OKLAHOMANS are fat, and getting fatter.
That in a nutshell summarizes a report issued this week by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Researchers concluded that 31 percent of Oklahomans are obese. They estimated the total could climb to 66 percent by 2030.
News of our current obesity rate, however, is a dog-bites-man story. In any number of studies through the years, Oklahoma has been rated as one of the most obese states in the country. The obesity rate of our residents has climbed steadily in the past two decades or so.
That climb has translated into soaring numbers of children with Type 2 diabetes, which carries many health risks. That form of diabetes used to be found primarily in adults as they grew sedentary and out of shape. The problem is that too many of our youngsters now fit that description.
This report will surely spur calls in some circles for the state to “do something” to address this problem. But government mandates, such as New York City's ban on large soft drinks, aren't the answer. Instead the solutions must begin in the home, with parents insisting their kids turn off the video games and go outside, or urging them to eat healthier foods.
to live by
Bogan Garcia can sell. As a Tiger Cub, Bogan sold $1,500 worth of Boy Scout popcorn. The total climbed to $2,400 as a Wolf Cub. And last year, as a Cub Scout, 10-year-old Bogan sold $4,387 worth of popcorn, more than anyone else in the Last Frontier Council, which comprises about 14,000 Scouts. The secrets to his success are diligence and customer service. Bogan, of Harrah, says he learned that it's important to set a goal and then try to reach it. Look customers in the eye. Give them a good handshake. He also makes sure those who buy the product know where their money is going. And one more thing — delivery includes a handwritten thank-you note. “It's not hard. It's just hard work,” he says. That's an attitude that will serve him well for years to come.
Revisiting August tax totals
Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to ... write about state revenue. So we won't let ourselves get off Walter Scott-free for an editorial this week that discussed a big drop in gross production tax revenue during August and the need for the administration to get busy building more liquefied natural gas export facilities. We noted that gross production taxes totaled just $154,000, compared with $36.1 million in August 2011. That prompted one reader to call and point out that his energy company alone wrote a tax check larger than $154,000 last month. We should have spelled out, as the state finance director did in the report we used as the basis of the editorial, that natural gas generated about $14 million in gross production tax revenue, but most of that was eaten up by “refunds and other required distributions.” August was a down month for the state's energy sector, yes. But cataclysmic? No.
The city councils of Tulsa and Oklahoma City held a historic joint session on Sept. 6, two months before Tulsa County voters will decide the fate of a $748.8 million capital improvements plan. At the meeting, the Tulsans sought advice from their Oklahoma City counterparts on how to replicate what three MAPS initiatives have done to enhance the quality of life here. Tulsa is catching up with the capital city in public investments and, unlike MAPS, major capital improvements plans in the Tulsa area are handled countywide rather than citywide. Also of note is that Tulsa County has a model jail while Oklahoma County faces a federal takeover of jail operations unless expensive improvements are made. A countywide initiative is needed to address the jail here. Oklahoma County is nearly alone among counties in this state without a sales tax. Perhaps leaders here could use some advice from Tulsans on how to pass a countywide sales tax measure for the jail.
This is success?
During the Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama and other Democrats repeatedly touted the federal bailout of General Motors as one of the president's (few) economic successes. It appears General Motors officials don't entirely agree and want to get out of their shotgun wedding with the federal government. The company is pushing the Treasury Department to sell the government's entire share of GM stock, which would translate into a loss of $15 billion for taxpayers. According to The Wall Street Journal, GM officials want to shed the stigma of being known as “Government Motors” and say the government's shadow harms its reputation, making it harder to recruit top talent because of pay restrictions. Imagine that: This president's greatest economic success could cost taxpayers billions and harms the company he “saved.” We wish we could say we're surprised.
What's in a name (change)?
Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves is no fan of sex-change operations. He's holding those sentiments against people who've undergone the procedure, or who plan to do so, and also want to change their names. Graves has rejected two name-change requests, saying they were made for fraudulent purposes. He contends that people can't really change their gender because their DNA remains the same, so in essence they're perpetrating a fraud. “If you're born male, you stay male, according to the study I've done on DNA,” Graves told The Oklahoman. “If you're born female, you stay female.” Fine, but Graves is clearly reaching when he cites a state law that allows judges to deny name-change requests if they're sought “for illegal or fraudulent purposes.” Instead he appears to be allowing his moral aversion to transgender cases to rule the day.
So much for diversity
Fashion week in New York is a politically odd event involving conspicuous consumption by “1 percenters” who love President Barack Obama, a man whose campaign pitch is an attack on wealth. The event is also notable for another reason. The models paraded before the mostly liberal crowds are typically lily white. Diversity is slowly emerging in the runway workforce, not because of the political convictions of the fashionistas but in response to market forces. Asian consumers now account for more than 50 percent of global luxury sales, according to Bain & Co. As a result, 26 Asian models appeared in 10 major brands' shows this year. We note this trend because it shows the folly of Obama's emphasis on punishing wealth-creation and achievement. By bashing the profit-motive, he's attacking the force opening career doors and creating opportunity for young minorities.
A million thanks ...
That's what is due to the many individuals and companies that have helped the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools provide $1 million worth of supplies to district teachers. The foundation's Teachers Warehouse eclipsed the milestone as the school year got under way a few weeks ago. From pencils and pens to notebooks and backpacks and much more, donors have provided a tremendous service to teachers who otherwise might have had to buy those items themselves. More than 5,000 orders have been filled by teachers in the four years since the warehouse opened. “Oklahoma City can step up,” said Lori Dickinson, president of the nonprofit foundation. “It's not just giving them a ream of paper. It's giving a teacher a message of encouragement: ‘This is from the community. Your job's important. What you're doing is important.'” Kudos.