And not just any Red State, but the "reddest of the red" states, according to the latest election results and bragging of our governor.
There are good things about living in Oklahoma. A lot of good things.
The weather here is reasonably pleasant most of the year. When bad things happen, total strangers will be along to help you, and they'll accept a Coke (usually Dr. Pepper) as payment, but not money. They'll talk to you in lines, and show you pictures of their grandbabies or dogs or cats. They'll smile at you and wish you a good day in the elevator. They'll drop the pennies you're short of at the grocery store on the checkout lane for you so you don't have to give up one of your purchases. They wave you ahead in traffic. They'll welcome you into their family picnic if you look lonely. Prices are reasonable (well, they have to be, Oklahoma has one of the lowest median income levels in the country - we're all poor people, even our rich people are poor in comparison to the rich of other states). On the rare occasions when we get snow, you'll wake up to find your drive's been shoveled and your car cleared and a smiley face note left on your windshield.
There are a lot of little things that are really good about living in Oklahoma.
But along with those good things, we also have a lot of bad things. I know a lot of people who are working hard to change these things, but some days, like this whole week so far, it seems overwhelmingly impossible.
One of the most sickening things I saw this week was our state governor prancing around on TV, crowing about how red, red, red Oklahoma was. My State Representative was thrilled about how red Oklahoma was because that meant it would be easier to attack gays, the poor, the non-whites and those of all those weird religions like Judaism, and Muslim, and Methodist, and Southern Nazarene because they weren't good ol' Southern Baptist, the One True Right and Only Religion in the whole wide world and all our laws should be based on what her preacher says is good because he is the Word. All those gays, poors, other colored people, and heathens were all just ruining Oklahoma with their fabulousness, poverty, range of fleshy colors and outre beliefs. I know Sally Kern hates everyone who is not exactly like her, and she represents the worst of Oklahoma.
And apparently she's joined by others in our legislature - including our governor - who think they only have to govern their friends and those of like mind - and suppress all the rest of us because we aren't really their constituents. Why, we aren't even really American, so why should they bother with us?
One of the trivial things I noticed in particular was local gasoline prices. Driving to and from work, depending on the route I take (they all work out to around 10 miles, and I have half a dozen options), I pass about 12 gasoline stations. On Tuesday morning as I drove to work, the average gas price was $2.89 a gallon. The spread was between $2.81 and $2.98 a gallon. On my drive home after the polls closed and word was already out that Obama had won, those same gas stations had prices that ranged from $3.39 to $3.79 a gallon.
The only thing that happened was that I lived in a red state that was unhappy that Obama won.
It's not as much of a price gouge as 9/11, when prices skyrocketed from $2.79 a gallon to over $6.00 a gallon. The reason is because our then-governor had a law passed that limited price gouging and inflicted strong penalties on businesses that gouged. That limited the maximum amount they could charge without evidence of an actual wholesale price increase.
Almost every service station raised their prices that maximum allowable amount for no other reason than that their candidate lost.
That's another bad side to Oklahoma - our retailers think nothing of gouging their customers in political protest. It's kind of the opposite of a boycott, I think.
Is there a word that is the business equivalent of boycott, where the business gouges the customer in protest of what the business thinks the customer is doing? It would be a synonym, not an antonym, but is specifically pricing practices meant to punish the customers, just as a lack of purchasing is meant to punish a business.
That's what many of our service stations are doing.
I waited a few days to see if it was a justified price spike, and did some research to see if I could find a legitimate root cause of the hike in prices. Those service stations where I knew the owners were Democrats or Independents, the price remained low, but the stations that were owned by Republicans or run by someone I knew to be Republican, the prices spiked a dollar a gallon when the polls closed.
Today, I saw the first of those stations lowering their prices, some of them nearly a dollar down this morning so I'm pretty sure it was the election that caused the spike, not wholesale prices. When it's wholesale costs that cause a spike, the downward trend in pricing is much slower. When it's gouging, the spikes are dramatic in both directions - up and then back down. It's more obvious in the service stations because you can see their prices as you drive by. It's a visual reminder that gasoline prices are not tied to the commodities market, but to politics.
I really hate that about Oklahoma.