Monday, April 25, 2016

Those Young Whippersnappers ARE going to lead!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

MILLENNIALS WILL LEAD!

By Steve Fair



     On Saturday, the Oklahoma Young Republicans presented me with the inaugural Steve Fair Young Republican at Heart Award.  This will be an annual award given to someone who has been a mentor, role model, or benefactor to the YR group.  Hope Sutterfield, the Stephens County GOP Chair, presented the award.  It was a complete and total surprise.  I had been in Florida for three days at the RNC Spring meeting.  The YRs had asked me to conduct an auction at the first annual fundraiser.  I agreed, even though it had been a long week and I was exhausted.  When I arrived at the venue, my son and his family were there.  They live in Tulsa and while somewhat political, their presence tipped me off that something else was afoot.  When Hope announced the award will be given annually, I was simply blown away.  I have been politically active for decades, but I don’t believe I have earned the honor of having an award named after me, but I so appreciate the thought.  Three things

     First, young people are the key to America’s future.  I know we say that all the time, but so many older people refuse to let go of the reins for fear the ‘young folks’ will screw up what they have built.  George Orwell said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”   I understand that sentiment, but I give it no quarters.  Every organization must have younger leaders developing and taking increased responsibility or that organization will die.  Hope Sutterfield is a classic example.  She is one of the youngest county GOP Chairs in the country and arguably is directing one of the most active.  She has exceptional leadership skills and is guided by her strong conservative values. Democrats understand that young people are the future.  That is why Sanders is able to fill huge arenas with young people, but that fact reveals a problem. 

     On Friday former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield said “If that(Sander’s socialist philosophy) is our future- we have no future.”  He went on to point out that Sander’s socialist philosophy will fail.  It always has.  Socialism is not sustainable.  Margaret Thacher said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend]."  Rumsfield pointed out the failure of American education to teach simple economics to young people.  For years, economics was a required basic course in college.  Today less than 4% of colleges require a student to take Economics to earn a degree.      

    Second, mentors, role- models and benefactors to young people are in short supply.  Some older folks simply don’t want to invest the time and energy to develop the next generation of leaders, but if not you, then who?  When parents and people in leadership positions, particularly in education, fail to educate young people on basic economic principles, they are doing them a great disservice.  Cashiers can’t count change and young adults can’t balance a check book, but it is because they haven’t been taught.  No one took the time to sit down and explain simple economics.  And in politics many young people are pushed aside because they haven’t ‘paid their dues,’  Not all young people want to be mentored.  Some just want to lead without proving they have leadership skills, but there are plenty of young adults who want to learn.  They just need an older person to take equity in them and show they care.

     Third, the millennial generation WILL lead America.  Millennials are those who were born after 1980.  They number over 83 million in the United States.  They are the largest block of consumers and voters in the country.  They tend to be less religious and more liberal in both social and fiscal policy than either the Baby Boomers or Generation Xers.  Make no mistake- they will lead America.  Older leaders can complain about their lack of understanding and how if they are given the reins, they will fail, but rest assured, they will get the reins.  By ignoring them and failing to come along side and mentor them, credibility and rapport with them is often non-existent. 

     It is an incredible honor to have an award named after you while you are living and I am even more humbled when I consider this award is for mentoring the next generation. Reagan said that freedom is just one generation from extinction.  By the grace of God, I don’t want it to be the generation after me.


Monday, April 18, 2016

PUBLIC EDUCATION HAS FAILED TO EDUCATE!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

    This legislative session, State Representative Jason Nelson, (R-OKC) authored a proposal entitled, The Oklahoma Education Saving Account Act.  Under Nelson’s bill, state government would deposit money for a child, based on a sliding scale depending on family income, into an education saving account.  The money could be used for an accredited private or online school.  The money could also be used to buy textbooks, get tutoring or pay for achievement tests.  Florida has a similar program to what Nelson proposes.  On their website, the Florida Department of Education says, “School choice can benefit all schools by introducing the pressures and incentives of the marketplace into the educational arena.” Nelson’s bill narrowly got out of the House Education committee (vote of 9-8), and never got to the floor of the full House for a vote.
     The Oklahoma Education Association, not surprisingly, opposes Nelson’s idea.  Linda Hampton, president of the OEA said,  “The problem is, if you take money away from the public school, even if you take one child out, you still have to pay the teacher, the electric bills, buses,” she said. “You’ve still got all the expenses, but now you have less money.” Nelson contends that per-pupil funding would not decline under his proposal, but would slightly increase.  Hampton says the idea is a slippery slope and that people shouldn’t be ‘opting out’ of government services that are important for society. 
     Oklahoma isn’t the only state considering school choice.  Currently twenty seven states are considering mirroring Florida’s program.  Lily Garcia is president of the National Education Association and says the expansion of school choice ‘terrifies’ her because it promotes the idea that school is a commodity.  Garcia’s position is understandable because if school choice is expanded many parents would likely shop around for the best fit for their children and that might not be the public school system. School choice could endanger the current competition-free atmosphere that public education enjoys.
     The 2013 Oklahoma Republican Party platform under the heading ‘Education’ states the following: We believe all parents should be allowed to use their education tax dollars for the family’s choice of schooling.   The 2012 National Republican Party platform states: “We applaud efforts to promote school choice initiatives that give parents more control over their children’s education.”  Here are three reasons that Republicans support school choice:
     First, education money is taxpayer money.  The money that public education receives from the legislature is your money.  It belongs to you.  You should have the right to determine where your money is spent on your child’s education, not the government.  Parents should be involved in the decision as to where their education dollar is spent.  The renowned economist Milton Friedman, who was arguing for school choice in the 1950s, said, “Parents generally have both greater interest in their children’s schooling and more intimate knowledge of their capabilities and needs than anyone else.”  Friedman contended that more choices would improve public education in America. Under the current system in Oklahoma, parents who can afford it have a choice, but lower income Oklahomans must educate their kids where the government tells them to.
     Second, good schools don’t need compulsion, bad ones don’t deserve it.  Why should a child be compelled to go to a bad school simply because his parents can’t afford to send him to a private school?  Oklahoma schools achievement test scores has been less than stellar the last few years and the answer from the education community is always the same: Give us more money.  If ESAs were implemented and parents directly controlled where their educational dollars went, schools would be forced to compete in the educational marketplace.  Quality educators and schools shouldn’t fear competition- they should welcome it.  Good competition expands the market and results in better products and services.  Competition makes you better.
     Third, the purpose of public education should be to educate the public. If we are really concerned about Oklahoma kids getting an education, then why are we so focused on the venue or setting they get it?  Currently 87% of children are educated in Oklahoma public schools, 10% in private schools, and 3% are home schooled, but 100% of Oklahoma taxpayer education dollars go to public education.  Funding should mirror how children are being educated.  It simply makes sense.
     Nelson’s proposal didn’t make it to the floor primarily because the legislature is facing the single largest budget deficit in state history.  The price of oil has decimated state government and the timing for school choice just wasn’t right, but it is a concept whose time has come.  Every Oklahoma parent should be given the right to determine the education their child receives.

Monday, April 11, 2016

RAISING MINIMUM WAGE HURTS THE VERY PEOPLE IT CLAIMS TO HELP!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
MINIMUM WAGE IS WRONG!
by Steve Fair
Minimum wage is defined as the lowest amount that employers can legally pay their workers per hour of labor. The first minimum wage law on record was passed in New Zealand back in 1894.  The current minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 per hour.  Eleven states have chosen to establish a higher minimum wage than the federal mandate- the highest being Washington D.C. at $10.50 per hour.  Most who support a minimum wage believe it will insure that people are paid properly for their work.  Here are some simple economic principles on minimum wage:
     First, companies do not pay the wages of their employees, consumers do.  When the minimum wage is increased, that is simply passed onto the consumer in the form of a price increase.  No company can ‘absorb’ an increase and survive.  They take price increases.  When the minimum wage increases, you pay more for food, gas, and every other good or service.
     Second, the minimum wage law rewards the less productive.  If the government requires a company to pay a ‘minimum wage’ to their employees, it means the more productive gets paid the same as the less productive.  The fact is that one size doesn’t fit all.  Some people are worth half of the minimum wage and others 50% more than minimum wage, but when an employer is mandated to pay both the same, the more productive employee is shortchanged.  Hard workers should hate minimum wage, because slackers embrace it. 
     Third, minimum wage increases usually result in job losses.  Every time the minimum wage is increased, companies adjust their workforce and normally lay off some workers.  Most of the workers impacted are students going to school or entry level employees.  Younger and less educated are the workers who usually are earning minimum wage.   Raising the minimum wage hurts the very people advocates claim it is supposed to help.  Some economists estimate that over 1 million jobs will be lost if the federal minimum wage is increased.
     Fourth, there is absolutely no evidence raising the minimum wage will reduce poverty.  As stated earlier, companies simply pass on the increases and consumers pay the higher wages.  If prices for goods and services increase, then the higher prices must be paid for by the person earning the higher minimum wage. 
     Fifth, raising the minimum wage does not increase productivity.  Getting employees to produce at a higher level is increased productivity.  Minimum wage doesn’t do that.  It simply artificially inflates the cost of goods and services.  When an employee is given a wage increase, it should be based on merit, not because the government says you are worth so much per hour. 
     Politicians love to raise the minimum wage because it’s a great vote getting mechanism.  If you tell people you will raise their wages, they will vote for you.  The government loves an increase because they get more money if the minimum wage is increased. 
     The two major political parties have two very differing positions on minimum wage.  The Democrats have made raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour a plank in their 2016 platform.  Republicans are against an increase, to the point that they House unanimously voted down the proposed increase. Most economists generally agree that a large minimum wage increase will damage the economy.  Republicans believe that wages should be based on skill, education, and the law of supply and demand.
     Raising the minimum wage is immoral.  It involves asking a productive hard worker to pay more for goods and services so someone who isn’t as productive can make a higher wage.  It is wealth distribution and is not consistent with a free market society.
 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Election could determine direction of gun control!!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
BAD GUYS ARE REJOICING!
by Steve Fair

The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."    
     In December 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders, (D, VT) said, “I will take the following concrete steps to reduce gun violence: strengthen and better enforce the instant background check system; close the gun-show loophole; make 'straw man' purchases a federal crime; ban semi-automatic assault weapons which are designed strictly for killing human beings; and work to fix our broken mental health system.” 
     In January, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “More than 33,000 Americans are killed by guns each year. It’s time to act. As President, I'll take on the gun lobby and fight for commonsense reforms to keep guns away from terrorists, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals—including comprehensive background checks and closing loopholes that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands.”
     The 2012 Democrat platform states, “We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements--like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole--so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”
     The 2012 Republican platform states, “We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment. We acknowledge, support, and defend the law-abiding citizen's God-given right of self-defense.”
     After President Obama issued an Executive Order in January that requires any sale of a gun by done through a federal licensed agent, the 5 million member strong National Rifle Association issued this statement: "President Obama failed to pass his anti-gun agenda though Congress because the majority of Americans oppose more gun-control.  Now he is doing what he always does when he doesn’t get his way, which is defy the will of the people and issue an executive order.” What wasn’t publicized in the EO was the order to the Pentagon to research the possibility of having future weapons for the military to be less lethal.  It is clear the two major political Parties differ on this issue, so does gun control reduce crime? 
      First, criminals and terrorists don’t obey the law.  California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in America, yet the San Bernardino shooters were still able to get guns.  Paris has some of the most stringent gun laws in the world, but they have experienced large two mass shootings in the past two years.  Every 3 hours, someone is shot in Chicago, despite the city’s strict gun laws.  Restricting gun ownership just makes honest citizens sitting ducks.  None of the reforms proposed by Clinton or Sanders would have prevented a mass shooting.  Since the ISIS attack on Paris, private gun ownership is up for debate all over Europe.  Even Europeans recognize they have a God given right to defend themselves.  When someone is shooting in the marketplace, what would you rather have- an umbrella or a gun?
     Second, private gun ownership actually reduces crime.  Criminologist Dr. Gary Kleck of Florida State University did a study and found that there are approximately 2.1 to 2.5 million instances annually in which individual Americans use a gun to defend themselves.  In a study of seventeen industrial nations conducted by the International Crime Victims Survey of what percent of their population had been victimized by crime, Australia led the list with more than 30 percent of its population. England was the second worst with a rate of 26 percent. The United States wasn’t even in the top 10.  Australia and England have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world, but that hasn’t reduced crime.
     The next president will appoint at least one justice on the SCOTUS.  The current make-up of the court regarding the issue of the second amendment makes this appointment critical to both sides.  If Clinton or Sanders wins, it’s a lead pipe cinch the court will be further restricting private ownership of weapons. 
     The Motor City Madman, rocker Ted Nugent says, “When the law disarms good guys, bad guys rejoice.”
 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Nearly 1 Million babies will be aborted in America this year!!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
REPUBLICANS ARE PRO-LIFE!
by Steve Fair

     The U.S. Constitution provides for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every American- except the unborn.  Since the Roe Vs. Wade ruling in 1973, the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates on issues of sexual and reproductive health, calculates 54 million babies have been aborted in America.  The current population in the U.S. is 320 million, so America has aborted 17% of our population in the past half century.  Based on data from the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 977,000 abortions took place in 2014.  The CDC says that unmarried women account for 85.3% of all abortions. 
     The Guttmacher Institute found black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than white women.  According to blackgenocide.org, 15.5 million black babies have been aborted since Roe v Wade became the law of the land. The founder of the web site, Rev. Clenard Childress Jr. says, “Minority women constitute only about 13% of the female population (age 15-44) in the United States, but they underwent approximately 36% of the abortions. On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.” 
     Both the Democrat and Republican Parties have strong language about abortion in their platforms.  The 2012 Democrat platform says: The Democrat Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. The 2012 Republican Party platform says: We assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.  Four observations about the life debate:
     First, life begins at conception.  For years that was a heavily debated issue, but even the liberals now, for the most part, concede life has a beginning and it is at conception.  Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, said at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing: “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”  When an abortion is performed it terminates life.
     Second, God gives life.  While it is a women’s body and it can be debated if another person has a right to tell her what to do with it, clearly God does have that right.  He is the Creator and as such can dictate to his creatures.  Exodus 21, Psalms 139, and Jeremiah 1 are just some of the passages where the sanctity of life in the womb is addressed.  If Americans think God will bless our nation as we continue to kill those in the womb, they have little knowledge of who their Creator is.
     Third, politicians haven’t moved the needle much on this issue.  For decades, politicians on both sides of this issue passionately campaign on one side of the issue or the other, yet little has changed.  One side will gain a victory in legislation or in a court ruling and then the other side will win one.  But steadily each year nearly 1 million children die in America before they are given the chance to live.  More or better legislation may help, but as President Lincoln said about legislation:  "No law can give me the right to do what is wrong."  The real key to stopping abortion is reaching the women who are carrying the child and convincing them to choose life for the child.  Options such as adoption instead of abortion should be promoted and discussed. 
     Fourth, there is a clear difference in the two Parties on this issue.  Granted there are some Democrats who are pro-life, but why?  If your Party is wrong on this important issue, then why are you still aligned with that Party.  If you are a pro-choice Republican, why are you an R?  Align with the Party that agrees with you on the issues.  Where a person stands on when life begins is fundamental to defining them.  Party affiliation can be changed by visiting the Oklahoma State Election Board website and accessing the registration form or you can email hopecsut@gmail.com.
 

Monday, March 14, 2016

I've read the last chapter- God WINS!!!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

GOD WINS!
by Steve Fair

     Ronald Reagan once said, “I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.”   Across the country, there has been a consistent effort to have the Ten Commandments removed from public display.  Oklahoma is not an exception.  Last year, the state Supreme Court ordered the removal of the Decalogue monument from state property, citing the state constitution’s so-called Johnson amendment. 
      Last week, the Oklahoma state House of Representatives voted 86-10 to approve House Joint Resolution 1062.  If passed by the state Senate, it will place on the November ballot a state question that will remove the ‘Blaine’ amendment language from the state constitution.  State Representative Randy Grau, (R-Edmond) said the state high court’s ruling last year to remove the Ten Commandment monument from state property, created the need for HJ 1062.  “When we learned that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the Ten Commandments monument removed from the Capitol, everyone was surprise. The ruling went against clear legal precedent supporting the placement of such monuments on government property. Our state’s highest court misinterpreted the Constitution, and we had no choice but to send the question to the people of Oklahoma regarding the public display of such monuments. Today, the House voted overwhelmingly to do that, ” Grau said.   It is very likely it will pass the Senate and we will be voting on it in the general election.  It should clearly be approved by the voters and here is why.
     First, the vast majority of Oklahomans support the public display of the Decalogue, aka the Ten Commandments.  When the court made the decision and cited the so-called Johnson amendment as justification for removing the monument, it created an uproar across the state.  Even citizens who weren’t political were outraged when the monument was removed.  At some point the people should have some input in a self-governing society and changing the state constitution to allow the public display would likely pass easily. 
     Second,  in 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States decided in a 5-4 decision that having a Ten Commandments monument on state property did not violate the Establishment clause in the US Constitution.  In a case very similar to the one in Oklahoma, brought against the state of Texas, the SCOTUS ruled though the Commandments are religious, the plurality on the court argued, "simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the establishment clause."   
     Third, perhaps some of Oklahoma’s leaders would actually read and study them if they were on display.  It is always humorous to watch politicians scramble to support the public display of the Decalogue when many couldn’t come up with half of the ten if asked.  Most are not aware of the real purpose of the law(10 commandments).  It is to show us how sinful we are before a holy God.  The commandments are rules that no one can keep- with the exception of Jesus Christ, the son of God.  When political leaders talk about them and say they keep them, they reveal their ignorance of the purpose of the law.  They need to read Galatians 3:24.  The Ten Commandments provide us a glimpse into the character of God.  It reveals to us what He hates and what He loves. 
    The real fight over the Ten Commandments has nothing to do with the principles or rules they enumerate.  It’s about God.  Without God, the Ten Commandments, and morality in general, are just a list of arbitrary rules. Unless there is a Higher Authority (God) behind the Ten Commandments, all right and wrong are just personal opinion and belief, subject to change.  That is what those who oppose having them displayed publicly are really saying- I will have no one to rule over me, including my Creator.  Fact is, God rules this earth, whether you believe it or not.  It matters not what the Gallup poll says, He wins.
      Contact your state senator and ask them to support HJR 1062.

Corrected version:  In my original post, I wrote that provision in the Oklahoma constitution that prohibits state pproperty or assets to be used by a religious institution to be the JOHNSON amendment.  Dr. Carolyn McLarty, National Committeewoman for the Oklahoma Republican Party, pointed out that is was the BLAINE amendment, not the Johnson amendment.  That is correct.  The Johnson amendment has to do with churches being used for campaigning.  I apologize for the error.