NORMAN — Excessive government regulations, heavy taxation and a litigious culture make for a hostile business environment that companies will avoid, former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts told a Norman Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience Tuesday.
“We cannot allow ‘profit’ to be a bad word. The bigger, the worse,” he said. “You should never go into business to create a job. You should go into business to create a profit. If you create a profit, the jobs will follow.”
He said excessive regulation and taxes are job killers and that the nation’s unemployment rate was likely closer to 9 percent than 7 percent, since so many Americans have dropped out of the job hunt.
Watts, a former University of Oklahoma quarterback and an ordained minister who represented the state’s Fourth Congressional District from 1995 to 2003, told the nearly 150 chamber members and guests that he enjoys private life and time with his children and grandchildren.
He is back in Oklahoma often to see his son play football at Tulsa University. He’ll attend homecoming at Eufaula High School this week.
Of the Sooners’ recent game against Tulsa, Watts said, “It was fun to watch, but it was difficult to watch.”
In 1990, he was elected as an Oklahoma corporation commissioner and was the first African American elected to statewide office in Oklahoma. The 55-year-old Oklahoman now works as a lobbyist and business consultant.
He said Norman played a significant role in his personal life and his campaigns.
“I’m not sure I’m qualified to run for office now because you have to have all the answers on the first day, and I will be the first to admit I don’t have all the answers,” he said, adding that the nation appears angry and more divided than ever.
“We can’t be so concerned about the left wing and the right wing that we let the bird die,” Watts said.
He said he worries about Americans losing their “wow” and not appreciating how far the nation has come in culture, politics and technology. Growing up in Eufaula, he said he couldn’t swim in the public pool and had to sit in the back of the theater.
“Today, there is a black man in the White House. I disagree with him on most issues, but I think that says something about America.”