Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2019

10 New Years Resolutions for Oklahoma

The new year brings with it the promise of new beginnings. A chance to reset. To do better. In that spirit, 1889 offers the following resolutions to policymakers across the state.   1. Reduce occupational licensing This originally read “End (or greatly reduce) occupational licensing ,” but let’s be a little more realistic. If Oklahoma would even start moving the right direction (that is, shrinking the number of occupations for which a license is required, instead of growing it), it would be a huge win for the state. It would improve the overall economy. It would allow more people to find a job they are good at. Government rarely gets a shot at such an obvious win-win .   2. Reduce the number of branches of government to a manageable number.   We will follow John Adams ’ lead and suggest only three – legislative, executive, and judiciary – and recommend getting rid of the TSET, the Corporation Commission, and the host of other independent agencies with unelected

‘Tis the Season for Humility

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 Christmas is almost here and, being a Christian, this time of year always gets me thinking about the religious aspects of the holiday. The 1889 Institute does not have a religious mission, and so it’s certainly not my purpose here to proselytize. There is an aspect of the larger story of Christmas, however, that all men of all creeds do well to remember and take heed. This is the concept of humility and what it really means. Whether one considers it myth or historical truth, the Bible teaches that God humbled Himself and came to earth as a man, deigning to be born in a barn to a carpenter’s household and grow up to wear, not a crown of gold and jewels, but one of thorns for the occasion of a tortured, earthly, sacrificial death. Without going into the theological aspects of the story, it is plain that it is, if nothing else, a lesson in extreme humility. Humility is a lesson that has been

Eat Your Vegetables: City Council Considers A Well-Disguised Sin Tax

The Oklahoma City Council is considering a well-disguised sin tax. They call it a Healthy Neighborhood Zoning Overlay, but the effect is the same. It limits new dollar stores in the specified neighborhood. The ostensible goal is to create a welcoming environment for grocery stores selling fresh meat and produce. But it accomplishes this goal by giving existing dollar stores a monopoly, which will raise prices, and punish residents for shopping at the purveyors of (allegedly nothing but) junk food, instead of subsisting on fresh, organic kale smoothies like good little citizens. Why would the Council intentionally restrict the supply of stores where many of their residents buy basic household goods and food? Several possibilities present themselves, though none are sound.   A fundamental misunderstanding of the laws of supply and demand. Economists call the current state of the neighborhood a contestable market: dollar stores choose low prices because the mere poten

A Simple Way to Improve Oklahoma’s Selection of Judges: Open Up the Process

The synod has finished its secret meetings and taken its vote behind closed doors. The public waits with bated breath (well, some of us) to get a glimpse at the new high priest who will don his formal vestments and take his seat at the commanding heights of doctrinal authority. Who will it be? Who will it be?! Then, as if delivered from the heavens, the names appear in a short announcement tucked in an obscure corner of the internet . WE HAVE CHOSEN. I am not describing the last papal conclave . I am describing Oklahoma’s unnecessarily mysterious process for selecting Supreme Court justices. All we are missing is the plume of white smoke. The nuances of the judicial selection methods employed by the 50 states are as varied as the cuisine. Some utilize elections, some gubernatorial appointments, some even have legislative appointments. We have commented on the relative strengths and weaknesses of these various methods, and will continue to do so, but some things are so f

Congrats, MAPS 4: The Magic of Obscure Election Dates

How surprising was it that MAPS 4 in Oklahoma City passed? It was a hard-fought, noisy campaign, with debaters “FOR” and “ AGAINST ” duking it out in public forums, polls showing a race that was neck-and-neck, hard feelings on both… Oh wait. Nope. We were thinking of some other election, maybe one that occurred on a date when people were actually engaged and thinking about voting. You know, some date, like we don’t know, in November of an even-numbered year. The MAPS 4 vote happened yesterday, December 10, in an odd-numbered year, on a date that pretty much said “Hey, really folks, don’t bother. Just leave this to us.” The “us” in a city numbering 650,000 citizens was a total of 44,439 , or 6.8% of the population. That’s right, just over one-twentieth of the population has decided that everybody is going to continue paying extra sales tax. Except that’s overstated. Actually, only 31,865 people voted in favor of MAPS 4. That’s only 5% of the population. But wait, the diffe

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Carbon Dioxide

When I was a young child, I remember speculating with my school classmates about how close a nuclear bomb blast might occur if there were all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union. I grew up about 25 miles from Sheppard Air Force Base , which we all assumed was a potential target of the Soviets. It was an odd, concerning feeling deep in the gut, to contemplate the possibility of suffering radiation poisoning and the end of the world. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone, certainly not little kids, that gnawing deep-down fear that occasionally welled up depending on the news. That’s partly why the fear-mongering over global warming is more than just an aggravation to me. It makes me angry that propagandists like Al Gore have so frightened kids about the future that one has turned herself into an advertisement for depression treatment and anger management . I am especially angry because the truth about climate and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) is the opposite of what the mainstream news

Profile in Failure: Why Can’t Oklahoma’s Kids Read Any Better?

I once met a highly decorated retired Air Force colonel only because he wanted to learn how to teach his grandson to read. This was not because the grandson was being homeschooled. The boy was attending public school in a generally decent middle-class school district in South Carolina, but he was struggling and obviously was not reading well. In researching how to teach his grandson, the colonel embarked on a journey that literally changed his life from quiet comfort in retirement to a one-man grassroots activist. It occurred to the colonel that he was not a particularly good speller himself as he discovered that he and his grandson had been taught reading in basically the same way. This was through the “whole word” method, a system that has gone by a variety of sometimes sophisticated-sounding names, including “Look-Say,” “See-Say,” “Sight,” “Psycholinguistic,” “Word,” “Whole-Word,” and a highly-modified version called “Whole Language.” This involves viewing the written English