POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 14, 2011:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
Lost in Translation
(In response to "Something for Nothing" in the Sept. 1-7 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Actually, there's no disconnect at all.
The newest SoonerPoll finds that Oklahomans want to get rid of the state income tax and replace it with -- um, how to put this? -- nothing. (soonerpoll.com/poll-finds-voters-prefer-to-phase-out-the-income-tax-without-raising-other-taxes/)
Why would Oklahomans be okay with getting rid of the state's largest revenue source? Again, SoonerPoll sheds some light: "Which of the following statements do you agree with more? 'I'd rather pay higher taxes to support a larger state government that provides more services,' or 'I'd rather pay lower taxes and have a smaller state government that provides fewer services.'" A full 59 percent want lower taxes and smaller government, while 28 percent go the other way.
The unpleasant truth is this: Government spending in Oklahoma is currently at an all-time high. (ocpathink.org/articles/982) People want lower taxes AND less government. No disconnect.
Mr. Hamilton is a good writer and I'm sure he's a fine gent, but I don't think he grasps that his views and the views of his Observer readership represent but a small fraction of Oklahoma voters.
(In response to "Something for Nothing" in the September 1-7 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
That SoonerPoll is a prime example of the problem Arnold points to. It was a push poll phrased in a way to obscure the real results of eliminating the income tax and force the result that it got.
The option of eliminating income tax without replacing it was framed as: "Other people say this can be done without raising other taxes. They say that normal growth revenue, coupled with reductions in state spending, will enable us to phase out the income tax over a 7-year-period."
That's misleading because most ordinary voters are not state budget experts and can't be expected to understand the magnitude of cuts this would require ($2.5 billion, or about a third of all state revenue: okpolicy.org/blog/taxes/why-oklahoma-needs-an-income-tax/)
Not to mention that the "normal growth revenue" replaces nothing, because it represents primarily population growth that brings as many increasing costs as it does higher revenue.
Another misdirection is that the poll provides only the option of cutting income tax from the top down rather than, say, cutting sales tax and replacing it with higher income taxes, or stretching out the income tax brackets so as to provide tax relief weighted towards moderate income Oklahomans who need it most.
As Arnold says, the income tax is "the fairest tax of all" because it is the only one based on people's ability to pay. But the proposals coming out of OCPA are entirely top-down -- helping the already wealthy first and sending down a few scraps to get enough others to go along with it. We can see the results of that mentality in Texas, where the poorest 20 percent of Texans pay the 5th highest taxes in the nation.
Writer's Note: Mr. Perry's analysis is spot-on: How you introduce and phrase poll questions determines their validity. Dutcher's bias is obvious: He is a mouthpiece for the state's wealthy elite who are determined to shift as much of the tax burden as possible onto the backs of the middle class and poor.
Lead the Way
(In response to "A Collection of Weird Moments" in the Aug. 25-31 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Bill Bartmann is a hero. I recently met him at a dinner speech and his story was extremely inspirational. I had no idea that this famous debt collections entrepreneur began his professional life as a bankruptcy attorney. He's a down to earth, real guy -- not some ivory-tower boardroom dweller.
God bless him for trying to reform his own industry -- something which is LONG overdue.
Teach the Talk
Dearest Ray, (Ray Pearcey, Cityscape) you Rascal: Well, you finally emerged from your extended hermitage, with a boom! Your articles are wonderful. Spot on.
You should have a blog, or be syndicated. You are exactly right on the money in all of the articles you have written. What you are saying, needs to be said, but no one has the intellect or the guts to say it. Congratulations. Keep up the phenomenal work. Call me, let's get together for lunch.
At Great Cost
Rarely do amateurs beat professions. It doesn't happen much in war which is a killing game. Your job is to kill the other guy before he kills you. We have sent 2,200 Oklahoma amateur soldiers to fight professional killers in the Afghanistan war. And two Okie Army National Guardsmen, Jared Ewy, a 33 year old second lieutenant from Edmond and a 22 year old specialist from Broken Arrow, Augustus Vicar, are coming home in coffins.
They were killed by a roadside bomb or improvised explosive device while on combat patrol. Their blood is on the hands of Gov. Mary Fallin, Senators Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, and Congressmen John Sullivan, Tom Cole, Dan Boren, Frank Lucas and Jim Lankford. None of these politicians have objected to sending our National Guard's amateur soldiers to a war in which the professional enemy uses suicide bombers and roadside bombs to do their dirty work. At the next election, all should be defeated for their cruelty and stupidity.
--Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner
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