Friday, 9 February 2018

you’re doing fine oklahoma

I’ve been ruminating over an article from The Economist that I first came across on Super Punch but seen it syndicated elsewhere but felt a bit guilty at first for indulging poverty voyeurism, like slum tourism or ogling urban blight in the US Rust Belt, but finally did decide to share my thoughts, realising that this tragedy that has befallen the state of Oklahoma is a foretaste of the Trumpian, de Vosian hellscape that the rest of the nation has in store for it under a regime whose champions are antithetical to those institutions and values that they are charged with upholding. The state has dismantled its environmental regulations and subjugated its taxation scheme to attract fracking outfits that have not only ravaged the ecology but have left the landscape scarred and buildings and infrastructure damaged with public coffers empty and raided and no funds for repairs.
Above and beyond this acquiescence to oil barons, the state legislature is administratively embargoed from imposing new taxes to generate public revenue by falling for a political compact similar to the experiment that Colorado instituted, which left constituents soured on that libertine utopia. As a result of the collusion of these factors over a decade, the state’s education budget has stagnated and the state’s public school students are woefully underserved. Teachers’ starting salaries have remained the same for the past ten years and there’s a marked drain of talent and loyalty, and the only tool that districts have at the disposal to offset these atrocious and unattractive conditions of employment is to increasingly shift to four day academic weeks.  Ostensibly, educators might be willing to forego a living salary in exchange for an extra day off but the case is usually that teachers use the long weekends to take a second or third job at some fast food franchise or retailer who benefit from the corporate welfare of masses who'll subsidize their unnaturally low prices.  Of course, a four-day school week also has knock-on effects for working parents and probably means an extra day-care expense, without even addressing the disadvantage that it means for the students.  For businesses and families thinking of coming to precarious Oklahoma, this is a grave embarrassment and surely a major dissuasive factor.  What do you think?  Elections have consequences.