Monday, December 31, 2012
Weekly Opinion Editorial
I AM RESOLVED!
by Steve Fair
Yesterday was New Years- the start of 2013. Many people made New Years resolutions. A New Year's resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. People committing themselves to a New Year's resolution generally plan to follow through for the whole following year.
Making resolutions has a long history. The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year and Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Puritans avoided the indulgences associated with New Year’s celebrations and other holidays. In the 18th century, American Puritans avoiding even naming Janus. Instead they called January “First Month.”
The Puritans urged their children to skip the revelry and celebrations of a New Year and instead spend their time reflecting on the year past and contemplating the year to come. They encouraged their children to make resolutions. These were enumerated as commitments to better employ their talents, treat their neighbors with charity, and avoid habitual sins.
Jonathan Edwards, the great American theologian, took the writing of resolutions to an art form. During a two year period after he had graduated from Yale and at the ripe old age of 19, Edwards compiled seventy resolutions which he committed to review each week for the rest of his life. Many modern day Christians prepare for the New Year ahead by praying and making resolutions. The United States federal government even has a website where citizens can get help to achieve their resolutions http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/New-Years-Resolutions. But just how successful are people at keeping New Year’s resolutions?
According to a study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol that involved 3,000 people, 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. That is despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often than women.
Frank Ra, author of “A Course in Happiness,” says, "Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with new year's resolutions". So you shouldn’t keep your resolutions secret. You should share your intents to reform with friends and family. It will provide you accountability and help you stay committed to the resolution.
Unlike Edwards resolutions which involved his spiritual life, most modern day resolutions involve selfish goals of health and wealth. The top resolutions involve losing weight, getting in shape, eating healthy, and stop drinking. While those are excellent goals, they are not in the same league as those made by Edwards. You can read his resolutions at http://www.newreformationministries.org/The%20Resolutions%20of%20Jonathan%20Edwards.pdf.
As we enter into 2013, we must resolve to pay attention to our government more than just every two years when major elections are held. We are, after all, self governed. That means you and I are the boss. We must resolve to keep elected officials, at all levels, accountable for their actions and to make sure they follow the U.S. Constitution. We must resolve we will work to elect people, at all levels, who understand we cannot spend more than we take in as a government if we expect to survive. We must resolve to vote in every election- local, state and federal. We must resolve to ask questions of elected officials, express our opinion in a civil manner, and make sure our voice is heard in our government.
John Adams said “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people,” and Thomas Jefferson said simply “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free… it expects what never was and never will be.”
It’s important we resolve to educate ourselves on the issues and have knowledge of our government. Here are two opportunities for citizens to be educated and to get involved in their government.
On Saturday January 26th at 6pm, the SCGOP will host Wallbuilders for the 8th consecutive year. This year, Texas State Representative Matt Krause will be speaking. The event will be at 6pm at the Stephens County Fairgrounds. It is free to the public.
On Thursday February 7th, the Stephens County Republican Party will hold precinct meetings and our County Convention. The GOP is organized from the precinct level up. All registered Republicans are encouraged to attend.
Resolve to join us!
Friday, December 21, 2012
Weekly Opinion Editorial
GUN CONTROL IS WINDOW DRESSING!
by Steve Fair
On December 14th, twenty year old Adam Peter Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. Before he left home, Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home. After shooting the students and staff members, he committed suicide. Lanza is reported to have suffered from Asperger syndrome, an autism disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction. No motive for the shooting has been disclosed by law enforcement.
Immediately, the anti-gun/anti 2nd amendment crowd begin to use the incident to promote gun control. On Tuesday President Obama said he would support a bill to ban guns like those used in the Newtown school shootings(AR15). White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama supported reinstating the assault weapon ban, which was first introduced in 1994 but was allowed to lapse in 2004 by the Bush administration. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, (D-California) has indicated she will introduce in January a bill to curb the sale of automatic- and semi-automatic weapons. Feinstein was the author of the original 1994 bill. By the way, the weapon used in the Newtown shooting was not on the original bill, so even it would have been in force, it would not have prevented this shooting.
This is an emotional issue and the immediate reaction of some people is that guns are the problem. Let’s take a deep breath and look at this issue logically. Three observations:
First, strict gun-control policies will always fail to deliver on their promise to make law-abiding citizens safer by denying them the means of self-defense. This should come as no surprise, since gun control has always been about control, not guns. Want an example that gun control doesn’t work? Take President Obama’s hometown- Chicago. It is illegal to own a gun in Chicago and yet the Windy City has one of the highest crime rates in the country. Does anyone really think those signs in store windows banning paying customers the right to carry their gun in the store prevent those stores from being robbed at gunpoint? When you outlaw guns, only outlaws have guns.
Second, the root problem that caused the school shooting was a spiritual one, not one of hardware. We have thrown God out of school and out of our society. Sin, wickedness, depravity is in the heart before it is in the hand. For far too long, America has been treating the symptoms of sin and not the disease. Christians must recognize the only hope our country has is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead of teaching behaviour modification, preachers should be heralding biblical repentance and faith.
Third, any gun control campaign is really a sneak attack on the U.S. Constitution. Liberals love to paint the Constitution outdated and impractical. If they can somehow make assault weapon gun owners out to be criminals and void the 2nd amendment, then we become more dependent on the government for our safety. The founding fathers knew that government by the people would require keeping the people armed. The original intent of the 2nd amendment is to protect us from our own government, not to just allow us to duck hunt.
The liberals would have you believe by taking away our guns, they will protect us from ourselves, but in fact the most deadly school disaster was not a shooting, but a bombing. It happened in Bath Township, Michigan in 1927 when a disgruntled school board member set off three bombs killing thirty eight elementary school kids, two teachers and four other adults. Another fifty eight people were injured. The perpetrator first killed his wife, and committed suicide with his last explosion. He had hoarded dynamite, but there wasn’t calls for the regulation of dynamite. People recognized it for what it was- an act of evil by a depraved man.
Ronald Reagan was right when he said, “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
Banning a certain type of weapon or hardware will not stop violence in our society. It will only erode our liberties and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The real solution to America’s violence and moral problems is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which can change the hearts of men. Anything short of that is mere window dressing.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Weekly Opinion Editorial
RIGHT TO WORK HAS BEEN GOOD FOR OKLAHOMA!
by Steve Fair
Last week Michigan, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union became America’s 24th right-to-work state. It sounds bizarre but Michigan joined Indiana, which passed right-to-work legislation in February, to become the second right-to-work state in the heavily unionized Midwest.
The Michigan legislation will prohibit workers from being forced to pay mandatory dues to labor unions in order to gain employment. Without compulsion to pay union dues, union membership, revenue, and strength decline. In other words, when a worker is given a choice, a significant number choose to not join the union.
The labor unions in Michigan reacted with violent protests, even storming the capital building in Lansing. Union educators walked out of schools and Democrat state senators walked out on the final vote. Union workers and the Democrats believe the transition from a "closed shop" state to a right-to-work state will kill the unions in Michigan. They may be right. This is the second defeat to Michigan's organized labor interests in two months.
The first defeat came when Michigan defeated a state question on the general election ballot that if it had passed would written collective bargaining into the state constitution and outlawed a right to work law. Proposal 2 was defeated 58% to 42%. According to Republicans in Michigan, Proposal 2 was defeated because the unions had outlived their usefulness and have deviated from their original purpose. Many unions now have become powerful special interest/lobbying groups rather than true representatives of workers' rights.
On Monday, before the state legislature passed and the Governor signed the right to work law, President Obama went to Michigan to campaign against the bill. He said, "These so called right to work laws, they don't have to do with economics -- they have everything to do with politics. What they're really doing is trying to talk about the right to work for less money." The president went on to say that strong unions build a strong America. Understand that two thirds of union workers vote straight Democrat so it makes sense the president would support his base.
But an important question to ask is why are union states passing Right-to-Work laws? It’s probably because union workers are tired of losing their jobs because employers refuse to operate, relocate or expand in a non right to work state. Michigan has been losing population and jobs for over twenty years and right to work states are doing better than those who are not right to work.
Mark J. Perry, from the American Enterprise Institute, says that in the past three years right to work states have created four times as many jobs as states where they have closed union shops.
Oklahoma passed right-to-work in 2001. During the campaign for the ballot initiative, I wrote a brochure that was widely distributed across the state entitled, “The Grapes of Wrath continues…” At that time college graduates were fleeing Oklahoma to Texas and other states for better paying jobs. Companies were refusing to relocate and expand in the Sooner state because we didn’t have right to work. We were exporting our most precious resource- our kids and grandkids.
Critics of right-to-work in Oklahoma said passage wouldn’t make any difference. They said business didn’t care about right-to-work and passage would hurt Oklahoma. Has passage of right to work made a difference in our state? Consider the following:
Since the passage of right to work, Oklahoma’s ranking among the states in per capita income has risen from 47th to 32nd. According to the US Commerce Department, per capita income in the Sooner state is now $37,679. In the ten years since Oklahoma passed right-to-work, the state’s personal income growth is second in the country.
Forbes magazine ranks Oklahoma as the eleventh best state in America to do business. Site Selection, magazine that evaluates states and cities for their business enviroment, declared Oklahoma to have the 13th best business climate in the country. Before passage of right to work, we ranked at or near the bottom. Right to work has worked in Oklahoma- it has worked well.
Contrary to President Obama's statement to his union supporters about how right-to-work is not directly related to economics, it’s clear right-to-work states do better than those without it. Right-to-work laws allow employers the freedom to hire non-union workers and negotiate contracts with more than one party.
I predict that Michigan will look back in ten years and be grateful to their legislature for having the courage to pass right-to-work. If they do as well as Oklahoma, it could be what stopped the exodus from the Wolverine state.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Weekly Opinion Editorial
DIVE OFF THE CLIFF!
by Steve Fair
All eyes are on Washington D.C. as Congress and the President address what has been called the ‘Fiscal Cliff.’ Many people are confused and don’t understand what a fiscal cliff is. The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ is the popular term being used to describe what will happen if the Budget Control Act of 2011 really goes into effect.
Among the laws set to change on January 1st are the end of last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts. That would result in a 2% increase for most workers in the country. It will also mean the end of a number of tax breaks for businesses. The New Year also brings on the start of taxes related to ObamaCare.
At the same time, the spending cuts Congress and President agreed to in early 2011 in order to increase the debt ceiling will go into effect. According to Barron's, over 1,000 government programs - including the defense budget will face deep, automatic cuts.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, (R-Ohio) has said lawmakers have a choice among three options concerning the cliff:
First, the government can let the Budget Agreement scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of 2013 go into effect. The plus side is the deficit, as a percentage of GDP, would be cut in half. The down side is that it would mean hard times for a couple of years until the economy recovers. It would be like taking a medicine that tastes bad but will cure what ails you. Most political types are unlikely to take the risk of going over the cliff.
Second, Congress and the President could cancel or delay some or all of the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts. That could mean adding to an already out of control national debt and increase the odds that the United States would face an economic crisis similar to that which is currently occurring in Europe. It would also send a signal to the rank and file GOP members of the House that the House leadership’s word means nothing. The newly elected conservative members agreed to increase the debt ceiling in exchange for future cuts in spending. If that agreement is not implemented, Boehner will have no hope of getting them to trust him again.
Third, the feds could take a middle course, opting for an approach that would not raise taxes and address the budget issues by modestly cutting spending. That approach is the coward’s way out and it would be just kicking the can down the road to let future Congresses address the root problem(spending).The average American citizen sees a highly partisan political environment that can’t seem to get anything done. Congress has had three years to address this issue, but Congress has largely put off the search for a solution rather than seeking to solve the problem directly. House Republicans want to seriously cut spending and avoid raising taxes, while Democrats want to raise taxes and make modest cuts. It’s not likely the two sides will ever agree.
The ‘fiscal cliff’ will not only impact the federal government, but state and local government as well. It is estimated that Oklahoma state government could lose up to $150 million in direct federal funding as a result of those automatic spending cuts set to take effect the first of the year. A third of that would be in education and a third in health and human services. Medicaid, Social Security, veteran’s programs and food stamps are not included in the list of programs set to be automatically cut.
The exact amount the state will be cut is not certain, but it is almost an absolute certainty Oklahoma will not be receiving as many federal dollars as they have in the past.
House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon, (R-Lawton), has already conducted a study to look at a contingency plan on ways the state will have to respond when faced with reductions in federal assistance. Tough times are coming.
The bottom line is the federal government is broke and sadly will not recognize it. The government doesn’t have a revenue problem- it has a spending problem. We can’t afford these giveaway programs anymore! According to USA Today, only 45.3% of the American population works and produces. One in six Americans is on government assistance. That is a path that is not sustainable. If America is to survive as a country, we have to take a deep breath and dive off the cliff. It won’t be easy, but we have to have the courage to do it.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Weekly Opinion Editorial
JOHNSON A GREAT PICK!
by Steve Fair
On Monday, State Representative Dennis Johnson, (R- Duncan) was named Majority Leader in the Oklahoma State House. In his new duties, Johnson will help incoming Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, (R-Lawton) craft the legislative agenda in the next session. He will also work within the House caucus to help convince all the Republicans to pull on the same end of the rope at the same time.
“The House majority party is a diverse group of talented, experienced people who have lots of energy,” said Johnson. “All of us will be working hard throughout the next session to push our specific bills through the legislative process. It gets pretty intense at times, so, one of the duties of the Majority Leader will be to help the Caucus stay focused. A unified Majority Caucus with common goals will be crucial to our success. I look forward to the task.”
Johnson is a small business owner and also has experience with municipal government, having served as Duncan’s mayor. He also has a unique ability to get along with virtually anyone. Like Will Rogers, Johnson has never met a man he didn’t like and you would be hard pressed to find anyone at the Capitol who doesn’t like Johnson.
Johnson started his political career as a Duncan City Councilman. Upon the death of the mayor, he became mayor and then won re-election to a full three year term, beating a fellow city councilman. Johnson gained the reputation of being fair as well as businesslike in his approach to government. Even those who disagreed with him found him to be pleasant and affable.
Shannon’s other leadership team members include Representative Fred Jordan, (R-Tulsa) as Co- Majority Leader, Representative Pam Petersen, (R-Tulsa) will be the new floor leader, Representative Todd Thomason, (R-Ada) the Majority Whip and Representative Scott Martin, (R-Norman) will chair the powerful Appropriations and Budget committee.
Shannon chose a much different leadership team than his predecessor, Speaker Kris Steele. Shannon’s team is more personable and less political. That doesn’t mean Shannon’s team doesn’t understand the legislative process, politics, or how to get bills passed. These have been effective legislators and are not novices, but Shannon has chosen people whose common strength is they can work with those they disagree with in a civil, respectful manner.
In the recent past, that has not been the case. Some in the Republican House caucus felt they were just a number- a vote necessary to move the leadership’s agenda forward- and their individual viewpoints and opinions were not appreciated. It was my way or the highway and as a result the agenda was often stalled or compromised.
Shannon has wisely picked a team of quality people with the right temperament to lead. They will listen to their fellow members and be respectful of differing opinions and not retaliatory. They are not threatened by someone who doesn’t agree with them 100% of the time and more importantly don’t consider them an enemy.
The 2013 legislative agenda will be important to the future of Oklahoma. Issues like true workers comp reform, water rights, and the reduction/elimination of the state income tax will be on the agenda. How the Republican led legislature responds to these issues will impact Oklahomans for decades.