Okie Teachers Go On Strike: What Happened?

Okie Teachers Go On Strike: What Happened? April 3, 2018

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Rupert Ganzer https://www.flickr.com/photos/loop_oh/

When Oklahoma makes the national news it’s always something bad. We only get noticed for disasters of homeric proportions or when something outstandingly stupid and embarrassing happens.

Oklahoma took another bow in the national news last night, and this time, the disaster rule and the outstandingly stupid and embarrassing rule were both at work. The topic wasn’t terrorist bombings, tornadoes or fools on parade. It was the effects of the destruction of our state government by a bunch of puppet legislators acting on behalf of the greedy-to-the-point-of-insanity money men who put them in office.

Oklahoma teachers left the classroom both yesterday and today to pick up hand-painted placards and march around the state capitol demanding raises for themselves and better funding for education. It was, as we say in these parts, a mighty big crowd, and they were all lathered up.

The same thing happened recently in West Virginia to some effect in funding. This evidently inspired the Okies, and other teachers in Kentucky, to take action.

I watched the cable news last night. Predictably, the Republican network pretty much ignored the whole teacher thing to focus on a discussion of tariffs and impending trade wars, whereas the Democrat channel was all over the teacher demonstrations. In my humble opinion, both networks got it wrong. The Republican network got it wrong both politically and economically about the tariffs, and for sure and absolutely the Democrat network got it wrong about Oklahoma.

The panel of “experts” — all fine-looking, well spoken people, btw — discussing the teacher demonstrations focused on Oklahoma, and their analysis was what you would expect from a group of people who are not Okies. It missed the mark by a country mile.

Of course, I have a rather unique insight into all this. I was there. And I mean, I was there, right on the hot seat, taking the votes, debating the bills and arguing tactics when this little debacle went down. I know the people who did this to Oklahoma, and I know why they did it. The “explanation” I heard on the news had very little to do with the reality.

It’s really as simple as greed. By that I mean greed of the highly intelligent, morally bankrupt few who are so intent on draining government treasuries into their own pockets that they don’t care that their actions will destroy the nation and the government which ensures their continued existence.

These rich people are cancers. They drained little Oklahoma dry.

The tv analysts not only missed this, they got the facts wrong. Their take on the situation was that Oklahoma was still reeling today from the 2008 crash; that, somehow or other, we never got back on our feet after that and this, not the disastrously bad economic policies foisted on this state by elected officials acting on behalf of those who funded their campaigns, was to blame.

That, in a word, is untrue. The 2008 crises actually helped Oklahoma’s budget. The Obama administration pumped a lot of dollars down to the states in an effort to steady the ship of state and forestall a worldwide depression. This stimulus worked, and the world was saved from an economic cataclysm.

What happened in Oklahoma is a little more complicated. Our Republican elected officials began passing tax cuts that shoveled the state budget into the pockets of the rich as soon as they got the power to do so. By 2008, the whole thing was beginning to show a few cracks from these repeated cuts. But the stimulus monies bailed us out. We used that federal money to plug the gaps created by the tax cuts. The 2008 crash didn’t cripple Oklahoma’s budget, it shored it up.

Then, the state economic boat got lifted by an oil boom. Oil is like that. It goes up, way up, for what can be fairly long periods of time, then it plows straight down hill into an oil bust, which can also last for long periods of time.

The state got a big lift from a huge oil boom for quite a while after the 2008 recession. Instead of acknowledging the obvious, the Republican leadership of the state claimed that this incoming tide of cash was due to their economic policies. They were, in their own words, veritable economic geniuses whose massive tax cuts were paying off, big time.

Their response to all this was to cut taxes more and more. They also put “triggers” in the laws they were passing that would set off automatic tax cuts in the future if the economy rose by a certain amount. These “triggers” pretty much guaranteed that any “bust” would be permanent.

All this was done by means of legislation that came to the state by way of faceless outside groups. These tax cuts were packaged legislation that was almost identical to the legislation being passed by other Republican legislatures around the country, and indeed, that was passed by the United States Congress not so long ago.

Nobody local wrote these bills. I don’t think many Okies even read them. They just took them and passed them into law as they were told to do.

I remember raising the question in debate that what we were doing was really just cutting the oil boom, and that when oil went down, we were going to go broke. This was greeted by teen-aged eye-rolling from the bill’s “authors.”

When I left office, the state was effectively bankrupt. We were one disaster away from beginning the process of turning off lights. That disaster obliged us in the form of the absolutely predictable oil bust.

Now, schools are only meeting four days a week, teachers have been laid off, essential services are in danger, and — get ready for this — local taxes, including fines, fees, and especially property taxes, are spiraling upward. Someday when I have time, I’ll share with you how the Okie legislature decided to fund another tax cut for business rather than build tornado shelters in the schools.

Last night, the people on tv opined as to how Oklahoma was still stumbling around from the economic recession of 2008 and that had led to the underfunding of education. Where on this earth did they get that fantasy? It sounds like an excuse somebody fed them and that they swallowed down without thinking it through.

Here’s what really happened. The same money people who have taken over the United States Congress took over the Oklahoma legislature and ultimately, the whole of Oklahoma government. I am not talking about the Republican Party. The Republican Party no longer exists. It is the wholly-owned subsidiary of a few massively wealthy people who use it as the means by which they drain government treasuries into their own pockets.

The Republican Party came to power in Oklahoma by way of term limits, which opened up a lot of Democratic seats all at once, a well-placed statewide vote on gay marriage which helped to get “their” people to the polls at the general election, and the expenditure of massive amounts of money.

The major issue which the party used to mobilize its base (Which is mostly poor white people who attend church every Sunday and would come to your aid in a heartbeat if you were trapped in a burning building or under the wreckage left by a tornado. In other words, and unlike the money-changers who buy elections and then steal the public treasure, good people.) was abortion and the “fact” that Democrats are all immoral while Republicans are the party of God.

It was a how-would-Jesus-vote kind of election. And predictably, the Republican Party and their trophy preachers claimed that Jesus would vote for them.

Those of us who know the people involved can easily testify that Republican office holders run the gamut from good, honest Christians who sincerely want to do the right thing to truly terrible sexual sadists, corrupt thieves and moral ingrates. I’ve worked inside a legislative body for many years and I can tell you simply that the party in power, whichever one it is, is always the most corrupt for the simple reason that they are ones that it pays to bribe. The main difference I saw between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Democrats who are corrupt go it alone. It’s a personal corruption, committed by individuals, acting on their own. With the Republicans, it was top down and organized.

That, in many ways, reflects the overall difference between the two parties. Republican office holders have very little personal leeway in what they do. They follow a script. The script is not written by their local leadership but clearly comes from a centralized source.

The reason I say that is because Republican legislation is almost identical from state to state, or, for that matter from state to national arenas. Thus the tax “reform” recently passed by the federal government conforms in many ways to the tax “reforms” passed by Okie Republicans.

This tax “reform” — not the 2008 crash — was what bankrupted Oklahoma. Our legislature systematically gutted state government over a period of time in which they passed one tax cut after another. John Q Public heard very little jingle jangle in his pockets from these tax cuts. The money went up the economic food chain, to the rich.

A lot of Okies work two and three jobs, just to make ends meet. They leave their kids at home alone from the time they are very little, while they work, work, work. The kids go to schools that are little better than factories.

Obvious things like school only meeting four days a week are the tip of the iceberg. Oklahoma has closed state parks, cut funding to disabled homes, reduced money going to the taxpayers in every venue possible.

At the same time, Okies keep right on electing the people who did this to them. The Democrats’ hostility to pro life Democrats and their consistent support for things that are, to most Oklahomans, anathema, is why. One Democratic legislator kept all pro life legislation locked up tight for decades. His actions, more than any other thing, led to this situation.

It is not realistic for the Democratic Party to continue flying in the face of the deeply-held beliefs of so many of the people of this country. The party needs to be more open to people of faith and pro life people.

On the other hand, the Republican party, as well as a good many of its satellite organizations, is the victim of an outside takeover by self-serving robber barons who really have only one goal: To buy elected officials in order to dictate policy so that they will become richer even than they already are.

These money changers are a deadly parasite on the body politic. They have taken over the Republican Party, bankrupted several states, and, with this last tax cut, set in motion the bankruptcy of the United States of America itself. If we don’t stop them, there is a good chance that they will destroy our Republic.

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18 responses to “Okie Teachers Go On Strike: What Happened?”

  1. Thanks for the inside scoop. 50 years ago, I might have been a Democrat, but I’m just too independent.

    One party in power too long is inherently unhealthy. Here in Baja Oklahoma, we are getting to that point with the Republicans. Not to mention names (cough…cough…Dan Patrick…cough…cough), but it’s getting crazy down here. We have a “rainy day fund” of something over $10 billion, but the governor wouldn’t call a special legislative session to tap the fund for the ultimate rainy day – Hurricane Harvey. Now, we had a special session because the lege couldn’t get their work done for entangling about a Bathroom Bill. Which bill made the special session agenda.

    Sorry to rant, but this conservative is about to volunteer for Lupe Valdez, if she makes it past the Dem runoff. She’s good people, and I’d be happy to see her as our governor. Honestly, she probably won’t beat Abbott, but she’ll shake them up down in Austin, I hope.

  2. I’d vote for the corpse of Ann Richards over Abbott. I’ve been voting in the R primaries to pick whoever looked like the least vile candidate, but I’ll have to look into Valdez.

  3. Got the opposite problem in Oregon. Only Democrats can get elected here these days. But back in the early 1990s, Republicans were in power and put school funding in the hands of the State, instead of in the hands of district property taxes (where I believe it belongs- any centralization, for any reason, in government is headed down the garden path to excessive corruption). So today, 65% of the state budget is education, the roads are falling apart, state parks are funded by user fees, and because that same damn law limited property tax increases to less than inflation, our schools are falling further and further behind while spending more and more money. I think we’re up to $15,000/student/year for a school system that has an 82% graduation rate.

    And it ain’t the teachers or the facilities that are seeing the money- it’s the top heavy “consolidated school district” administrators (more centralization).

    Add to that the “kicker”- an extra income tax refund every time the economy goes up by 2% over state forecasts- and it is easy to see why busts never end here.

    Oh, and it’s definitely top down. No ‘gonie would vote for Democrats, so they’ve been importing voters from California into our cities. Now native ‘gonies are about 29% of the voting public, and we have free abortion for all, voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill, and thanks to the recently passed and signed into law by Democrat Kate Brown, involuntary euthanasia by STARVATION for the demented with muscle problems that make them unable to hold a fork. And a few of the larger cities are now considering making the problem worse with resident based rather than citizen based voting.

    Would you trade your dear mother’s life for top-down Democrat corruption?

  4. “One party in power too long is inherently unhealthy. ” Amen. Much the same story in Nebraska, and even worse at the local level. If the Democrats would nominate their decent people (and they have lots) they would be surprised at how well they would do. But it seems they won’t, or those people won’t run.

    My experience (which is not much) is that national Democrats have a stronger dogma than most of our churches, and use it ruthlessly, and are also terribly beholden to big money donors, not that different to the Republicans. Not sure there is a real solution, but we’d be well advised to try something.

  5. Good to get the actual story on the state of affairs in OK. What a mess—and everyone is suffering except the wealthy. Having been a teacher, I can attest to the poor pay and the lack of funding for schools—-everyone suffers when our children aren’t educated. This effects the future of our country—–

  6. I’m giving you a standing ovation. Up her ein Wyoming, they’re gutting our education system as well. 20 years ago, when I was graduating with my teaching degree, they were desperate to keep good teachers in state and were starting to show it financially. Within the last 5 years, they’ve been undoing all that. My friends who still teach report more and more cutbacks each year.

  7. So I came across this video a while back:

    The referenced article from The Intercept also makes for a good read: The Dead Enders

    A couple of takeaways from this:

    There are many decent people running for office as Democrats, but they are fighting tooth and nail with the Democratic leadership, who treat the more liberal / progressive wing of the party with utter disdain. That’s why there is basically a civil war raging within the Democratic Party, even its being kept under wraps by the mainstream.

    The shunning of the candidates is not necessarily, as the author alludes to, centered around the abortion issue; even pro-choice candidates are getting shut out. As the video points out, the problem resides at a deeper, more elemental level.

    Finally, the Republican Party does not have a monopoly on corrupt satellite institutions. On that front, EMILY’s List can burn in a dumpster fire.

  8. 3vil5triker, I deleted the YouTube link. I don’t want this blog to turn into a billboard.

    If you’d rather not make this comment without it, let me know, and I’ll delete the whole thing, and you can summarize it.

    On a different note, it’s good to hear from you.

  9. Timothy, we don’t excoriate other commenters on this blog. You know nothing about the person in question and are surmising all over the place. If you don’t like the public schools, share your thinking about why and what needs to be done to either better or replace them. The people who comment here on a regular basis are very intelligent. You might find yourself having an enjoyable discussion.

  10. Its good to hear from you too. Even though I’m a regular reader of your blog, oftentimes I end up not posting anything because my mind tends to go off on many related tangents, so I end up mentally exhausting myself out of writing anything at all.

    As an alternative to providing a direct link to a video, could I refer to the title (like this: “BOMBSHELL: Dem Party Only Backs Corporatists Who Can Raise $250k From Big Donors”?) so people can look it up if they want without the video auto-embedding into the combobox and taking up half the page?

    Both the video and the referenced article talk about some of the ways in which “decent people”, as alluded by @dachristianson:disqus, get shut out of the Democratic Party primary process. But the larger point is that is more than just about where people stand on the abortion issue. I’d say its not even a single factor, but rather, a multitude of forces at play, at times feeding into each other, working in tandem to create the current political environment.

    For example, you got:
    The DCCC making their support conditional to hiring specific consultants and spending the majority of the campaign funds in a certain way.
    A national level “conventional wisdom” that’s divorced from the reality on the ground.
    A mainstream media that runs in the same circles and buys into the same narrative as the politicians in power, and also benefits from the way the campaign funds are spent.

    Lots of actors, each looking out for their own interests, to the point where the means become an end onto themselves. Policy becomes secondary to being connected to the right people. The whole thing coalesces into a racket of sorts, so anybody advocating for any substantial change or reform becomes a threat.

  11. FYI, I taught in both public schools and 10 years in a Catholic school, all in elementary grades. What is your problem? Honestly, neither paid well. Today no one goes into teaching in order to make a huge salary. It is for love. Teachers don’t get the respect that they deserve, and the excuse for lower pay is “we got 3 months vacation”. Seriously? What happens in that 3 months isn’t a vacation—there are workshops and prep for the next school year. Have you ever taught? What is your experience?

  12. Noticed that you deleted my response—-no problem. I just couldn’t let it go without what I hope was a respectful response. Of course without the “guest” comment, mine would have made no sense. Hope you have a great weekend!!

  13. No problem! 🙂 You do have other things to do too! Always glad to see your posts when you do them—I try to check on a regularly to make sure I don’t miss any.