Monday, June 24, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
WHAT TO EXPECT!
by Steve Fair
The first Democrat debate of the 2020 primary presidential race is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Twenty candidates will debate live on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo. The latest Real Clear Politics poll has former VP Joe Biden at 31.5%, Senator Bernie Sanders at 15%, and Senator Elizabeth Warren at 12%. Over the last month, Biden has lost 10 percentage points and Warren gained 4%. Warren and nine others will debate on Wednesday, Biden, Sanders and eight others will debate on Thursday. Democrat primary voters will be watching for the candidate who has the best chance to beat President Trump. In polls presenting hypothetical match ups with various Democrat candidates, Trump loses to virtually any Democrat, but it is very early and the only poll that matters is the one on November 2, 2020. Expect three things at the debates:
First, expect President Trump to be the main course both nights. It won’t be just the president’s policies the raconteurs will attack, but his personality as well. With five moderators from liberal news outlets, the candidates can expect softball questions that will paint the president in the worse light possible. Expect the president to respond to those attacks with attacks of his own, creating more ammo for the next debate.
Second, expect Joe Biden to be the dessert. Biden is the most centrist of the field, but that may be his doom as well as his appeal. Biden was criticized by his opponents after calling for civil discourse in government and working with those he disagreed with. While serving in the Senate, Biden worked with other Senators, including some segregationists, to achieve common goals. Ideology purity is required to get the nomination and the U.S. Senate is by nature a body of compromise. Until President Obama, no sitting Senator had been elected president since JFK. Biden served in the Senate for 36 years during a time when civility and reaching across the aisle was considered an asset. His past diplomacy will be used against him.
Third, expect a lot of free stuff to be discussed. Sanders, Warren, Booker, Harris and Gillibrand all favor free college tuition. Warren wants universal child care paid for by the federal government. All want an increase in the federal minimum wage. All favor reparations for decedents of slaves. Warren, Harris and Gillibrand want to provide housing paid for by taxpayers. All want universal single payer health care. The rich would fund these ‘free’ programs by paying higher taxes, but if you took all their money there aren’t enough rich people to pay for those programs.
What won’t be discussed at the debates will be the growing national debt and expanding federal government, the constitutional role of government, individual responsibility, and the moral decline of our country. Those are the root problems in America, but they will be side-stepped. Politicians tend to treat the symptoms and not the disease.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
TRANSPARENCY IS CITIZEN’S RESPONSIBILITY!
by Steve Fair
Oklahoma reputation for financial transparency isn’t very good with outside evaluators. They give the Sooner state a grade of D+. Governor Stitt and State Treasurer Randy McDaniel want to change that. Last week, Governor Stitt and McDaniel announced the launch of a website called Oklahoma Checkbook (checkbook.ok.gov) that will provide data on state expenses. The site is a partnership between the governor’s office and the state treasurer’s office. “This really fulfills a campaign promise that we told Oklahomans that we were going to do. We were going to make government more accountable and more transparent. This is a huge step in the right direction,” Stitt said. “Oklahoma Checkbook will shine a light on financial operation of the state and will allow everyone to see where their tax dollars are being spent and that is the right thing to do,” State Treasurer Randy McDaniel said. Oklahoma Checkbook was patterned after similar sites in West Virginia and Ohio.
Oklahoma Checkbook claims they will eventually have online: (1) Payroll information for state employees, (2) Crime statistics, (3) State expenditures on outside vendors, (4) High School and university graduation rates, (5)Rates of health problems like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, (6) State park information, and(7) Air and water quality assessments. They plan to add education (public schools) to the site, allowing parents to see how their schools are spending their money. Three points:
First, Oklahoma state government, through the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, already has a website called Open Books, whose stated purpose is to provide financial information about state government. The new Oklahoma Checkbook has a link to Open Books on their site. What is the difference? Did taxpayers really need to fund another site to provide the same information?
Second, transparency in government is good. Transparency breeds legitimacy. When citizens don’t know what government is doing, it breeds suspicion, apprehension, and skepticism. The promise of transparency is made by every politico in every campaign, but seldom fulfilled. Far too much of what happens in government is unknown to those paying the bills.
Third, government is not made more transparent by consolidating power. The governor, legislature and state wide elected officials seem intent on creating their own audit/transparency mechanism that reports only to them. That lack of collaboration results in duplication and addition cost to taxpayers. Circumventing the duties of the constitutional elected offices reeks of a power grab.
The real responsibility for transparency and accountability from Oklahoma government starts and ends with Oklahoma citizens. Until more average Oklahomans start paying attention to their government, building websites and posting information will have little impact. If the site is used, it may be a game changer for the state, because after all government is spending your money.
Monday, June 10, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
Socialism is defined as a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community (the state) as a whole. Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners (individuals) for profit, rather than by the state. Because modern education has failed to honestly teach the youth of the United States the difference it now appears that socialism is the economic system most preferred by women ages 18-54. In a recent Axios poll, 55% of the women polled said they would rather live in a socialist country than a capitalist one. The same poll had 40% of the respondents- of all ages and demographics- supporting socialism over capitalism.
First, polls are not always accurate. As the saying goes, “figures lie and liars figure.” Four in ten Americans don’t support socialism. That number is seriously inflated, but the number is higher than 20 years ago and growing. When a self-proclaimed socialist like Bernie Sanders can pack out an 80,000 seat football stadium promising free stuff to young people, America is in trouble. Sanders’ idea of who is going to pay for the free stuff is not plausible. There aren’t enough rich people to pay for all that ‘free’ stuff.
Second, socialism, as an economic system, is not sustainable. Dr. Anne Bradley with the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, says the elimination of supply and demand pricing is how Venezuela got to their impoverished condition. “Eliminating prices and making things free or nearly free is the fastest road to poverty and ruin. Making something free doesn’t make it less scarce. It just means we have to find other ways to finance those free things. Fluctuation in pricing are powerful market signals needed to control supply and demand,” Bradley says. Socialism removes much of the incentive to do more than the next guy. Productivity goes down under a socialist system.
Third, socialism is not American. Our country was founded on individual rights and individual property ownership. In the past 100 years, those rights have been whittled down by an overreaching government, but America is still one of the only places in the world where a hard working person can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Fourth, socialism is not Biblical. Throughout scripture, God commands people to work, take personal responsibility, and to be good stewards of their material possessions. Laziness is condemned. Hard work and productivity are praised. Early church members sold their possessions and placed them into a common treasury, but it bore no resemblance to modern day socialism. Their motive was the spread of the Gospel.
Socialism has gained a foothold in America due to three factors: (1) Immigrants coming to America from socialist countries, (2) Millennials who believe the American dream is dead, (3) An overreaching government that discourages individual initiative.
Bernie Sanders is not likely to be elected president, but his fiery evangelism for socialism started a grassroots movement that is not likely to be stopped. Conservative capitalists better hope for a preacher with the same passion, otherwise America, as we know it, will be doomed.
Monday, June 3, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
SACRIFICING TRUTH FOR RELEVANCE!
by Steve Fair
Relevant is defined as being closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered. People want to be relevant. Organizations want to be relevant. If they aren’t relevant, then they believe they have little or no influence in what is going on. In politics, relevance is coveted like a tiger after a raw steak. People and organizations involved in politics willingly sacrifice their values, convictions, and honor on the altar of relevance. To not be relevant means they can’t effect any change or be involved in policy, but is that true? Three thoughts on relevance:
First, truth should be the ultimate goal, not relevance. Sadly too many people fail because they will either not work with those that disagree with them or they fail to use persuasive skills to convince others of the merits of their argument. When their position is rebuffed, they make themselves irrelevant by isolating themselves and placing themselves on the throne of self-righteousness. They whine instead of engaging. They plead martyrdom. A true warrior doesn’t worry about relevance- they stay focused on the battle. They don’t curse the darkness- they light a candle. General Stonewall Jackson famously said: “The battle is ours-the outcome is Gods’.”
Second, real relevance is derived from years of proven performance. In every election cycle, various political groups pop up advocating for a particular policy. They are often effective for that cycle, but their relevance quickly fades. Their short shelf life relevance appeals to low-information, infrequent voters because they haven’t taken time to study issues. These groups are more about the marketing than meticulousness. True relevance requires years of consistent investment in time, talent and treasure.
Third, who determines relevance in politics? It is not political Party leadership, elected officials, pollsters and big donors that determine who and what is relevant in politics. Voters do. There are so many low information voters in America, relevance in politics has derailed authenticity. If long term change is the true goal, educating voters on policy and their government should be paramount. Teaching citizens about their government and the issues and policies that affect their lives is critical if our country is to survive.
Relevance that effects long term change flows out of tenacious, purposeful, persistent hard work. It is consistent and doesn’t get distracted. It’s not flashy or self-promoting, but it is enthusiastic. It walks the walk. It is rooted in truth. Sadly, few are willing to commit to the battle that ultimately leads to relevance and that is why the US is in the shape it is in. Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” The long term relevant often fail, but they continue the journey. They don’t quit because their goal is truth, not fleeting relevance. Don’t you think it is time you got engaged in your government- for your children and grandchildren’s sake?