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Showing posts from September, 2020

Robbing the Poor to Give to the Rich: Corporate Welfare in Oklahoma

Imagine that someone forcibly takes your hard-earned money and then simply gives it to a multi-billion dollar corporation such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, or Boeing. You receive no benefit from this forcible redistribution of wealth, and the sole beneficiary is the corporation. You would most likely be outraged, and justifiably so. Unfortunately, this forced redistribution of wealth happens in Oklahoma (and the nation as a whole) all the time via a variety of state and local corporate welfare schemes.   Policymakers either take your hard-earned money (via taxes), and directly subsidize large corporations or give those corporations tax breaks nobody else can get. All of this is done in the name of jobs and economic development, but these favors bring very little (if any) benefit to you. This is tyranny, plain and simple. In fact, it is not unlike the sort of advantage nobility took of commoners before the American Revolution, only the modern nobility is just very good at lobbying. In the

Kids in Tow: Contrasting Educational Choice in Arizona and Oklahoma, a Parent’s Perspective

The 1889 Institute has repeatedly expounded on the merits of educational choice. School choice lies at the heart of providing individual children with a high-quality education, and Oklahoma could use more of it. With the myriad of programs that have proven successful throughout the country, Oklahoma needs to take an all-of-the-above approach to education to empower parents. The necessity of educational choice is particularly evident when you see students as unique individuals with unique talents and needs.   Every child learns at least a little differently from every other child. Thus, it is far more likely that every child will succeed when families can avail themselves of different educational environments. Two children, coming from the same family, living in the same house, with the same economic means and opportunities, still demonstrate different propensities, proficiencies, and instructional preferences. The close parent-child relationship gives parents a unique understanding o

Let Us Work! The Futility of “Stimulus” to Counteract Foolish Covid-19 Shutdown Orders

When was the last time you ate money? When did you last wear it? Ever shelter under it during a storm? Fact is, money is only useful for purchasing the things we need. That’s the problem with yet more talk of a federal government “stimulus” in the face of state and local government-imposed economic disruption in response to Covid-19. Government stimulus simply means government is putting money in people’s pockets so we can buy things. But each and every thing we eat, use, and consume in our daily lives must be produced. That means “stimulus” is, at best, a temporary delusion. Give people money to spend that they don’t work for, sooner or later, there’s nothing left for them to spend that money on. Or, to rephrase Margaret Thatcher, “You eventually run out of other people’s stuff to buy.” Producing is not fun to most people, for the simple reason that producing means work. Only a wonderfully blessed minority so love what they do for a living that they truly feel like they do not work t

Lease the Turnpikes to Transform Oklahoma’s Road Infrastructure

Oklahoma can make a game-changing improvement in the quality of its roads, highways, and other transportation infrastructure, and in short order. Here’s how. Back in January , I proposed monetizing large state-owned assets and using the proceeds to fund long-term budgetary needs, like underfunded pensions and transportation infrastructure. A prime candidate for monetization is the turnpike system, which I proposed leasing to private investors on a long-term basis and using the substantial windfall to improve other transportation infrastructure. Other states (most notably, Indiana) have pursued this strategy to great success, with the result being not just a financial boon to road funding but also improved management and quality of the privately operated toll roads. I conservatively estimated leasing the turnpikes would generate north of a billion dollars. A new study indicates it would probably generate more like four times that . The Reason Foundation released a study last month prop

Educational Choice: A Simple Solution to School Inadequacy

To put it mildly, 2020 has not been the year everyone hoped for. Between the “ mostly peaceful ” riots, calls for the reduction or abolition of police departments, and the discord over how to handle Covid-19, our institutions are in disarray. Most school districts are a mess. Many were caught with no plan for the fall semester, while others lacked a good plan. For example, Stillwater Public Schools implemented a system that only added to the uncertainty and stress.   The Stillwater plan was to attempt in-person education, but re-evaluate that decision each Friday based on an arbitrarily defined range of area-reported Covid cases. The Friday after school started, the Stillwater district announced it would have classes the next week. Then, on Sunday afternoon, district administrators made a second announcement suspending in-person learning for the upcoming week, forcing parents to make new plans for their children within a very short window of time. The district has yet to resume in-pe

Covid-19 Response Casts Doubts on the Value of Local Control

"Why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away?"      —  Mel Gibson, The Patriot   There is a common sentiment, especially prevalent among those who lean to the right, that local control is preferable to state control. Perhaps it comes from the Jeffersonian proposition that, “The government closest to the people serves the people best.” Perhaps it is an offshoot of federalism - if states’ rights are preferable to national government, then local control must, by logical extension, be preferable to state control. But is that necessarily true?   Recent responses to Covid-19 offer a case study. While the state of Oklahoma has wisely refrained from issuing restrictions on businesses, commerce, and free movement, the same cannot be said for all of her cities. Norman’s mayor and city council have been so abusive in their policies that they face recall elections. Edmond, responding to a “surge,” acted quickly: they swiftly voted to e

Destroying Others’ Property Is Violence, No Matter How It’s Done

With characterizations of protests and riots that have occurred over the last several months as “mostly peaceful” and headlines that include “peaceful demonstration intensified,” and “Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests,” it’s clear many in the press do not consider property destruction to be violent. Most likely, they mean most of the protesters haven’t physically harmed anyone. Still, during the very same protests, a large proportion of the “peaceful” participants , in obvious acts of aggression and hostility, have vandalized and stolen property. In fact, property destruction and theft are acts of violence, and are therefore legitimately defended against, not because these acts feel threatening, but because they are, in and of themselves, violent.   Nevertheless, it’s common to hear many condemn individuals who use or threaten force in defense of their property. After all, if no one is physically harmed, or even actually threatened, how can damaging inanimate objects possibly be

Welfare of Oklahoma’s Children Panned In Flawed “Study”

Are Oklahoma’s children underprivileged? According to a recently published list by Wallethub, which attempted to rank states with the most underprivileged children, Oklahoma is the 7th worst. However, if the goal was to help states improve their policies, or to show parents what states to avoid, the authors might have done better to provide sources for their data (outside the lists Wallethub had already compiled), and more importantly, choose better metrics. The authors don’t provide much context or support for why their chosen metrics matter, or how they could be changed. Of course, the goal might just be clicks.   The study is divided into three sections: Socio-economic welfare (50 points), health (25 points), and education (25 points). Each is evaluated based on Wallethub ’ s list of arbitrary metrics and then assigned a weighted score. These are then combined to get the final overall “ underprivileged” score. But are these scores worthwhile?   Socio-economic Welfare Share of Child