BY BOB BEARDEN
Oklahoma has made another list. This time is it the list for the most miserable or least happy of states. Oklahoma didn’t come in last this time, but that isn’t saying much since it came in next to last. Even though we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, we are 49th in poverty and 50th in education [or the lack thereof], so our misery index is high.
Why would we be so miserable? Well, that’s easy to figure out. We are a state in which those who control the Legislature and all the statewide elected offices have all but crashed our state and placed it into the hole that it currently is in. We are among the worst states in the union in pay and benefits. We have slashed the state’s social services several times in the past several years to the point where some social services are now pretty much non-existent. And it’s not going to get any better anytime soon as we are again facing another massive shortfall in the state budget.
In addition, the governor with the lowest approval rating of any Oklahoma governor in history and the lowest approval rating of any governor in the 50 states is set to essentially crash what government that is left.
There is a really quick fix to our problems in Oklahoma but Gov. Failure and her legislative henchpeople will not entertain even a modest raising of taxes on the wealthiest among us. Nor will they do like a lot of other oil rich states have done, which is to do away with tax cuts and oil subsidies or raise taxes on the oil industry to help cover much needed increases in social services and give our teachers and our schools desperately needed relief.
We have a minimum wage that is in the dumpster at $7.25 [one of the lowest among all 50 states] and even though our poverty levels are rising each year Mary the Failure continues to wallow at the pigsty of big oil and big corporate welfare pigs, leaving the poorest among us to fend for ourselves while her oil and corporate buddies suck up the slop of tax cuts and tax breaks she and her cranky buddies in the state Legislature have provided them.
Teachers are fleeing our state in droves because they too are falling deeper into poverty and our children are suffering not only with a lack of educational possibilities, but one in four children are going to bed hungry every night because Mary the Failure and her buddy pigs in the corporate world are scared to death that their profits though still good aren’t good enough for them to maintain their million-dollar binges and continue to pig out at the state welfare troughs.
My associate minister, Lori Walke, took the sorry collection of leaders in the state Legislature to task for their aiding and abetting of the corporate pigs when she served as legislative chaplain and so angered them – speaking truth to power, detailing the error of their ways through her powerful use of the very scriptures they claim to follow – that many, cowards all, got up and walked out of their own chamber, because they couldn’t take the heat.
Such is the reason we here in Oklahoma are now among the worst states in the union for our sorry treatment of the least among us. For our sorry and ill treatment of women. For the horrible way we dole out welfare to those who need it the least. We have truly become a state much like what Ronald Reagan, the guru of the far right now in charge of our state government, spoke of when he said, “Government takes from the poor and gives to the greedy!”
In Oklahoma, we have a governor and a group of right-wing nuts in charge of our government who practices just that. And they are once again set to ramp up the misery factor even higher with their abject failure to address the issue of budget funding in a manner that could or would solve our problem.
It’s not that they are simply cowards but it’s that they are abjectly so! And they individually and collectively seem to love the moniker of being Dumb and proud of it!
– Bob Bearden is a trustee with the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation and a member of Mayflower Congregational Church, UCC, in Oklahoma City