Freedom From Want

Photo at Lanier Elementary School, Tulsa, ID’d by Gini Fox.

As the leader of a nation on the verge of entering World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt articulated a vision of what our human lives together on this planet should include.

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.”—Franklin D. Roosevelt, excerpted from the State of the Union Address to the Congress, January 6, 1941

I devote this blog site primarily to pointing out the witting and unwitting inaccuracies, half-truths and deceptions perpetrated by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and their partner Limited Thinkers at the 1889 Institute, being my effort to help elevate the public dialog about public policy matters that affect Oklahoma—my state of birth and residence.  I suspect the limited thinkers and I have many common thoughts about the first, second and fourth freedoms outlined by President Roosevelt.  It is mostly about the third freedom, Freedom From Want, that we differ.

This difference, and the penchant the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has for using thinly veiled misleading graphics to drive home their predetermined conclusion, “government bad, private business good”, is illustrated by a recent post “Oklahoma State Budget Crisis?  I Should Say So” by “research fellows” J. Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik.  This post in the final days of Oklahoma’s legislative session identified the real budget crisis not as the lack of funding for basic state services or as the need to raise teacher pay to head off the loss of our best and brightest to surrounding states, but rather they say our budget crisis is that government spending in Oklahoma is too large.  They recommend a hiring and pay freeze on teachers, local police and fire departments, and all the other bad state and local government workers in Oklahoma.  They also recommend eliminating the state income tax with no suggestion of how to replace the lost revenue.

Even sillier are their graphs they believe support their positions.  Here’s the first that compares the change in the index for “state and local government worker compensation” since the grand old year when all was right with the world, 1929, to the index for private sector income over the same period.

While they don’t say it, the way they present the graph one might think that state and local workers in Oklahoma have more total income than the private sector.  Of course that is not true and not what they say; rather their point is that state and local government worker compensation, the total, not average income, has grown much faster over the past century than has total income for the private sector.  They make no effort to explain why that might be so, apparently believing their readers will accept it as further evidence that “government is bad”.

Here’s their second graph, which compares the same, though greatly flattened by the revised scaling, private sector income data to “personal current transfer receipts” which they have the fleeting integrity to acknowledge “mostly consists of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare”.


It’s so shocking and we see how those “welfare queens” are squeezing out our blessed private sector (I am truly grateful for our private sector—love my car, my house, my food, my heat, my tennis balls, etc.).

Well I made a graph also.  It’s a comparison of the physical growth index between two humans, J and G, from 2004 to 2017.

Above J is blue line; G is red line.

Of course here I think we should be concerned with the physical well-being of J and G, that we want both to be healthy and thriving.  But look at the difference, clearly J is thriving and healthy while G is not.  And that would most certainly be a valid conclusion IF J and G are the same age.  But they are not; J is my healthy 12-year-old grandson who was born in 2004 and G is me, a healthy Geezer (who defeated J in tennis, before he defeated me).  Without that background the graph really doesn’t tell us much except that children grow and adults do not.

So what’s the background for the two graphs above from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs?  I’ve asked for their specific data sources which might reveal more silliness but haven’t heard back.  Here’s my somewhat informed thoughts about graph 1.  The largest, by far, component of state and local government worker compensation is K-12 education workers, i.e. teachers, teacher assistants, school bus drivers, etc. (notice how I leave out “administrators” which the OCPA would lead off with—games we play).  Since 1929 high school graduation rates have risen significantly, our country had to ramp up K-12 hiring to educate the post war baby boom generation beginning in the early 1950s, the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975 increased the need for teachers and other school personnel, and the expansion of early childhood education opportunities over the last twenty years has done the same.  These are just some of the factors that would explain rapid employment growth among state and local government workers.  I think you can also throw in the rapid expansion of post high school education, which likely has been a major driver of our nation’s increase in private sector income, particularly our system of state supported universities and career tech centers.  Yet Moody and Warcholik mention none of this because, I suspect, it would distract from their preconceived, and paid for, conclusion that “government is bad.”

Graph number 2 gets us back to the third of Franklin Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms”—the freedom from want.  Just as local education workers dominate the state and local worker compensation data in their first graph, programs for the elderly—Social Security, Medicare and two-thirds of Medicaid—dominate the “personal current transfer receipts”.  These politically popular social programs were each instituted in response to the high rate of poverty among our nation’s older population as aging persons’ health failed and ability to work ended.  Here’s a graph and a paper, Social Security and Poverty, that support both the fact of high poverty rates before these programs came about, and their success in greatly reducing poverty among us geezers.

You can see now that all the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs second graph above really shows is the successful implementation of these programs in the years following 1940 with the “First monthly benefit check issued to Ida May Fuller for $22.54”.  For millions of Americans, including those for whom President Roosevelt was their Commander in Chief, these programs have helped realize his vision of Freedom from Want.  But when Limited Thinkers Moody and Warcholik exercise their Freedom of Speech they conveniently leave out that part, not I suspect because they don’t know any better, but rather because their individual freedom from want depends on continually pushing their benefactors’ message that “government is bad.”

There are significant long term financial challenges to these programs for the elderly, and “think tanks” like the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and the 1889 Institute could play a helpful role in building political consensus about how to reform them.  However, doing so means “touching the third rail of American politics” and that’s probably not what many of their Geezer and near-geezer benefactors want to hear about.

As always lunch on me for the first to ID the photo location.

‘Twas the Night Before Sine Die

Train at Tulsa Fairgrounds, by Greg Morris–again.

My real intent with this post is not to whine again, see House Bill 2244 and A Turkish de Fright, about the Motor Vehicle Collections debacle that has shifted over $20 million to date from more than half of Oklahoma’s independent school districts to the remaining somewhat less than half.  Here’s a list of all districts, MVC Gain & (Loss).  For most districts this event has not been nearly as significant as the other revenue disruptions over the last two fiscal years caused in no small part by the “starve the beast” advocacy of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, but for many in FY 2016 it was a greater financial hit than their other cuts in state aid.  The only saving grace of this gross distortion is that the funds lost by school districts went to other school districts so are still being used to education children.  My real intent is that recounting what happened two years ago will serve as a caution to the legislature and others about passing laws in the final hours of this year’s session because the culprit House Bill 2244 was passed on the last day of the 2015 session and it did not make clear how the OTC was to apportion to school districts in months when collections were less than the same month the previous year.

A little history (or skip on down to the poem):  Like many other school finance officers during the early months of FY 2016, I knew that the legislature by passing HB 2244 had capped the total amount that could be paid to school districts at the FY 2015 level, thus ending any future growth in that source of revenue.  For the previous twenty years each district’s collections were expressly based on the amount each received the year before and that part of the law, we thought, had remained unchanged.  I had never paid much attention to monthly fluctuations because in my ten years of experience motor vehicle collections had always been steady by the end of the year.  However, in preparing my midyear budget revision I noticed collections were down substantially and began comparing collections experiences with colleagues in other districts.  We quickly learned that while some were well behind, others were well ahead.  We asked our CCOSA leadership to find out what was going on.

The wholly unsatisfactory explanation by the Oklahoma Tax Commission came in February.  I sent a letter contesting the apportionment method being used to the Commissioners which resulted in a meeting with their Executive Director Tony Mastin; Tulsa Public Schools CFO Trish Williams (now CFO for Union Public Schools) went with me.  We had a brief discussion; Tony Mastin explained their method which was, in under-collection months, to ignore the requirement to apportion based on the amount received the same month the prior year, and instead apportion based on ADA (average daily attendance).  I explained my position that the OTC, in under-collection months, should apportion each district the proportion of its prior year’s amount that was available, i.e. if collections are 95% then every district gets 95% of the same month the year before.  My position would allow every district to come close to collecting the amount they were projected to collect, or “charged” with, according to the state aid formula.  He declined to consider my recommendation because he “can’t just make something up.”  I asked Tony Mastin if he understood the impact his method was having on the state aid formula and he said he did.  I asked him if he had consulted with anyone, and he said he had talked with Senator Jolley who was the senate author of HB 2244.

Superintendent Rick Cobb of Mid Del Schools went with me a few days later to see State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.  We did our best to explain what was happening and why, as state superintendent, she should advocate with the Tax Commission for a correct application of the statute.  I believe she did meet with Tony Mastin about the matter but she never responded further to our requests.  We also learned that our CCOSA representatives Steven Crawford and Ryan Owens were promoting legislation at that time to “fix” the situation by having MVC apportionments done by ADA; they wrongly believed that such a change would not hurt any districts because “the formula would make districts whole the following year.”  When they were shown that is not correct, that their legislative proposal would assure the permanent loss of over $22 million by about half of their client districts, they backed off and said no more about it.

Gaining no traction with those who should have helped us, including many legislators, and believing it best to be fixed before the end of the fiscal year, four districts (Sand Springs, Mid Del, Muskogee and Ponca City) petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction and correct the matter; they declined.   After that decision, as a kind of therapy, I plagiarized the poetic style of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and wrote this:

‘Twas the Night Before Sine Die

‘Twas the night before Sine Die, and all through the House,

Not a brain wave was stirring, except that of a mouse.

The bill, drawn by Casey ‘n Spears without care,

So in hopes that Sly Jolley soon would be there.

The orphans were lying all scared in their beds,

While visions of coal lumps rose up in their heads;

Their dorm matron Jolie was near them on tap

While counselors Stefan and Shane were taking a nap;

When out on the floor the bill passed with no chatter

Because the aye voters had no clue ‘bout the matter.

Away from the floor Sly Jolley flew in a flash,

To his little elf Tony who started counting the cash;

But the amount they counted was way, way too low

Meaning the orphans would get less than their much promised dough.

So in each of their thirty-two eyes came a tear

As they awaited their fate with some hope but more fear.

The little elf Tony made something up quick

To apportion the shares in the way Jolley picked.

The elf promised Sly Jolley he’d take all the blame

For tricking their dim lackeys now listed by name:

Stanislawski, Holt, Fry, Crain, Fields, Newberry and Ford,

With Barrington now their orphans would be gored.

‘Cause the elf’s plan was when there’s too little for all

Just give more to Jolley’s faves and let the rest take the fall.

Orphans Eddy, Musty, Unie, Moor, Norm, Bix and Jenk

Were each favored though none more than DeCreek.

So up to the house-top the lackeys they flew

With little elf Tony and Sly Jolley too.

Then in a twinkling they distributed the loot

Most to the faves with insouciance to boot.

The other orphans got only the crumbs from the ground,

So to Jolie, Stefan and Shane they went with a bound.

Jolie was stressed about else from her head to her foot

And couldn’t be bothered to redirect the orphans’ loot.

Stefan, thinking one equals two, said they shouldn’t be hacked,

If they’d just wait a year they’d recoup what they lacked.

Shane would not wake from his nap with dreams so merry

‘Bout being a hero to all by handling nothing so hairy.

So the poor orphans went away with nothing to show

From asking their guardians to help recover their dough.

Poor Tulsey, Lawt, Putney and Bart cringed and wept

Hoping all would be much better after they slept.

But Sandy, Ponca, Musky and Midelly

Knew of this folly they’d had a full belly.

Next door they went to the family Supreme

For help to make things right with the orphan team.

They were met by one at the door who just shook his head

Saying “those lackeys who caused it should fix things instead”.

He closed the door and went straight back to his work

Leaving those poor orphans in their world of hurt.

Feeling now like everyone’s second-hand roses

They still hoped one of the lackeys might be their Moses.

Then Jolley sprung to the floor, to his lackeys gave a whistle

And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle;

But they heard him exclaim, ere he slunk out of sight,

“Sine Die to all, and to all a good night”.



Joined by four other districts, the original four plaintiffs sued the Tax Commission in Oklahoma County District Court where Judge Parrish ruled, “The Court finds that the Plaintiffs presented the correct construction of (the statute)…”, namely that in under-collection months the OTC should apportion in proportion to the prior year’s apportionment amount, NOT in proportion to ADA.  Here is a chart that shows the impact on the sixteen districts I refer to in the poem.

Notice how stable amounts were from FY 14 to FY 15.  Also understand that the prior year amount is the amount each district is “charged” under the formula.  So if a district collects less than the charged amount, it loses permanently, but if a district collects more it gains permanently.  Switching to ADA would be simple and cause no unfair losses and gains IF the chargeable amount in the formula were also projected by ADA—but few, and none able to affect change, apparently ever understood this.

The Tax Commission has appealed the case to the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, where it waits with an automatic stay of the lower court’s order in place.  Meanwhile the passage of SB 476, unless saved by the appellate court’s action, assures the eventual gain/loss of about $23 million will be permanent.  Be careful this week.

As always lunch on me for the first to ID the photo location.

There You Go Again

Newblock Park, Tulsa.  ID’d by Greg Morris

That famous line uttered by then candidate Ronald Reagan during the final debate of the 1980 campaign with President Jimmy Carter supposedly helped propel him to victory a week later.  President Carter had just made an eloquent argument for the expansion of Medicare (downward in age) to the nation’s working population as the best way to control rising medical costs and assure a more productive workforce–almost as eloquent as the letter by E Carlton James I reprinted in Looking for Mr. James.  Carter concluded his statement by pointing out that Reagan had campaigned widely against the passage of Medicare in 1965, which history was what Reagan deflected with his charm and by saying he was for it but still against it, meaning that Carter was misrepresenting him.  Reagan won; providing a sensible system of heath care for working Americans continues to flounder now 37 years later.  Here is a video link to that famous exchange:

I’m using the phrase not as a cute deflection but as a direct scolding to Limited Thinker Trent England for repeating errors that I’ve previously taken the time to demonstrate for him in Unbelievable!  In that post I took England to task for showing, without footnotes, and relying upon an obviously misleading/erroneous table produced by the Oklahoma Senate in its publication at Page 17, FY 17 Appropriations Report.  Now, in his post The Bogus Budget: Medicaid Expanded Anyway, May 11, 2017, he wants to convince us that, despite Oklahoma’s refusal to accept Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, we have one of the fastest growing Medicaid programs around and the budgetary implications would be even worse if we hadn’t followed the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ advice so aren’t we glad we did.  Here’s the table he shows, again from the Senate’s publication Appropriations FY ’17:

Source: Oklahoma State Senate

While to his credit he doesn’t make a lot of hay about it, look at the increase shown from FY ’16 to FY ’17, which visually supports his argument that even without Medicaid expansion Oklahoma’s program is now growing rapidly.  If the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is going to call itself a think tank, and enjoy a tax exempt status because they are supposedly doing real research in the public interest, then England shouldn’t display this Table that begs for an explanation about the $1 billion roller coaster ride in “Total Expenditures” from FY ’15 through FY ’17, without showing enough curiosity himself, and respect for his readers, to inquire whether the Table accurately describes what happened.  Here’s the Table with footnotes included.

I am not as familiar with Health Care Authority budgets as I am with the State Department of Education which was the topic in Unbelievable!, so I can’t speculate, except to say the footnotes don’t explain the $1 billion down then back up as far as I can tell.   So I looked at the same report for FY ’16 and found this Table:

Note there is not the up/down.  True there was a revenue failure in FY ’16 that lowered appropriations by a net $64 million, but that doesn’t explain a $1 billion decline.  Also look at this Table from the Governor’s Budget Book for development of the FY ’18 budget:

It also shows actual total FY ’16 expenditures for the Health Care Authority and there is no decline from FY ’15 by $1 billion, then back up in FY ’17 by $1 billion.  I think this demonstrates, coupled with what I showed in Unbelievable! where the Senate FY ’17 Appropriations report has an $800 million error for FY ’16 total K – 12 expenditures, that the Senate Appropriations reports are inconsistently and sloppily prepared and can’t be relied upon for longitudinal comparisons.  This is not a petty critique of England’s work; if you are going to produce real “research” then you need to be able to recognize when data is obviously wrong.  How can we get to smart government policies if we base decisions on data that clearly is inaccurate.

So his clueless use of another erroneous Table produced by the Oklahoma Senate is the basis of my “There you go again” scolding.  But he doesn’t stop there; he goes on to cherry pick data from national sources which, assuming the data is correct, appears to support his argument, but also can be easily debunked with fairly simple thinking.  Here is his statement:

“A higher percentage of Oklahomans are covered by either Medicaid or the related Children’s Health Insurance Program than in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and a dozen other states. Looking at data from all states between 2000 and 2014, The Pew Charitable Trusts found Oklahoma had the 11th largest increase in state spending as a share of the total state budget.”

These two sentences read casually together make it sound like Oklahoma is some kind of national leader in providing Medicaid coverage for working families—were that it is so.  My not-researched guess is that two major determinants of the rate of Medicaid coverage within a state are whether the state accepted Medicaid Expansion (yes = more coverage) and the incidence of low-income families in a state (higher percentage of low income = more Medicaid coverage).  When I read the first sentence I immediately speculated that Texas, Kansas and Missouri are also states that declined Medicaid expansion because only states with a very low incidence of poverty would have less Medicaid coverage than Oklahoma if they had accepted Medicaid expansion.  Here is the Medicaid Expansion list that confirms my speculation; England’s three state example was intentionally cherry-picked.

So all his first sentence really says is that Oklahoma has a greater incidence of poverty/low income families than do Kansas, Texas and Missouri, which proves nothing about our state’s decision to avoid Medicaid expansion except our people were hurt more proportionately than the people in those three states.

The second sentence also says nothing in support of his argument, rather it is a simplistic statistical slight of hand.  It is like arguing that Mighty Casey should be named 1927 home run champion of the league over Babe Ruth because his share of Mudville’s home runs increased from 25% in 1926 (10 of 40) to 50% in 1927 (10 of 20), while the Babe’s percentage of his Yankees’ home runs actually declined from 39% (47 of 121) in 1926 to 38% (60 of 158) in 1927—what a loser the Babe was.  You see, the two largest components, and only billionaires, of the Governor’s FY ’18 proposed appropriation budget are K-12 education ($2.55 billion) and the Health Care Authority ($1.10 billion).  So in our Nation’s league of state budgets where Oklahoma leads the pack for decline in appropriations to K-12 education, you’ve seen this before:

We become Mudville and our Medicaid spending, having changed hardly at all I suspect, is like Casey’s home run output—basically flat.  But with a budget base (Mudville’s home runs) that’s declining compared to the rest of our league, our percentage of Medicaid of our state budget, which is the statistic he cites from Pew, shows a nice increase.  Whoop de do!  Don’t read much about Casey being the 1927 home run champ either.  Nice try Limited Thinker England.

Two last words.  Remember that the larger component of Medicaid spending is for old folks in nursing homes, see Not An Old Geezer Yet, a fact the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs won’t remind you of.  What they will say, and is quite misleading, is this by their President Jonathan Small in his 2013 drivel Oklahoma Health Care Authority should stop expanding Medicaid:  “Not all of these Oklahomans are poor. (Did you realize that a person can have up to $500,000 of equity in a home and still qualify for Medicaid?)”.  What he is referring to is the provision to prevent “spousal impoverishment”.  If old Geezer Adam requires skilled nursing assistance and is single then his income must be low enough and his assets cannot exceed $2,000 in order for Medicaid to pay the difference between his income and the nursing home expenses.  But if Adam is married and his wife Eve lives in their house they own jointly, the spousal impoverishment protection that Small deplores allows her to keep the house (I’ll accept Small’s $500,000 limit in equity) and additional assets and a share of the income, clearly as a matter of public policy to allow her the opportunity to continue living independently and without assistance.

Apparently if the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs had its way then Eve would be required to divest of all her assets, applying everything to Adam’s care, and live where and how our limited thinker Small doesn’t say.  In reality, even with the spousal impoverishment protections, Adam’s nursing home stay can easily leave his Eve in a financially precarious position.  In my law practice, especially when counseling couples about late in life second marriages, I often pointed out the better financial choice would be to live in sin rather than to marry.  As a measure of the human spirit, in short supply at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, none ever heeded my advice.

As always, lunch on me for the first to ID the photo location.


 Outside UFO Museum in Roswell, NM.  ID’d by BJ Ryan.

I’ve been saving the photo above for the possibility that, after all is said and done, the Oklahoma Tax Commission, with the willing indifference of the State Department of Education, the Oklahoma School Boards Association, the Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administrators, Tulsa Public Schools (losing $3 million) and other “loser” districts, and many others, completes its wrongful transfer of about $23 million of dedicated motor vehicle license revenue from over half of the state’s school districts (losers) to the other school districts (winners); see my prior posts House Bill 2244 and A Turkish de Fright.  But a recent post by Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs “Vice President for Strategic Initiatives” (wow—I want to see one of those!) Trent England, is as worthy, if not more so, of its use because he makes a $2 billion (that’s nine zeros) error, not in math, but in common sense and understanding.

Here it is the last week for revenue measures to pass the legislature and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is trying its best to remain relevant in the discussion, hoping legislators will believe there is plenty of funding for our schools if all the overpaid school superintendents would just make good decisions.  Mr. England’s contribution is his May 9 post “The Bogus Budget:  Money for Schools” which he opens with the question, “Can a government agency be so important that it must not be questioned or held to account?”  He then gives it his best shot.

First he regurgitates the argument the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has borrowed before from Benjamin Scafidi that there would be plenty of school funding available if districts would just lay off sufficient numbers of teacher assistants, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria workers—see my earlier posts The Glib, The Bad and The Ugly, Purging the Surge and A Dirge for a Surge.  He also claims Scafidi’s research found “that administrators protect their own:  when cutting staff, they are far more likely to fire classroom teachers than non-teaching staff.”  I read Scafidi’s reports last fall when writing my posts and do not recall any such finding.  If I believed that Trent England has actually read the reports as well, I’d take the time to check out the basis of this absurd assertion.  But I’m not going to waste my time because, as you will see later, Mr. England’s reading and comprehension skills are pretty limited, so this silly assertion is most likely a distortion or just simply made up (probably he has coffee with his OCPA colleague Dave Bond who also makes stuff up (see Something Special and Waiting for Dave Bond).

Next he describes what he believes is waste at the Catoosa Public Schools.  I wrote a little about this in my post Done Waiting for Mr. Bond so am not going to do any more here.  Besides, even if one school district is making bad choices, that doesn’t mean the rest are—any more than when I show below that Mr. England is a Limited Thinker that we should conclude that all of his other colleagues at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs are also Limited Thinkers…or maybe there is something to his Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum logic.

Now for the really fun, but dangerous (to good public policy), part of Mr. England’s latest “strategic initiative”; he shows this graphic, taken from the FY ’17 Appropriations Report:  Actions of the 2016 Legislature at Page 17, FY 17 Appropriations Report

When you look at this table it tells an amazing story, one that I immediately knew was “unbelievable” as should have Mr. England, if the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs were truly serious about doing thoughtful research, which they are not.  What the Table clearly shows is that while appropriations from the legislature have remained fairly steady somewhat above $2 billion each of the years shown, total school district expenditures, including operation of the State Department of Education, were growing slightly around the $6 billion level from 2013 through 2015, and then (here’s the unbelievable part) jumped by about $1 billion in 2016 and again by another $1 billion in 2017.  I know enough about Oklahoma school finance to find the years 2013 through 2015 believable because state appropriations have been pretty flat for several years, while other school district sources, like property taxes and state dedicated revenues, have grown slightly.  But I knew that $1 billion increases in each of 2016 and 2017 simply did not happen so couldn’t wait to figure out what was behind this silliness.

Mr. England was kind enough to point me to the Oklahoma Senate source where you can review the past several years of its publication “FY ‘XX Appropriations Report”.  If you look at Page 17 of the Page 17, FY 17 Appropriations Report you find the Table above, and you will also find footnotes.  The limited thinkers at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs must have slept through their reading and math instruction about the importance of reading footnotes—especially when something is obviously unbelievable.  Here is the critical footnote that Mr. England chooses to ignore:  “# FY ’16 and FY ’17 expenditures do not include OTRS apportionment dollars but DO include carry over funds.   So the Senate reporters decided, for these most recent two years only, to show “carry over funds” as expenditures.  That’s interesting because carry over funds are the totals of revenues school districts actually received, but did NOT expend.  But the Senate is allowed to make the rules for their reports.

The FY ’16 and FY ’17 reports have the appropriations detail in the back while the earlier publications do not.  When you look at the SDE Detail FY 17 Appropriations Report here at the bottom of the second page you see the $8.476 billion number shown in the Table and it includes, directly above, $2.044 billion in school district “carry forward” revenue which is very close to the State Department of Education OCAS report totals for “cash forward June 30, 2016” of $2.048 billion (being available to expend in FY ’17) which confirms we’re looking at the right numbers.  So what explains the $2 billion increase in school district “expenditures” from 2015 to 2017?  It is almost entirely explained by the arbitrary decision by whoever puts together the Senate appropriations report to include carry over funds as expenditures in the total for FY ’17 but not for FY ’15 or any earlier year. 

That then left only the puzzle of why FY ’16 increased by only about $1 billion when I knew that it also should have gone up by close to the $2 billion in carry over (the SDE OCAS reporting shows $1.921 billion available as of June 30, 2015).  What I’ve concluded is that the number in the Table shown, $7.434 billion, is an error and should be $8,212 billion, as an “apples to apples” comparison with the $8.476 billion total reported for FY ’17.  You will see the $8.212 billion in the same place of the SDE Detail FY 16 Appropriations Report as is the $8.476 billion total in the SDE Detail FY 17 Appropriations Report I refer to above.   What’s interesting is that the FY ’17 totals, Table and detail, are the same, but the FY ’16 totals are $800 million apart.  That is not the only discrepancy I discovered in looking at prior year appropriation reports on the Senate’s website.  It seems that the methodology used changes from year to year so, unlike most annual reporting, these reports are probably accurate only for some longitudinal comparisons—like year-to-year appropriations—but not for others, like comparing expenditure totals.  The legislature controls, and presumably understands, appropriations.  How appropriations are combined, and what is included, to show “total expenditures” though can be done in many inconsistent ways—and these reports show that vividly—depending on what story someone wants to tell.

So Trent England’s “strategery” is to fool his readers, hopefully no legislators read his blog posts, and likely himself as well, into believing that Oklahoma school districts, even with flat state appropriations, have been able to increase their collective expenditures by over two billion dollars during the last two years—so what are they complaining about?  Unbelievable!  Mr. England is a true Limited Thinker.

There is one notable other footnote, though I haven’t confirmed it has been consistently applied.  It says “Expenditures are calculated using OCAS totals less bond sinking funds…”    So unlike our limited thinker at the 1889 Institute, see my post Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, at least the Senate knows to avoid double counting.

As always lunch is on me for the first to ID the photo location.




Source: Oklahoma State Senate

Who Wants to be a Billionaire?


Route 66 Plaza at old 11th Street Bridge ID’d by Ryan Mahoney and Greg Morris

My title plagiarizes a column by George Will, the bow tied conservative whose column, often published in the Tulsa World, usually causes my blood to boil, except when he writes about baseball.  I’m taking a break after discovering another Limited Thinker at the 1889 Institute in my recent posts Miserables Love Company, Later, Sooner and Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, and from critiquing the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs that is desperately trying remain relevant this legislative session as the Governor and Legislature grapple with the results of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs fiscal policy that assured Oklahomans cutting taxes would increase revenues.  I’ll get to a post by Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Vice President for Strategic Initiatives (wow!) Trent England who claims in “The Bogus Budget: Money for Schools” that public schools’ expenditures are increasing by about a billion dollars from FY 2016 to FY 2017.  I sent an email request for his data, to which he forthrightly replied, and after a quick look predict that it will be easily de-bunked.  We’ll see how accountable this Strategic Initiator is, or is he like another Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs limited thinker Dave Bond who just makes stuff up.  (see Done Waiting for Mr. Bond and Waiting for Dave Bond)

The George Will Column, is based on a post by “Don Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and proprietor of the indispensable (Will’s adjective) blog Cafe Hayek, entitled “You are as rich as John D. Rockefeller. Richer, actually.””  I like it because it is an important reminder to our current citizens who are not geezers like me about just how far we have improved the quality of life for the average American in the last 100 years.  I tried, with less eloquence, to do the same in my post They Made It Look Easy.  Will and Boudreax graphically demonstrate the improvements we enjoy, leading them to posit that a middle class American actually enjoys a better quality of life than J. D. Rockefeller in 1916—and I agree.

But I bet we don’t agree on the reasons.  Will is a self-professed “conservative”.  Boudreaux reveals his colors by naming his blog “Café Hayek”.  You see Frederick von Hayek is the author of the Road to Serfdom which is a classic among academic economists, like Paul Ryan’s fave “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, is among self-professed worshipers of “free” markets.  He was Austrian and apparently experienced a very bureaucratic governmental system that stifled private sector economic initiative.  It was the kind of bureaucracy that inspired Kafka’s novel/play “The Castle” which Linda and I enjoyed seeing a few years ago performed by Philadelphia’s Idiopathic (a new word to me) Theater where the main character tries without success to penetrate the mysterious bureaucracy that controls the village where he has arrived.

Every example Boudreaux provides of progress in our quality of life has behind it, in my opinion, an important part that government played in making it happen—government that has acted with purpose and intelligence to make improvements that can and should be accomplished collectively.  But this is not Hayek’s, nor The Castle’s, view of government and probably not Boudreaux’ either because there is no mention of it.  So what follows is Will’s column interspersed with some of the government actions that supported the improvement in our quality of life over the last 100 years.

Who Wants to be a Billionaire (in 1916)?  By George Will

“Having bestowed the presidency on a candidate who described their country as a “hellhole” besieged by multitudes trying to get into it, Americans need an antidote for social hypochondria. Fortunately, one has arrived from Don Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and proprietor of the indispensable blog Cafe Hayek.

He has good news: You are as rich as John D. Rockefeller. Richer, actually.

Some historians estimate that on Sept. 29, 1916, a surge in the price of Rockefeller’s shares of the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey made him America’s first billionaire. Others say he never reached this milestone and that Henry Ford was the first. Never mind. If Rockefeller was the first, his billion was worth $23 billion in today’s dollars. Boudreaux asks if you would accept this bargain: You can be as rich as Rockefeller was in 1916 if you consent to live in 1916.

Boudreaux says that if you had Rockefeller’s riches back then, you could have had a palatial home on Fifth Avenue, another overlooking the Pacific, and a private island if you wished. Of course, going to and from the coasts in your private but un-air-conditioned railroad car would be time-consuming and less than pleasant (Today we have commercial and private aircraft that rely on the Federal Aviation Administration to regulate and keep airways safe.  Much of the development of aircraft technology was sponsored by federal military contracts.  There are also the choices of traveling on our interstate highway system or AMTRAK, both federally supported and initiated.  Railroads owe their existence to federal policy that provided right of way preferences and other support in exchange for being regulated common carriers).  And communicating with someone on the other coast would be a sluggish chore (Today we have mobile and land line telephone service available throughout the country supported by a regulatory system managed by the Federal Communications Commission and state agencies that has made orderly development possible and fair to consumers).

Commercial radio did not arrive until 1920, and 1916 phonographs would lacerate 2017 sensibilities, as would 1916’s silent movies. (Again the Federal Communications Commission has set the framework for over the air radio and TV broadcasts by controlling access to bandwidths, something a private market would make shambles of).  If in 1916 you wanted Thai curry, chicken vindaloo or Vietnamese pho, you could go to the phone hanging on your wall and ask the operator (direct dialing began in the 1920s) to connect you to restaurants serving those dishes. The fact that there were no such restaurants would not bother you because in 1916 you had never heard of those dishes, so you would not know what you were missing.  (Land grant colleges, state university research, city-county health departments and extension programs, etc. are all government programs that have enhanced the variety and safety of our food supply).

If in 1916 you suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, a sexually transmitted disease or innumerable other ailments treatable in 2017, you also would not know that you were missing antibiotics and the rest of modern pharmacology. And don’t even think about getting a 1916 toothache. You can afford state-of-the-art 1916 dentures — and probably will need them. Your arthritic hips and knees? Hobble along until you cannot hobble any more, then buy a wheelchair. Birth control in 1916 will be primitive, unreliable and not conducive to pleasure.  (The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health, along with many state funded university medical and dental schools and hospitals, have been leaders in medical improvements and knowledge that made those improvements possible).

You could enjoy a smattering of early jazz, but rock-and-roll is decades distant, and Netflix and Google even more so. Your pastimes would be limited, but you could measure the passage of time on the finest Swiss watch. It, however, would be less accurate than today’s Timex or smartphone.  (Remember it was a federal research project, as Al Gore reminded us, that led to the development of the Internet).

As a 1916 billionaire, you would be materially worse off than a 2017 middle-class American; an unhealthy 1916 billionaire would be much worse off than an unhealthy 2017 American of any means. Intellectually, your 1916 range of cultural choices would be paltry compared with today’s. And your moral tranquility might be disturbed by the contrast between your billionaire’s life and that of the normal American.

Last year, a Bureau of Labor Statistics paper described the life of workers in 1915. More than half (52.4 percent) of the 100 million Americans were younger than 25, life expectancy at birth was 54.5 years (today, 78.8) and less than 5 percent of Americans were 65 or older. One in 10 babies died in the first year of life (today, 1 in 168). A large majority of births were not in hospitals (today, less than 1 percent).  (My comments above about the CDC, NIH and state universities, largely explain this also).

In 1915, only about 14 percent of people ages 14 to 17 were in high school, an estimated 18 percent age 25 and older had completed high school, and nearly 75 percent of women working in factories had left school before eighth grade. (State and local government support for universal public education is what made this possible.)  There were 4 renters for every homeowner, partly because mortgages (usually for just five to seven years) required down payments of 40 to 50 percent of the purchase price.  (This changed dramatically after the Federal Housing Administration was put in place as part of the New Deal and enhanced by the GI Bill benefits from the federal government for World War II veterans.)

Less than one-third of homes had electric lights. Small electric motors — the first Hoover vacuum cleaner appeared in 1915 — were not yet lightening housework. Iceboxes, which were the norm until after World War II, were all that 1915 had: General Motors’ Frigidaire debuted in 1918.  (Local and state utility regulators brought order to the expansion of electricity in urban areas; the Rural Electric Administration, another New Deal program, provided federal help to assure electricity was available throughout our country).

So, thank Boudreaux for making you think about this: How large would your net worth have to be to get you to swap the life you are living in “hellhole” America for what that money could buy in 1916?”

Lunch on me to the first to ID the photo location.


Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Shakespeare Society Monument in Tulsa’s Woodward Park, ID’d by Ryan Mahoney

If a carpenter built your new stairs with each step a different height, you’d never use him again.  If a doctor prescribed you a new drug that caused clotting when interacting with one of your existing drugs, without reviewing your current prescriptions, you’d never use him again.  If an oil change shop used brake fluid instead of motor oil in your car’s engine, you’d never go there again.  If your husband failed to unhook the boom of your sailboat before raising the mainsail, thus leaving you without control in the middle of San Diego Harbor, you’d never sail with him again.  These are just a few analogies comparable to the silliness practiced by Byron Schlomach in his April 2017 “Policy Analysis” for the 1889 Institute titled “Saving Money:  School District Consolidation vs. Breaking Up Big Districts”, about which I say, “If a PhD economist analyzed expenditures of Oklahoma districts and distorted their individual totals by double counting capital project/debt expenditures, you’d never believe the stated conclusions from his analysis.”  The point of this blog post is to explain why I don’t and you shouldn’t, and why Byron should be ashamed of himself.

In my early life I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics, including a minor in mathematics, scholarship offers from Wisconsin and UCLA to their graduate economics programs, and a Vietnam draft number in the upper twenties which, absent connections like our current President enjoyed, meant I was clear and present draft material within weeks.  The minor in mathematics saved me because the Philadelphia Public Schools were desperate enough for math and science teachers that the Pennsylvania state draft board was handing out occupational deferments.  The district’s recruiters asked me to commit to teaching at least two years (the average new teacher did not return for a second year, if they managed to finish the first).  Thankful I was not part of the awful carnage in Vietnam and aware of the privilege my educational status afforded me and not others less fortunate, I happily spent the next four years teaching high school mathematics at West Philadelphia High School and West Philadelphia Community Free School, after which with a one-year-old beside us, Linda and I headed back to Tulsa.  I gave up my academic dream of graduate study in economics and settled for law school, including two graduate economics courses, and eventually teaching economics for 11 years at Tulsa Junior College.

So I both admire and envy those, like Byron, who were able to realize my academic dream.  That is why I hold him to a higher standard than the Limited Thinkers at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs I’ve reviewed in previous posts.  He should know better than to put out the kind of drivel I reviewed in Miserables Love Company and Later, Sooner, and he certainly knows better than to double count as he has done in “Saving Money:  School District Consolidation vs. Breaking Up Big Districts”.  I dug out a copy of Paul Samuelson’s introductory text Economics, the 12th Edition; I studied freshman economics with his 6th Edition in 1965-66.  On page 108 of about 900 pages is several paragraphs following the subtitle “The Problem of “Double Counting””, so I know this is not a new concept for Byron—it’s just one that it’s not convenient to concern himself with because it interferes with the conclusion he reached before he did his “analysis”.  Most shameful and hard to believe donors pay for such sloppy work from the 1889 Institute unless the donors are only interested in pushing a preconceived narrative instead of sponsoring real economic analysis of our state’s public education system.

What is double counting?  Here’s a personal finance level example.  Say we wanted to determine how much Byron expends on transportation in a year.  Clearly, we need to attribute some expenditure amount towards the car he drives.  Let’s say at the beginning of the year he bought a new car for $20,000, which he financed through his credit union with a loan that requires monthly payments of $400 for five years.  Over the five years Byron will pay a total of $24,000 in car payments with $4,000 of that being interest.  Now depending on what we’re trying to determine there are several ways to answer the question.  One answer might be $20,000, the purchase price of the car.  Then the next year, and thereafter, the amounts would be zero since the car is paid for.  Or we might say it is 12 times $400, a year’s worth of car payments, being $4,800.  Or we might consult an accountant and get sucked in to some kind of annual depreciation schedule, dividing $20,000 by the ten-year life expectancy of the car and make it something like $2,000.  All of these or some version might be defensible.  What is not defensible would be to add any two of them together, such as the $20,000 purchase price plus $4,800 in the year’s car payments.  That, economists and any informed analyst familiar with such questions, would say is double counting.  However we get there, in my silly example, the value that should be counted is only the $20,000 one time for the car and the $4,000 of interest over the life of the loan which is the value of the “service” by the credit union in providing Byron a loan (note to credit union loan officer:  next time check the numbers on his loan application for double counting his income sources).

Here’s how Byron double counts in his silly “Policy Analysis”:  he includes all reported school district “expenditures” from “all funds” that districts are required to report, which means both their Bond funds (purchase of the car in my example) and their Sinking funds (making the car payments), are part of his totals–indisputably a case of double counting.  Bond expenditures for all districts statewide were $647 million, almost 10% of the $6,712 million in total “all funds” expenditures, so Byron’s double counting potentially skews his results (but doubt it changes his conclusion since he had reached that before he started).  Avoiding double counting is standard practice by anyone serious about analyzing school district expenditures on an “apples to apples” basis.  Here is the data source description from the Oklahoma Office of Accountability that compiles district and school profiles reports statewide:

District Expenditures (ALL FUNDS) There are many different “Funds” in which a school district may deposit revenue and from which it may make expenditures. The Profiles reports revenues and expenditures using “ALL FUNDS.” ALL FUNDS excludes Trust & Agency Fund and Bond Fund. Also, note that Debt Service, which is the major component of the Sinking Fund, has been accounted for separately to not adversely affect expenditure percentages in other areas. The expenditures are reported in two ways. First, expenditures in each category are reported as a percentage of the total expenditures and second as the actual dollars spent per ADM (See Appendix C in this report and the State Profiles for a further description of district finances). 

Here is an example of their report format:  Tulsa District Profile; and statewide numbers from the same year:  Statewide Expenditures Profiles

Notice that their “All Funds” initially excludes both bond and sinking (debt service) funds expenditures.  They exclude bond funds to avoid double counting.  They exclude sinking/debt service fund expenditures to allow comparisons focused on operational costs.  If Byron were to do some real research here’s what I think it would show:  districts with growing student populations (ADM) will have larger sinking fund/debt service expenditures per student than other districts because, duh, they are building additional schools to keep up with their student growth.  Here’s another brilliant thought, districts that have been growing in student population for many years, like Edmond, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Norman and Union are also going to find their way into the largest ten school districts about which Byron is so concerned.  These districts’ bond and debt service expenditures are virtually all classified as “non-instructional” and, if Byron would do the analysis, will likely explain why their per ADM non-instructional costs are so much higher than other districts.

So what’s his point that is so important he tosses his economist credibility out the door?  Here’s how he explains it:

Diseconomies come from districts getting so large that they are unwieldy to manage. Feedback to management is more difficult. School board members become more answerable to district employees (who vote) than to the wider public and parents. Consequently, large districts, as reflected by the numbers, become much less efficient and more costly.

Or, using data that is not double counted and recognizes the greater capital needs of growing districts, we might say this:

“The greater per student costs associated with many of Oklahoma’s largest school districts are a direct result of local voters, especially parents who have chosen the district because of its quality schools, having supported local bond issues to expand and improve school facilities.  Many of these parents, frustrated with the continued lack of support at the state level, see supporting local bond elections as a way of demonstrating how much they value public education.”

He cites no evidence for his conclusion that “School board members become more answerable to district employees (who vote) than to the wider public and parents.”  I suspect he has none.  It is of interest that Tulsa shows also as a district with “non-instructional” spending way above the state average, even though it has not been growing student population.  What it has been doing, supported by many of us without children in school, is reconstructing its aged facilities.  There are many of us in Tulsa who understand the importance to our community of investing in quality public education, even if it doesn’t directly benefit our family.  If Byron would only look past the message and conclusions his 1889 Institute’s funders pay him to proselytize, he might find data that would support that conclusion instead.

You see the mission of “think tanks” like the 1889 Institute and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is not to do real research (show me the real research and I’ll reconsider), but rather to push the narrative that government spending needs to be cut because it wastes the money it spends, and the number of public employees needs to be greatly reduced because they vote to increase government programs.  It’s discouraging to see that both the World and Oklahoman have published articles today about Byron’s report without doing any fact checking on its validity—hence the birth of another alternative fact.

Lunch on me for the first to ID the photos location.





Later, Sooner

Ruins at Mount Alban outside of Oaxaca, Mexico ID’d by Ryan Mahoney

Over $66,000!  Did you know that’s how much teachers are paid in Oklahoma?  Well I didn’t either until I saw it in the 1889 Institute’s report “Teacher Pay:  Facts to Consider”, which I read about in a blog post on the Oklahoma Council of Public Affair’s website.  I debunked the number in my post Miserables Love Company, but it is likely a number that will get repeated and taken as gospel by many, including policy makers, in this state.  That’s how alternative facts get legs.  Someone with seeming credibility, in this case the authors have at least four college degrees (including a PhD in economics) between them and are employed by a think tank which presumably does real research, puts out a number, which then gets restated by another think tank’s publication which gives it another layer of credibility, and then gets picked up and restated by others again and again.

Earlier this week I corresponded directly with one of the number’s fabricators, Byron Schlomach, who is also listed as the 1889 Institute’s Director, to see if he would share the “Author’s Calculations” that mysteriously grew their starting point from $44,921 to $66,034.  He actually replied, not with bluster and threats as did the Limited Thinker in Chief at the OCPA (see You’re Not in Kansas Anymore), but with actual information which I appreciated.  Here is his explanation:

Table 236.50 of the 2016 Digest of Education Statistics from NCES provides total salaries and total benefits by state for 2013-14. Looking at the total benefit number, it was clear that it did not include the expenditure by the state on health insurance. Adding that in ($339,243 in thousands) and dividing the resultant total of benefits by total salaries, the percentage comes out to 47.7%. I then multiplied the reported average salary, $45,751, by 1.477. I don’t think your number comes out that much different from mine if you add in the federal contribution to retirement, but any such number is rough. The intention, as stated in the paper, was to estimate the total cost of an average teacher to taxpayers, not to estimate take-home pay. If the rest of the analysis had depended on that number I’d have tried to be more precise. Your number may very well be a better one, but I doubt that, absent our number, yours would have been any less “eye-popping.”

Notice the underlined sentence above, suggesting their work was to estimate “cost…to taxpayers”, not “take-home pay”.  True, there are different ways to look at it, but if the $66,034 is meant to communicate about “cost”, not “pay”, then why does his “report” say it like this:

When benefits are included, pay increases considerably, by about 47 percent, or $21,113 for a total average cost per teacher of $66,034.  This takes average hourly teacher pay to $39.45.

I’m sorry, Byron, I don’t think your calculation is intended to inform policy makers about what an average teacher costs taxpayers, I think you want to put out a number for “average hourly teacher pay” that will cause many Oklahomans to think, “Wow, teachers are paid a lot more than I am, so what’s all the fuss about?”

In addition to what I point out in my calculations (see Miserables Love Company), here’s why he’s so far off.  He says “Looking at the total benefit number, it was clear that it did not include the expenditure by the state on health insurance.”  Actually it is clear that the total benefit number does include “the expenditure by the state on health insurance”.  I followed his link to Table 236.50 (tabn236.50.nces) in the Digest and the most recent amounts I found were for FY 2013, not FY 2014 as he states.  That really doesn’t matter because the proportions don’t change dramatically from year to year.  The table says Oklahoma spent $2,073 million on instructional salaries and $637 million on instructional benefits yielding a benefits/salary ratio of 30.7%.  My average teacher calculation, based on FY 2016 because that’s what the “report” said, yields a ratio of $14,426/$59,347 = 32.1%, pretty close to the 30.7%.

The NCES table data must come from Oklahoma’s OCAS reporting.  The OCAS system uses object codes in the 100s for salaries, stipends and other forms of direct compensation to school personnel; it uses object codes in the 200s for employee benefits, such as employer paid health insurance which is code 213 for teachers.  The FY 2014 OCAS statewide totals (ExpenditureReportFromOcasStatewide2014) for instructional code 100s is $1,929 million and $632 million for code 200s which yields a benefits/salary ratio of 32.7%, again very close to the other ratios I calculate above.  It is very clear that the NCES data for benefits absolutely includes every dollar the state, through school districts, expends for teachers’ health insurance.  So where does Byron get his $339,243,000 that he adds to the NCES benefits total?

I don’t know except to conclude he doesn’t understand how school employee insurance is funded.  Either by law or custom the legislature in most years (they didn’t for FY 2011 which led to then Superintendent Barresi trying to short-fund teachers’ health insurance) funds school employees’ Flexible Benefit Allowance with a specific line item appropriation, one for certified personnel and one for support personnel.  The earliest line item amounts I could easily find, shown in the State Department of Education budget, on its website are for FY 2015; again these numbers change year to year but not dramatically, though the FBA has steadily taken a larger share of the overall  budget.  The line items that year are $263,634,696 for certified employees which are mostly teachers, and $143,648,937 for support personnel which includes many teacher assistants whose salaries are also included as “instructional”.  So I can see Byron finding a number somewhere saying that $339 million out of $400+ million expended on health insurance was “instructional”, maybe using the OCPA’s data tool; anyhow that’s plausible.

But, but and but, the health insurance payments are already in the NCES and OCAS “Benefits” numbers.  The legislature appropriates it to the State Department of Education, which in turn pays it over to the school district employers, who in turn pay the premium amounts (coded 213 and 223) directly to the Employees Group Insurance Department of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services of the State of Oklahoma, and that is all that is paid, there is no other “expenditure by the state” for school employees health insurance.  So our Byron is a double counter.  His “it was clear” adjustment takes the benefits/salary ratio from the just over 30% that is supported by the data to his silly 47.7% which is not, but certainly helps support the 1889 Institute’s narrative that teachers are paid and cost a lot.

Byron’s bio says he’s an Aggie from Texas A&M, but his employment by the 1889 Institute now makes him a Sooner, and we fourth generation (my grandmother remembered seeing settlers headed to the 1889 land rush when she was a girl in Oklahoma living in a sod house) Okies know what Sooners were—land rushers who played fast and loose with the law, just like Byron is playing fast and loose with teacher pay data.  A PhD economist should know better than to double count, but he didn’t and my next post will show how he double counts again in his Report “Saving Money:  School District Consolidation vs. Breaking Up Big Districts”.  So…later, Sooner.

As always lunch on me for the first to ID the photo location.