Tuesday, January 18, 2005
J.C. Watts addresses OU community
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
J.C. Watts, a former congressman from Oklahoma, addressed students, faculty, staff and community members during a lecture at Meadow Brook Theatre Jan. 17 in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
Watts questioned where he’d be today if it wasn’t for King, explaining that King gave a priceless gift to all Americans, not just African-Americans.
“As ugly as segregation was, I don’t think many Americans at the time realized how deeply it was damaging America,” Watts said, adding that he wonders what King would think about America today.
“I have to believe that Dr. King, being the man that he was, would say that insanity is doing the same old things the same old way but expecting to get different results. I think we have to be open to new models and new solutions to old problems.”
King was about civil rights, advancement and progress. He was a man who had radical thoughts about changing the American, and America should take a cue from King and use new measures to solve old problems, Watts said.
Many high school students graduate without being able to read their diplomas. Deficiencies like these cripple kids for life to the point that they aren’t able to compete in the world, said Watts, who believes the educational system should be held accountable for that and parents should have school of choice options.
“If the presidents can live in public housing and send their kids to private schools, why can’t poor people living in public housing send their kids to private schools,” Watts said.
The government, according to Watts, does not make good parents or good bankers, and people should challenge the processes.
“I think we ought to improve people, not maintain people in poverty,” he said.
People are taxed from the moment they wake up for utilities, food, clothes, furniture, even marriage and death.
“We don’t need more taxes, we need more taxpayers,” Watts said.
As an example, Watts cited the success of Starbucks and Magic Johnson in creating a non-hostile environment and putting Starbucks in Compton, Calif., where the non-hostile environment has allowed capital to flow.
Beyond that, Watts said it is important to encourage people to start businesses, as that too will create jobs and wealth, and with that comes more taxpayers.
“I think there is a role for taxes,” he said. “I just think we pay too much of them.”
There is a lot of talk in America about health care. Watts suggested giving tax incentives to Americans who can meet certain health recommendations as a form of preventative medicine. It will offset the cost of medical care for corrective measures later in the person’s life when they are receiving benefits from the government.
Watts said competition is a good thing; the government just needs to implement it. As consumers, people have choices in airlines and fast food, but the government doesn’t give choices when it comes to education, social security or prescription drug coverage.
America is still trying to fix problems using methods that are proven not to work, and something has to be done, Watts said.
“We can’t continue using the old, tired models of the past,” Watts said. “If we continue using old, tired models, we will destroy America.”