasis mine) in Oklahoma that is conducive to job growth, job creation and job enhancement. That focus must include lawsuit reform, workers’ compensation reform, restructuring of the tax code and similar policies.”

Those 3 paragraphs are excellent if he really understands what he said as well as what he didn’t say and if he really means what he said. Note, he didn’t use the words “economic development”, as anytime a government official at any level uses those words, it convey a message that it is the GOVERNMENT’S responsibility to develop the economy. If that is your philosophy, then you believe in fascist (government doesn’t own, but controls the means of production of goods and services) capitalism or the words economic development may also stand for socialist (government owning and controlling the means of production of goods and services) capitalism.

In either of those two systems, government will pick the winners and those who get the special privileges or opportunities. In socialist capitalism, the government will actually own and operate businesses, thus competing against private entities who will always be at a disadvantage in that competition.

When Representative Steele uses words like “allow” and “establish an environment”, those words are as strong as it gets when it comes to private or free market capitalism. In a free market economy, government will keep regulations at a bare minimum and businesses will NOT be taxed. Businesses consider taxes to be overhead and thus increase the price of their goods and services to cover that overhead and thus the consumer always pays for business taxes through higher prices for those goods or services. Politicians love that, because as they tax businesses, the consumer isn’t cognizant of the amount of taxes imbedded in the price of a product or service and thus some of the real cost of government is hidden from the citizens.

In a real free market economy, if consumers aren’t willing to purchase certain products or support certain services, then they go away. On the other hand, sharp businessmen may figure out a way to convince enough in the marketplace to buy or hire products or services to pay all overhead and have some left over for themselves which is called profit. Free market economies always see the best and brightest business rise to the top. In central planned economies, it may be more likely that the well connected rise to the top and not necessarily the best business man delivering the best product or service at the most reasonable price.

Another positive statement in his response was: “We must defend our constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms, defend against federal government overreach, and guard against those who intentionally break the law and pose a threat to public safety.” An additional strong statement was: “Although some may not realize it, being polite and civil is not the same thing as being weak.” I fully agree.

However, there were some things he said, which I have a hard time reconciling with his actions. First off he stated: “In addition, we must reform education so Oklahoma children from all corners of the state can excel in college and thrive in the work force after they graduate.” With the election of Janet Barresi and the effort of school choice advocates, the conditions better exist today than ever before for some badly needed school reforms.

However, Speaker-elect Steele appointed Ann Coody (R-Lawton) Chairman of Common Education committee and Jabar Shumate (D-Tulsa) as Vice- Chair. While Shumate is a liberal Democrat, when it comes to education he is very reform minded. He understands that perhaps one of the best ways out of the hood is a good education and that school choice is one of the best hopes to allow children to escape the teacher union controlled drop out factories in the inner city schools.

On the other hand, while Representative Coody is a nice person, she is a retired educator of 39 years and in my opinion is so engrained into the system as to be an impediment to real reform. I made this clear to Steele a year an a half ago and he either forgot, disagrees or has a different opinion. It will be interesting to see just how much real education reform we can get past Coody in the powerful position in which Steele has placed her.

Steele said we must defend our constitutional rights to bear arms, but then chose Dan Sullivan (R-Tulsa) to sit in the all powerful floor leader’s position. As we live today, our rights to bear arms are greatly infringed. During the session earlier this year, Sullivan was a huge impediment toward “restoring” those rights. In addition Sue Tibbs (R-Tulsa) was also a big problem earlier this year and now Steele has appointed Tibbs to be Chairman of the powerful Public Safety committee, the committee in which all second amendment issues will most likely survive or fail.

And while Steele tried to diminish conservative’s and Christian’s concerns by proclaiming he is pro-life, he failed to mention several serious problems such as where he stands on the invasion of illegal aliens, the growing threats from the expansion of Sharia Law and the advancing agenda of the homosexual community. The abortion issue is vital and we as Christians must never go to sleep or turn our backs on this issue. However, God has a perspective on all issues and we need to pay more attention to these other issues than we have in the past.

On Wednesday, December 1st the Oklahoman had a front page article on the Business section titled: “Oklahoma ready for a fight”. Oh really, has legislative leadership and the Oklahoma business community finally grown a spine and are they truly over their cowardice? The article is about new regulations the TYRANTS at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are about to impose on Oklahoma’s 6 coal fired power plants. Supposedly to clean up a problem which basically doesn’t exist or if it does, it wouldn’t be caused by our power plants, but rather those in Texas.

In the article, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Steve Thompson said officials are not optimistic the U.S. EPA will approve the state’s plan to reduce emissions that affect visibility in federal wildlife areas. If the EPA slaps these excessive new regulations on the State of Oklahoma it will mean a huge increase in electric utility rates for consumers and our businesses alike. It will really hinder having an environment for a vibrant economy. These “fighters” are hoping newly elected AG Scott Pruitt will be willing to go into the courts on behalf of Oklahoma.

I hope Pruitt will take the feds on and believe he will. However, during this year’s legislative session, Representative Sally Kern (R- OKC & Bethany) authored a bill to allow Oklahoma citizens to amend our constitution to establish the Oklahoma DEQ and the Corporation Commission to be have the final say on all environmental issues. House leadership (of which Steele was a part) wouldn’t stand behind Sally during this year’s session and Thompson was against the measure along with some of Oklahoma’s major corporations.

The reason? Sally was told that since the Obama administration didn’t like Oklahoma (because every county voted for McCain) they were fearful that if we stood up to them in this manner, the feds might punish Oklahoma businesses, especially those in the energy industry, by not allowing them to sell their products outside the state under the justification of the interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution.

That fear of the feds is why I suggest the terms “spineless” and “cowards.” If we would alter our State Constitution to reflect our superior “states rights authority” we might have to go to the courts on that issue. On the other hand, we might really push back and just ignore an unconstitutional order coming out of a federal court on this issue and just see how far the feds would push it.

In the mean time, as I said a few weeks ago in one of these e-mails, the newly elected Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives have enormous power to protect the states in this regard. Since all funding and spending bills must originate in the U.S. House they could simply cut the EPA’s budget in half or completely de-fund this liberal bastion of excessive power. Nothing like being out of a job or missing their paychecks to explain to nameless faceless bureaucrats what is acceptable and what is not.

I liked much of what Kris Steele has said, but the proof will come in the pudding, which will soon be made known. We are looking for action more than just words.

Charlie Meadows is the head cheese over at the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.