I lived almost all of my years on this earth in Oklahoma, and I can tell you that everything you think about Oklahoma is true.
- Oklahomans are generous. In fact, the State’s benefactors place OK in the national number-eleven spot for giving: “The state’s typical household claimed charitable contributions totaling about 5.6 percent of its discretionary income. Donations were fueled by the residents of Oklahoma City, which ranks No. 7 among metropolitan areas with the most-generous residents." They are also resilient, adjusting to droughts and tornadoes that destroy relentlessly.
- The stereotype about obesity in the Midwest and Bible Belt is factual for OK. About one-third of the population weighs too much.
- Oklahomans bleed red politically, and all that red translates into low scores for human development; e.g., the “…process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being.”
- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a strong presence in OK: the Executive Branch, including Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Senate President Pro Tem, Majority Floor Leader, House Speaker, Speaker Pro Tempore, and Director of the OK Department of Human Services, is dominated by ALEC. In Washington, five of the seven Senators and Congressmen are ALEC devotees. In the State’s Senate, 31% are ALEC affiliates; in the House, 28%. Consequently, the ALEC agenda thrives in OK. For example, abortion restrictions are in place and were put in place with almost no protest or consequence; Conceal and Carry firearms laws became Open Carry laws, allowing Okies to carry firearms almost everywhere; tort reform of all kinds has blocked the common man’s access to judicial remedies; Medicaid was not expanded, leaving about 1 in 5 citizens uninsured; and public schools are being tested, then replaced by private charters that receive public tax money.
- OK also practices unfunded mandates, especially in schools. The State slashes budgets while adding increased costs in the form of standardized testing and cutting property as well as income taxes. This too is an ALEC/National Chamber of Commerce initiative, one that fulfills the unelected but influential Grover Norquist’s dream of shrinking government at the expense of pensions, raises, health, and education.
disrepair, its facade crumbling as a consequence of political ideologies that refuse to raise revenue even for good causes. According to former Representative Haney, "The Guardian" was intended to exemplify “…the valor of Oklahomans and their ability to overcome the most horrific catastrophes such as the bombing at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The Guardian is a reminder that just below him within the halls of our grand Capitol, the true guardians of Oklahoma, our legislators, are working everyday to improve this already magnificent state.” Surely, "The Guardian" now sheds tears because the so-called guardians labor instead to dismantle the infrastructure and social nets in Oklahoma. (Capitol Dome Photograph by Al Griffin.)