Stanstamper’s Blog

January 23, 2009

Not so stupid Okies!

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 6:53 pm
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On page three today, (also below) Oklahoma gets a pat on the back by a national economist for the state’s sound fiscal policy.
While we have significant financial needs, Oklahoma residents are fundamentally conservative and that sets our state apart from approximately 40 states which presently don’t know how they are going to survive financially in 2009.
Let your Congressional delegation know that you don’t want your tax dollars bailing out states that don’t know what fiscal responsibility is all about.

Economic Freedom is the Best Cure for Recession
By Lawrence J. McQuillan

As Americans buckle down for what could be a severe recession, many state governments are scrambling to find ways to keep their economies afloat. Luckily , when it comes to economic freedom — a major component of a state’s business climate — Oklahoma is well ahead of the pack.

According to the U.S. Economic Freedom Index, a recent study published by the Pacific Research Institute in association with Forbes, Oklahoma is among the most economically free states in the country. Although it often goes overlooked, the amount of economic freedom enjoyed by Oklahomans will play a significant role in determining how much damage the ongoing recession will do.

So what is economic freedom? It’s the ability to voluntarily exchange property under the rule of law. It can be as simple as buying a pack of gum from the corner store or as complex as merging two multinational corporations.

States with high levels of economic freedom avoid excessive regulations, high taxes, unfair licensing requirements, and wasteful welfare spending. Such policies get in the way of productive economic activity and retard a state’s economic growth and prosperity.

The data bear this out. In 2005, per-capita income grew 31-percent faster in the 15 most economically free states than it did in the 15 least-free states. That translates into more money in the pockets of average workers. Employment growth was a staggering 216-percent higher in the most-free states.

These figures should be of interest to policymakers contemplating economic stimulus packages. The facts show that the most effective way to create jobs and raise take-home pay is to expand economic freedom.

Economically unfree states, like California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York, will have a harder time recovering from the downturn. California faces crushing budget deficits and might not be able to issue tax refunds this year. And New York is reeling from the implosion of the financial industry.

In times of great economic growth, these states could get away with high taxes and tort laws that fleece businesses. But in the wake of the financial crisis, their wrongheaded policies will have disastrous, magnified consequences.

For one, less-free states could see an exodus of talent and capital. Census data showed an astounding 245-percent difference in migration rates between the freest states and least-free states in 2005. In other words, even in good economic times, people choose to leave economically restrictive states for freer ones.

Fortunately, some states have caught on to these realities and have taken steps to become more economically free. Chief among them is South Dakota, a state that has risen in the rankings 14 places since 2004. It is now the nation’s economically freest state. The Mount Rushmore State imposes no corporate-income tax, no personal-income tax, no personal-property tax, no business-inventory tax, and no inheritance tax.

If Oklahoma hopes to emerge from our nation’s economic rough patch, its leaders would be wise to continue to expand economic freedom. If they don’t, Oklahoma could be in for hard times for a long time.

Lawrence J. McQuillan, PhD, is director of Business and Economic Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. He is coauthor of the 2008 U.S. Economic Freedom Index. Contact him at LMcQuillan@pacificresearch.org.

January 21, 2009

Americans hungry for leadership…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 4:46 pm
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America has a new and historic President.

The eyes of the informed world are clearly focused on our nation as President Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party chart a new course for America.
The first 100 days of the new administration will be very interesting to watch. It causes me to wonder if it might not be a good job to simply record the daily activities of the president and the Congress.

I was impressed with much of President Obama’s inaugural speech and particularly the part when he says “no idle hands” and uses terms like “work.” Clearly parents and young people have lost the concept of “work ethic,” not to mention scores of adults as well.

Recently I attended a funeral of a quiet man who died of cancer. His pastor joked that taking chemotherapy was not nearly as hard on him as was a liberal politician.

This proud Navy veteran had the same message for all his children and grandchildren, whom he dearly loved. “The best way…is the hard way.”

How many people are going through life today looking for the path of least resistance, instead of taking the sage advice of wise elders?

In these first 100 days, I will be looking for signs of leadership from our new leader. Top among them will be how President Obama stands up to the well entrenched power brokers in the Congress. Will he himself take the hard road and say “NO” to earmarks, pork and Congressional shenanigans as usual? Will he send a clear signal to America and the world that real reform is going to be the order of the day?

Such an action would send American and world markets soaring. Failure to take the hard road will continue to cost Americans trillions and undermine everyone’s future, except of course, veteran politicians.

Soon, we will find out what the real Barack Obama is made out of. I’d like to see the Pit Bull side of him in the first 100 days.

January 15, 2009

Oklahoma Politics

Filed under: General — stanstamper @ 8:02 pm
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As the 2009 legislative season approaches in Oklahoma with the convening of the legislature at the state capitol the first week of February, we will attempt to share with our readers some of the bills which our legislators are proposing.
This will give readers an opportunity to see for themselves what our paid legislators are up to, as well as an opportunity to contact your elected officials to voice your support or opposition to the legislation.
While Oklahoma has fared very well financially as compared to other states in the past two years, declining oil prices are certain to create some financial challenges for legislators, who are already stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
While most Oklahoma government agencies issue outcries for lack of funding, transportation among them (with thousands of miles of critical highways and scores of unsafe bridges) there will still be a push in the coming legislature to remove the state tax on groceries.
While this sounds good to border counties like Choctaw (since Texas doesn’t tax groceries), the state’s largest cities strongly oppose the removal of sales tax on groceries because their residents don’t have the opportunity to cross state lines and more importantly, they don’t want to lose the municipal tax revenue.
So a “one-size-fits-all” solution actually seldom works in Oklahoma. With the GOP driving this year’s legislative train, and most of them coming from OKC and western Oklahoma, the prospects for southeast Oklahoma gaining ground in this legislative season appear slim.
Time will tell.

Wanted: Political Leaders

Wanted: Political Leaders
Observing Oklahoma politics over the past three decades has been pretty painful. I can’t help but wonder if it has always been this way.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma taxpayers, the number of real leaders in Oklahoma politics could probably be counted on one hand.
Why can’t voters find some statesmen?
Statesman: a skilled, experienced, and respected political leader or figure.
Using the term loosely, I would suspect many of our present political figures would vainly consider themselves to be in such an elite group.
Read on: Statespersonship also conveys a quality of leadership that organically brings people together and of eldership, a spirit of caring for others and for the whole.
Every year we hear politicians, who occupy leadership positions, make grandiose promises about “working together.” The minute the gavel drops, the order of the day is “advancing party politics.”
I’m proud of the way our State Representative R.C. Pruett has conducted himself during his short tenure in the House. I consider him to be among the most honorable legislators in the state and I’m sure District 19 citizens will never be embarrassed by his actions.
I have decided to have some fun this year and show our readers how silly Oklahoma politics can be.
Almost every day we receive a press release from both parties which accuses the other party of some horrific act. Most are extremely childish and far from the kind of action a statesman would take.
For the most part, party leaders are first and foremost there to support their respective parties and a handful of constituents back home. The people are far down the list in importance.
Many legislators simply have one or two axes to grind and while roads and bridges fall apart, they introduce and push legislation that is so far down the state’s list of priorities, voters wonder how their proposal ever got out of committee.
The Oklahoma Senate, directed for the first time in history by Republicans, held an early meeting at the capitol this week to adopt new rules of operation. As you will see elsewhere on this page, the political mudslinging has begun before the session is even formally started.
Oklahoma voters will probably not see any change in the OKC Capitol Circus, until they encourage more statesmen to seek political office, and strongly support them when they do.
These will be people who have the courage to do the right thing for the citizenry, without putting themselves and their political careers first.
That will be a difficult task to say the least.

Crazy Holidays

Crazy Holidays!
These mid-week holidays really get everyone’s biological calendars messed up.
Any time you have a break in the work week, the  next day is supposed to be Saturday.
We appreciate our customers who call to inquire as to why they did not get a Thursday paper.
It’s almost five o’clock. What’s happened to my paper.”
I explained that it was January 1st.
So, what’s that got to do with me getting my paper.?
Well, we don’t publish on New Year’s Day, it’s a holiday, I explained.
He yelled into the kitchen: “Hey Ethel, now I know why the liquor stores are closed!”
Then he added, “What am I supposed to do for the rest of the day without the paper?”
I told him I was sorry, perhaps he should have another drink.
“Can’t,” he said. “Ain’t got no whiskey left.”
I thought about giving him some names of some of my coffee drinking buddies, but I remembered “what goes around…comes around.”
So I tried to reassure him. “We’ll have a paper tomorrow.”
“Since when have you printed a paper on Saturday,” he replied.
“Tomorrow’s Friday,”
“How can that be,” he questioned.
Today’s Thursday. That means tomorrow’s Friday,” I explained.
“Ethel, the liquor stores will be open tomorrow,” he belched, “and Happy New Year to you, young man,” he added.
I heard the phone click before I could respond.
A few minutes later I got a similar call which was a bit more brief.
Today being a Friday and all, I thought I’d go over to the Courthouse and catch up on some paperwork.
What? Closed? Silly me. All this time I thought Thursday was the holiday.
Wonder why we can’t make a calendar where New Year’s Eve always hits on Friday or Saturday night?
Not a good idea. That would beat a lot of people out of four holidays, Christmas and New Years and the days after.

 

<Thursday holidays really aren’t that bad, since they result in a four-for-two holiday deal for a lot of people.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
As we say farewell to 2008, I think it is important to stay positive and not lose sight of a whole bunch of blessings.
As a state, Oklahoma has fared significantly better than most and is among only a few to have a substantial rainy day fund. Many other states are basically bankrupt and face huge financial challenges. Other states, such as South Carolina, have bankrupt unemployment funds and aren’t sure how they will deal with ongoing costs.
I’m disappointed Oklahoma’s political leadership hasn’t been able to herald the state’s solid financial condition and the fact that Oklahoma law requires a balanced budget, as the Feds should do.
I have always said that most successful Choctaw County (and Southeast Oklahoma) business owners operate in a constant state of hunker-down-ness.
Unlike the federal government, they are frugal and know that they can’t survive making bad business decisions.
Local banks and businesses have been mostly untouched by the Wall Street and international banking debacles. Several local businesses are reporting either record, or near-record sales.
Unlike the metro newspapers, Hugo Daily News has experienced one of the best years in its history and we see a number of positives in the marketplace as we trek into twenty-oh-nine.
Two new hotels are presently under construction in the county and another has purchased land.
The Choctaw Nation is in the process of constructing a mega-gaming center in Grant which will generate several hundred new jobs.
The Nation is also planning to break ground on several million dollars worth of new health-related facilities on Hugo’s west side.
One local business is planning a substantial expansion project in 2009 that could easily be several million dollars.
Hugo residents will see more than 50 blocks of streets paved in the coming year and work on expanded youth and hospital facilities is also anticipated.
2009 is certain to have its challenges, but Choctaw County and Southeastern Oklahoma residents may fare better than many areas of the nation as our relatively small economy chugs along.
Tourism will continue to bring north Texas families to this beautiful part of Oklahoma where families can relax and play more affordably than almost any place else.
We will have ample time to take wayward politicians to the woodshed for stupid decisions and for not minding the store.
Perhaps there’s just more American in Choctaw County residents, who know what it is like to roll up their sleeves and work.
To a large degree we can choose what kind of year we want 2009 to be. If area citizens, communities and boards work together and work responsibly, Hugo and Choctaw County will come through 2009 with flying colors and we can look future generations in the eye and know that we left our local world in better shape than we found it.
Happy New Year to all!

Welcome to Stan Stamper’s Blog

Filed under: General — stanstamper @ 7:40 pm
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Welcome!|Welcome to Stan Stamper’s Blog!
In the coming weeks and months, I hope to bring some personal comments that reflect my opinions on a variety of issues. Like other bloggers, I too, have my pet peeves and will not hesitate to expound upon them. I will talk about some of the things I think are both right and wrong with the two dominant political parties and my intent will not be to offend, but to invite meaningful dialog. We will endeavor to keep the blog honorable and fair with respect to reasonable comment.

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