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Ramblin’ Joe: Smart Dogs, Good Kids, and politics

Bison Blinds

by Joe Baxter

Happy Wednesday, FaceKids. Spring is springing forth, as we speak. Warm, windy, humid … tornadoes. No problem. We might not love it, but we know it well. It’s a small price to pay for living in the 47th best state I’m the country! LOL – Hey, easy, I’m just kidding.

I love Oklahoma, and I have red dirt in my veins. I’m a fourth-generation Oklahoman. I KNOW Oklahoma’s history, and I know this place and its people. I have the birthright as an Okie and as a taxpayer to say anything I want about it. I DON’T like the direction our state government has taken over the last few years, but it’s my right to not respectfully disagree, right? I do NOT just blindly accept Bad Changes. I WILL speak up. Oklahoma has always been an affordable, easy place to live and work. What is my favorite thing about the Sooner State? THE PEOPLE! We know how to smile at strangers, and stop and pass the time of day with friends. We help each other out. We know our towns and cities. We love to go places, see things, fish, hunt, play sports, watch sports, cook amazing meals, raise smart dogs and good kids (or is it smart kids and good dogs?)

We love our music, our history, and our country. We are one of the FEW states in the nation where everyone knows the State Song! Alas, the banks and oil companies are large and in charge down on Lincoln these days. There are lots of signs and indicators. Do not kid yourself. Not just griping. I know what we need to do as a state, and I know that it’s just not being done very well. Our elected government is NOT taking very good care of its citizens. It’s just bad upper management and careless voters, mostly. Elected officials these days seem to be much more concerned about their campaign donors’ needs than the needs of those they were elected to represent. (Not ALL of them. Just most.) The reason Oklahoma continues to be “OK” is that there are wonderful folks in every state office and every state shop who work HARD to make sure things keep running, but as we all (should) know, their funding keeps going away because that’s how the party-currently-in-power does things. There are those who think that they can hire private companies to take the place of inherently governmental functions. I’ve had tons of experience with this on the federal level. Privatization never works. Hasn’t worked, yet, on most levels, and it never will, because private companies don’t work FOR US, they work for their shareholders. WE pay for it, and it’s not as good as it used to be when WE ran it. We get stuck with inflated costs, fewer services, shoddy low-bid work, higher taxes, and trash along the roads.

As citizens, our job is to keep the Capitol Crew honest. Have you talked to YOUR state representative lately? Do you know who they are? Mine won’t answer my e-mails. There, my friends is The Problem. They don’t really care about anything except that campaign $$$. If they aren’t accountable to us, then they aren’t accountable to anyone. We KNOW what needs to be done. It’s the same things our state government has been doing since 1907. We’re slipping. These days, there are LOTS of things we can do better. We can take better care of the elderly, the poor, and the sick. We can keep our state parks and DHS and DEQ state offices open, up and running strong. We can support public education, with a lot more funding and a lot less whining from parents who never attended a PTA meeting, but who care more about politics and hot-button vote-gitter issues than they do actual education and support of their childrens’ schools.

We can protect the air and the water. We can fix the roads, and pick up the trash. Hey, trashy ditches? That’s almost an entirely other subject for another column, but I’ll address it here. I have NEVER in my life seen more trash covering the landscape. It covers the roads, streets, and parking lots. It literally FILLS the ditches. It’s getting worse and worse. When did we stop picking up our trash from the roadsides? When did cities stop sweeping the streets? When did we stop keeping our own businesses and properties clean? It’s awful out there. It’s ugly, and it’s not “normal” and it’s certainly not acceptable. Get those inmates out of the local and county jails and have them clean the roadsides, It’s NOT “cruel and unusual punishment” to expect WORK out of people doing jail time, but ONLY if they WANT to work, right? LOL!

Shoot, if ol’ Joe was locked down, he’d be first in line to work the trash crew. Air, exercise, and sunshine would be vastly preferable to sitting in a cell. It’s trashy out there, Okies. I don’t like seeing it when I drive down the road. I appreciate and respect the good folks whose organizations “adopt” a highway. Booster clubs, churches, businesses, ranches and farms, and private citizens do what is necessary. They get out there and clean their stretch of road, but whose actual JOB is it to keep things clean? Simple. Whose name is on that check you write every April? It ain’t the Kiwanis Club. It’s not the Girl Scouts or the Unitarians. It’s the State Of Oklahoma, kids, and the types of people we keep insisting on electing, over and over and over, need to PICK UP THEIR GAME (pun intended). WE are their employers, and just between us ol’ Route 66 chickens, if I was the actual Boss, I’d fire the lot of ‘em and start over, because the last few groups we’ve had down there at the Capitol have NOT done their J-O-B, and as far as I can tell, they aren’t showing any signs of improvement. I can tell by the trash in the ditches.

Didja get all that? Hey! Speaking of roadways! The most famous road in the state is Route 66, and one of the most famous landmarks on the Route is The Arcadia Round Barn! The Barn was restored over the space of a few years and reopened in April of 1992. The Thirtieth Reopening Anniversary celebration is scheduled for Sunday, April 10, from 10 am to 5 pm. There will be special guests, music all day, a free hot dog feed, maybe some old cars & trucks. There will be golf cart shuttles so older and less physically capable folks (like me!) don’t have to park down the road and hike in. We expect a pretty good crowd. I will devote next week’s scribblings to further details and maybe do a little Round Barn history.

The Arcadia Farmers Market is firing up! Those folks have done an awesome job getting the market up & going. It’s become very popular and is quite The Deal. A bit of news; my ORG (Old Retired Guy) Round Barn house band, “The Round Barn Ramblers,” might be moving our regular Saturday Morning Music Sessions down to the Farmers Market during the summer season. It can be a little warm to play in the Barn, so we prefer a little shade and some breeze. Come catch the Ramblers! Stay tuned!

Looking forward to going crappie fishing this Friday with my friend, Mike Kindell. Mike has been guiding and I am going to support his business and maybe catch a few eatin’ fish. Mike is also the guitarist in Melissa Hembree’s wonderful band, “The Union,” out of beautiful Okemah, Oklahoma. The Union is scheduled for a Sunday Elm Tree Concert at the Round Barn on September 18th. Fishin’ musicians are some of my favorite people. I’ve gotten to the point in my old age where I don’t do very well launching and recovering a boat or doing all the other things you have to do to go chase fish, so I take a few guided trips each year and let someone else do the work. I’m grateful to be able to afford such things. Life is good. OK – I’ll let ya go, for now. 

THANK YOU for letting me vent a little bit about the “state of the state”. I reiterate: It’s NOT very good. We can do better, Oklahoma. It starts with the VOTE.

Love y’all – I’ll smile at you if I see ya smiling at me, and maybe even if you aren’t..… Joe 

RESIST – Being led by the nose. Question “authority”. Be careful who you listen to, WE are supposed to be the ones in charge. That’s how democracy works. Let’s act like we are aware of that.

EDITOR’S NOTE. Joe Baxter is one of my favorite people. He loves music, the Arcadia Round Barn, his wife Jean, a club sandwich from Farmstead Cafe, Route 66, and America (not in that order). A songwriter and musician, he has a way with words and can turn a phrase such that you want to listen, or in this case, read for a while. If you are one of his “face friends” on social media, you know he can get you thinking with his posts and musings. Let’s insert here that Joe’s comments might not “reflect the views of staff and management,” or they might. All views, musings, and submissions are welcome here on these digital pages where we don’t kill trees or buy ink by the barrel! Find Joe at the Arcadia Round Barn where he is the head conversation aficionado catching stories from Route 66 travelers from all over the world, and getting the band together eight days a week! Thanks Ramblin’ Joe! Y’all ENJOY! – dawn

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