If there's one thing that Oklahoma's Republican and Democrat politicians have had a love affair with, it's Crony Capitalism.
When governments pragmatically pick winners and losers via the tax code or awarding of contracts, grants, and other preferential treatment; it inevitably leads to a bitter backlash from the small business sector and individual taxpayers.
For decades Tulsa and Oklahoma City have made deals with various "prince charming" entities who court special deals in exchange for providing significant jobs for citizens. Municipalities and even the state government then count on those employees to make up for the boss's tax-free status by having big withholdings taken out of their paychecks.
The city of Tulsa inherited a factory from the industrial military complex after contracts dried up in the 1990s.. They had Rockell & McDonnell Douglas building big planes in the plant for years.. That fell throw in the 1990s. Rumors still circulate that Tulsa Congressman, Jim Inhofe, made enemies of Washington Democrats who controled congress.
The big govt. military contracts with McDonnell Douglas for Tulsa aviation products somehow got transferred to St. Louis (where Majority Leader Dick Gephart happens to reside).
They stupidly cosigned the property as a guarantee for a start up airlines to get going in Tulsa. It took a technicality for the city to survive a lawsuit from Bank of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma City wanted a big car factory so they built one and gave it to General motors, to build cars. City leaders even promised not to charge property tax on the factory equipment. But the state's high court ruled that promise illegal, void, and unconstitutional.
The GM plant went the way of GM and promised utopia never did last. Now the OKC economy chooses to throw in their lot with the Air Force contracts and the massively expanded Tinker Air Force Base.
The 2010 Tea Party Revolt
When Bush and Obama agreeed to the 2008 TARP bailout, many winners and losers were determined. Lehman Brothers became a loser and went under. Many observers believe it happened because Goldman Sachs had more effectively infiltrated every president's administration for decades. That legacy continues, as Trump chose a Goldman Sachs alum to be his chief strategist.
Then Barack Obama created a "Chromnibus" bailout package in which his biggest supporters were kept from failing during the 2009 & 2010 recession. But when the administration announced a bailout plan for home mortgages (where the lenders had previously felt pressured to grant loans to people who really couldn't afford them), and Obama pushed for those 'in over their head' homeowners were going to get the federal government to write part of the monthly mortgage payment for them. That news led to a "mad as hell" rant from CNBC's Rick Santelli, on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor.
CNBC's Rick Santelli changed the political scene in February of 2010 when his 'off the cuff' rant, coupled with the boiling-over frustration of the common man, ignited a massive Tea Party fervor.
When Obama tells the small businessman; "you didn't build that", he actually means that somehow his administration gets more credit than the industriousness, ambition, and insights of the little guy's start up.
But Crony capitalism isn't just picking the winning corporations. Sometimes it's picking winning counties and treating foreigners better than your own life-long neighbors.
This past week, Tom Newell resigned the legislative seat he'd just been re-elected to. Tom was one of those candidates who got elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave. But 2 years ago I went to the capitol and talked to him about a special deal he made in HB1747. He got a bill passed which gives a targeted tax break to any out-of-state person who moves to an approved list of smaller Oklahoma counties. The problem is that he refused to include loyal Oklahoma residents in that deal. The doctor who runs a practice in his Bartlesville hometown can't get the deal for opening up a Nowata practice. Yet a Coffeyville, KS doctor can move to and open a Nowata clinic and get an unfair advantage. The Kansas guy will likely return much of his earnings to his Wichita, KS relatives.
This is the kind of social engineering we cannot tolerate.