Sunday, November 28, 2021

Roe v. Wade could go down this week!

Weekly Opinion Editorial 


by Steve Fair

       On Wednesday, the United State Supreme Court(SCOTUS) will take up a Mississippi abortion case.  This could be the most critical decision on abortion in decades.  Lawyers for both sides are telling the SCOTUS there is no middle ground.  They can either affirm the constitutional right to an abortion or wipe Roe v. Wade out altogether.  With the addition of three SCOTUS justices to the court by former President Donald Trump during his four-year term, conservative thinkers have a 6-3 majority on the court.  Abortion advocates are worried.

     The case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization(JWHO).  It challenges a 2018 Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.  The law is in conflict with Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first six months of a pregnancy.  Oklahoma, Mississippi and ten other states have abortion trigger laws that would take effect immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned.  “A decision upholding this ban is tantamount to overruling Roe,” said Julie Rikelman, the lawyer for JWHO.  “There are no half measures here.” Sherif Girgis, a Notre Dame law professor and former clerk for Justice Alito says.   According to the liberal Guttmacher Institute a ruling affirming the Mississippi law would ban or severely restrict abortion in 26 U.S. states.   Three observations:

     First, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion.  Justice Clarence Thomas has written the founding document is silent on the subject of abortion and said the SCOTUS bends its own rules and procedures to protect Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings.  Few rulings by the SCOTUS have cried out as loudly for reversal, or both moral and legal grounds, as Roe v. Wade.  The majority opinion in Roe is fraught with conspicuous errors of law, fact and reasoning.  Justice Thomas said in 2019: “In my view, if the SCOTUS encounters a decision that is demonstrably erroneous- i.e., one that is not a permissible interpretation of the text-the SCOTUS should correct the error, regardless of whether other factors support overruling the precedent.”  

     Even supporters of Roe admit the problem with the ruling is it has little connection to the Constitutional right(privacy) it purportedly interpreted.  Most legal experts say it is a stretch to include abortion as a constitutionally protected right based on privacy and it has no foundation in constitutional text, history or precedent.

     Second, the Constitution does guarantee the right to life.  It’s in the preamble.  If the  SCOTUS should rule unborn children are persons under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, then Roe is toast.  The Constitution explicitly guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  A positive ruling would extend those rights to the unborn.

     Third, an estimated 62 million children in the U.S. have been aborted since 1973.  The economic impact of abortion during that period is in the billions- both in lost workers and productivity, and in taxes not paid to government.  Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards argues that there is no specific moment when life begins and says her children’s life began when they were born.  Dr. Jerome Lejeune, the father of modern genetics, disagrees.  He says, “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion—it is plain experimental evidence.  Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”

     The SCOTUS has the opportunity this week to right a 48-year-old wrong. Christians should be in prayer they will rule to uphold the Mississippi law.  It could save millions of unborn children’s lives. 


Sunday, November 21, 2021


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair

     The Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector (SAI) is a constitutionally created office within the executive branch of Oklahoma government.  The duties of the office include examining the books, accounts, and cash on hand, of the State Treasurer and all 77 county treasurers.  They are also charged with conducting annual audits of the operations of each Emergency Medical Services district and each county solid waste management operation(landfills).  The SAI audits all of Oklahoma’s 77 county governments and does performance audits and special investigative audits, as requested by the governor or by joint request of the leaders of the Oklahoma legislature.  Citizens can also petition the SAI to audit by gathering signatures of 10% of the registered voters.  The SAI is the taxpayer’s watchdog ensuring tax dollars are not being stolen or misused. 

     The SAI also serves on the state Land Office Commission and as a member of the State Board of Equalization.  Since statehood, there have been 13 State Auditors- 10 Democrats and 3 Republicans.  Cindy Byrd, a Republican, is the current State Auditor.  

     In the summer of 2019, Governor Kevin Stitt requested the SAI conduct an audit of Epic Charter Schools and all related entities.  Epic’s three divisions constitute the largest school district in Oklahoma with approximately 60,000 students.  Epic’s stated mission is to “Fulfill every student’s individual potential by personalizing an education plan that focuses on school and family partnership to achieve optimal student performance.”  They are a free PreK-12 public school for parents/students who are seeking a non-traditional education setting utilizing internet-based, individualized self-paced instruction.  They also operate two on-site facilities- in OKC and Tulsa.

     Epic received $458 million in state and federal tax dollars over a six year period.  Epic contracted with a for profit private company- also named Epic- to provide administrative services.  The private company Epic received $45.9 for management services (10%) and $79.3 for student learning fees for a total of $125.2 million dollars.  According to Cindy Byrd, the SAI, the audit revealed several areas of concern.  First, Oklahoma state law caps the amount a large school district can spend on administration at 5% and Epic exceeded that cap.  Second, Epic, the private company, used public school officials to do their administrative work, which if proven is embezzlement of taxpayer dollars.  There were other findings that should trouble taxpayers.  The audit findings report is available online at the SAI’s website.  Three observations:

     First, any misuse of tax dollars is wrong.  Epic audit critics claim Byrd opposes school choice.  She has categorically denied that, but it doesn’t matter if she did oppose school choice.  Misuse of tax dollars is wrong, no matter who is doing it!  Honest people should be careful providing cover for those who bend the law.  That is the basis for situational ethics.  The end doesn’t justify the means.

     Second, the SAI should have the authority to audit anything that isn’t tied down.  Most Oklahomans don’t realize the SAI can’t audit unless requested to do so.  The state auditor should be unleashed.  The legislature should appropriate money to the SAI so audits can be conducted on every entity that gets a penny of Oklahoma tax payer dollars.  The Epic audit findings are likely the tip of the iceberg on the misuse of tax dollars in the Sooner state.

     Third, Stitt has ordered an audit of Oklahoma secondary public education.  Byrd is charged with two objectives, (1) identifying the sources of revenue public education receives and (2) determining the percentage the larger districts are spending on administration.  The audit will likely not be completed until mid-2022.  It is long overdue.  Next up should be higher ed.

     Any organization or entity that gets a penny of tax dollars shouldn’t fear an audit.  They should welcome the scrutiny.  An audit is just an evaluation or examination to check for accuracy.  Oklahoma taxpayers should demand their watchdog is unleashed- after all it’s their money!   


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Biden's policies are hurting Americans!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     On Wednesday, President Joe Biden conceded the inflation Americans are experiencing is the result of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus spending legislation.   According to Biden, the reason consumer demand exceeds supply is stimulus funds have given people more money to spend. “It (stimulus money) changes people’s lives. But what happens if there’s nothing to buy and you got more money to compete for getting [goods]? It creates a real problem,” Biden said.  The problem is that Americans are facing the highest rate of inflation since 1990, the supply chain is broken, and prices are rising faster.  Three observations:

     First, Americans are frustrated about the economy.  Even the POTUS admits it.  “People are feeling it- they are feeling it.  Did you ever think you would be paying this much for a gallon of gas?  In some parts of California, they’re paying $4.50 a gallon.  That’s why it’s so important we do everything in our power to stabilize the supply chain,” Biden said.  Gasoline is at a seven year high due to higher demand and a constrained supply.  The supply issue can be laid at President Biden’s feet since he has hamstrung the U.S. oil and gas industry, while asking OPEC and Russia to provide more of America’s oil.  Two weeks ago, Biden admitted he didn’t have an answer on how to reduce gasoline prices and that he expected the prices to remain high into 2022. 

     Second, that frustration could impact mid-term elections in 2022.  It impacted how voters cast their ballots in recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey.  According to recent ABC/Washington Post poll, Republicans have a ten-point lead over Democrats- 51% to 41% in a generic poll.  Of those polled, 62% believed Democrats had done a poor job handling the economy.  Republicans didn’t fare much better.  Over 50% said Republicans haven’t done a good job on the economy.  President Biden’s approval rating has dropped to 39%- down 6% in two months.  It is still a year out from mid-term elections, but at this point, it doesn’t look like a good election cycle for the Democrats and it could be a challenging year for incumbents of all Party affiliations.

     Third, it’s rare when a politician admits their policies are hurting their constituents.  It is even more astonishing when they brag and gloat about the negative results those policies created.  Biden’s candor in acknowledging his role in American’s economic woes is surprising.  Food prices have risen to the highest levels in twelve years, gasoline is up 40% over last year and consumer confidence is at a ten-year low and he admits his spending bills have created those hardships.    

     Thomas Dewar, the famous Scotch whiskey distiller, once said: “An honest confession is good for the soul, but bad for the reputation.”  Warren Buffet says it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  It took President Biden longer than five minutes but less than a year.   If inflation and hard times continue, the fruit of Biden’s policies will be a GOP controlled Congress after the 2022 mid-terms.


Sunday, November 7, 2021


 Weekly Opinion Editorial 


by Steve Fair


     In June 2016, Oklahoma voters approved State Question #788 by a 57%-43% margin.    It legalized the licensing, cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes.   Since the passage, the legislature has been dealing with the far-reaching effects of legal pot in the Sooner state.  They set up the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), a division of the Department of Health.  The OMMA oversees patient and business licensing for Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program.  As of August 1st, there are over 10,000 business licenses in the state- 8,300 are grow licenses and 2,300 dispensaries.  Oklahoma has issued far more grow licenses than any state in the country.  According to Mark Woodward some of the growers are associated with organized crime from other countries and they are supplying pot to the east coast.  Woodward said those growers will struggle to get their license renewed because they will not be able to reach the 75% resident ownership threshold. 

    According to the OMMA, legal pot has generated over 125 million dollars in tax revenue the first ten months of 2021.  Governor Stitt just named Adria Berry the new director of the OMMA.  She is the fourth director in three years.  OMMA has been criticized for not yet implementing a tracking system for marijuana plants.  The agency is seriously unstaffed and plans to add 60 more personnel in the next few months. 

     Because of the growth of the marijuana industry in Oklahoma, the legislature recently conducted interim studies on the effect of medical marijuana in the state.  One such study addressed concerns of Oklahoma farmers on how the two industries could co-exist.  Marijuana growers are concerned about pesticide drift liability from conventional farms.  Conventional farmers are concerned with the impact the pot growers are having on water supply and rural utilities.   Three observations:

     First, pot growers have seriously stretched rural infrastructure.  Water is a major concern.  During a study this week, Brandon Bowman, programs director with the Oklahoma Rural Water Association, described communities in the state where residents are left without water because of the strain caused by new grow facilities. He said some operators even fail to put in proper sanitation systems, so their fields are running with open sewage. Bowman said if this was not addressed, the state's supply of drinking water will be challenged.  Rural electric providers described the struggles they have faced from providing industrial service to growers.

     Second, the growers have impacted county government.  County assessors, who are charged to assess the property in the county, describe how their personnel are often threatened or denied legal access to grower’s property.  County sheriffs say they don’t have the money to provide adequate coverage for their county, which results in higher crime. 

     Third, county government should be getting a share of the sales tax.  The strain on county government budgets from the growth of medical marijuana needs to be addressed.  Cleveland county Commissioner Rod Cleveland advocates OMMA partnering with county government to help regulate the industry.  “It is going to take more than OMMA to regulate the cannabis industry.  Counties are a vital asset and government that is closest to the people.  There must be revenue share from cannabis taxes to sheriff’s offices and counties to help promote good and fair-trade practices in the industry,” Cleveland said.

     It has been three years since Oklahoma voters approved SQ#788.  The growth of pot growth and sales in the state has been meteoric.  The industry flourishes because it operates practically unregulated due to lack of oversight.  County government could help with that, but they have to share part of the pot.  Sales tax pot that is.