Letters on Oklahoma's surplus, driver's licenses, state song, climate change

Oklahoma's big surplus could alleviate suffering

Oklahoma ranks at or near the bottom on education spending per child, percentage of insured people, health care outcomes and affordable housing, and it ranks at the top for poverty, teenage pregnancy and food insecurity.

The surplus that the governor is playing politics with could be used to alleviate a lot of suffering. A good start would be to get rid of the tax on food. The last thing this state needs is a tax cut.

— Maureen Harvey, Choctaw

Is this really a driver's license 'service?'

In reference to the recent "Service Oklahoma" drivers license, I was recalling 30 years ago when a retired trooper came to our small northwestern Oklahoma town to give driver's tests and issue a driver's license or permit. One man. One car. One fuel bill. One chance of hitting a deer.

I recently took a young man to get his driver's license. We have a lot of nonlicensed drivers who have no way to take a day off of work, get up at 4 a.m. to get in line in hopes of being "served." They keep getting $619 tickets for no license. I took this man to get his license, leaving at 5 a.m. When we got there, he passed his written, then we were informed to go home and get online to "Service Oklahoma" and get an appointment for two months later to take the driving test. In the meantime, he is not able to do his job. It requires driving.

Is this really what the system intends to be for the taxpayers of Oklahoma? Just for your information, $619 is almost two weeks' pay. After taxes. Taxes we pay for service. Let's get this fixed. Please.

— George Eischen, Fairview

Proud 'Oklahoma!' is state song; grateful to George Nigh

I very much enjoyed your article about the 80th anniversary of the musical Oklahoma! It was 78 years ago that I got to see the musical about my home state along with my parents at the Saint James Theatre. It was the summer of 1945 that my parents and I took a road trip from Tulsa to New York City to visit our King relatives. It was a special memory for me as an 11-year-old boy. I am 89 now, soon to be 90. I remember Celeste Holm playing Ado Annie. The rest of the cast was terrific, as well. A few years later, Holm would play the role of a French nun in the 1949 movie "Come to the Stable," which is a delightful gem of a film.

That was a different time. My parents and I were dressed for the theater, as was everyone else; manners were better, as well.

When I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame in the early 1950s, I had the opportunity to visit New York and take in a few shows. It was at one of those shows that I saw Oscar Hammerstein outside the theater smoking a cigarette. I wish I had introduced myself to him and told him where I was from.

Years later, my wife and I moved from Tulsa to Claremore, the town that is the setting for the play "Green Grow the Lilacs" by Lynn Riggs, which was made into the musical "Oklahoma!"

I’m so proud to be a native Oklahoman and of our state song, and I am grateful to George Nigh for getting "Oklahoma!" recognized as the song of our state.

— T. Gavin King, Claremore

Climate movement needs you! How to get involved.

So, you are concerned about the climate crisis and are not sure what to do about it. Know that you are not alone. Also know that the climate movement needs you, it needs everyone, to do everything we can to address this crisis. Here are some ideas:

● Learn more about how our world is warming; the causes, consequences and actions that need to be taken to stop it. Start by visiting NASA’s website on climate: https://climate.nasa.gov

● Talk about it, a lot, with friends, family, neighbors, everybody and anybody.

● Get involved; join a climate group or two. Ask how you can help. You undoubtedly have the skills they need. If you have money to donate, they could benefit from that, too.

● Get political; take to the streets, contact elected officials, repeatedly, at all levels of government, and demand that they take action to address this crisis. They were elected to service the people, and there is no higher service than protecting the world we live in.

● Walk the talk; take steps to reduce your emissions. It is very gratifying.

● Pace yourself; we’re in this for the long haul. Have Hope.

— Ron Sadler, Stillwater

Climate concerns not just for East, West Coast elites

This article about the march in New York City calling for moving away from fossil fuels should speak to Oklahomans, too. Yes, the march was in New York, but there were people there from Texas, or Florida, or from the West Coast where I am. Every place has its own version of what climate change is causing.

For Oklahomans, like my friend who lives in Norman, it means drier soils, reduced river flows and more extreme rainfalls with flooding. It has already driven the drilling of nearly 3,000 water wells in just four Oklahoma counties starting in the 1960s and 1970s, with the water levels in the Ogallala aquifer now having dropped 70 feet in Texas County.

This calls for nonpartisan cooperation to respond to this threat with war-like power. It is not just East and West coast elites who should become climate activists. Find out how climate change will impact your passion. For example, your favorite birds at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve may no longer survive there. This is serious, and you should seriously consider advocating for reducing emissions, electrification, urban and rural forest management or permit reform, as just a few examples.

— Gary Stewart, Laguna Beach, California

Congress, did you hear about the climate march?

Congress member Stephanie Bice may not have heard about the climate march in New York this past Sunday. I’ve heard that some 70,000 people marched, with banners, signs, children and dogs.

Rep. Bice and her party have not supported efforts to reduce emissions of CO2, the primary element warming the atmosphere. Most scientists agree that emissions of “greenhouse gases” cause global warming, and are still increasing.

Civilization and all future generations are at risk if this is not resolved. It’s time for Congress to support serious actions on climate change.

— Nathaniel Batchelder, Oklahoma City

Raising awareness about railroad safety

Last year Oklahoma ranked 18th in the United States for the number of injuries and collisions at highway-rail crossings. Across America, a person or vehicle is struck by a train every three hours. These are powerful statistics to reflect on this week as we mark Rail Safety Week, a national event to raise awareness about safety near railroad tracks.

Education makes a difference here, led by groups like Operation Lifesaver (and its Oklahoma chapter). Their efforts have led to an 83% reduction in crossing collisions over the last several decades.

The best way to stay safe is by strictly obeying crossing warnings and gates. But the safest crossing is one that does not exist, and the Rail Crossing Elimination grant program seeks to both close and enhance crossings across the country. It just funded 63 projects across 32 states in its initial year, the goal being to improve safety, as well as the mobility of people and goods.

Railroads are vital to Oklahoma’s way of life, moving people and goods efficiently while cutting down on congestion and air pollution. Together, through both education and action, we can prevent avoidable tragedies on Oklahoma rails.

— Brett Sebastian, Norman

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Letters: On use of Oklahoma surplus, driver's licenses, climate