A liberal billionaire tried to rule the lives of Oklahomans

This month marks an important anniversary for those concerned about the ability of Oklahomans to live their lives free from unnecessary government intrusion. Two years ago this month, a liberal billionaire wanted the state government to impose sweeping restrictions on the right of working-class Oklahomans to earn a living and care for their families.

On March 22, 2020, Paycom CEO Chad Richison released a public letter calling on Governor Kevin Stitt to order the temporary closure of a range of businesses, “which includes, but is not limited to, hairdressing, nail salons, spas and massages. lounges.

He also endorsed a requirement for grocery stores to provide “drive-thru pickup or delivery for all customers” and a requirement for undefined “critical” supply chain businesses to coordinate “with the government. of State”.

Richison also called on the state government to mandate how “food preparation and other critical parts of the supply chain” are handled according to “newly established uniform standards to prevent transmission of the virus.”

He urged state government officials to “establish and implement best practices for medical care providers to use during this outbreak.”

Richison also called for so-called “elective surgeries” to be postponed and endorsed the government collecting “all essential medical supplies” normally used for such surgeries or by “medical spas and other medical organizations.”

And Richison called for a ban on “all non-essential travel” from Oklahoma airports.

Fortunately for Oklahomans, Richison’s recommendations were largely dropped in Docket 13. Oklahoma suffered a brief shutdown in response to COVID-19, and the negative consequences are still being felt today, but things would have been much, much worse under the regime proposed by Richison. .

It appears that Richison’s proposals were based on an unfounded belief in the supremacy of central planning and an unfounded distrust of the average citizen.

But data collected since 2020 shows that hairstylists targeted by Richison were not a major contributor to the spread of COVID. However, these working-class individuals – many of whom are women and minorities – would have faced potential economic devastation under Richison’s plan.

His call for requiring a presumably substantial share of businesses to coordinate with the state government would undoubtedly have crippled Oklahoma businesses with red tape. This would have resulted in job losses and greater hardship.

And forcing medical providers to cater to the whims of government bureaucrats would have reduced the quality of health care and likely hampered effective COVID treatments.

Instead, Governor Stitt repeatedly announced that he trusted Oklahomans to make informed decisions for themselves. We now know that this approach works. COVID has impacted many people in Oklahoma, but trends in the virus surge and decline in Oklahoma have mirrored patterns in states across the country, including those that have adopted command policies and Richison-style control panel. Stitt’s approach maximized the freedom of citizens and allowed families to continue earning a living when their counterparts in other states did not enjoy that same freedom.

For Oklahomans, this two-year anniversary is a time to look back and reevaluate how the state has handled its response to the pandemic. In doing so, most Oklahomans will be grateful that the businessman in the governor’s office is Kevin Stitt, not Chad Richison.

Jonathan Small is chairman of the Oklahoma Public Affairs Council. Ryan Haynie is the Criminal Justice Reform Officer for the Oklahoma Public Affairs Council.

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