In this weeks’ Oklahoma Gazette. . .

    If you’re in OKC be sure and pick up a copy of the Oklahoma Gazette for a few items of interest…

  • Since Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse Five (a compelling if slightly insane account of the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany in WWII as told from the eyes of Kurt who was a POW in Dresden at the time) is speaking at OCU this Tuesday, the Gazette did an exclusive interview with him (the online version is longer than what went in the print edition.

    Here is my favorite quote from it…

      “I’m sorry, but our president is a young person and has a romantic view of war, but I think it could go on and on and on. And he is making us hated, and I don’t like our country being hated.”
  • The Gazette ran my letter to the editor in this week’s edition. Here’s what I wrote…
      Dear Editor,

      The headlines are full of dire warnings about Oklahoma’s $350 Million funding shortfall; a crisis which cries out for true leadership.

      Regrettably our state’s highest official, Governor Brad Henry wants to make the problem worse with a regressive tax against the poor and desperate (a.k.a. “the lottery”) Henry says that the lottery could raise $300 million annually (“Henry seeks late summer lottery vote” Daily Oklahoman, Jan. 16, 2003) but has not told us the true cost of these millions.

      Let’s look at the math a little more closely. If an Oklahoma lottery operates with the same margins, as does the Texas lottery, then only 30% of the average wager will go into state coffers (with 58% going to prizes, 7% for lottery administration, & 5% going to retailers).

      Hence, if Henry’s lottery is to net $300 million for the state, $1 billion of lottery tickets must be sold each year.

      If 40% of Oklahoman’s 3.4 million residents do not buy lottery tickets, there would be a pool of 2.04 million potential lottery players to buy the needed $1 billion of tickets. (Certainly out-of-state residents might buy Oklahoma tickets, but Oklahoma residents may also continue to buy out-of-state tickets so the net gain will likely be a wash). If we then divide the needed sales ($1 billion) by the number of potential players (2.04 million) we get an average of $490 per person.

      Finally if we take that number ($490) and multiply it by the average Oklahoma household size (2.49 according to the 2000 census), the result would be an average of $1220 spent on lottery tickets each year by lottery-playing families.

      If Governor Henry’s plan does net $300 million we will be in for a world of hurt. Marriages will be shattered. Children will go hungry. People will kill themselves. Lives will be ruined.

      J. M. Branum

      Newcastle, OK

  • Lastly the Gazette did a major redesign starting with this issue. The new look is excellent. Check it out if you have the chance. (If only they’ll redo their sorry website. They could learn a lot from the Austin Chronicle’s website.