To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, August 12, 2022

Observercast

Oklahoma’s Race To The Bottom

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Oklahoma is ranked as the worst state in the United States to be a woman, according to Wallethub

Oklahoma, get used to losing out to other states in relation to large economic investments like the Panasonic battery production plant that we just lost to Kansas. Once any company that bases its decisions on actual data peels back the veneer of the bravado of our governor and takes a close look at the hot mess that is Oklahoma, they will always run away.

In stark contrast to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s delusional claims that we are becoming a Top 10 State, we are demonstrably the worst state in the country for women, our public education system has been decimated, we have extremely poor mass transportation systems and infrastructure, our healthcare system is near the very bottom of the list among all of the states, and our workforce is one of the least educated in the country.

The only reason Panasonic was considering Oklahoma was because of its proximity to Tesla in Texas, and they decided that it was a better investment to build the batteries In Kansas and drive a little bit further down I-35 to deliver them to the Tesla plant.

Good call, Panasonic! Your workers and their families will be safer, happier, healthier, and more educated in Kansas than they would be in Oklahoma.

And now that Oklahoma is criminalizing reproductive choice to solidify its status as the worst place for women in the entire United States, we can expect even more companies and individuals to pass on relocating to or living in Oklahoma.

The National Women’s Soccer League already has announced that abortion rights will figure into expansion decisions – so don’t expect any women’s professional soccer in Oklahoma in the foreseeable future. The WNBA players have also condemned the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe, so don’t expect the WNBA to ever return to our state.

Don’t be surprised when OB/GYN doctors begin moving out of Oklahoma to states where they are actually allowed to freely save women’s lives whose pregnancies are life threatening and where they are allowed to help 10-year-old girls end a pregnancy.

Don’t be surprised when college age women leave Oklahoma or refuse to come to Oklahoma and instead decide to study at universities in states with reproductive choice.

Don’t be surprised when persons relocate away from Oklahoma so they can have proper healthcare during their pregnancies and when they decide to start careers and raise families in other states.

And don’t be surprised when people make conscious decisions not to vacation or do business in Oklahoma when other possibilities present themselves.

Oklahoma is also becoming increasingly hostile to persons who are LGBTQ+. Don’t expect any corporations who care about the quality of life of their employees and their family members who are LGBTQ+ to relocate to or expand in Oklahoma.

This may be breaking news to homophobic and transphobic Oklahomans, but there are incredibly creative and productive persons who are LGBTQ+ who will want nothing to do with this state, and their absence will simply worsen our economy, decrease our overall quality of life, and continue to solidly our status as a bottom three state in the country – a designation recently bestowed upon us by CNBC.

The combination of poor education, poor healthcare, poor conditions for women, poor infrastructure and transportation, and open hostility to persons who are LGBTQ+ is destroying the possibility of improvement of the quality of life in Oklahoma and diminishing any chance for us to flourish.

We will probably keep our oil and gas companies who control Oklahoma politicians and are addicted to the tax breaks and lack of regulation they enjoy here, but we may as well give up on diversifying our economy as we will continue our fall into a permanent commodity colony for the fossil fuel industry and industrial agriculture.

On our current trajectory, we are cementing our future as a bottom three state with the very real prospect of becoming the worst state in the country.

Mark Y. A. Davies
Mark Y. A. Davies
Mark Y.A. Davies is the Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. Click for more of his essays. OneWorldHouse.net