CAN policy really motivate behavior? Absolutely.
Look at what happened following the Connecticut schoolhouse shooting last week. President Barack Obama announced his administration would be exploring changes in gun policy, and now firearms are flying off store shelves. Consumers want to buy now instead of waiting to see how access to some weapons might change.
Every year, consumers hold off on buying a new TV or school clothing and supplies, and instead wait for Black Friday or the August sales tax holiday. Raising taxes on tobacco drives down use; conversely, smokers have streamed to tribal smokeshops that due to tax policy enjoy a price advantage over nontribal retailers. Pending new year's increases in the capital gains tax have prompted business owners across the country to try to sell their companies.
The federal wind production tax credit, which will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress acts, has the attention of developers. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, “It appears that wind developers are pushing to complete projects in 2012 to qualify for the PTC.”
The threat of a stiff penalty for text-messaging while driving might deter this dangerous practice. Oklahoma lawmakers in 2013 should consider that before, as they've done in the past, simply rejecting the idea.
This is news?
Gov. Mary Fallin's Tulsa critics are in an uproar because Oklahoma City-area residents represent a disproportionate share of her appointees. The fact that Fallin has received more applications from people in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area is apparently irrelevant, as is the fact that appointments by Fallin's Democratic predecessor, Brad Henry, showed the same pattern. Critics also complain that women are underrepresented, although that also seems tied to fewer women applying for jobs. We hope Fallin makes appointments based on merit, not arbitrary quotas, but that won't stop the yipping from some quarters. No doubt future dog-bites-mailman analyses of Fallin appointments will find similarly “shocking” patterns, such as the fact Republicans are disproportionately appointed by a GOP governor, that Christians make up the overwhelming share of Oklahoma appointees, and that transgender black Republicans from Gotebo are continuing their century-plus streak of non-representation.
We've noted repeatedly that Oklahoma Republicans have more diversity in their leadership than many who promote affirmative action. It looks like that's true in South Carolina as well. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is one of only two Indian-American governors in the nation, has appointed U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to fill an unexpired term in the U.S. Senate. Scott, a Republican, will be the first black U.S. senator in state history, and the only black member of that chamber from either political party. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, it's rumored that former Gov. Michael Dukakis may be appointed to fill John Kerry's U.S. Senate seat should Kerry be nominated as secretary of state. Yep, Democrats may replace a white male with another white male. Fortunately for Democrats embarrassed by double standards, Massachusetts' other U.S. Senator is Elizabeth Warren, who provides gender balance — along with dubious claims of American Indian heritage.
Try raising the bar
We wrote this week about state Sen. Earl Garrison's bill to give high school seniors a way around end-of-instruction exams. The bill would allow seniors to graduate if they make a composite score of 18 on the ACT. A news release by Garrison, D-Muskogee, said he had spoken to several superintendents in his district and they want a composite ACT score of just 14 to be allowed to replace EOI tests. “Garrison said he agrees with the superintendents and will share their concerns when the bill is considered in committee,” the news release said. He agrees? A 14 on the ACT won't get students into any of the state's four-year colleges, and is well below the statewide average of 20.7. Garrison should have thanked the superintendents for their input, and then dismissed it. If he truly agrees they're on to something, it gives an idea of what his ultimate goal really is.
Good choice by i2E
Members of the board of the nonprofit corporation i2E looked nationwide for a new CEO before deciding the person they needed was in the same room. Scott Meacham, former state treasurer and top adviser to former Gov. Brad Henry, has been on i2E's board since 2010. Meacham came to state government after several years in the banking industry; since leaving state government, he has practiced law with Crowe & Dunlevy. In choosing Meacham, the board tabbed a man who is bright, a hard worker and knows everybody. That's just what i2E needs as it looks to grow and expand its ability to help high-tech startup companies that, as Meacham said, “create jobs and wealth for the state.” The more of those jobs in Oklahoma, the better. We wish Meacham and i2E well in their new partnership.
A tough but fair question
ABC News reporter Jake Tapper deserves credit for asking a tough but fair question to President Barack Obama this week. It came during the news conference where Obama announced that, in light of the Connecticut school massacre, he had named Vice President Joe Biden to lead administration efforts to craft new gun policy. Tapper said many observers felt Obama, for political reasons, didn't talk about gun violence much during his first term or the 2012 election. “This is not the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years,” Tapper said. “Where have you been?” Obama shot back: “Here's where I've been Jake. I've been president of the United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don't think I've been on vacation.” He forgot to mention campaigning, which he did nonstop during his first term, blaming his predecessor for all the ills he recounted to Tapper. But George W. Bush is no help to him on this issue.
Times are changing
South Koreans have just elected their first female president, Park Geun-hye. That's especially notable in a country with a strong patriarchal culture. It's also notable because Park was the more conservative choice in the election, particularly on national defense issues. Her opponent promised to hold a summit meeting with North Korea; Park said she would not unless North Korea apologized for its recent military provocations. She is also expected to reaffirm South Korea's ties with the United States. In the United States, attitudes toward female candidates are also changing and, as in South Korea, most prominent female candidates who've won in recent years have been conservatives. Oklahoma's 2010 gubernatorial race was actually only the fourth such race in U.S. history to offer a choice between two female candidates. Here and across the globe, voters clearly are less concerned about gender than a candidate's platform.
We understand that Kevin Durant is a 24-year-old kid, and that so many young people today don't think twice about peppering their conversations with foul language. Certainly it's commonplace in the NBA, where Durant makes his living. Still, it was disappointing to see his display after breaking away and dunking the ball during Wednesday night's game in Atlanta. After the basket, Durant faced the Hawks fans, bowed up and yelled, “This is my (bleeping) house!” Of course it was easily captured by TV cameras. Durant has been the first-class face of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise from day one. One emotional outburst, in a sport where emotions can run high, doesn't change that. But here's hoping such displays are rare in the future.