Monday, October 31, 2005

The Search for Something New

It seems that our society is one that for some time now, craves the new. We are easily bored with things in an ever-increasing frequency.

This is what is called the frantic search for happiness. It occurs every time man tries to assuage his conscience with things of this world. It's his effort to find peace, contentment and happiness. It's a form of greediness and ultimately idolatry. As King Solomon wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" Surely we all know his story, a man gifted by God with a great mind, great wealth, great power. He tried everything this ole world has to offer and in the end he says its empty, useless, vain. In the frantic search for happiness, greediness turns to insatiability.

Americans, long bored with Christianity, have eagerly embraced anything that comes along, promising an alternative. We see it in our dabbling with Hinduism and Eastern mysticism after the Beatles met the Maharishi Yogi.

Lately, our facination is with Islam. This is the so called "religion of peace" by our President. You want to find out more about this religion, then go here and see more about the radical side of Islam. And as many have noted, the moderates of Islam are strangely silent about the current events, bombings, murders, beheadings, etc. In my book their silence completely marginalizes them, so if they ever do speak out, no one will listen.

Why would anyone follow such a religion? Could it be that Christians too have been silent for too long? Have our churches prepared us to be defenders of our faith? Have we pooled our ignorance for so long we no longer know what it is we stand for, or Who it is we follow?

The Book, or the Bible is the most published and oldest book in existence. It is the most unique book of all time. Written over a thousand years, in different languages, by the most diverse set of men and women imaginable. Yet the story of the Messiah or the Savior is clearly and consistently weaved throughout its pages. It is God-inspired and infallable in the original autographs. It is the only Truth we have in this society. It has stood the test of time and it will stand against all adversaries, including Islam. So Michael DelGiorno, you can calm down, but thanks for raising our attention to the issues.

To study it and to know it is a lifetime endeavor. If we only had churches that will accurately handle it! If so, then it would be perceived as something new. And then, maybe, just maybe, we will see our society turn back to God and then find true peace, contentment and happiness.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Disturbing Trend

Empty houses in Tulsa. Here's a quick blog about a topic that has been rumbling around in the back of my mind and something brought it to memory center.

Is it just in my neighborhood or is it happening in yours also? In a two block radius of my home of 19 years, there are at least 4 houses sitting forlorn and empty. Several of them have been for more than two years now. It is a growing trend in the neighborhood and it does not bode well for the future.

These are not starter homes. They are $150,000+ homes sitting in the middle of town, in a very good location. So far the yards are being maintained, but as you know, a house that sits empty eventually looks empty and rundown.

Will this lead to lower property values and urban blight?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cultural Warfare in T-Town Pt. 2

As previously promised, here is a photo of a Canadian flag being prominently flown over T-Town. The issues included in the culture wars are not confined to just those South of the border.

This particular photo was taken looking West down 51st Street near Hudson Avenue. There are actually three Canadian flags being flown and one U.S. flag. According to flag etiquette (see item 11) it is improper to fly the flags of two or more countries together and not have the U.S. flag flown from the highest position.

"11. When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace."

At this location in mid-town Tulsa, the Canadian flag is being flown from the highest flagpole, in opposition to the rules of international usage.

With all that being said, I happened to speak briefly with the owner. He is promoting his business named CanadianExpressway. He was friendly and I asked what kind of business it was. He replied that it is a business that helps the elderly obtain medicine and drugs from Canada. We went on to briefly discuss the failed RX Depot that was shut down by the Feds a few years ago. He seemed to think that the only two mistakes made by RX Depot was the use of RX in the name and that they listed certain drugs as approved by the FDA. My quick read of the article linked above indicates there were other issues as well.

I have always thought that the Federal government was wrong and high-handed in squelching RX Depot. It was a Tulsa based company with over 80 storefronts. The idea was to provide U.S. seniors access to lower cost Canadian drugs for a fee. Everybody wins, right?

The FDA claimed RX let me get this straight..."FDA believes that operations such as yours expose the public to significant potential health risks,", say whaaaat????????!!!!

This is the same FDA funded primarily by the drug companies they are supposed to regulate (how's that for a conflict of interest?), the same FDA that has approved numerous drugs (Vioxx, Bextra and many others) now pulled as health hazards and associated class-action lawsuits.

And they think RX Depot posed a threat?

Will Arnold Ziffel be Banned Next?

In an extreme case of political correctness gone amuck, it seems that several U.K banks have taken measures to ban "piggy banks".

Pork is considered as an unclean or impure animal by both muslims and jews. However, I don't seem to recall this ever being made an issue by the jewish people. Why is it that now, in Britain, some people think this is so highly offensive that they take the drastic steps to ban something as innocent as a "piggy bank".

Where is this all going? I wonder if the only "son" of the Ziffel's who brought laughter to millions in the 60's as part of Green Acres will be next?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Cultural Warfare in T-Town

I have been eager to blog, but too busy to do so lately. I've been doing some work in an area of town that I don't frequent too often. During my lunch break, I saw something that made me resentful. The next day I returned and took some pictures.

This was taken this week on the Mother Road (Route 66), specifically at the NW corner of 11th Street and Oswego. Not being too familiar with this part of town, I made a wrong turn at this intersection and couldn't help but notice the Mexican flags. Although there is only one in the second picture. The first picture shows you many more. They flew next to Old Glory, of the same size and I thought, importance. The owner is certainly pandering to the hispanic community of Tulsa.

Fortunately, the owner saw fit to fly the U.S. flag on a higher flagpole in one position of prominence. They are all being flown according to proper flag etiquette (see #11).

I reflected for a long time on why I was resentful. I think its because flags are such powerful symbols. To have another nations flag flown so promenently in Tulsa is just a slap in our face. Especially in light of the immense problems our country is having with illegal immigration.

Does anyone know that we fought a war with Mexico in the mid-1800's that finished the rough outline of what we know today as the U.S?

Greedy Tulsa businessmen have taken the almight dollar above the best interests of their country and countrymen.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The November School Bond Election

Next month on November 8, 2005, the citizens of Tulsa will be asked to vote on the fourth installment of a 20 year comprehensive bond program to improve facilties, textbooks, buses, etc. The previous votes came in 1996, 1999 and 2001. You can read all about it here at the TPS website.

Although I detest taxes and I especially think that property taxes are an inequitable way to pay for public school buildings, I will throw my support to passing this bond proposal. Why?

It especially does address the facilities needs in a comprehensive and fair way. It is good to drive by and see the improvements to the buildings that are substantial. It is depressing to drive by old and delapidated public school buildings. The comprehensive plan seems to have something for just about everyone. I'm sure that was by design to help get the proposals passed. It takes 60% approval to pass a bond program. I'm glad it takes a super-majority like that.

I have not been able to determine exactly who owns the public school buildings. I seem to remember that the TPS Board has to approve the sale of any excess buildings. I would hope that the property and facilities are owned by the citizens of Tulsa, since we have and are paying for them. Does anyone know the answer?

My last parting comment is this: These improvements will not improve the educational output of TPS. How do I know that? Well, Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences (TSAS) does not benefit one bit from this bond proposal. It was not given a public school building to use. It does not share in the city property tax revenue that goes to the traditional public schools. It must make do with a partial income stream and use that to pay rent on an office building renovated to be used as a school. With the reduced funding and make-shift building, this school has consistently turned out some of the best students in Tulsa for the past four years. It's not about the money or the buildings.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A Look at the City of Tulsa's Economy

Mad Okie at Livin on Tulsa Time has some good information about unemployment and population growth in Tulsa and the surrounding area. He attributes the regional improvements not so much to the actions of Mayor LaFortune, but to the overall recovery of the U.S. economy.

Lets take a closer look, shall we?

He correctly points out that the unemployment numbers are metro or regional numbers (the Tulsa MSA) not only the city of Tulsa. As we all know the suburbs of T-Town have prospered while the city itself has declined. Unfortunately, the City of Tulsa is still down tens of thousands of jobs. Some have been recovered in the suburbs. Those trade off's were from high paying to much lower paying positions, for the most part.

To again show you the dismal performance of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce efforts to attract meaningful new jobs into the area, take a look here and click on the download link for new and expanded businesses in the Tulsa MSA over the past few years. It will be worth going to see it and it's easy to pick out the Tulsa only businesses.

Here is an edited sample showing all the 2005 data:
New and Expanded Industries
Tulsa MSA, 1996-2005

New Industry:
Company-----------Location--------New Jobs
Elephant Bar Restaurant Tulsa 125
Global Data Systems Tulsa 25
Horizontal Oilfield Systems Tulsa 10
PBM Fab Mfg. school bus windows Tulsa 50
Pelco Structural Claremore 100
Skycam Mfg. aerial camera sys Broken Arrow 50

That's a measly 210 jobs created or expanded in Tulsa in 2005 so far per the Metro Chamber's numbers. The single largest increase for Tulsa in recent history was 1,300 new jobs in 2004 by DirectTV.

We all know that restaurants and satellite TV jobs are poor replacements for Williams, Citgo, etc. So, although a few jobs have been created, the trend is a replacement of good jobs for average jobs.

There is another factor at work here that is not reported in the numbers. Unemployment rates do not include those who have simply given up on finding a job. It also does not include those people unilaterally called contract laborers by their employers as a ploy by the employer to escape the payment of payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance and employee benefits.

The IRS should crack down hard on this abuse, but it has been going on for a long time. The result is when the "contract" worker is let go, he cannot file for unemployment. The unemployment rate numbers are calculated using jobless claims. I firmly believe the stated unemployment rates of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the U.S. are grossly understated.

Oh, and by the way, it appears that the population of Tulsa proper has declined every year since 2000 when it peaked at 393,049. As of June 2003 it had declined to 387,807. Over the same period, the Tulsa suburbs have flourished. Read the article here.

And you regionalists will love this quote by then Tulsa Deputy Mayor Steve Sewell:

Sewell also downplayed any concerns about growth in the suburbs.
"I think we can co-exist," Sewell said. "Anything that benefits Broken Arrow and other towns will benefit Tulsa."

Mr. Sewell, PROVE IT!

Update 10-11-05
How can I have forgotten another unreported factor regarding employment?

I'm referring to the under-employed. Those displaced people who have sought any type of job just to have some income. I know a lawyer operating a sandwich shop. I know a property manager installing sprinkler systems. I know a registered nurse who is making and selling soap. I know an engineer who works for a non-profit. The list is endless.

Sometimes the strategy is to work at some type of meaningful employment until something better or in their field comes around. Anyway, my point is that this is never reported in any published statistic.

Does anyone really believe the unemployment numbers trumpeted by our government?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

LaFortune: Tulsa's Regional Mayor?

By the time this picture was taken of a jubilant and grinning Mayor Bill LaFortune and an equally giddy County Commissioner Bob Dick, our illustrious mayor was no longer just the mayor of Tulsa. By this time, he had transformed himself into a regional mayor.

What is becoming increasingly clear to any Tulsan with eyes and ears, is his honor had made countless secretive deals with various other mayors, suburbs, contractors, etc. They were all to the detriment of Tulsa. They were all efforts to cut deals to gain regional support for the Vision 2025 tax. That ended up being a 6/10's of a cent tax increase for Tulsa County for 13 years. I would be remiss not to say the the other gentleman in the picture did his part as well. That's why these two politicoes are all smiles upon the passage of this regressive sales tax.

The deals that are slowly but surely being revealed now to a suspicious public show the extent of the skullduggery.

Now comes mayor LaFortune. He just announced his bid for reelection next year. He can only be elected by the citizens of Tulsa Oklahoma. His hometown, and mine. This time he cannot be elected by the people of Broken Arrow, Jenks, Bixby, Sand Springs, Owasso and Turley.

I am sure he will try to change his spots and appear to now support Tulsa only causes. But I don't think he will be able to shake the mantle of a regional major anytime soon.

He is certainly not a Reagan-Republican as shown by his complete support for a significant tax increase. He has a bloated city staff that has increased during his administration. Crime is up. Police force is down. Streets are the pits. The public education system is dismal. The employment picture is bleak.

I think the main reason he's running for reelection is because he needs a job. But wait a minute...he is a lawyer and we could always use a few more of those guys. :)

We desperately need a change in leadership here. Are you really better off now that you were four years ago?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Terrorist-in-training?

Although "official" sources haven't published any final reports and the basic storyline of Joel Henry Hinrichs III is that of a disgruntled and stressed out "emotionally disturbed" college student that had a chemistry experiment gone amuck.

It seems every day there is new news being reported. Since the mainstream media only chants the official party line, we must seek the facts elsewhere. Michelle Malkin, WorldNetDaily, Gateway Pundit and many other blogs are reporting the new stuff.

There are unconfirmed reports of Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist roommates and friends, the use of TATP as the explosive by Hinrichs, reports of the attempted purchase of Ammonium Nitrate, extensive jihadist materials in his apartment and computer, etc.

Without a doubt, there will be more on this story as the days go by. I hope that the public is informed by the FBI and any other official agency when the investigation is complete.

In the meantime, I smell a rat!

Monday, October 03, 2005

How Quickly We Forget

Having just watched the News on 6, I was reminded at how very quickly we all seem to forget.

Governor Henry has again surfaced. This time it is to unveil the first three designs for scratch-off lottery tickets. The newscasters kept saying the Oklahoma lottery. No, that's not right. It's the EDUCATION lottery. Don't you remember? Governor Henry himself used the term over and over to sell the unsuspecting and forgetful public to vote for it. It was touted as the economic salvation for everything wrong with public education. Why, with this new stream of revenue, we most certainly can spend our way to Education nirvana. Yeah, right! Don't believe me? Check out this post.

Come on now, fellow Tulsans. Don't let them off so easily. When you speak of the Oklahoma lottery, always refer to it as the Education lottery. That will stick in the craw of our elected officials when it comes up woefully short of revenue predictions.

And by the way, public education will continue to decline. Not that I want it to. I am a product of Tulsa's public education. They have just missed the mark, that's all.