Sunday, July 31, 2022


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


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


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


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


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


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


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.