There are many different points of view on how much the government should be engaged in the lives of its citizens. As a candidate I am guided by the founding principles of our city charters, state constitution, and by the constitution of the United States. I believe the men who founded our country were an enlightened group of men who brought forth ideas that have made America the most free and powerful nation in the world. I feel the closer we get to the founding ideals the better our nation will be in the future. Following are some of the areas that I feel are important and how I would vote while in office.
We need a Patient Bill of Rights
I want to make a law that requires physicians to tell you how much a procedure will cost before you have it done and what the expected outcome will be. I think the medical spending is out of control and part of the reason is no patient is told how much a particular procedure will cost. Doctors perform a service and it is the only service citizens participate in blindly. In order to be educated consumers you need to know how much a procedure will cost. I know it is possible, the good doctors over at The Surgery Center of Oklahoma are cutting edge and post all of their prices.
Also, you need to be told what your expected outcome will be. If you are 90 years old and are told you need some expensive procedure, how will it improve your life?
We need to raise teachers' salaries, but how?
How many of you know that according to Oklahoma Policy.org the entire Oklahoma budget was $6.8 Billion? Of that $6.8 billion 51% went to education. That means half of all the money Oklahoma takes in goes towards education. If we are going to tackle government spending in Oklahoma we must start with education.
I think we need to raise teachers salaries, but if education is already getting 51% of all tax revenues where will the money come from? Many people say we need to raise taxes. I disagree. How many of you know that according to capitalbeat.com, in 2011 Oklahoma had 877 people that were compensated more than the governor of the state whose salary was $147,000 per year. Capitalbeat.com also stated that all but 52 of those people are in the higher education system.
How many of you know Oklahoma has over 500 school districts? Each of these districts has a superintendent and staff. The highest paid superintendent according to The Tulsa Beacon is Tulsa Superintendent Kieth Ballard of Tulsa who makes over $259,000 per year. That is 5 times more than a starting degreed teacher.
We have the money to pay teachers more. We need to consolidate districts and cut administration salaries. I would offer a bill that would not allow any public employee to be paid more than the governor. I wouldn't fire a single person or cut a single person's pay. As these people retire, we would slowly consolidate and lower salaries. The argument is that to get qualified administrators we need to pay robust salaries, but if that is true, shouldn't our govenor be paid the highest of any public employee since that person is in charge of the entire state and not just a school district?
By the way, the highest paid public employee in Oklahoma is a football coach. According to msn.com this is not unusual, but does that send the wrong message to our young students? You can check out all of these salaries at data.ok.gov.
We need to legalize cannabis
This is a liberty issue. According to the Declaration of Independence "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I believe that as a citizen you should be allowed to use any medication or drug you think would help you in your pursuit of "life and happiness". As a citizen of the United States of America you should be free from government control over your life until your pursuit of happiness affects another citizen's pursuit of happiness.
Marijuana simply does not pose the threat that the other Class I drugs do. There is no way to smoke enough pot to cause death. Cannabis has been showed to be helpful in medical treatments. Making marijuana illegal is to make mother nature illegal herself because all that is required to obtain the substance is to drop a few seeds on the ground.
Hemp could, and should be grown in Oklahoma to create a cottage industry for a number of consumable goods that can be created with this robust plant. It is easy to grow does not require as many pesticides as feed crops and is more resistant to drought. Our farmers could use a new income stream and this is a perfect plant for that purpose.
Why is this so important? In our current situation we have only two real choices, Republican or Democrat, because the threshold for a political party to be recognized in Oklahoma is set unreasonably high. Why? The only logical reason is because it is easier to control the decision of two parties. If you are a large company and you want to help elect a candidate who is sympathetic to your cause just fund them both. What if we truly had a choice? What if we had a labor party, a business party, a government party, a farmer party, and a healthcare party? What if we had elections with more than 2 candidates? You would be able to back a candidate that was not the lesser of two evils, but supported the majority of your beliefs.
I propose we change back to the requirement for signatures necessary for a new political party to 5,000. This will allow many parties to be created and properly funded. This will allow for debate of new and exciting ideas.
I propose we allow any nationally recognized presidential candidate to be on the ballot in Oklahoma. In the last presidential election only two candidates were allowed on the ballot in Oklahoma. I will not vote for the lesser of two evils, so in the last presidential election I left the ballot for president blank because I was not allowed to vote for my choice.
This brings me to my next point. Allow any citizen of Oklahoma to write in a candidate of their choice on any election ballot. We should have the freedom to cast our vote for anybody we believe would make a good candidate.
Finally, once elected, our state candidates are hamstrung by the rules of our legislature that force any piece of legislation to get through a committee before it makes it to the floor of the full house or senate. Many good bills are killed before they even have a chance to be heard. I want to change the rules so that any legislator can offer a limited number of bills that must be heard and given an up or down vote.
In my opinion, this amendment is just as important as the second amendment to the Federal Constitution. Our form of government was set up so power would not become centralized at the Federal level. This one principle was suggested by every state when the Federal Constitution was being ratified. At its heart was a way to control the power that the King of England had forced on the new colonies. All of the states wanted to be in charge of their own prosperity and direction.
However, over the years, the Federal government has become all powerful because the states have not defended this amendment. Sometimes the power of the Federal government has been positive. Forcing southern states to allow minorities to vote by banning Jim Crow Laws is an example of where only the power of the Federal government is strong enough to force states to enforce the rights and liberties of minorities.
The power of the Federal government has also been negative in so many other programs including the mandates of the Department of Education and Obamacare forcing every citizen to buy a product.
I believe the states need to to be diligent in forcing the Federal government to stay within their stated confines of the Constitution.
Common Core needs to be overturned and with it the Department of Education needs to be dissolved. Simply put, parents have the obligation to educate their children, not the government. This policy is so onerous because it takes authority away from the very people who should be educating our children.
I believe one of the most honorable duties of a civil society is to educate its citizens. As a community, generally we agree, that the next generation must be the best and brightest possible and as a community we generally agree we want to help in the process. This is why we originally set up public education in an effort to help with the cost for educating our youth. We all fund this education with our tax dollars and it is one of the few taxes that most people believe is noble and just.
The problem with our education system is that parents have relinquished their obligation to teach their children. I talk to many of my friends who now teach and the one issue that keeps coming up is how students treat public education as a right and not a privilege. Teachers are burdened with too many tasks not associated with teaching. They are now guidance counselors, day care providers and government policy experts.
We need to get the Federal government off their backs and then we need be able to get children who do not want to learn out of the general population so they do not deter learning by the students who actually want an education.