Monday, July 29, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
DEEPLY DIVIDED AMERICA!
by Steve Fair
At 6:14am on Saturday July 27th President Trump tweeted: Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA...... He followed up with another tweet: ....As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place. Trump’s comments came after Congressman Cummings, a twenty six year member of the House, screamed at acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a congressional hearing regarding alleged conditions near the southern border where illegal immigrate children are being held. The tweets set off a firestorm of criticism of the president. The Baltimore Sun said in an editorial: “Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.” Three observations:
First, Trump should not have said what he said. Baltimore does have its challenges. It is a city of 600,000 with a high crime rate, high unemployment and lots of empty buildings. A documentary made two years ago called attention to the rodent infestation in Baltimore, so the president wasn’t totally off base with that comment, but calling out an American city that is struggling is inappropriate for the president. Sometimes it is better to leave some things unsaid.
Second, Cummings should not have attacked McAleenan. The border patrol is doing the best they can in very tough circumstances. They didn’t create the crisis at the border, but they are dealing with it. The southern border is being overrun with illegals, including children separated from their parents. The conditions in the facilities holding those children are not the Hilton, but it’s a far cry better than being left in the desert heat. Cummings was grandstanding and playing to the cameras, something he does often. His outrage should be directed toward those causing the mass invasion at our southern border, not toward those dealing with it. Cummings has never been one to miss a chance to aggrandize.
Third, the cycle of coarse, uncivil, blunt impolite disputation is prolonged. Both sides are to blame. Cummings knew his attack on McAleenan would enrage the president. He knew how Trump would respond. Like it or not, you attack him, he strikes back- twice as hard. The media(the Sun) and every politico takes a side and the cycle of divide continues.Our leaders are not willing to work together for the betterment of all Americans. The divide about the direction of the country is deep and unity is not considered an option. It doesn’t matter what Trump does, his critic’s criticize and his supporters applaud. America is no longer one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It is deeply divided with liberty and justice only for those who agree with our view. The intolerance of the tolerant rules the day.
Sunday, July 21, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
MISUSE OF THE GOLDEN RULE!
by Steve Fair
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for his Twitter remarks directed toward four Democrat congresswomen, calling the remarks, ‘racist.’ The floor vote to approve was 240-187. All four GOP congressmen in Oklahoma voted against the resolution. Fifth district Congresswoman Kendra Horn, (D-OKC), voted with the majority. In a press release Horn said: “Growing up, my parents taught me the importance of the golden rule. Of treating everyone, no matter who they are, with dignity and respect. That’s what today’s vote was about. I’m troubled on many levels by the tone and tenor of our discourse. And I’m troubled by the remarks of the President, which are below the dignity of the office he holds.”
The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as you would wish to be treated. It is a precept found in many religions and cultures. It has such universal appeal that in 1993, 143 leaders of the world’s major religions endorsed the Golden Rule as part of the ‘Declaration toward a Global Ethic.’ Most young children, no matter their cultural or spiritual background, are taught a form of the Golden Rule. John Piper says this about the Golden Rule: “If we will put God back in the Golden Rule, we will see that it is not a bland bit of moral counsel intended to improve us slightly. It is a radical way of living that can be followed only by those who daily experience the infinitely great generosity of God in their own lives.”
First, Horn didn’t follow the Golden Rule. Invoking higher ethics as justification for her vote and ignoring remarks of her four Democrat colleagues’ hateful rhetoric in this battle of mud exposes Horn’s ignorance of the Golden Rule. The Rule is about justice. Horn didn’t treat Trump as she wished to be treated- she judged, she condemned- the exact opposite of what the Rule teaches. John Calvin said about Christ’s command in Matt. 7:12: “We are here informed, that the only reason why so many quarrels exist in the world, and why men inflict so many mutual injuries on each other, is, that they knowingly and willingly trample justice under their feet, while every man rigidly demands that it shall be maintained towards himself.”
Second, President Trump didn’t follow the Golden Rule. While attacked first, Trump struck back twice as hard. In what has become a pattern, his attackers then transformed to victims and the cycle of balderdash escalated. Both parties used sensationalism and puffery to gain publicity for their position. Neither party took the high road in their actions and it is important that Christians do not excuse misbehavior, no matter who is committing it.
Alistair Begg teaches the Christian Golden Rule is believers directing their love toward their enemies and giving to those who offer nothing in return. The Golden Rule is certainly not a tool of vindication to be used to justify a vote in Congress.
Monday, July 15, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE SWEETHEART DEAL IS OVER!
by Steve Fair
The fifteen year Indian gaming compact negotiated by former Governor Brad Henry and State Treasurer Scott Meacham with the tribes is set to expire in January 2020. It is estimated the tribal casinos in the Sooner state generate $4.5 billion dollars of annual revenue. Last month, Governor Kevin Stitt sent a letter to the tribes stating he wants to renegotiate the terms of the compact. Currently four to six percent of gambling proceeds generated at the casinos go into state education coffers. When the original compact was negotiated, Henry said the funds generated at the casinos and through the lottery would cure Oklahoma’s education funding shortfalls. Actual funding fell well short of Henry’s estimates. Three observations:
First, the initial compact favored the tribes. Because the tribes were in the process of building casinos, Henry and Meacham granted concessions for building that infrastructure by lowering the percentage of the take. The compact was widely criticized for its lack of audit ability of the tribal gaming operations. Some went so far as to say the tribes were on the ‘honor system’ as to how much they paid the state. A necessary correction for allowing the State Auditor to examine the tribal gaming operations books to insure the state is getting the agree upon monies must be a part of the new compact.
Second, the slots will not be shut down. Stitt’s position is if an agreement is not reached by the date of expiration, the Class III gaming(slots, cards) would be shut down until an agreement is reached. Tribal lawyers disagree and believe the original agreement will be rolled over for another fifteen years. Neither party can afford to shut down the money stream, so an agreement will be reached well before the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket slot is unplugged. The tribes want ‘sports book’ gambling and the state holds that as a negotiating chip. Expect to be betting on the Thunder game next year at your local tribal casino.
Third, expansion of gambling in Oklahoma has hurt the state. Oklahoma is #1 in number of casinos per capita. In a study by WalletHub, Oklahoma ranks #5 in the U.S. in gambling addiction and #26 in treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gambling can stimulate the brain's reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction.” Gambling produces nothing. It is regressive taxation that tends to hit the poor. The Department of Justice has found that expansion of gambling is linked to higher crime rates and drug use. Dr. Earl Grinols, a Baylor professor of economics, calculates the costs of gambling outweigh the benefits by a factor of 3:1. Gambling fails the cost-benefit test.A fairer, more equitable compact should be negotiated, but if Oklahoma is to become a top ten state, it will not be by collecting taxes on gambling and marijuana sales from citizens. It will come by growing Oklahoma’s economy past its century long addiction to the oil and gas industry and aggressively recruiting manufacturing and distribution to the state.
Monday, July 8, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
OKLAHOMA IS BETTER THAN OK!
by Steve Fair
Is Oklahoma just OK? Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell, who doubles as secretary of tourism and branding, thinks the Sooner state is better than just OK. He wants to develop a new brand that moves past the “Oklahoma is OK” slogan that has been used for decades. Pinnell is collaborating with business and community leaders across the state soliciting their ideas on how a fresh new brand should look. He has invited the public to take a 5 question survey on the Oklahoma brand. Go to projectbluesky.ok.gov. Three observations:
First, branding is the marketing practice of actively shaping your brand. A label, slogan or logo is developed to convey what a product stands for. Product quality must match the label or no repeat sales. You get the product formula and quality down first and then you develop an appropriate eye catching label. A decision is made as to where to ‘position’ the product in the marketplace. Will it be expensive and appeal to a small niche market? Will it have broad based appeal across all demographics? Oklahoma should be getting the formula right even while shaping and positioning the brand. We should do a better job of actively recruiting manufacturers and distributors to the state (and helping existing ones in the state) to create jobs for younger Oklahomans, or we will continue to export our most precious resource- our kids and grandkids. No amount of superb branding will fix that.
Second, Oklahoma has some unique call outs to place on our label. Those little bursts of information(call-outs) on consumer products are placed there to highlight a unique attribute of the product. Low Fat, Organic, and Natural point to a formula characteristic. Easy to use, squeeze bottle, no drip cap, point to a packaging characteristic. Oklahoma’s has some obvious call-outs: Centrally located geographically, mild climate, friendly, hardworking people, great natural resources (oil, gas, coal, agriculture), unique state history(Land Run), independent spirit are all characteristics the ‘Oklahoma is OK’ slogan doesn’t capture.
Third, in branding simplicity is paramount. A successful branding campaign must be recognizable, informational, consistent, and tasteful (RICT). Logos must be easy to spot and slogans, catchy and memorable. The brand must deliver quality. Consumers expect recognizable attributes from certain brands- whether consumable or service related.
Because of the popularity of the musical, many people across the globe think everyone in Oklahoma drives a pickup, wears a cowboy hat and boots, and dodges a tornado every day. By seizing onto a line from the state song as our slogan, we played into the stereotype. “If we don’t define who we are, every other state will. There are 49 other states competing for job and tourism dollars,” Pinnell said. Those states are not only competing, but they are currently winning. Oklahoma should be a tourist destination, not a flyover or drive through state.
It is time to update Oklahoma’s label and put some ‘call-outs’ on the label that better define who were are, but simultaneously a reformulation of the product should be afoot by state leaders. That will produce long term success by getting the repeat customers.
Monday, July 1, 2019
Weekly Opinion Editorial
REMEMBER WHO GIVES FREEDOM!
by Steve Fair
On Thursday, America will celebrate Independence Day, a federal holiday that commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. On that day, fifty six brave men signed a document that many of them thought was their death warrant. By declaring the legal separation of the thirteen British colonies from Great Britain, these courageous souls were declaring war on the world’s super power. Their action was not universally applauded. Some of the Puritan colonists believed rebelling against the crown was an act of rebellion against a sovereign God who enthroned the king. After an eight and half year war (1775-1783), the colonists defeated Great Britain and gained their true independence. Three observations:
First, America was founded on Christian principles. Most of the founders were orthodox Christians in their thinking. A few were deists, those who believe in God as the Creator but don’t believe He takes an active role in ruling the creation, but they were in the minority. All of the signers believed in a Creator. They believed the rights of Americans were derived from a sovereign Creator. An often quoted phrase from the Declaration: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This statement is clear evidence the signers were men who not only believed in God, but who recognized His omniscience, omnipotence, and ownership of His creation.
Second, the Great Awakening influenced the American Revolution. The Great Awakening was a period in American history (1730-1740) when men like George Whitfiield and Jonathan Edwards preached a pure Gospel that resulted in thousands being regenerated and drawn to Christ. These new converts begin to read and study and found their government was not rooted in scripture. Biblical principles of personal land ownership, individual liberty and religious freedom were being ignored by the British crown. As they grew spiritually, they became intent on breaking the bonds of Great Britain’s tyrannical rule.
Third, the primary reason the Pilgrims (and others) came to America was to seek religious liberty. They wanted a place they could worship as they pleased. As the colonies grew, Great Britain set up the Church of England as the state-sanctioned church and that did not set well with people who had fled their homeland to escape the very thing they now faced in their new homeland. Religious liberty fueled the American Revolution. The Danbury Baptist traded letters with Thomas Jefferson expressing their concern that America’s new government was headed down that same path of sitting up a state church.
Granting the right and liberty to citizens to express and practice whatever religion- or lack thereof- was a hallmark of the document. So was the recognition the Creator was the final authority in granting rights. Modern Americans want liberty with no responsibility- tolerance with no patience- relevance and no truth and rights, but no responsibility. As our nation celebrates the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration, remember America’s founding and continued existence is from the hand of a sovereign Creator. May He spiritually awaken our nation!