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Can policy motivate behavior? Absolutely

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: December 22, 2012

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.

Diversity (continued)

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.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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