THE Washington Post recently discovered the flyover state of Oklahoma, and it wasn't in connection with Kevin Durant or the Thunder.
Instead, the state's anti-big government, anti-Barack Obama leanings were the subject of a feature story tied to Obamacare. For some observers, the fact that Oklahoma gets big bucks for interstate highways and military bases is an indication that we're hypocrites out here on the thirsty Plains. We want smaller, more efficient, less stifling federal government and yet we take so much money from Washington. Oh my!
In our view, a hypocrite is a limousine liberal who rails against the “Bush” tax cuts, yet doesn't voluntarily pay the government what the tax cuts are saving him. Note, too, that interstate highway building and defense are core functions of the federal government. Health care and education are not. We would also argue that taxpayers have an obligation to support the reining in of government growth, even though that growth sometimes benefits us.
The Post story mentions Oklahoma's relatively low rate of compliance with the mandatory auto liability insurance law, in predicting that compliance with the individual health care mandate will be low here as well. Our response: Driving is optional. Breathing is not.
In any case, disdaining Obamacare isn't the same as saying Washington has no role in health care reform. The disagreement is over what that role is. The anemic compliance rate for car insurance traces to low incomes and a failure of the Legislature to provide tools to enforce the law. This has been true of Democratic Legislatures as well as Republican ones.
As for the supposed hypocrisy of taking money from the federal government while simultaneously supporting a smaller federal government, see the above reference to the “Bush” tax cuts. We all take what's offered to us, even if we oppose the concept of the program that provides it. We may disdain the concept of Medicare and we may lament its pending insolvency, but we pay into the system and so we will take the benefits.
In truth, most of us are for and against big government. We're for the parts of it we like, against the parts we don't. This is true of liberals and conservatives. The hypocrisy hunters in our midst are quick to note inconsistencies among conservatives — and there are many — but they have trouble seeing them in liberals who want government to stay out of our bedrooms but have an even greater presence in our boardrooms and our emergency rooms, liberals who think the Patriot Act is an overreach but Obamacare is a blessing.
Oklahomans pay a hefty federal gasoline tax and get money back from Washington for transportation projects. We'd rather Washington use gas taxes for roads and bridges than for the California high-speed rail scheme, yet we'll take a federal grant to convert Bricktown Canal water taxis to run on electricity rather than gasoline.
Hypocrisy? Nope. If we didn't take that grant money, it would go to a similar project elsewhere, not to roads and bridges.
Yes, Oklahomans like it both ways. This proves nothing other than the fact that we're part of the human race. We are no more or less inconsistent — hypocritical, if you must — than the people of any other place.