On May 9, I heard something on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” show that was almost more than a small-town girl like me could believe. Now, this is a little embarrassing, but I’ll tell you anyway.
We’re talking about women’s “biological clocks.” Imagine a young lady with a demanding career. She knows she’d like to have a child, but doesn’t feel secure enough in her job. She needs more time to become successful, so there is the pressure to decide what to do about having a baby. Or, there is a young woman who is searching for the right man and afraid she won’t find him in time. Or, there’s a couple struggling to find successful careers; they want kids, but feel now isn’t the right time.
Thanks to the medical-industrial complex, the solution to all these problems is at hand. For a mere $50,000 any woman can have some eggs harvested and frozen for later use…and conception, at least one hopes. I’m not making this up.
Now, since this is a call-in show, the host invited women to call and share their stories about egg-harvsting and the outcomes. I can’t imagine anyone wishing to share such a story, but apparently I am hopelessly old-fashioned.
One woman called to say she felt so much “freedom” now that she knows it is likely she can have a child “someday” when she is ready.
Wait a minute. Freedom? Is that what this is?
Our workplaces in the U.S. are notoriously family-unfriendly. Our vacation and family leave policies rival the Third World for brutality. Small wonder that couples are very cautious when contemplating starting a family. So, the solution is not to provide job-protected leave to new parents, nor is it to increase vacation time to half that of the European average. It is to sell a product at the price of a small Oklahoma home to extend childbearing years into middle age. Now, on top of whopping college loans, young women can take on a mountain of debt to increase their probability of a successful pregnancy after they’ve reached a “secure” place in their career. I hate to say it, but that security may never come.
I am not sure what to call this phenomenon, but I’m having a tough time calling it freedom.
The issue of scarce water seems to be troubling our esteemed leaders here in Oklahoma City, and it’s about time. According to News 9, our City Council has adopted a sort of plan.
The plan involves various levels of “alert status” and various measures to save water. This may be justifiable, but the range of solutions seem to be extremely narrow. They all involve sacrificing plant life, as if plants are the most wasteful water consumers.
Don’t get me wrong, I paid attention in environmental science class, and I know that many of our common landscaping grasses and plants here in Oklahoma are not native species. Water-wise gardening and landscaping are not our crowning achievement. And it bears mentioning that the Oklahoma Gazette reported, a year and a half ago, about the water-hog status of our golf courses.
OK, so Stage 1 for our City’s water-saving efforts is odd-even outdoor watering. Fair enough.
Stage 2 involves two-day per week watering, with different households and other entities having designated two-day opportunities for outdoor watering.
We move from that to one-day per week watering (Stage 3).
If conditions are severe enough for Stage 4, this means that only hand watering for gardens and flower beds will be allowed. At this point, car-washing businesses are permitted to operate ONLY with water recycling.
Stage 5 conditions mean NO outdoor watering at all; also no vehicle washing.
That’s it. Private pool? Keep on splashing. Gargantuan lawn? No problem as long as it is watered on the right day until Stage 5. Hot tub or spa? Sit back and relax. Maybe a private pool owner could spare a bucket of chemical-treated water for his neighbor’s vegetables. Perhaps a hot tub or spa owner could do the same.
Here are some thoughts for our esteemed council:
Rationing system based on family size.
Recognition that food production (vegetable gardens, especially in containers) is a wise way to use water.
Subsidize rain barrels (rather than sky boxes at the basketball arena),
Recognize that private swimming pools are an unnecessary luxury.
Encourage the use of mulch; perhaps the yard waste collected by the city could be either composted or mulched and made available for citizens’ use (this is done in Norman).
Or perhaps the city could provide the service of a chipper-shredder-on-a-truck to travel through neighborhoods, chip and shred yard waste and leave it with homeowners to compost or use as mulch.
I know, too expensive. Gotta support those sports arenas.
Maybe we could have a MAPS for water?
Among our fond memories of economics class is the theory of specialization of labor. This means that if you are a good butcher, and I am a better baker, you should leave your baking to me. Likewise, if I am not such a good shoe cobbler, I should buy my shoes from someone who is. The idea is that we all compete and we end up doing the one thing we do best by putting competitors out of business by our superior efficiency.
This was the point of Adam Smith’s story about the nail (pin) factory. Specialized jobs enabled an early-era assembly line operation. Of course, the assembly line concept was greatly refined. And Adam Smith didn’t stop to think about how boring this would be for the pin makers. But, he lived in a time when there were real food shortages; perhaps tolerating boredom was worth it.
What is odd is to see people who champion a version of right-wing economics they believe to have derived from Adam Smith (would he even recognize it?) deviating wildly from the idea of specialization of labor for one particular activity. Apparently, we are all supposed to take the law into our own hands. We should all carry guns. No need to leave gun-slinging to the professionals at the sheriff’s office or police station. We can all be Marshall Dillon wannabes now.
Many of our Oklahoma lawmakers seem to support the idea of “the more the merrier” when it comes to carrying guns. It’s just a little strange that someone can (and in these lawmakers’ view should) carry a gun, but that keeping chickens in Oklahoma City is illegal.
Apparently, egg production should be left to professionals, but gunfights are for everyone.
Dear Senator Coburn:
May I call you Tom? You’ve been my Senator for a long time now, and I wrote to Jim a few months ago. You both seem to care so much about us voters.
I heard you on KGOU radio yesterday as you argued yourself into a logical pretzel. It was so entertaining; I thought I would send a few thoughts your way. First, I hope you will agree that public radio is a good thing for us voters; it gives us a chance to hear you in some way other than an instantaneous sound bite. And there’s so much to hear!
Let’s see. You said so much. Where do I start? The audience asked so many gun questions… It was interesting to hear you say that you don’t want laws that limit access to guns; criminals will just get guns anyway. I am wondering—should we give up on all laws? After all, drug addicts might just get drugs anyway; thieves might steal anyway; killers might murder anyway whether we make those pesky laws or not. Then, the government could save all that money we spend on lawmakers like you. We could have the small government you have been dreaming of. Well, I know you didn’t want to spend much time on guns, but that was a good twist of the logical pretzel.
Then, you brightened my morning with more entertainment. Someone asked about a new medical treatment available in Brazil. You were on your toes with a forceful answer that our FDA is a classic bureaucracy full of bumbling, lazy bureaucrats who don’t care about citizens; otherwise, we would have this treatment available here. What a classic answer!
Of course, then, there was a question from an employee of (I think it was) Tinker Air Force Base who was worried about being furloughed due to sequestration. Now, Tom, you started down the pretzel avenue again here. You said that most of our federal employees are hard-working honorable citizens who are doing their jobs and trying to feed families. President Obama’s sequestration is standing in their way. Tom, remember your diagnosis of the FDA! Either we have a government of bumbling bureaucrats or we don’t! Or are the bumblers only located outside of Air Force bases? I’m confused.
Well, Tom, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I’d like to talk about your diagnosis of health care and what a great case one can make for the free market to fix everything. Written about that one before. It’s always nice to know you and Jim are there, and that you give us so much entertainment.
Oklahomans are people who really stick to their principles. That’s why Oklahomans are so put out with flip-flopping politicians. Politicians tell us one thing; then, two days later they change their minds. We Oklahomans aren’t flip-floppers.
Take Oklahomans’ opinion of school teachers. For the last 35 years at least, Oklahomans have seen school teachers as lazy, do-nothing union members. People who only work two-thirds of the year at an easy job while demanding health insurance–that’s what Oklahomans think of school teachers! (And our state’s largest newspaper told us so.)
But, guess what? Within one day of the tragic Sandy Hook incident, Oklahomans pulled an amazing flip-fop. This isn’t just a John Kerry flip-flop; this one is epic! Now, all of a sudden, those lackadaisical, shiftless, mollycoddled teachers have been transformed!
Now, not only are they more than capable of handling their job, they can take two jobs at once! They can teach and serve as weapon-wielding, justice-dispensing, wild-west gun-slingers.
That’s right. According to News9, a pro-gun organization is giving teachers free gun training.
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law.
Assign grades to schools!
Hold teachers accountable!
These themes are making their way around Oklahoma right now. Still, I am wondering, what if hospitals were assigned grades? Or doctors’ offices? What if doctors were “held accountable” for how healthy their patients are?
Actually, this idea (about doctors) was circulated widely when I was a grad student (now longer ago than I care to say), often by conservative think tanks. The idea being that if doctors could not keep people from getting sick, they should suffer financially. To some extent, the idea of an HMO emerged from this. Maybe I should say the “now-discarded” idea of an HMO.
Doctors seemed to be able to convince someone that patients sometimes did not take the doctor’s advice. Think about the excuses one might hear:
“I told him to quit smoking.”
“I told her to lose weight.”
“I told him to get more exercise and eat vegetables.”
You can almost hear a teacher saying:
“I told the students to do their homework.”
“I told the students to study for their tests.”
“I told students to work each day, and not put off the assignment until the night before it was due.”
So, Oklahoma, where is the logical consistency?
Oklahomans are talking quite a bit about voter ID laws. Many are convinced that it is quite reasonable to ask anyone showing up to vote to prove his or her identity. There are a few dissenting voices who argue that at least some citizens, who have a right to vote, do not possess the correct form of ID. Supporters of ID requirements do not seem the least bit impressed by this argument.
Maybe everyone is missing the most important point. While it may be reasonable to ask people to prove identity, in Oklahoma, it can be extremely difficult for non-drivers and other disadvantaged groups to obtain IDs. Drivers have a difficult time envisioning the difficulty associated with this situation. So, let’s imagine together.
Let’s picture an elderly grandmother living in Jones. Let’s say, she has been a non-driver for several years, and her license has expired or been misplaced. There are two locations in Oklahoma County where she can obtain the paperwork for an ID, which then must be taken to a tag agent to obtain the ID. One happens to be in south Oklahoma City, little over a mile from the border with Cleveland County. A troublemaker might be inclined to ask why county residents are expected to go to SW 74th and May to obtain an ID, rather than a more central location, such as downtown Oklahoma City, but I am not a troublemaker. Anyway, our imaginary grandmother must find a way to travel (how?) twenty-plus miles to obtain her ID. Furthermore, even if a family member is available to take her to the Highway Patrol Station on SW 74th, that family member must be willing and able to miss work. That’s because the Station is only open on weekdays.
The Station is accessible by bus, so for anyone living on the #13 bus route, obtaining an ID should be a breeze, as long as said person does not have a weekday job. For those living near another bus route, getting to the Station is slightly more challenging. These folks should just hop aboard a bus and head to the terminal, wait for the #13, and in just under an hour, arrive at the Station on SW 74th where they begin their wait.
Luckily, this grandmother has another alternative. The Community Center on Main Street in Edmond. This should be a piece of cake, right? Only lazy grandmothers can’t get from Jones to Edmond. So, an industrious non-driver in Jones, for instance could surely walk to N.E. 39th and Hiwassee Rd. by 6:44 a.m. That is when our fictional grandmother could catch the first #19 bus. By 7:23 a.m., she should be arriving at N.E. 23rd and Laird Ave., where she can wait for the #2 bus which will be by shortly. She can then arrive in downtown Oklahoma City by 8:00 a.m. At 9:14, she can catch the bus for Edmond, where she will arrive by around 10:00 a.m. What a breeze–arriving at the destination in just a little over three hours! The next bus leaving Edmond will be at 11:55 a.m., so we hope she does not have to wait too long! Otherwise, she might be catching the 1:05 p.m. bus for downtown OKC where she will wait for the #2 which arrives at 1:30. She can again travel to N.E. 23rd and Laird, where, at 3:16 p.m. she can catch the #19 and arrive back at N.E. 39th and Hiwassee just before 4 p.m. Except for the remaining walk home, she’s all done with this simple errand! Of course, by this time, she’s probably thinking it makes little difference whether she goes to Edmond or south Oklahoma City; either place involves pretty much an entire day, and that does not include the trip to the tag agent to get the actual ID. But with two great choices like these, who’s complaining?
By now, it is clear that non-drivers who complain about the difficulty of obtaining IDs in Oklahoma are just gripey curmudgeons or lazy do-nothings. The whole process is so simple and straightforward!
Just one question–what happens to those who live in Luther?
Dear Senator Inhofe,
You and I have never met, but I do know a few people who know you, and you have been our Senator for such a long time, that I feel like we are old friends. Many people tell me that you are a very nice man. May I call you Jim?
Jim, the reason I am writing today is I need some advice. My yard is a mess, and I thought you could give me some landscaping tips. I live in Oklahoma City, so I am fairly sure that my lawn care problems here are similar to yours over there in Tulsa.
Last summer we had record high temperatures, and lots of my grass died. I tried to water it, and I did save my trees. Many trees in my neighborhood died, so I felt fortunate that mine survived. But, other things died…grass, ground cover… I had hoped to do quite a bit of yard work in the fall. I had an unfortunate accident, and was unable to do the needed yard fixer-uppering.
Now, we have another summer of extremely high temperatures. In fact, today, Gary England is forecasting it will be 113º! It’s already 93º, and it’s only eleven in the morning!
To be honest, Jim, it has been too hot to do very much yard work this summer. I hope this fall I can make my yard look presentable. And it isn’t just my lawn and flower bed…I have had very bad luck with my vegetable garden, though earlier in the year, I had good luck with cool-season crops, thanks to the record-breaking warm winter.
So, Jim, what do I do to make my yard (and my neighborhood association) happy? It is always comforting that you are there to reassure me that global warming is a hoax. Otherwise, I might start to suspect that there are consequences to our dumping zillions of tons of CO2 in the air. Still, what are you planting in your yard? My budget is a little tight–I guess you can understand that–seeing that you work for the government. Anyway, I can’t afford to buy lots of new plants that die next summer or grass seed that has no chance of survival.
Would you suggest traditional Oklahoma grasses and plants, or would a cactus garden be better? Should I have my front yard covered in gravel, blacktop, or cement? I cannot afford a pool. Perhaps you could email a photo of your yard. That might give me some ideas.
I am anxiously awaiting all the helpful advice you have to give.
Econ-O-Nomaly has taken a long hiatus. No reason to waste time with an explanation today.
Let’s think about what Oklahomans are talking about today. One big idea is inter-generational equity. Not everyone in Oklahoma uses this term, but many are questioning–is it fair for our kids to have to make payments on the national debt? Or, why should anyone have to contribute a dime in taxes that benefit kids who are today going to college? Why shouldn’t every generation car-hop to finance a college education, or else, just take out a loan?
These are good questions.
Here’s another good question to add to the discussion. Since most of the politicians making decisions about taxes and education finance today are from the baby boom generation (when taxes on the wealthy were high and college was extremely affordable), let’s ask them to pay something back. After all, they did not have to do very much car-hopping to pay for college. Millionaires had to part with their hard-earned dollars in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon years to make college affordable for these guys. Surely, these politicians, who are crying their eyes out over unjust subsidies from one generation to another, want to make things right.
It would be simple. Every pre-Reagan college grad in Congress, who doubtless received undeserved subsidies from hard-working-made-threadbare-through-taxation millionaires, can simply begin paying back all the extra largesse they have accumulated through their lifetimes.
How about it Oklahoma? Let’s show our young people how serious we are about inter-generational equity!
Well, Oklahoma is still abuzz with discussion about the new health care bill. Many say they are outraged about the concept of people being forced to purchase something. And, besides health insurance companies, what other company do you know with a guaranteed market—a market where participation is required by the government?
Of course, there are other purchases not required by the government that afford little choice. Electricity and natural gas are examples of companies that more or less have a monopoly market granted by the city government. We can argue that people have a “choice” not to purchase gas or electricity, but I don’t think many of us believed that last winter when it was 20° outside. But, these utilities are regulated. The books are audited, and rates are set by the Corporation Commission.
Car insurance is another similar situation mentioned often. Anyone who wishes to operate a car has to purchase liability insurance or face the long arm of the law. I have not seen any Oklahomans crying their eyes out over drivers being forced to buy car insurance. Some have even suggested that the car insurance situation is drastically different from the health insurance situation in that no one has to drive a car.
So, Oklahoma, here’s a challenge. Park your car for a month. Okay, not a month. How about a week?
Can’t make it through a week? Three days?
Okay, so how much “choice” do we have
when it comes to owning, maintaining, operating, and insuring cars? We have not invested in public transit. We haven’t planned neighborhoods, schools, libraries, grocery stores, or anything for pedestrian access. We built our state on cheap oil. A car-free Oklahoman is a very marginalized citizen.
This article is not meant to support or oppose the new health care bill. I only hope a few people will think twice about the arguments surrounding “choice” and “coercion.”