May 16, 2010

You Go, Chris Christie — And a Message for John Kasich

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:05 pm

This is long overdue:

This is what some of us thought we saw in John Kasich a year or so ago.

Meanwhile, here in Ohio, Jon Husted and Mike DeWine, the Party’s two totally unacceptable down-ticket candidates are both planting seeds about running for Governor — in 2014. Given these rumblings, is it really so crazy to think that ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) and its vaunted “money people” would like to see you lose, even if it means that the Buckeye State circles the drain for four more years under a reelected Ted Strickland?

The people at ORPINO are not your friends, John. It almost seems as if they despise Republicans who aren’t beholden to them more than Democrats. I don’t recall ORPINO conducting an 8-mailing, poll-watching enterprise on behalf of Ken Blackwell to defeat Ted Strickland back in 2006 — or ever. But ORPINO probably blew over $1 million (especially if you include the value of allocated staff time) doing exactly that to ensure the defeats of superior candidates Seth Morgan and Sandy O’Brien.

(Hint to Kevin DeWine and ORPINO: You don’t get it. You may think that this state can drift for another four years, but we don’t have four more years, for reasons that should be obvious but on which I’ll elaborate in the coming weeks and months.)

BTW, John — Do you think Chris Christie would be a big fan of Third Frontier?

Over Two Years Into Immigration Reform, Oklahoma Is More Than OK

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

oklahomaThe state’s economy is outperforming most of the rest of the country. Why is that?


Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.


Given the economic damage inflicted on us by the current administration and many state governments, most readers of this column would probably be quite happy to live in a state where:

  • The official unemployment rate in March was 6.6%.
  • The average unemployment rate in 2009 using the most comprehensive definition was 10.5%, the fourth-lowest in the nation behind three much smaller states, and far lower than the national average of 16.2%.
  • The number of people either working or looking for work has actually grown during the past twelve monhs (in most states, the labor force has contracted significantly).
  • The economy grew in 2008, and probably did so again in 2009.

Unless you live in Oklahoma, you’re not in that state.

It “just so happens” that the Sooner State passed a strict immigration enforcement measure in May 2007. It went into effect six months later. Specifically:

House Bill 1804 was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate of the Oklahoma Legislature. The measure’s sponsor, State Representative Randy Terrill, says the bill has four main topical areas: it deals with identity theft; it terminates public assistance benefits to illegals; it empowers state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws; and it punishes employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.

Oklahoma is no longer “O.K.” for illegal aliens, Terrill observes. “When you put everything together in context,” he contends, “the bottom line is illegal aliens will not come here if there are no jobs waiting for them, they will not stay here if there is no government subsidy, and they certainly won’t stay here if they know that if they ever encounter our state and local law enforcement officers, they will be physically detained until they’re deported. And that’s exactly what House Bill 1804 does.”

An amazing animated graphic still available at The Mess That Greenspan Made shows what happened in the immediate wake of “1804′s” passage. It shows month-by-month changes in the unemployment rate for each state in the Lower 48. From March 2007 to March 2008, alone among all states, Oklahoma’s unemployment rate fell significantly, especially in the final few months of the 12-month period presented, i.e., the first few months after “1804″ went into effect.

Coincidence? Well, if fewer jobs are available to illegals, you would expect that lesser-skilled individuals shut out of the labor market by low, often under-the-table wages would be in a position to take them. Sadly, blacks and Hispanics in this country and in Oklahoma are likely to be disproportionately represented among the lesser-skilled, so looking at those groups’ unemployment rates will serve as a useful proxy for my premise.

Here are the facts:

… newly released numbers for 2009 show the unemployment rate for black Oklahomans is 11.1 percent, compared with 5 percent for whites and 7.4 percent for Hispanics. In 2008, black unemployment in the state was 8.7 percent, while the rate for whites was 2.9 percent and the rate for Hispanics was 9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Shannon Muchmore at the Tulsa World had a reaction that was sadly and predictably ignorant:

The unemployment rate for black people in Oklahoma is twice as high as the rate for white people, and Hispanics face a similar disparity that exists regardless of education, training or experience, data show.

Just a minute, Shannon. The 2.4% increase in the black unemployment rate from 2008 to 2009 was barely more than the 2.1% increase for whites; the “twice as high” degree of difference between the two rates (actually 2.2 times as high) was down from three times as high the year before. The unemployment rate for Hispanics went not up, but down, by 1.6%. Nationally, from December 2008 to December 2009 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanics increased 4.1% and 3.5%, respectively.

I’d say this is evidence that lesser-skilled Oklahomans have been quite willing to take the “jobs that Americans (supposedly) won’t do.” While in the neighborhood, I’ll note that perhaps the knee-jerk elitist stereotypes about race- and ethnicity-based discrimination in the heartland need to be revisited.

If “1804″ isn’t the reason Oklahoma has vastly outperformed most of the rest of the country, someone will have to try to explain what is.

Not that those who oppose any kind of immigration enforcement legislation are impressed. In an April 28, 2010 Christian Science Monitor opinion piece (“Arizona immigration law: painful lessons from Oklahoma”), Sally Kohn rolled out this startling claim about “1804″:

One study suggests the bill led to an estimated 50,000 people fleeing Oklahoma and a 1.3 percent drop in economic output statewide. As a result, Oklahoma may well have incurred $1.8 billion in economic losses, just as it, like the rest of the nation, was bracing for recession.

Hmm, that’s funny, because Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the state’s economy grew by 2.7% in 2008, a performance that puts it in the top ten among all states in a year when the national economy only grew by 0.4%. Additionally, information from the Census Bureau shows that the state’s population increased by just under 75,000, or 2%, between July 2007 and July 2009, in line with the country as a whole. If those results are “painful,” I wonder how Ms. Kohn would characterize what’s going on in Michigan and California?

The Sooner State’s economic indicators are comparatively positive just about no matter where one looks. Per capita personal income in Oklahoma grew 2.8% between 2007 and 2009; nationally, it fell by 0.7%. The state’s already puny welfare caseload dropped by 11% in 2007 to under 19,000, and stayed there until June 2009. The number of SNAP/Food Stamp recipients in Oklahoma fell in both 2007 and 2008 by a combined 3.8% while rising 6.5% nationally. Loosened eligibility rules allowing those who don’t really need them and even college-aged children of the well-off to qualify have since made the SNAP/Food Stamp program an unreliable indicator of the true extent of poverty. Oklahoma does have a budget problem that bears watching, but so does the large majority of other states.

The aforementioned Ms. Kohn’s characterization of Oklahoma’s economy as “littered with crumbling farms and factories and aging populations who feel that any prospect of prosperity is passing them by” seems more than a little overwrought and offensively arrogant.

Since “1804″ passed, Oklahoma has not suffered nearly as much economically as most of the rest of the U.S. In fact, the state can fairly be described, especially on a relative basis, as prospering. Even before considering the reductions in crime the citizens of Arizona are so desperately seeking in their state’s new immigration enforcement measure, what the Sooner State has done seems well worth imitating elsewhere for pocketbook-related reasons alone.

As to the legal and moral dimensions of limiting illegal immigration, I would suggest that the hand-wringers first aim their critiques at other countries which deal much more harshly with trespassers — starting with Mexico.

Positivity: Humility After the Fall; Forgiving Mark Sanford

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From Jenny Sanford:

MAY 12, 2010; 11:02 AM ET

I have recently weathered the demise of a 20-year marriage. My former spouse, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, clearly lost sight of the values we had shared, values that formed the basis of our relationship. His ego blinded him to the consequences of the poor choices he was making. His public fall was quick and terrible for him, for us, for our children. But caught up in the drama of it all, I took the applicable truism of Proverbs 11:2 to heart: “When pride comes then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

I have worked hard on my own humility in the hopes I would come through wiser, stronger, and more grounded in my faith and spirituality. I didn’t always succeed in being humble and no doubt will come up short again. But I worked to remain focused on my family, friends and faith and in my darkest hours I clung for life to my values. I reminded myself daily to be the best that I can in God’s eyes and in light of who I know I can be. And, importantly, as He teaches, I worked to forgive. Indeed, I knew that peace and happiness for me and for my family could only come if I let forgiveness light the way. Each of us is answerable to God for our sins; I came to understand that passing my own judgment hurts only me.

If today’s headlines are to be believed, public figures sin now more than ever before and a person who seems too good to be true has something to hide. But, as Ecclesiastes wisely put it, there is nothing new “under the sun.” Sin itself is as old as our world; the Bible is filled with tales of kings and other spiritual or community leaders who fall precipitously from their places of power for their myriad sins. …

Go here for the rest of Ms. Sanford’s essay.