The Sooner State’s Northern Tier

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June 14, 2022, Carthage, MO- “Hugs” helped me get up this morning, and we both got friend John out the door, a bit earlier than might otherwise have been the case. No worries, as I used all the time given me, going across Oklahoma’s northern tier and J had time to do what he needed to do for his own health and well-being.

We started as we usually do, on such visits, with a breakfast sandwich from a gas station deli and coffee at Da Vinci, Enid’s premier coffee house chain. After conversation with John and one of his friends, it was time to head east again. This time, I stayed on Route 60, eastbound, as far as the turnoff to Neosho, MO, which was a bit further south than I wanted to go today.

Passing through towns like Pond Creek, Lamont, Tonkawa, Ponca City, Pawhuska, Bartlesville, Nowato and Vinita, I was struck by the increasing greenery-even though I have been through this area dozens of times. The difference today was that there was no Turnpike involved. I was able to enjoy the back side of the northern tier.

Ponca City has preserved the properties associated with Oklahoma’s tenth governor, Ernest Whitworth Marland, who was also a philanthropist, having made a fortune in the oil industry, but seeing no point in hoarding the money. His view of wealth was to spend it “like water on my people and my town (Ponca City).” The mansion and estate he shared with his gracious and socially passionate wife, Lydie, are now managed by Ponca City.

Here are some scenes of the mansion and grounds. The Marlands’ adopted son, George, is depicted here, greeting guests as they walk in from the parking lot.

‘Abdu’l-Baha identified philanthropy as the fourth means to spiritual progress. Mr. Marland’s record of contributing, both to the welfare of his employees and to the well-being of Oklahoma’s people, is a worthy counterweight to the seeming largesse he expended on his family and himself. He seemed to have transcended the distrust for the common man that was vocalized by his mentor, Andrew Carnegie, and he actively called for “bringing the New Deal to Oklahoma. In the wake of the Dust Bowl calamity, the state needed those programs, perhaps even more than many places in the coastal regions.

Wealth is not a negative attribute, when it is shared responsibly.

Fog Clears

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October 29, 2021- Ninety-two years ago today, the Universe reacted to nearly a decade of excess and careless handling of finances, across many strata of society. Today, there was a modest amount of give and take, in the financial markets and they ended the month of October on a mildly upbeat note.

Ninety years ago, with a year left before the Presidential Election of 1932, what was left of the nation’s business elite was blaming the entire mess on “shiftless workers”, who “expect handouts”. Today, there is little changed, in that regard. The difference is that the philosophical heirs of that elite are blaming Unemployment Compensation and Social Security, as well as “lazy workers”, for what is largely a supply chain jam-up, caused by a variety of factors-only a few of which are independently verifiable. Much remains in the realm of speculation, and thus is beyond the purview of this web log.

Eighty-nine years ago, a president who was in over his head was replaced by a man who had been governor of the most populous state in the Union and who had a fair amount of experience in the financial markets. It was a gargantuan task that greeted that successor, and it took him the better part of three terms in office to promulgate a recovery. Today, we are a nation in gradual recovery from a worldwide disease pandemic, a year after another president who struggled was replaced-by a somewhat more seasoned public official-who is also struggling.

The difference between then and now is that we are faced with the ambiguity that comes from too much contradictory and rapidly flowing information. Most people are at their worst, when faced with ambiguity. No one likes to be wrong, so shades of gray flummox us. Good guys aren’t supposed to wear black hats. Villains are supposed to lack virtue. The fog is supposed to clear by Noon.

When the fog does clear, though, we see that there are all manner of contradictions-and no one gets off scot-free. The physical disease will lose its pandemic status, probably in less than a year. The disease of ego gratification will take longer to curb-and will entail some loud voices, coming from ungainly personages-on both sides of the aisle, being rendered silent-by the power of the voting booth. We will, each and all, be left with the challenge of learning to listen to those who see things differently than we.

It would be well to resume, or at least start, that process now.