BY DAVID PERRYMAN
From Mad Max in 1979 to the Road Warrior in 1981 and Beyond the Thunderdome four years later, Max Rockatansky, played by Mel Gibson, pursued revenge in a not-too distant future where societal institutions provided no protection from raw selfish ambition.
Some film critics consider the original Mad Max as one of the most influential movies of the past 50 years. While the plot opens eyes to how society might exist without social safety nets, it and a number of more recent movies conjure visions of vast areas of wasteland. Some of the wastelands are urban, industrial and rusted; some are rural, arid and unproductive. All are devoid of hope and human compassion.
Vacant storefronts across our state disturb those of us who remember that not too long ago those buildings housed vibrant businesses. No one can point to a single reason why so many retailers and manufacturers went out of business and dwelling on that or placing blame at this point serves little purpose.
What we do know is across Oklahoma public schools that are frugally educating our children with nearly 23% less funding than they had in 2008 are under attack daily by corporate interests that promote vouchers to divert tax dollars to private schools and establish charter schools that do not allow citizens to maintain local control of our schools.
What we do know is that Oklahoma ranks 46th in the nation in health outcomes that continue to deteriorate as medical facilities are being neglected and shuttered. The closure of hospitals and discontinuance of ambulance services exists in large part because partisanship prevents lawmakers from annually accepting up to $1 billion in federal funds for uncompensated care.
What we do know is that our roads and bridges are deteriorating as transportation funds are cut and routine maintenance is deferred due to $120 million in budget cuts over the past year, plus an additional $30 million cut since Jan. 1.
The lists go on. Cuts to mental health care, Medicaid, funding to aged, blind and disabled citizens and agencies that protect against child abuse and elder abuse are evidence that our state government has lost its moral compass and is cataclysmically failing its residents, young and old.
Legislative policy is based on prioritization of values. Neglect of infrastructure and those institutions that support a healthy and vibrant civilization is inexcusable and robs a state of the potential of its most valuable resource, its people.
In Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Tina Turner sang a song pleading for hope for the future.
Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage
Can’t make the same mistake this time
We are the children, the last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change it
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.
Oklahomans don’t need a hero, either. We just need a future, a life beyond our current situation.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House