Except in Oklahoma’s Chamber of Commerce board room, nobody seriously thinks the federal minimum wage of $7.50 will attract workers.
The attached article from Sunday’s Oklahoman refers to Target, Walmart and others with starting pay at $12 to $15 an hour and, even at that rate, families struggle with mandatory expenses.
On this, and related topics, I appreciate the new vibes and information coming from our state’s largest newspaper. A story like this one would never have been written back in the day when curmudgeon Ed Gaylord was owner and political kingmaker.
Yes, in later years, his generosity for such things as the journalism school at OU in Norman and the Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City was significant and important, but conversely Oklahoman advertisers paid among the highest rates for ads in the nation in order to be seen in his paper.
Gaylord also endlessly editorialized for the lowest possible business taxes to be found in any state and pushed the so called Right-to-Work state question which promised a myriad of diverse and high paying jobs. Fifteen years later the average family income here is $10,000 below the national average and childhood poverty is second highest in the nation to that other Right-to-Work Mecca – Texas – so if those are the kind of results RTW brings I believe our state would be better off without it. [Source: United States Department of Labor statistics]
Politically speaking Oklahoma is still a rural-dominated state, with the House of Representatives especially reflective of archaic, ignorant and harmful policies that inhibit progress, diversity and development.
A total ban on abortion, new school laws that remind me of the 1950s, our very unhealthy population in both physical and mental measurements, all designed by a governor with his head firmly ensconced in the previous century, or more often just up his ass, all makes for an environment that is so rightwing, divisive and just plain dumb that out-of-state interests give us a glance and then on to more attractive and progressive settings.
For example, Panasonic’s decision to go to conservative Kansas had as much to do with social policies as it did tax incentives; in Kansas, the company found a cautious but reasonable Democratic governor supported by a mostly middle of the road legislative leadership.
One would never find the words “reasonable” or “mostly middle of the road” in any article describing Gov. Kevin Stitt or key lawmakers in our Legislature. More likely, they would be “reactionary, ridiculous, repulsive or even ruthless” when penned by fair and balanced outside observers.
In closing, voters can do something about our sad state of affairs as soon as Nov. 8 but it will require a bit of independent thinking, like don’t just cast a straight-party ballot because there are good candidates in both major parties; read up on the qualifications and experiences of those asking for your support; and, finally, please help Oklahoma out of 50th place in the nation when it comes to participation on Election Day.
If you don’t, you are forfeiting not only your voice when deciding who will make public policy for you and your family, but also your right later to either brag about their successes or complain about their failures.
And who would want to miss out on such fun conversations during the upcoming holidays?