Oklahoma Politics: May 2010 Archives

Tom Blumer, writing for Pajamas Media, points to statistics connecting Oklahoma's relatively good unemployment situation to implementation of HB 1804, the strict immigration enforcement bill approved in May 2007

Given the economic damage inflicted on us by the current administration and many state governments, most readers of this column would probably be quite happy to live in a state where:
  • The official unemployment rate in March was 6.6%.
  • The average unemployment rate in 2009 using the most comprehensive definition was 10.5%, the fourth-lowest in the nation (behind three much smaller states), and far lower than the national average of 16.2%.
  • The number of people either working or looking for work has actually grown during the past twelve months (in most states, the labor force has contracted significantly).
  • The economy grew in 2008, and probably did so again in 2009.
Unless you live in Oklahoma, you're not in that state.

Blumer goes on to cite statistics showing that, from 2008 to 2009, unemployment among black Oklahomans grew much more slowly (8.7% to 11.1%) than it did for white Oklahomans (almost doubled, 2.9% to 5%). Among Hispanic OKlahomans, unemployment dropped over that same period, from 9% to 7.4%.

In 2008, Oklahoma's economic growth outpaced the national economy, and its welfare and food stamp caseload fell as it was growing in the rest of the country.

Since 1804 passed, Oklahoma has not suffered nearly as much economically as most of the rest of the U.S. In fact, the state can fairly be described, especially on a relative basis, as prosperous. Even before considering the reductions in crime the citizens of Arizona are so desperately seeking in their state's new immigration enforcement measure, what the Sooner State has done seems well worth imitating elsewhere for pocketbook-related reasons alone.

RELATED: Mark Krikorian, posting on National Review's The Corner, links to a study showing the effects of immigration on summer jobs for teenagers:

Long before the current recession, the share of U.S.-born teenagers in the summer labor market had been declining, from 64 percent in 1994 to 48 percent in 2007 (and 45 percent last summer). Immigration is only one cause, but a significant one; in the top ten immigration states, only 45 percent of teens were in the summer labor force in 2007, as opposed to 58 percent in the bottom ten immigration states. What's more, a 10 percentage-point increase in the immigrant share of a state's work force from 1994 to 2007 reduced the labor force participation rate of U.S.-born teenagers by 7.9 percentage points.

The reasons are obvious -- immigrants do the jobs teenagers used to do, like cutting grass, flipping burgers, etc., and since they're almost all adults, employers prefer them to inexperienced teenagers.

Krikorian goes on quote a section pointing out that the teens who aren't working aren't learning the kind of work ethic that they'll need to succeed later in life:

Holding a job as a teenager seems to instill the habits and values that are helpful in finding or retaining gainful employment later in life. This may include showing up on time, following a supervisor's directions, completing tasks, dealing politely with customers, and working hard. Learning good work habits and values seems to become much less likely without holding a job at a young age. Once a person who has little or no work experience reaches full adulthood, learning these skills seems to become more difficult.

But not to worry, says Nancy Pelosi -- thanks to Obamacare, a good work ethic is optional. You can be an artiste and sponge off the rest of us. (Follow the link for video.) Ed Morrissey comments:

Pelosi tells an audience in DC that ObamaCare is an "entrepreneurial bill," because it will let people quit being productive and allow them to leech off of ... entrepreneurs:
We see it as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.

In other words, we should all just join the circus and let Mom and Dad pick up the bill. That's not entrepreneurial; it's a welfare state. If anyone wants to see just what kind of innovation that produces, we only need to see the economies of the Western European nanny states.

While it's a good thing to move away from health insurance locking people to their jobs (which is why employer-funded health insurance was created in the first place -- to attract and retain employees while a government imposed wage freeze was in effect), there was a much simpler way, promoted by Republicans like Tom Coburn, that would have made delinked one's health coverage from one's job, preserved individual liberty and responsibility in health care choices, and helped to control costs.

My friend Tyson Wynn has an editorial on WelchOK.com about tomorrow's special election in Craig County to extend a sales tax that currently expires in 2023 to 2040 in order to pay for a new community center.

You read that right: They intend to borrow against assumed revenues far into the future in order to build a building at the county fairgrounds, a building with no likely economic impact.

Further, the plan to build the "community center" is just downright bad planning. To fund this disaster, we're being asked to extend a tax that's not even set to expire until 2023. And the extension goes until 2040. And these people are bringing this to us with straight faces? The only thing crazier than this is all those credit cards Discover gives kids in college so they can be paying for tacos for 20 years. If the tax extension passes, they sell the bonds now, get the funding now, and build the facility now. Without paying a dime for it. And they won't pay a dime until 2024. Seriously? Is it really good economics to borrow $2.8 million that we won't even begin paying on for 14 years? Can you fathom what kind of interest $2.8 million accrues over 14 years? And it won't be fully paid off until 2040.

And why are we extending the courthouse sales tax instead of a voting on a new tax? Because, as a county, we're maxed out. We can't vote new tax; we can only extend an existing tax. Sometimes, you just have to stop spending money and get caught up before you buy a luxury item, which this "community center" certainly is.

Wynn goes on to ask what Craig County will do if, having maxed out its bonding capacity and committed sales tax funds far into the future, it is faced with a real emergency needing immediate funding. I'd add that there's no guarantee bond buyers will want municipal bonds backed with revenues decades into the future. They're likely to want premium interest for that level of risk.

I don't have a vote, but it seems like Craig County voters would be pretty foolish to vote yes on Tuesday.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from May 2010.

Oklahoma Politics: April 2010 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: August 2010 is the next archive.

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