Oklahoma Voters Overwhelmingly
Say “NO” to Sharia Law
The “Power of the Gavel” changes in Washington
A Post-Election Analysis by Guy Rodgers,
Executive Director, ACT! for America
Largely unnoticed amid last night’s story of the Republicans winning back the U.S. House and making significant gains in the Senate was the Oklahoma vote on State Question 755.
SQ 755 was a state constitutional amendment that will prohibit Oklahoma courts from using sharia law in deciding cases. It passed overwhelmingly last night with 70% support!
But this outcome was by no means a foregone conclusion. On October 7th, a poll was released with these results on SQ 755: 45% in favor, 25% opposed, 30% undecided.
Two major newspapers editorialized against it. The CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) affiliate in Oklahoma spoke out repeatedly against it in the media with its shop-worn “Islamophobia” propaganda.
We here at ACT! for America surmised that the high undecided percentage reflected voter misunderstanding of the issue AND confusion as to which way to vote on the initiative. And when voters are confused on a ballot initiative like this, they tend to either not vote on it or vote against it.
On October 18th ACT! for America launched a two-week statewide radio ad in support of SQ 755. Then, on October 21st, 26th, and November 1st we dropped a total of 600,000 automated calls to Oklahoma voters with a message urging support of SQ 755 from James Woolsey, former director of the CIA.
Additionally, we placed an editorial in one of the state’s major newspapers, sent multiple emails to our members, and conducted several radio and print media interviews.
The 70% support demonstrates that our efforts to educate the voters and clear up any confusion were immensely successful.
This 70% victory was significant because this was the first time voters had a chance to vote in a statewide election on the issue of sharia law. The overwhelming margin sends an unequivocal message to Islamic organizations and Muslims, such as Ground Zero Mosque Imam Rauf, who advocate sharia law for America—sharia law is not welcome here!
As for the other election results, from the ACT! for America perspective the most important consequence is that “the power of the gavel” will switch in the U.S. House of Representatives.
By this I mean key committees, such as the Homeland Security Committee, will likely be chaired by Members of Congress who truly understand the threat radical Islam poses to our national security and who will have a different list of priorities regarding what bills to consider and hearings to hold.
The legislative calendar, controlled by the Speaker of the House, will also reflect different priorities regarding what bills to bring to a vote before the full House.
This is a MAJOR step forward in our legislative efforts on Capitol Hill. Bills we supported this year that didn’t even get a committee hearing will receive the serious and thoughtful consideration they deserve. Prospects for House passage during the next two years of some of our legislative priorities have improved dramatically as a result of last night’s election results.
Without question, most voters were making their decisions based on concerns about the economy, jobs, federal spending and ballooning deficits, and what became known as “ObamaCare.”
But as exits polls I saw revealed, voter concerns about national security were lurking just beneath the surface. Americans are aware of the increase in homegrown jihadism and there is a growing consciousness about the threat of sharia law.
These election results not only bode well for progress in the Congress on our legislative agenda, they also bode well for increased pressure on the Obama administration to adjust the way it is defining and addressing the threat of radical Islam.
Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.
"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."
In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.
"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."
Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.
In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.
Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.
"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."
The policies were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which exempted industries from antitrust prosecution if they agreed to enter into collective bargaining agreements that significantly raised wages. Because protection from antitrust prosecution all but ensured higher prices for goods and services, a wide range of industries took the bait, Cole and Ohanian found. By 1934 more than 500 industries, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of private, non-agricultural employment, had entered into the collective bargaining agreements called for under NIRA.
Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.
Roosevelt's role in lifting the nation out of the Great Depression has been so revered that Time magazine readers cited it in 1999 when naming him the 20th century's second-most influential figure.
"This is exciting and valuable research," said Robert E. Lucas Jr., the 1995 Nobel Laureate in economics, and the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. "The prevention and cure of depressions is a central mission of macroeconomics, and if we can't understand what happened in the 1930s, how can we be sure it won't happen again?"
NIRA's role in prolonging the Depression has not been more closely scrutinized because the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional within two years of its passage.
"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."
Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years.
The number of antitrust cases brought by the Department of Justice fell from an average of 12.5 cases per year during the 1920s to an average of 6.5 cases per year from 1935 to 1938, the scholars found. Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate.
NIRA's labor provisions, meanwhile, were strengthened in the National Relations Act, signed into law in 1935. As union membership doubled, so did labor's bargaining power, rising from 14 million strike days in 1936 to about 28 million in 1937. By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high. By comparison, in May 2003, the unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was the highest in nine years.
Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.
"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."