Cooperation

Enemies of Our Enemies

Enemies of Our Enemies - June 23, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The ancient idea that “The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend” is widely attributed to the Arabs. But in truth, it is much older. The proverb can actually be traced to the military strategy writings of an Indian named Kautilya who is often referred to as the “Indian Machiavelli.” Kautilya’s 4th century B.C. treatise on warfare and economic policy is named the Arthashastra or the “Science of Politics” but has a much broader scope and actually addresses the collective ethics that hold a society together.

It includes books on the nature of government, law, civil and criminal court systems, economics, markets and trade, theories on war, the nature of peace and the duties and obligations of a king. It addresses public projects and advises that the king, in times and in areas devastated by famine, epidemic and such acts of nature, or by war, infrastructure should be reinforced and tax policy should reflect the needs of those regions.

Interestingly, while Kautilya’s work contains powerful messages regarding the common good, the most enduring concept of the Arthashastra is that, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” an idea that fuels the partisan divides in our nation and in our state. Unfortunately, activists on the left and right leave little room for lawmakers to overcome that political chasm.

The most recent case in point involves the couple of dozen Democratic candidates for President. Last week when one of the candidates, a former U.S. Senator, pointed to his ability to work across the aisle, he was chastised for cooperating on legislation with Republican Senators who were known segregationists. It did not matter that the common legislation had nothing to do with segregation.

Another recent article involved elements in the Oklahoma State Democratic Party who had urged party activists to chastise or blacklist current or former elected officials who were known to have endorsed a Republican in a political race. While such bi-partisan endorsements are unusual, the alternative is rigid, unbending partisanship that gives rise to the existence of rules such as the GOP’s 11th Commandment, “Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of Any Republican” that has existed since the 1964 California Republican Gubernatorial Primary when Ronald Reagan was accused by a fellow Republican candidate of having been a “member of several communist front organizations.”

Today, it is not unusual for Republicans who work across the aisle to be called, “RINO’s,” an acronym for “Republicans In Name Only” and Democrats are often called “DINO’s.” However, it is not unusual for members of one party to work with another. In fact, during the hard fought 2017 Oklahoma legislative session, the Democratic House Caucus had one goal and that was to increase state revenue for education and state services that had endured a decade of cuts.

The most obvious source of revenue was to increase the Gross Production Tax on oil and gas. Oklahoma’s rate on horizontal wells at that time was effectively in the 2% range while the rest of the nation ranged from 7 to 12%. With only 26 members in a 101 member body, there was not much that the Democrats could do until Democratic leadership recognized a split in the Republican caucus where one group did not want to increase the GPT at all and the other group had bought into the oil and gas industries plan to cap GPT at 3%.

Democrats took advantage of the GOP schism, siding with a faction of the GOP that refused to increase GPT to the paltry level sought by oil and gas and the state chamber. Then, when negotiations yielded not 3, not 4 but a GPT increase to 5%, Democrats unanimously shifted their votes to complete a bi-partisan bill that provided sufficient revenue to make education funding that year and this year much easier. Frustratingly when the dust cleared, the oil and gas industry chastised Republican legislators for caving to the demands of Democrats and Democratic Legislators caught flak from constituents for not getting the GPT set at 10% or at least the national average.

Sometimes, in the end, it is tough to tell who your enemies are and who your friends are. Thank you for allowing me to serve Oklahoma. For questions or comments call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

What Will Happen To Us?

What Will Happen To Us? - July 24, 2016

State Representative David Perryman

While earning my teaching degree from Oklahoma State, one class assignment studied theories of political systems and examined the practical application of those systems. One focus of our study was the old Soviet Union.

For a number of reasons, the inefficiency of the communist system in the U.S.S.R. resulted in the production of inferior goods and mass shortages. The system lacked the ability to change to address the needs of the soviet people.

I vividly recall the readings and lectures illustrating how the system affected citizens with hopelessness, widespread despair and rampant alcoholism among the soviet people.

Vodka was referred to as the “opium of the masses.” Some commentaries related that excessive alcohol consumption was tolerated and even encouraged because of the revenue that it provided for the government. In the 1970’s the sale of alcohol provided one-third of all revenues received by the soviet government.

Alcohol consumption more than doubled between 1955 and 1979 to 15.2 liters per person and a 2000 article by freelance writer Patricia Critchlow stated that nearly 1 out of every 7 soviet citizens was an alcoholic. By 2013, according to an “Atlantic Magazine” article, the World Health Organization released statistics showing that one of every five male deaths in the Russian Federation was due to alcohol-related causes.

Clearly, in that oppressive political system, opportunity for a better future was not readily apparent and succumbing to the temptation to self-medicate was safer than a revolution.

When I was in college, tuition was affordable, family and social safety nets existed and the risks associated with ventures seemed surmountable. Opportunities were plentiful and wrong choices did not rob us of our worth. Today, our youth do not feel that fortunate. Today, fewer parents are financially or emotionally able to provide their children with the safety nets that we relied upon and a single bad choice often has lifelong devastating effects.

Today, many perceive that America is not responsive to the needs of its citizens. Because they fail to see opportunity, they believe that our country that is not responsive to their needs.

Partisan politics and gridlock are impediments to a government that is responsive to the people. Money in politics has mushroomed and special interest groups now control the dissemination of information.

Hatred and fear robs of our common goal. People of all races are hurting.

Our nation is designed to use the ballot box as a means of revolution. Even when cynicism and despair hinders the ability of citizens to have faith in the rule of law and the virtue of a representative democracy, our system of government must prevail.

We are approaching a critical crossroad and disenfranchised citizens who fail to recognize opportunity or fail to see a future in the status quo are speaking loudly on many fronts.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

He also said, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But... the Good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

Today, our Country must ask, “If we do not stop to help, what will happen to US?”

Questions and comments are welcome. David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.