MOURNING THE MOVIE MASSACRE
In the wake of the shooting in Colorado last week, we continue to remember the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers. The president was in Aurora this weekend to offer words of comfort, and both the Obama and Romney campaigns have pulled ads from Colorado media to grant Coloradans time to grieve. Taught in part by the cruel and massive tragedy in our own past, Oklahomans know what it means to come together in response to the unexpected and awful loss of innocent life. During the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, disaster response teams noted something remarkable: In pictures, more people seemed to be running toward the crumpling building than away from it. Oklahomans’ instinct in times of peril or prosperity is to help however we can. We know that’s also true for Americans, in general, and, while we lament the cause, we appreciate the temporary reprieve from presidential politicking.
ADVANCING ELECTION INTEGRITY
In Colorado, Pennsylvania and Florida, advocates of election integrity have won minor victories recently.
The Colorado Supreme Court last week reiterated its decision not to reconsider a lower court decision that election ballots are public records. It’s important that citizens have a right to review ballots after elections; it’s a check on the power of election officials, who might otherwise be more strongly tempted to duplicate, modify, manipulate or miscount ballots. Post-election review won’t retroactively change election results, but it is an incentive to election officials to play squarely in the first place. (h/t The Freedom Foundation)
A Philadelphia official released a report on election fraud in his city. If nothing else, such a report serves as an important reminder that election fraud is real – if not necessarily so pervasive as to be utterly discouraging – and it’s important that local and state officials take steps to secure the integrity of elections. Consider: Just a few states will ultimately determine who is president in 2012. Representative democracy depends upon citizens’ ability to accept the results of an election with good grace – and that, in turn, depends upon free and fair processes in elections. (h/t The Freedom Foundation)
In what has perhaps been the most high-profile case related to election integrity, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security finally granted Florida election officials access to the agency’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database. Florida Gov. Rick Scott on the decision: “Access to the SAVE database will ensure that non-citizens do not vote in future Florida elections. … This commitment from the United States Department of Homeland Security marks a significant victory for Florida and for the integrity of our election system.”
At the moment, I’m in New York City, where yellow cabs are ubiquitous. As anyone who has ever ridden in one knows, a cab ride can be a less-than-pleasant affair – but, in Washington D.C., cab company Uber is improving the cab-ride experience. Uber’s key to success is flexible pricing. On New Year’s Eve, for example, Uber raises its prices. As a result, more drivers are willing to work the holiday – and supply actually matches increased demand. Why don’t all cab companies operate on this model? Taxi service tends to be heavily regulated. Oklahomans, used to car culture, should still be able to see the lesson here: Healthy competition benefits both producers and consumers – and unnecessary regulations that stand in the way of that competition should go. (For what it’s worth, I’ve had more than one thought-provoking conversation in a cab – but the lesson still stands.)
FORGETTING THE FOUNDING FATHERS?
A committee of 45 Nebraska legislators is rewriting academic standards for social studies. The standards will guide the curricula of teachers of history, economics, civics and geography. An initial draft of the standards rightfully drew ire because it failed to mention the Founding Fathers – but a Nebraska Department of Education official recently announced that the committee “will definitely be adding historical figures back in there.” We’re relieved – but we also share the remaining concerns of critics. According to Nebraska Board of Education member John Sieler, the draft standards still suggest manmade global warming is fact, not theory; advocate for global government; and fail to emphasize American exceptionalism. Oklahoma parents, please take note: Whether you send your children to public, private or home schools, you remain your child’s primary educator. Good thing, too: If you weren’t, your child might never know who George Washington is.
Know of a state policy experiment to restore or preserve individual liberty and/or free enterprise that has been successful? Please let me know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.