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Showing posts from August, 2020

OKC Public Schools Elevating a Privileged Elite over Oklahoma Taxpayers

The hypocrisy of the Soviet Union’s pretense of egalitarianism was well known enough to be the subject of mockery and parody. Ronald Reagan never tired of the jokes . Soviet communism espoused equality, but the reality is that party apparatchiks and government officials enjoyed special perks that no one else had access to. This special class wasn’t officially paid much more than the average skilled worker, but enjoyed privileges like dachas on the coast or countryside, special stores with imported goods and without the endless lines that were commonplace everywhere else, and more advanced medical treatment. For all their talk about eliminating class distinctions, the Soviet nomenklatura —those “doing the people’s work”—could feather their nest with the best of ‘em. Apparently, a similar attitude reigns in our government schools. Our friends at OCPA report that Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) will not offer in-person instruction to students for the first nine weeks of school this

The Oklahoma Legislature Should Shield Kids from Teachers' Union Strikes

Cheered on by teachers’ unions , State Secretary of Education Joy Hoffmeister recently proposed a statewide Covid plan that would have seen schools in 39 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties stop in-person instruction if those counties experienced just 3 Covid diagnoses. Only 3 positive tests in the entire county , and every school district therein would send kids home. Unbelievable. Fortunately, 4 members of the State Board of Education had the common sense to vote this proposal down (the 3 board members who voted yes should be replaced). Any excuse, including a low-risk but well-publicized virus, appears to be enough for teachers to stay home from work, but get paid, nonetheless. It seems teachers’ unions have learned well the lessons of their successful 2018 strike: unbending obstinacy and elevation of adults’ economic interests over children’s well-being and educational advancement will not be punished, but rewarded.   The Legislature should make sure this lesson is unlearned. It can do so b

Government at Any Level is Unfit to Run Your Life

In plain English this time. What is the right way to think about the risk of Covid? About three percent of people who get Covid are dying from it. That number drops precipitously for those outside a few well-defined risk groups (namely older adults and those with certain preexisting conditions). People do risky things every day. We all get in cars, some smoke cigarettes, and most of us eat things we know are unhealthy. Here’s a list of the top causes of death in the U.S. since the first confirmed Covid death: Heart disease (340,889), Cancer (299,358), Covid-19 (148,772), Lower respiratory disease (78,443), Stroke (78,350), Alzheimer’s (66,401), Diabetes (49,215), and Influenza/Pneumonia (30,216). In addition, car accidents cause about 38,000 deaths per year in the U.S. To reiterate: we get in cars, smoke cigarettes, and eat things we know are terrible for us. We do these things every day. We do them without thinking about it.   Some caveats to the Covid numbers: there is reason to

Same Ol’ Story: Blocking Opportunity, Freedom, Prosperity

I know. Sometimes we sound like a broken record. ANOTHER blog about licensing? Long-term care administration licensing? Seriously? Does this theme not get old? Well, yeah, it’s old. We wish we could stop writing about what may very well be the stupidest, most onerous, and most disgusting type of regulation on the books. Frankly, until something is done about it, we don’t believe we have a choice. And more should be getting done. This is not a partisan issue, after all. The Obama administration put out a white paper on the over-abundance of licensing in the United States and its deleterious effects. Nevertheless, Oklahoma has a do-nothing Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission headed by Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn who clearly couldn’t care less. They rarely meet and almost never recommend that the legislature repeal a license. Nonetheless, NOTHING is more fundamental to freedom than the ownership of oneself. Therefore, the most basic freedom we have is the right to sell our

A Blunt Cry for Covid Dread’s End

Allowing an admittedly adverse ailment to be inaccurately advertised as an apocalyptic abomination able to annihilate all is aggravating, annoying, and abhorrent. An accurate assessment advises any and all to avoid alarmism and act appropriately. Anxieties are anticipated, but authentic appraisal admits an alternative: any of advanced age or anemic autoimmunity are advised to avert ailment by avoiding acquaintances and afflicted areas. Adults, adolescents, and any of an early age are able to get back to business. Bodies are besieged and beset by baseless bombast. Broadcasters blithely belch baloney. Boorish bullies berate and belittle. Bureaucrats ban beneficial business. Busybodies blinded by bad bulletins belittle benign behaviors. But bravery and boldness bolster benevolence. By bringing back businesses, cities can commence circulation of currency and cooperative commerce.  Concededly, Covid causes casualties. However, careful consideration confirms: car crashes cruelly cause catas

How to Spend $47 Million in 4 Months

The CARES Act passed by Congress has a provision to give funds to state and local governments. Out of this, Oklahoma County has been given the onerous task of spending $47 million by the end of the year. The caveat being all expenses must be related to COVID-19. Any money not used must be returned to the federal government. While the county is undoubtedly receiving a plethora of self-interested letters request ing a portion of the funds, there are a few ways to spend the money to the benefit of all Oklahoma County residents. This should not be read to condone spending money just because it is available. Government officials must remember that the money they spend comes directly from the taxpayer, and should only be spent in ways that benefit all or most of society. Oklahoma County could also use the money to give grants to small businesses that were forced to shut down or otherwise damaged by the government’s actions related to COVID-19. Small businesses could use the money to avoi

How Oklahoma Can Be Number One in Covid Policy

South Dakota, that sound you hear behind you is footsteps. Oklahoma can be Number One in the policy response to Covid-19. We’ve done fairly well to this point compared to other states, but to take us to the top, our leaders will need good, accurate information, must ignore hyperbole (often outright falsehoods) from the media-politico controversy machine, and should trust individual Oklahomans to do what is best for themselves and their families. Oh, and it would help to have some courage in the face of criticism (or ear plugs to tune out the whining). Fortunately, 1889 Institute has compiled a very helpful webpage containing the cold, hard facts about SARS-CoV-2. Based on these facts, not hysteria and virtue signaling, we recommend some straightforward policy responses. The page is here for anyone who wants to arm themselves with knowledge, rather than bask in the newly virtuous habit of broadcasting how afraid and ignorant one is. For example, did you know that the evidence for wid

If Licensing Protects Consumers, Why Are Licensing Laws Blatantly Anti-Consumer?

Once upon a time, there was a small island whose economy revolved around scuba-diving tourism. Unfortunately, the island elected legislators who considered scuba dangerous. Inexperienced divers would surface too quickly and get the bends. The legislature, wanting to make diving feel safer, passed a law that banned sharks in designated scuba diving zones. There were no known cases of sharks attacking divers, nor were divers being frightened into surfacing too quickly by sharks. This is what most occupational licensing schemes look like. Legislators act, giving the public a sense of security, and giving powerful industries protection from competition. The laws do almost nothing to help consumers. Not only are they futile, they are also deceptive.   Some licensing regimes, like the Oklahoma Real Estate Broker ’ s Act, take the deceit one step farther. Instead of just telling the sharks not to eat people (which they weren’t doing anyway) the act does the equivalent of gathering a group of