Oklahoma state government is dominated by the Republican Party and one would think that we might have a little love for free enterprise this session, but that’s a misunderstanding of what the Republican party stands for. Sure, Oklahoma Republican legislators and the Governor talk (incessantly!) about free enterprise, but they aren’t actually talking about free enterprise as in the freedom to work and earn a living. No, to the Republican Party of Oklahoma, “free enterprise” actually means “Republican Central Planning of the Economy.” And THAT means “Rewarding friends of the Republican Party at the Expense of the Not-friends of the Republican Party.
For example, when this legislature is finished, Mary Queen of Lynch Mobs Fallin herself herself, will preside over a mega-million dollar slush fund, which she can hand out as she pleases to bribe businesses to relocate to Oklahoma. Those businesses can then certainly be counted on to provide a steady stream of
bribes campaign cash for Republican office holders.
However, being a fool and kook, I am renewing a call I have made many times before — COULD WE HAVE A LITTLE LOVE FOR ACTUAL REAL FREE ENTERPRISE IN OKLAHOMA? As in allowing people to work and earn an honest living?
For example, how about opening the rest stops on all of our state turnpikes and highways to flea-market style enterprise PLUS food trucks? Right now it is impossible to get a decent meal anywhere on our state turnpikes. Why not let food trucks set up shop on our freeways and other highway rest stops so people could get some decent food while driving on our turnpikes?
How about a cottage food law so that people with clean kitchens could prepare baked goods likes cakes and breads and sell them to the public? Other states are doing this — Texas and Utah for example. Why not Oklahoma?
What about liberalizing the laws regarding personal transportation for hire? The only place in Oklahoma City where you can get a cab within a reasonable time frame is close to downtown. If you are at (for example) Britton and Rockwell, it is likely to take an hour and a half to get a taxi. Obviously we need more cabs, but equally obviously, government regulations limit the number of cabs that can operate. That’s why we have such terrible cab service in Oklahoma City. Besides taxi services, private buses could be legalized as well as jitney services (which follow a basic route but which can go off route to pick someone up or drop them off, basically this is a hybrid between a bus and a cab. They are popular all over the world, but not in Oklahoma, because of our laws.)
How about de-regulating the practice of law? Why exactly do I need a full-scale bar-certified lawyer to prepare a simple will, or a basic no-custody issues divorce or a power of attorney? Why couldn’t I go to a paralegal practicing independently and get better service at a lower cost, not to mention the additional economic opportunities for everyone in the legal professions except for the lawyers? BECAUSE lawyers populate state government and they have legislated themselves a sweetly profitable monopoly at the expense of everyone else. It’s not free enterprise, it’s more Central Planned Economy, so one would think that supporters of free enterprise would be opposers of the present legal services monopoly, but that is not what is happening.
Here’s another area of regulation that needs adjustment. Present law forbids denturists from offering dentures and partials directly to the public. (Denturists are the skilled professionals that actually make dentures and partials.) By forcing people to go to dentists for dentures, the price TRIPLES! You have to pay for all that expensive Dentist Lifestyle and Dentist Overhead. Who does this hurt the most? The poor. Do dentists care about that? No they do not. They have their Dentist Lifestyles to support, and if that includes grinding the face of the poor into the dust, they are more than willing to grind away AND the legislature can be counted upon to support their monopoly. That’s why dentists contribute so much money to legislators. They want the best legislature their money can buy.
Let’s think a moment about how government central planning increases the cost of housing. Zoning laws that mandate single family occupancy forbid the addition of basement, garage, and attic apartments which could rapidly increase the supply of low cost housing and provide economic benefits to home owners. Laws forbidding manufactured housing and mobile homes ghettoize these lower cost housing options and thus drive up their prices above market levels. Eminent domain in Oklahoma has destroyed thousands of units of low income housing, and typically transfers the use of such lands to the non-poor, thereby increasing the price of low income housing by NON-MARKET POLITICAL maneuvers. Laws that mandate minimum lot sizes, set backs, minimum house and minimum apartment sizes are all non-market methods of increasing the price of housing.
Laws prevent nurse practitioners from practicing independently of doctors and offering low cost basic and preventive health care. Economically, services provided by such practitioners could be offered at lower rates than a doctor charges. A nurse would treat a less complex set of problems, and thus have less overhead and lower malpractice insurance costs. Less overhead equals lower prices to patients and lower prices mean more access. Doctors are a male dominated profession, and nursing is a female dominated profession. Can it be that doctors have a hard time imagining that women could treat patients without male supervision?
So how about it Republicans? Could we get a little love for free enterprise this session and a little less of your Central Planning Economy schemes? I understand that Oklahoma Central Planning, which takes from the poor and working and middle classes and gives to the rich and powerful, is working very well for you, the Commissars of Central Planning. But therein lies a problem. It is working so well that poverty and hunger are increasing rapidly in the state. This is not an accident, this is the deliberate and foreseeable result of your Oklahoma Central Planning policies. Central planning has been a failure everywhere that it has been attempted and so it is not surprising that it is also a failure here in Oklahoma. Well, it is a failure from the viewpoint of the people and the general welfare, it is a success for the wealthy and the powerful and the special interests. But government is supposed to care for the general welfare, not the special interests.
To be blunt: You should beware of grinding the face of the poor into the dust too much, because in Oklahoma, the right to keep and bear arms is well protected and if civil unrest breaks out, things could get very bad very quickly. I understand the temptation of political gluttony — the desire to grab all you can while you can — but if you grab too much too fast, you run the risk of driving civil unrest, and that, as they say, is “not good.” I myself am a peaceful person, and own no weapons and would not take up any, but I am in a tiny minority in that regard. I hope that civil unrest does not happen here, but the way things are going, that’s not the way to lay your bets.
Alas for us all, those in control here in Oklahoma appear to be as clueless as King George III in 1776, Mary Antoinette and King Louis in 1789, and the Romanovs in 1917.