Oklahoma State Question 779

State Question 779. This is the question that would increase the state of Oklahoma sales tax one penny to fund public education and give Oklahoma teachers a much-needed pay raise (or at least that is what it purports to claim). There is no question among anyone that public education is in terrible shape in Oklahoma and that teachers haven’t had a pay raise in 5 years.

Because of actions by the governor and our state legislators, many who were elected as anti-public education candidates and many of whom the very teachers who need the pay raise voted for have spoken and they are saying they won’t step up and properly fund public education, so they are going to let working people and lower income families do their job and fund public education and a teacher’s pay raise by placing the burden squarely on those in our state that can ill afford the hit.

Sales taxes are the most regressive taxes we have as the people who pay them are mostly the middle-class workers and those whose incomes fall in the minimum wage category. Oklahoma’s minimum wage is an unlivable Seven dollars and twenty-five cents per hour ($7.25) and it is well below the national average for the minimum wage, in fact, only two states have a lower minimum wage.

While I firmly believe that teachers need a long overdue pay raise and while I know how critical education funding is it is abhorrent to me that our cowardly state legislators and our do nothing to offend big corporate governor refuse to do the right thing and seek to fund their lack of guts on the backs of the poorest people in our state.

Big corporations pay little or no state sales taxes because of various reasons and tons of exemptions they receive from the state of Oklahoma that allows them to avoid paying sales taxes. So the people who will be funding education are the people who are already overburdened. It is shameful to me to think that we will be forcing more and more people into poverty to fund our public education and I would be ashamed to take a pay raise that I knew would mean that more people would be forced into poverty because of me.

There are a number of ways public education and teacher pay raises could be funded and not place the funding burden upon the least of ours, but the state legislature and our erstwhile governor do nothing failing chose to pull a Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of doing the right thing.

Good Christians all of course when it comes to restricting a woman’s right to have control over their own bodies. Good Christians all when it comes to placing a certified copy of the Ten Commandments on state property. Good Christians all when it comes to trying to restrict the rights of gays and lesbians and transgenders.

But when it comes to following that Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth and listening to him they fail miserably. He said, “What you do unto the least of mine, you also do unto me.” Placing an onerous tax burden upon the least of Oklahomans to me is an effrontery to the teachings of Jesus and us who claim to be Christians and as people who as Christians should care about all the people of this state need to stand up and say no to State Question 779.

 

Bob Bearden

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SQ 777. Oklahoma

In spite of the best spin on SQ 777, the supporters are being dishonest with the citizen. They won’t own the fact that this is a piece of legislation that was given life in the bowels of ALEC just like the Right to Hunt, the Right to Work and any similarly titled measures. Ignoring the obvious fact that the arguments in support of the deception are aimed to explain away the most salient points for defeating it – SQ 777 is not a ‘local’ or ‘home grown’ piece of legislation.
The power behind all of these measures is ‘corporatism.’ The Right to Work has been exposed as an employer friendly deception, sold to the voter as a protection for workers rights. Those rights include the employer’s right to pay less, cut benefits, and terminate a worker at will. Tied to it are the so-called ‘Worker Compensation’ reforms that have subsequently been enacted which make it more difficult for a worker to return to their job following a work-related injury.
SQ 777 proponents like to point to existing laws, both at the state level and the municipal level and say that any rule or regulation on the book, year ending 2014 will not be affected. What they deftly ignore is the issue of a Constitutional Amendment that effectively neuters state legislators from having any regulatory authority going forward.
Quite simply it tips the balance of control away from the state of Oklahoma and gives it to entities such as the Farm Bureau, and corporate Agriculture Businesses. To a certain degree, it is the age old scenario of the Tail Wagging the Dog.
The real issue is Corporatization or in the parlance of those who prefer it – ‘Privatization.’ Removing a function from the arena of public control or representative regulation and moving it into a Board Room and into the hands of Special Interests. This, my friend, is the goal of the Conservative Movement. It is the mission of ‘think tanks’ like The Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It is no accident, nor is it a coincidence, that similar measures are being pushed in other States. The redder the state the more it is vulnerable to outside influence and control. The concerted mission, and do not think it is not both concerted and a mission, of the Extreme Right Conservative Movement, is to take away from state governments the regulatory and self-governing functions of Democracy.
ALEC, in particular, includes in many of its model legislative measures the weakening of the judiciary branches of government. The desire to eliminate one of the three founding pillars of our system of governance. They either promote stacking the court with corporation friendly judges or amending state constitutions of governance in ways that render the courts impotent.
What is at stake is the future shape and function of government in the US.
The good people of Germany didn’t see the damage being done in the country because it was like a dripping faucet. Just little drips, until what had been a reserve of individual freedoms and rights had been stolen away from them. Like a thief in the night.

 

Don Nelson

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Mental health law for Oklahoma

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The Labor Commissioner Mark Costello Act has been signed into law by Governor Fallin. It is named after the late labor commissioner whose son is accused of killing him in a Braum’s parking lot last August. The son has a history of mental illness.

The law is supposed to help families who have family members suffering from mental illness who refuse treatment. The power to do this will be through both the medical and legal professions.

Before I opened the full news story I was hopeful this law would be a positive addition to Oklahoma’s mental health reform. Now I’m not so sure. Not wanting to undermine the extent of the tragedy, but the idea of forcing people to take their medication is a difficult one. We always seem to forcing people to do something in Oklahoma!

I hope other people provide some feedback about the bill and this issue.

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Taco Stand

When I was a pre-teen I asked my cousins in Monterrey, Mexico, “Where do they get their Tacos?” They did not know what a taco was. They looked at each other trying to get a translator for their gringo cousin. I finally gave up trying to explain the concept. Tacos and fast food, I guess, were not as all over Mexico in the 1960s as they were in the US– fast food had not yet become the thing. I remember being happy for that. (Pushcarts full of the best tamales and ice cream were everywhere. I liked it) Later, after a few years, I returned to Monterrey and was met by KFC, Taco Bell, and other corps littering the streets much as they do in the US. You see, up through the 60s, Mexico had been a big place with no real stereotypical mono-culture. Yet today, the taco is everywhere in Mexico not due to Mexican culture but due to the spread of fast food industries and corporate globalization. Anyway, I liked the pre-fast food Mexico better.

I ran across this interesting piece of knowledge about the origin of the word “taco,” in Smithsonian Magazine in an interview with Jeffrey M. Pilcher, professor of history at the University of Minnesota.

“The origins of the taco are really unknown. My theory is that it dates from the 18th century and the silver mines in Mexico, because in those mines the word “taco” referred to the little charges they would use to excavate the ore. These were pieces of paper that they would wrap around gunpowder and insert into the holes they carved in the rock face. When you think about it, a chicken taquito with a good hot sauce is really a lot like a stick of dynamite. The first references [to the taco] in any sort of archive or dictionary come from the end of the 19th century. And one of the first types of tacos described is called tacos de minero—miner’s tacos. So the taco is not necessarily this age-old cultural expression; it’s not a food that goes back to time immemorial.”

Back in the 60s as a US kid, what I recall back then was that there were no entities that we would call a “Taco stand” in Monterrey. Mi primos hadn’t even heard the word taco until I mentioned the word taco. It wasn’t a part of the culture at least to my family.  The taco was in other places in Mexico but not truly all over Mexico, you might say. We would have to wait for fast food to make its way into Mexican culture for tacos to be everywhere in Monterrey. Taco Bell first set up a restaurant in Mexico in 1992.

Oh, one more thing. What is tossing around “taco stand” as a negative all about? Could it be that a corner vendor is abhorrent to other variants of capitalism? Could it be that the self-employed person becomes useless to the man, that potential laborers become no longer available as a resource, and that the worker becomes, essentially, the competition? Could it be that it is not Mexican culture or “taco stands” but entrepreneurship that is feared by the conservative? Yes, we do have to take what conservatives say and translate it into English. Not an easy job.  Most of the time they are speaking a coded language thought up in a think tank and then made into facebook memes. I propose that it isn’t Mexico and taco stands but fear of certain industries’ loss of grip on cheap labor.

Could it then be that the words “taco stand” really could mean fear of the loss of cheap labor? You see, adherents to the free market model project onto the people the ideas of “free market for the corporation” and not of “free market for the individual.” Nor is corporate free market free. It does, however, represent a return to 19th-century capitalism where few fat cats were in control of every aspect of the lives of labor in a type of American feudalism. In the 20th-century, due to progressive changes, more and more folks did become able to buy their own property, build their own businesses, and become free from the shackles of feudalism. That was a big improvement. So, is the term “taco stand” one form of capitalism’s battle cry against another? Today, that reality of a 20th-century type American dream has been taken down a notch, tweaked a little, then turned on its head to serve the interests of big business as even college students have found that they have bought into indentured servitude through debt.

By bypassing the prescribed route and making ones’ own road to independent living (code word: Taco stand) these types of deplorable activities become contrary to what the free market corporate structure conservatives have been promoting since as far back as the 70s–cooperate controlled America.  Think about it. Large numbers of people creating businesses like taco stands, if it were to become a huge-trend chunk of American culture that would hurt; that would be something to watch as the corporate entities like the food chains lose business to tastier and healthier vendors.

Taco stands? We should be fearful of people with their own businesses. Right?

 

Terry Gresham

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Oklahoma, Islamic religion, and the First Amendment

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Oklahoma Representative for Ardmore, Pat Ownbey, was asked whether he thought Islam was a religion that should have First Amendment protection after posting a local writer’s essay on facebook that seemed to suggest otherwise. The post said that Islam was not a religion, Muslims shouldn’t be granted First Amendment religious protections, and because our political leaders didn’t appear willing to protect us we may have to take matters into our own hands.

Representative Ownbey’s response was not a resounding “yes” to the question. Instead, he said: “That’s an interesting question,” “Frankly, I haven’t done the studying on the Islamic religion to know everything there is to know about it, so to speak at it from an expert opinion would not be right for me to give you a particular opinion, unless I was jumping in there and doing a lot of research on it.”

And just to refresh what…

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November Prediction for Oklahoma

Trump will win Oklahoma–sadly enough. However, he will lose the race overall. Oklahoma is Trump safe zone. That being said, the state is on the verge of becoming a GOP dictatorship with a proposed bill in the state legislature dealing with the election of our judiciary. If that were to go through, Fallin would be in charge of the governor’s office, the legislature, and the judiciary. That’s still in the works.

However, in Nov. some of the State questions on the ballot in Oklahoma are the real totalitarian things of nightmares, if passed I hope they will be challenged and thwarted. If the judiciary thing were to go through next year or sometime in the future, conceivably, there would be no great decent way to challenge them in the future.

That leads us to State elections, there are the seats we have to fill. Hopefully, we will fill them with sane people who love Oklahoma. Adding good people to Oklahoma seats will help in a big way. Anyway, rest assured that Trump will not be the next president of the United States. I just wish we all could get together to challenge the GOP and the Libertarian party in Oklahoma in a better way.

 

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Law and Order Christians

One World House

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“Law and Order” was a dog whistle used by the Nixon campaign in its well documented Southern Strategy to take the White House. It was heard by many, especially in the South, as a way of putting black people back in their place. If the concepts and practice of law and order are used to provide equality of opportunity and equal protection under the law, then they are an important basis for a flourishing society, but that was not what Nixon was appealing to. He and his advisors knew the message that an emphasis on law and order would send to white conservative voters, especially in the South. It was a law that protected the interests of white male supremacy and order that kept inequality in place. Sadly, that legacy continues to this day.

“Law and Order” Christians are also using similar language to keep persons who are LGBTQIA in…

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