Sunday, September 25, 2022

POLLS ARE NOT USED TO REFLECT PUBLIC OPINION- THEY ARE USED TO SHAPE IT!

Weekly Opinion Editorial 

POLL CATS!

by Steve Fair

     Forty-five days until the November general election and according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, America is divided.  The pollster included a ‘skewed’ question about the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, that showed 62% of Americans disagreed with the ruling.  The poll showed Republicans have a slight advantage in voter enthusiasm, but both Parties are motivated to get out to vote.  President Biden has an approval rating of 39%, with 53% strongly disapproving of the job the POTUS is doing.  57% of those polled believe Biden hasn’t accomplished much of anything.  31% of those polled said the Democrat Party is too permissive on abortion.  50% believe the Republican Party is too restrictive. Three observations about polls, no matter who is conducting them:

     First, polls are often manipulated and contrived.   Statistical sampling is the method pollsters use to measure voter interest.  They poll a cross section of voters and then extrapolate and project the results to a confidence factor.  Polls have been around since the early 1800s.  In the 20th century, The Literary Digest, a magazine published by Funk & Wagnalls, conducted opinion polls on the presidential races.  The Digest correctly predicted four straight races, but missed big in 1936 when they predicted Alf Landon would upset FDR.  George Gallup found their method of soliciting people to send in postcards had given them a bad sample. It seems, Landon’s supporters had conspired to bias the poll by flooding the Digest with postcards. 

     How a question is asked, who is commissioning (paying for) a poll, and those polled not providing accurate and honest answers can result in poll cats providing erroneous and faulty information.       Many push polls masquerade as opinion polls.  A push poll is an interactive marketing technique where a campaign attempts to influence the polled’s views and manipulate their response.

     Second, the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day.  The phrase originated in Australian politics, but it’s repeated often in America- often by candidates who are behind in the polls.  While true, polling, when conducted in a fair, unbiased, and scientific manner can be amazingly accurate.  Exceptions have been the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.  Most preelection polls had Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden easily beating Donald Trump. According to a report from the American Association for Public Opinion Research, polls for the 2020 election were the worst in forty years and polling in state races was the worst in twenty years.  Loss of objectivity by pollsters have resulted in a loss of public confidence in their accuracy.

     Third, the economic poll is the one to watch.  Pay attention to the inflation rate, the Consumer Price Index(CPI), the Gross domestic product(GDP), unemployment, interest rates and the price of crude oil.  All of those aren’t trending well for the average American.  The average Individual Retirement Account(IRA) decreased in value -18% since January 2022, wiping out $3 trillion in collective wealth of Americans.  The stock market is down -20% during the same period.  Crude oil is at a fifteen year high, resulting in high fuel prices at the pump.  Inflation is over 9% this year. Food at home prices have increased by 11% this year.   Most voters vote with their pocketbook, so it’s a safe conclusion the economic poll indicates they will vote out the Party in power.

       The late Rush Limbaugh said: “Polls are just being used as another tool of voter suppression.  The polls are an attempt to not reflect public opinion, but to shape it.  Yours.  They want to depress the heck out of you.” Nothing could depress Americans more than the economic indicators this year.    

     But that won’t stop poll cats from releasing fake polls indicating Americans are going to vote liberal in November, in the hope it will deflate conservatives.  A pole cat is a weasel-like mammal, noted for ejecting a fetid fluid when threatened.  Is there an odor in the air?

 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

They condemn politicization, while politicizing!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


SNAKE OIL CONCOCTION

by Steve Fair

 

     The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) begins a new term on October 3rd.  This will be the first term new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was appointed by President Biden, will be on the court.  Brown Jackson replaced fellow liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, who retired in June.  A 6-3 conservative majority remains on the court.  The SCOTUS is set to tackle a series of hot-button issues, including two major election disputes that could impact the 2024 presidential election.

     After the SCOTUS’s ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade, two of the liberals on the court have went on the road like snake oil salesmen questioning the legitimacy of the court.  Liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor claims the court’s most result rulings have been political and not constitutional.  “When courts become extensions of the political process, when people see them as extensions of the political process trying to impose personal preferences on society, irrespective of the law, that’s when there’s a problem,” Kagan said this week in Chicago.  Sotomajor said the same thing the next night in California.  Chief Justice John Roberts responded that justices shouldn’t question the court’s legitimacy just because they disagree with a ruling.  Three observations:

     First, every SCOTUS ruling is political.  The definition of political is: relating to the government or the public affairs of a country.  The original Roe vs. Wade ruling was political.  In 1973, spurred by social liberals, who wanted the government to sanction birth control- after the fact- the SCOTUS made a political ruling. Every ruling is political and rooted in ideology.  For Kagan and Sotomayor to question the court’s legitimacy is dishonest.  They know the six justices who voted to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision hold to an ‘originalist’ legal philosophy as opposed to their ‘textualism’ view.  To cast a shadow over the court’s legitimacy is the height of political and the ultimate sore loser.

     Second, the SCOTUS should not rule based on public opinion.  Every ruling should be based on the U.S. Constitution.  In the most recent past, that hasn’t been the case because the majority of justices on the SCOTUS were textualists and believed the Constitution is a ‘living’ document.  Textualists contend the original intent view is out of date/unfashionable.  Most SCOTUS textual rulings were made based on public opinion.  Now that’s political.  While it is true, citizens/the governed should have confidence that SCOTUS rulings are proper and follow the rule of law, the court should never rule based on public opinion.  It should rule based on the founding document.  

     Third, liberals are trying to change the structure of the SCOTUS.  Since President Trump appointed three justices in four years, liberals have come to the conclusion the SCOTUS needs to change.  Pressured by liberal activists, President Biden appointed a commission to study ways to change the SCOTUS.  The commission recommended term limits for justices (70 years old max) and expanding the court.  President Franklin Roosevelt tried the exact same thing in 1937, when conservative SCOTUS justices struck down some of his New Deal legislation.  The plan failed because Democrats in Congress opposed FDR’s plan- calling it a politicalizing of the SCOTUS.

     Democrats are trying to use the SCOTUS ruling on Roe Vs. Wade as ammunition against Republicans in the mid-term elections.  They are trying to convince voters the SCOTUS justices who voted to overturn Roe vs. Wade are partisan political hacks.    They condemn politicization while politicizing.  They are double-minded, unstable, vacillating, and insincere.  November will reveal if Americans brought their snake oil concoction.

 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

CITIZENS GET THE GOVERNMENT THEY WANT!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


WHISTLE PIGS!

by Steve Fair

      According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Americans in 2021 paid more in taxes than they spent on food, clothing and health care combined.  American households spent an average of $15,495 on food, clothing and health care, while paying an average of $16,729.73 in total taxes to federal, state and local governments.  Both of these numbers are up vs. 2020.  Three observations:

     First, government, at all levels, never has enough revenue.  Whether its for the national defense or the repair of a local pothole in the city street, government’s appetite for taking money from citizens is never satisfied.   Government spending is never cut or reduced- it continues to grow each year- no matter which Party is in office.

     The U.S. Treasury divides federal spending into three groups: mandatory spending, discretionary spending, and interest on the national debt.  Discretionary spending refers to the portion of the budget Congress decides each year through the appropriations process.  Last year, that was a whopping $2 trillion dollars.  In a normal year, about half of that amount goes to the military. 

     Mandatory spending includes Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which combined are three times more than what the U.S. spends on national defense.  In 2022, mandatory spending was $6 trillion dollars.

     The interest on the national debt is $400 billion each year.  The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) projects the annual interest cost will increase to over $1.2 trillion in the next ten years,  As a percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), these costs would double from 1.6% to 3.3%.  Government grows at all levels, with little accountability.   

     Second, true fiscal conservatives are endangered.  GOP candidates, at all levels, ballyhoo fiscal conservatism in their campaign literature and stump speeches, but few follow up once elected.  Candidate Donald Trump promised to balance the federal budget, but by 2019- before the pandemic- then President Trump was sending a budget to Congress that was $1 trillion dollars in the red.  During his four-year term, Trump spent more tax money than Obama.  Political activists rarely question elected officials about deficit spending and the national debt, which has resulted in true fiscal conservatives vanishing like the blush of innocence. 

     Third, citizens get the government they want.  While most Americans lament and complain about the size of government, the amount of taxes they pay, and the lack of response from their elected officials, only a very few do anything about it.  Most citizens are too busy making a living, paying their taxes, and raising their families to invest any time paying attention to how their tax dollars are being spent or to pay attention to politics.  They rely on others to do their heavy lifting.  Like Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who only leaves his burrow once a year, these hard workers emerge from their den periodically to hold those who are engaged accountable for the sad state of affairs.  They are unwilling- and sometimes unable- to be involved, but that doesn’t stop them from deriding those who are.  What those whistle pigs fail to discern is they have the government they deserve.  The only way to change that is for them to take proprietorship/ownership of their government more than intermittently.

     American consumers are price conscious at the grocery store.  They make sure they get a value for their food dollar.  They watch for bargains on clothing.  They shop and compare health care.  But when it comes to how taxes are being spent, taxpayers are impassive.  Until taxpayers start watching where taxes are being spent- at all levels of government- citizens will get the government they deserve.  Start paying attention!  Don’t be a whistle pig. 

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A WORKER IS WORTHY OF HIS HIRE!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

 

NO WORKER IS A VICTIM!

by Steve Fair

     Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States that is always celebrated on the first Monday in September.  It began in the late 19th century (1894) and was established to recognize and honor the American labor movement(unions).  Labor Day also marks the unofficial end of summer, celebrated with outings, picnics and parades.   

     At the height of the Industrial Revolution in America, the average worker was putting in 12-hour days seven days a week to make a living.  Workers got organized, formed unions and collectively negotiated with business owners for higher wages and better working conditions.  That led the rise of labor unions like the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and United Auto Workers.  The unions not only worked to get better wages and working conditions for their membership, but they got heavily involved in politics.  They successfully lobbied in many states to restrict workers from opting out of a union by requiring compulsory membership.  A portion of union dues were used to campaign for candidates who agreed with the unions.  Rank and file membership wasn’t given the choice of whether their dues would be used for political purposes for causes and positions they disagreed with.  That autocratic, tyrannical approach hurt the union’s membership.  Current union membership is about 10.3% of the total workforce in the U.S., half of what it was in 1983.  Three observations about labor and workers in America:

     First, the wage gap is widening in the United States.    Republicans don’t like to discuss it, but it’s true.  Workers are not appreciated and rewarded financially as they were in years past.  In a study of 300 top U.S. companies conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a liberal think tank, the average CEO received $670 in compensation for every $1 the worker received.  That is 4 times the disparity 40 years ago.  More than a third of the companies IPS surveyed were not increasing pay to keep up with inflation for their rank-and-file workers.  Clearly IPS has a liberal agenda, but the truth is the disparity between worker pay and executive has widened dramatically in the U.S.  

     Second, every worker is self-employed.  That doesn’t mean they have their own LLC or operate their own business.  It means they make a conscious choice to work for the wages they agree to upon hiring.  They agree to provide a service (their labor) for a paycheck.  If they want to sever that relationship, they can.  If they believe they are being treated unfairly or being underpaid, they should point it out to their employer.  If the boss doesn’t recognize their value, they should seek an employer that will. 

     Good workers should never ‘play the victim’ and blame their boss for not making enough money.  Working for a company isn’t the priesthood- you can leave.  A worker is worth fair wages.  An employer who takes advantage of willing, loyal, honest workers by not paying them what they are worth isn’t worthy of having eager, reliable, forthright employees.  Building a business on the backs of people being taken advantage of isn’t being conservative- it’s socialist.

     Third, living the American dream is no guarantee.  In fact, the dream in America is declining.  90% of children born in the 1940s achieved more accumulated wealth than their parents.  Only 40% of children born in the 1980s are doing that.  Why the decline?  One reason is government regulation on lending practices that have restricted access to capital.  Banks can’t take a risk on an idea and a hard worker like in the 1970s.  The government has made it next to impossible to get a business loan.  The primary reason Generation Xers are not doing better than their parents is many have a ‘victim’ or ‘entitlement’ mentality.  Until they take personal responsibility for their financial lot in life and stop blaming somebody else, they can expect to be stuck on the merry go round of life.

     Labor unions evolved because workers got fed up with being treated bad by their employers.  Those workers organized and effectively changed their circumstances by not being victims or demanding entitlements.  No worker is a victim.  They control their own economic fate.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

DEBT CAN'T SIMPLY DISAPPEAR- THERE IS NO FREE IN ANY ECONOMIC SYSTEM!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN!

by Steve Fair

 

     Last week, President Joe Biden announced student-loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and other federal borrowers.  Pell Grant borrowers could have up to $20,000 forgiven- non-Pell borrowers up to $10,000.  Both groups have to make less than $125,000 annually ($250,000 for couples) to qualify.  Forgiveness is automatic for borrowers who the Department of Education already has their income information.  That could be up to 8 million borrowers.  Under Biden's plan, 43 million people stand to have their loan payments reduced, while 20 million would have their debt forgiven altogether.

     “There is an entire generation now saddled with unsustainable student loan debt in exchange for a college degree.  We’re making incredible progress bringing relief to those that need it and fixing the student loan system so it works for working people,” President Biden said. 

     Biden’s executive order is expected to be challenged in court.  Many believe the president doesn’t have the legal authority to cancel student-loan debt, including it would seem Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  In July 2021, Pelosi said, “People think the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness.  He does not.  He can postpone and delay, but he does not have that power.  That has to be an act of Congress.”  Care to bet if Peolsi has changed her mind?  Three observations:

     First, Biden’s debt forgiveness is a blatant effort to help Democrats in the mid-term elections.  The economy is struggling, inflation is up and the supply chain remains broken, which has resulted in high prices at the shelf and pump.  The Democrats are projected to lose control of the U.S. House and perhaps the Senate in November unless something moves voters to the left. 

     Nothing motivates voters like getting free stuff (at least free to them), so Biden is hopeful his decree will spike voter turnout from the 43 million recipients of his generosity and keep Democrats in control of Congress. 

      Politicians of all persuasions/affiliations love to give away taxpayer money as re-election tokens.  That’s why taxpayer funded roads, bridges, airports and buildings are named after them and not for the people who actually paid the bill.

     Second, Biden’s action is blatantly unfair.  The forgiven student-loan debt is not eliminated.  It is transferred to taxpayers.  People who made a bad decision are rewarded.  Responsible citizens are penalized. It’s sad the American government and higher education duped and conned young students into borrowing money to fund their education, but it is not the responsibility of taxpayers to assume that debt.  Biden’s executive order reeks of Karl Marx’s famous communism creed: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” 

      Third, higher education has become about revenue, not education.  Colleges and universities sell unqualified students remedial (high school) classes at high prices, knowing those students will not finish college.  39% of the student-loan borrowers did not complete a degree and account for 23% of the total student-loan debt.  55% of those who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree account for 64% of the debt.  Working your way through college has become an impossibility because of the high cost of higher education. 

     The theory that a college degree will pay off in higher income has become a fallacy.  The Texas Public Policy Foundation found only half of modern college graduates will recoup their costs of going to college within twenty years and the other half will never make enough to cover what they spent to get their sheepskin.

     There is no free!  Someone is always paying the bill. Free doesn’t exist in any economic system.  Tragically many in America don’t know that, including the current president.  They wistfully wander through life, believing debt can simply disappear, and the lakes are stew and whiskey too on Big Rock Candy Mountain.   

 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

AMERICA NEEDS SOME RISKTAKERS- APPLY ANYWHERE THERE IS A HELP WANTED SIGN!

Weekly Opinion Editorial 


CAPITALISM REQUIRES PARTICIPATION!

by Steve Fair

 

    The Wall Street Journal reports American companies are on pace to return nearly 350,000 jobs to the U.S. in 2022.  If that happens, it would be highest number on record since 2010.  Taking manufacturing and production out of the country had been a trend for over thirty years until President Trump took office in 2016.  Trump made keeping domestic manufacturing and production here a priority.  About 450,000 new manufacturing jobs were added during Trump’s term in office.  During President Obama’s eight years in the White House, the U.S. lost 192,000 manufacturing jobs.

     When COVID hit, American companies had to rethink their ‘out of the country’ strategy as labor shortages in foreign countries coupled with high commodity prices and logistics challenges made price a secondary issue. Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine disrupted grain markets and the conflict between  China and Taiwan has disturbed the microchip market.  That has resulted in three major microchip manufacturers announcing they are bringing their production back to the U.S.  A constant, reliable, and dependable source of supply has become more important than price to American manufacturers and processors. That should be the goal for the American consumer. Three observations:

     First, a buy American policy is not just patriotic- it’s sensible.  When companies made the decision to have their products or components made out of the country, American consumers eagerly accepted the products because they were cheaper. 

     50% of American consumers acknowledge price is the main decision factor when they buy something.  Bottom line- if they can save money, they will buy the lower priced item.  Two thirds of Americans polled last year claim they will pay more for products made in America, but they don’t follow up by doing it.  Imported products often have higher market share than their domestic competition.

     Second, globalization contributed to the disruption in the supply chain.  Since COVID-19, labor issues, raw material shortages, and high fuel costs are not just in the U.S., they are across the globe.  Every country is facing historic price increases and inflation.  Manufacturers across the world have high demand and lower productivity than pre-pandemic.  Consumers are adjusting to the new normal- delays in getting consumer goods, and service in a timely way. 

     How did this happen?  Short sighted companies, greedy labor unions, and clueless politicians contributed to the expansion of globalization.  Those who called for an America First policy were attacked as isolationists and called  non-progressive and too traditional.   

     Third, capitalism requires participation and less are choosing to engage.  In the capitalist economic system, individual initiative is rewarded.  Unlike socialism or communism, where individuality is downplayed, capitalism rewards those who work harder than their counterparts.  In capitalism, when fewer workers choose to participate in the workforce, the demand for those who will work increases and wages go up.  America has a shortage of people who will work.  Help wanted signs are in every business.  Anyone who really wants a job can get one and many older Americans are delaying retirement and continue to work. 

     The number of Americans over age 55 who are in the labor force is projected to be over 42 million by 2026- over one quarter of all those working.  Younger Americans are not entering the workforce.  The reason? The government will pay them more to sit on their duff than to work.  Who can blame them?  It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance. 

     If trends continue, America’s capitalism economic system will fail.  The risktakers that built the U.S., who lived the American Dream and made their fortunes must have modern day counterparts to step up and roll the dice.   America needs young passionate, hardworking, adventure seekers.  Apply anywhere there is a help wanted sign.


Sunday, August 14, 2022

AMERICANS SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT DIRECTION OF COUNTRY!

Weekly Opinion Editorial


OVERPLAYED HAND!

by Steve Fair

 

           In 1978, the Presidential Records Act (PRA) was enacted.  The PRA requires any memos, letters, emails, and other documents related to the president or vice president’s duties be preserved and given to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at the end of an administration.  It was enacted after President Nixon tried to destroy records relating to his presidential tenure. 

     Since its’ implementation, every POTUS has tried to circumvent the PRA.  President Reagan tried to shield email records about the Iran-Contra arms deals.  President George H.W. Bush was accused of destroying telephone logs and emails records about the State Department’s investigation into Bill Clinton’s passport records.  President Clinton had many people in his administration that used private email accounts to conduct government business to avoid the PRA.  President George W. Bush challenged the National Archives to review and determine how documents were to be classified.  President Obama was accused of moving presidential documents from the White House to Chicago for his presidential library. 

      After President Trump left office in January 2021, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) said they had received some of Trump’s presidential records, but accused him of tearing up some records.  On February 8th of this year, the NARA confirmed they had gotten 15 boxes of presidential records from Trump that had been at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.  They said some of the returned documents were classified. 

     In June, investigators with the U.S. Justice Department met with Trump’s lawyers and served a grand jury subpoena for more documents at Mar-a-Lago.  On August 5th, U.S. Magistrate Judge in Florida, Bruce Reinhart, an Obama donor, issued a sealed search warrant for Mar-a-Lago.  On Monday, August 8th, at 9am, thirty plainclothes FBI agents descended on the former president’s home.  They spent 9 hours, concentrating on a bedroom and at a safe.  Reportedly, at one point, the feds scoured former first lady Melania Trump’s closet. 

     President Trump issued a statement: “These are dark times for our nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.  Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”

     U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he ‘personally approved’ the decision to seek a warrant for the FBI to search Trump’s residence and that he didn’t take the action lightly.  Three observations:

     First, the goal is not to get documents preserved/returned- it is to remove Donald Trump from the 2024 election.  A conviction of violating the PRA could prevent him from running.  Democrats know that.  Every president since the passage of PRA has dealt with the bureaucrats at NARA after they have left office on document/record preservation, but none have faced the scrutiny Trump has.   

     Second, no one is above the law and that includes Donald Trump.  If he violated the law- including the PRA- he must pay the price.  The United States is a nation of laws, which is the foundation of the country.  But equal enforcement/administration of the law is critical if citizens are to believe they have a country.  

     The raid of a former POTUS’s home is unprecedented.  The incursion into Trump’s home better produce clear evidence of a law being broken.  The FBI, AG Garland, and the Department of Justice should publicly reveal what they found and do it expeditiously.      

     Third, Americans should be concerned about the direction of the country.  Selective enforcement of the law and ignoring the law by leaders with no consequences is commonplace. Disrespect of law enforcement run rapport.  Tolerance is preached, but not practiced.  Traditional values are deemed irrelevant in modern culture.  The fabric of the United States appears to be unraveling.    

     Politically, the raid and attack on Trump could backfire on Democrats.  They likely have ‘overplayed their hand.’  When someone ‘overplays their hand,’ they make the mistake of believing their position is stronger or better than it really is.    Voters may see through the motivation of the attack on Trump and show up in record numbers in November and give Republicans control of both chambers of Congress. 

     

Saturday, August 6, 2022

VOTING IS A SACRED DUTY!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


VOTING IS A RESPONSIBILITY!

by Steve Fair

      Less than one third (31.6%) of registered Republicans voted in the June 28th primary election.  There were races in all but two of the nine statewide offices on the ballot, two U.S. Senate races, Congressional races, and dozens of legislative and local races so it wasn’t like voters didn’t have something to vote on.  But just 360,000 of the Sooner state’s 1,138,947 registered Republicans made the effort to cast a ballot in the primary.  Because the state is very Republican, the victors in the GOP primary are almost assured victory in the General election.  There are 2,252,101 registered voters (all Parties) in Oklahoma.  That means 16% of the people registered made the decision for 100% of the four million residents.

     If social media is any indication of political interest in Oklahoma, turnout should have been around 95%, but it wasn’t.  Why?  Is interest in government and politics waning in Oklahoma?  Are people just turned off by the lack of ethics in politics?  Both could be true.  Three observations:

     First, the average Republican in Oklahoma is fed up with the constant political rhetoric.  All they see  on social media are keyboard warriors debating, insulting and berating fellow Republicans- but they also quote scripture.  The fact is the average butcher, baker and candlestick maker is too busy trying to make a living to engage in political discourse that accomplishes nothing.  The average Joe isn’t interested in style.  They want substance.  The loud and proud don’t impress them.  They want specifics on what gets Oklahoma and America out of this mess.  Because they never get real answers, they wrongly have brought into the premise the cause is lost, so why should they vote.   

     Second, being fed up with inaction doesn’t release a citizen from their responsibility.  Voting is not just a sacred right; it is a responsibility.  Showing up makes a difference.  It may seem like every candidate and elected official is the same and only interested only in self-promotion.  But when only one third of eligible voters show up for a major primary, two thirds shirked their responsibility.  776,000 Oklahomans registered in the Grand Old Party didn’t do their duty June 28th.  Those Republicans have an opportunity to redeem themselves for that neglect on August 23rd . 

     There are five statewide races in just two weeks: August 23rd .  Former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon is pitted against Congressman Mark Wayne Mullin for the unexpired U.S. Senate term.  Rep. Todd Russ and former Sen. Clark Jolley are in a runoff for state treasurer.  Ryan Walters and April Grace are opponents in the state school superintendent race.  Former Rep. Todd Thomeson and Sen. Kim David are vying for the corporation commission and current Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborne and Rep. Shawn Roberts are in a runoff for the office currently held by Osborne.  In the next two weeks, some Republican voter mailboxes will be full- the ones who usually show up.  The campaigns won’t waste their money sending a mail piece to an infrequent voter, but if that voter started paying attention, things could get interesting.    

     Third, there is no excuse for not voting.  Oklahoma has in person absentee early voting the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the Tuesday election.  The polls are open from 7am-7pm on Election Day.  A voter can apply for an absentee ballot.  There is simply no excuse for not voting in the Sooner state.  Unless providentially hindered, a citizen should never neglect their responsibility to cast their vote. 

     President Thomas Jefferson said, “we do not have government by the majority.  We have government by the majority who participates.”  Participate on August 23rd.  It is your sacred duty and responsibility.  It does make a difference!

 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

"KEEP YOUR EYE ON ONE THING- AND ONE THING ONLY: HOW MUCH GOVERNMENT IS SPENDING!"

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


IN THE CENTER RING!

by Steve Fair

 

     A ‘big tent’ is a phrase used in reference to a political Party permitting or encouraging a broad spectrum of views among its members.  Instead of enforcing a determined ideology/platform, those in the ‘big tent’ are tolerant of those they disagree with.  Those who believe in the Republican ‘big tent,’ follow Ronald Reagan’s credo the person who agrees with you 80% of the time is your friend and not a 20% traitor.           

     Today both the Republican and Democratic Party ‘big tents’ look more like a circus tent than a place to gather and unite.  Tolerance of another person’s differing viewpoint is considered weakness.  Respect for an opposing opinion is frailty.  Loud is the name of the game in the tent.  Elected officials and candidates must be roaring, deafening and thunderous or they are considered weak.  Insults, name calling, and slander project strong convictions in the Party tabernacle.   Substance, truth and humility are secondary attributes.  Anger, wrath and fury reign.  Details of how to fix all the issues in America are foggy in both of the major Party tents.  Here are three observations all Americans, no matter what Party affiliation, should agree on:

     First, government spends too much money.  The money government (at all levels) is provided by taxpayers.  Government has no money of its own.  The government does a terrible job living within its means.  The current national debt is 30 trillion dollars.  The U.S. federal debt to GDP ratio in 2000 was 57%.  In 2022, it is 130%.  It seems to matter little which political Party is in power- government spends too much money.  Last year, the federal government took in a record amount of revenue- $4.4 trillion- but spent $6 trillion.   

      Government spending financed by higher taxes reduces personal incentive to start a new business or expand an existing one.  Redistribution of wealth by government fosters a culture of dependency and depresses risk taking. 

     Until true fiscal conservatives are elected to office, the deficit will continue to grow.  Nobel prize winner in Economics, Milton Friedman said, “Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only: how much government is spending.”  American government spends too much money and has no plans to slow down.  Until voters begin to hold elected officials accountable for the out of the control spending, it will be business as usual.  The national debt crisis is real and threatens the very way of life in America.  It is not discussed or addressed in campaigns because it’s not booming enough.  It doesn’t fire up the troops. 

     Second, government isn’t to be trusted.  In a Pew Research Center poll conducted in June, public trust in government is near historic lows.  Only 29% of Democrats trust their government to do what’s right.  Among Republicans it is 9%.  In 1958, 75% of Americans trusted government.  How did government become so untrustworthy?  Reducing of personal liability, increased regulation, unfulfilled campaign promises contributed to the lack of confidence in government. Promises of reduced regulations, taxation are made during campaigns to be quickly forgotten once sworn into office.

     Third, the government is the people.  The U.S. Constitution begins with the words: We the People.  The people are charged with controlling the government.  That is done by being engaged in their government all the time.  Engagement can vary in degrees- from seeking office to infrequent voting.  Until more Americans commit to constant, persistent involvement in their government, the loudest candidate in the tent will prevail.

     Both political Parties have allowed their ‘big tents’ to become entertainment.  Purity tests have been established to ensure those allowed to enter the tent maintain the ideological purity of the Party, but once in the tent, little serious discussion on issues that unite are conducted.  It’s more fun- but less productive- to argue in the tent.  Ladies and Gentlemen, now in the center ring, The Polarizing of America!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

DO STATES HAVE A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO LEAVE THE UNION?

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


A HOUSE DIVIDED!

by Steve Fair

 

     Is the U.S. headed for a second civil war?  Will America survive or will the country break up?  In a survey taken in the Fall of 2021 by the University of Virginia, 50% of Trump supporters and 40% of Biden supporters believed the country should spilt up along red and blue lines. 

     At their recent state convention, the Texas Republican Party voted to formally endorse a referendum (state question) on Texas seceding from the United States.  The resolution asks the Texas state legislature to put the issue on the 2023 ballot. 

     Texas is the only state in American history to hold a statewide vote on secession.  A vote to secede from the United States happened in 1861, when Texans voted overwhelmingly to join the Confederacy.  Other states that seceded to form the Confederacy relied on their state legislatures to proclaim their departure from the union, but not Texas.  Texas was an independent country when they joined the union and that fact fuels complicated legal debates on whether the Lone Star state can constitutionally break away from the United States.  The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believed secession was settled by the Civil War and that no state (including Texas) has a right to secede from the union.  Three observations:

     First, secession is not a new idea.  As early as the 1790s, states were trying to break away from the union.  Kentucky, Virginia and other states attempted to leave the union in 1798.  South Carolina, the first state to secede over the slavery issue, threatened to pull out in 1828 over the issue of tariffs when Andrew Jackson was president.  The Palmetto state also threatened to leave over the issue of California’s statehood.  James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said the document does not allow for a state to pull out of the union- without the approval of the other states.  There is no ‘no fault’ divorce provision in the Constitution.

     Second, secession is not a good idea.  When a state becomes a separate country, it presents a whole new set of challenges.  Founding documents must be drafted and a form of government established.  Dealing with those in the new country who were opposed to secession becomes a major issue.  National defense, currency, and a myriad of other things must be addressed.  It takes more work to start a country than to reform one.    

     Third, the political divide in America is widening.  There are few political issues the two major political Parties agree on.  Positions on abortion and same sex marriage dissect the country.  Fiscal policy is fractured.  Debate over gun rights and the Second Amendment hold sway.  Common ground is crumbling.  Red (conservative) and blue (liberal) states are fractured along ideology lines.   

     The Bible says two can’t walk together unless they be in agreement.  Discord and division reign.  If common ground can’t be found- and quick- dissolution of the union is inevitable, whether it be by secession or a second civil war.    

     Before he was POTUS, in 1858, Abraham Lincoln famously quoted Matthew 12:25 in a speech to the Illinois Republican Party: A house divided against itself cannot stand.  The speech is one of Lincoln’s most well-known speeches and it seems relevant for today.

     Whether a house stands or falls depends on the commitment of the inhabitants in the house.  They must agree on the fundamentals/principles that govern the house.   When half of U.S. believes the country should dissolve, there is clearly a lack of commitment to keep the house intact.  In order for the union to survive, Americans must unite on what America is- indivisible and founded on liberty and justice for all.

 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Absorbing price increases can't happen in a healthy economy!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial


SPONGES!

by Steve Fair

     The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is the measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for consumer goods and services.  In June, the CPI rose 1.3% for the month.  The CPI is up +9.1% in the last 12 months.  That is the highest growth rate since November 1981. Food prices at the shelf have risen even more: +10.4% in the past 52 weeks.  Gas prices are up a whopping +41.6% the past year.

     Inflation has hit hard at the wholesale level as well.  Prices for food processors and producers surged to near record level from a year ago; +11.3%.  Translated, that means consumers will likely see even higher food prices at the shelf in the future.  Stripping out food and gas, the annual inflation rate vs. last year is +5.9%.  Three observations:

     First, this inflation is not transitory or temporary.  In July 2021, President Biden said the increase in prices consumers was seeing was not persistent inflation and would be temporary.  After thirteen consecutive months of price increases, clearly the President was wrong last year.  Inflation is here for at least another year.    Even liberal CNN has said the president shouldn’t have called the inflation transitory. 

     Second, Biden’s failed policies have fueled inflation.  The POTUS continues to pass the buck on the economy, but the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed last year heavily contributed to the current inflationary mess.  America’s policy of ‘spending’ its way out of economic downturns finally caught up with the good ole USA.   Couple that with Biden’s ‘war on fossil fuels,’ policies and you have gasoline at record prices.  The first way to solve a problem is to admit one exists.  The Biden administration has failed to acknowledge inflation even exists, so it unlikely they have a plan to get it under control.

     Third, sponges do not exist in an economic system.  Increases must be passed through.  Consumers can’t ‘absorb’ price increases without increases in wages.  A retailer or a producer cannot ‘absorb’ an increase.  They must pass them through.  If increases are bottlenecked anywhere along the supply chain, disfunction occurs.   The answer to high prices is high prices.  When prices reach a level where demand comes down, prices will fall.  It is basic economics.

     Inflation has brought with it two big problems: Wages haven’t kept up with price increases and rising interest rates have decreased investment activity.  President Biden has blamed inflation on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but the truth is the US has a significantly worse core (excludes food and gasoline) inflation rate than the rest of the world. Most economists believe it is because the US spent so much on stimulus.  The best thing the government can do to help stop inflation is to stop spending money.  In the 1970s, OPEC’s policies on oil exports created double digit inflation in the U.S.  In 2022, the cause of high prices is not external, it’s internal.  President Biden’s failed economic policy that doesn’t put America first has lowered the average U.S. consumer buying power by 22% in the past 18 months. 

     Instead of pandering to Saudi Arabia to sell the US more oil, perhaps President Biden should meet with domestic energy leaders and ask them what their government could do to help them.  But government is where you find the sponges.  They absorb everything and don’t pass anything on.

 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

OKLAHOMA WILL LEAD NATION IN SALE OF JUNK FOOD!

 Weekly Opinion Editorial

POT ON THE BALLOT!

by Steve Fair

 

      Four years ago, Oklahoma passed State Question #788 57% to 43% which legalized medical marijuana.  The poorly crafted initiative petition was vague and lacked detail about implementation and oversight.  The state legislature has spent a great deal of time since 2018 putting meat on the 788 bones.  Legislation regulating growing and distribution has resulted in the Sooner state becoming a magnet for grow operations and dispensaries.   Oklahoma has more weed growers (9,000+) than California, a state with ten times the population.  One reason is the cost of $2,500 to get a license in Oklahoma, as opposed to $100,000 in bordering Arkansas.  There is also no cap on the number of dispensaries or grow operations in the state, but that may be changing in the future.  About 12% of Oklahomans have a ‘medical marijuana’ card.  Clearly much of the pot grown in Oklahoma is being shipped out of the state- which is in violation of state and federal law.  If all the weed grown by Oklahoma growers were being consumed by Sooner residents, the dispensaries would be selling it by the bale, not the joint.    

      Last week, proponents of State Question #820 delivered 120 boxes of signed petitions to the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office.  They claim they got over 164,000 signatures from Oklahoma registered voters asking SQ#820 to be added to the November ballot.  If approved, it would legalize adult-use recreational marijuana.  The number of signatures required for an initiative petition is tied to the last governor’s race in Oklahoma.  The Oklahoma Secretary of State must verify a minimum of 95,000 signatures for the proposal to get on the November ballot.  Three observations:

     First, if SQ#820 makes it to the November ballot, it will likely pass.  Twenty years ago, Oklahomans would not have embraced legal medical pot, but four years ago, they did.  Added by an influx of people from more liberal areas of the U.S. into Oklahoma, and young voters, the measure passed easily.  The Sooner state has changed.  Once staunchly conservative Oklahoma now has more slot machines and weed shops than any place in the world.  Misguided criminal justice reform by well-meaning, but clueless people, has resulted in decriminalizing former crimes and as a result, Oklahoma is a top ten state in growth of crime against property.   In reality, passage of SQ#820 really would not change much of what is actually being currently practiced in the state.  Oklahoma’s ‘medical marijuana’ law is just a wink and nod from recreational pot use now.

     Second, expect the SQ#820 crowd to sell passage of the measure to help education.  Oklahoma voters will probably buy the message.  Through the years, Oklahomans have been told passage of parimutuel betting, a state lottery, casino gambling, and medical marijuana would provide more tax money for education.  For years, Oklahomans have been gambling, drinking, and smoking pot for the kids, yet test scores haven’t dramatically improved.

     Third, Oklahoma could become a top ten state if SQ#820 passes.  The state will lead the nation in relaxation, paranoia, and the sale of junk food. Citizens will lose their inhibitions and their good judgment.  Worker production will decline, but with everybody high on dope, including the boss, no one will care.  Oklahoma will lead the nation in poor motor skills and awareness of time. 

     Conservative Oklahoma has always leaned libertarian, but in recent years has become more antinomian (no law).  That is not progress or improvement.  Vote no on SQ#820 if it makes it to the ballot.