A SAD HEART IN A PERSONAL JET
Wayne E. Copeland, Jr., is a born entrepreneur who in the early 1980s found his best investment. Most of the time he has been rich--although the late 1980s were not to be good to him. In 1981 he was wealthy enough to fly a personal jet from his home in Norman, Oklahoma, to distant airports to meet with writers on economics and tell his story. I got the treatment one night--a ride in the yellow-and-blue-striped Sabre Liner from Orlando to ClearU+00A water, Florida; Milton Friedman was next on the schedule. Wayne Copeland was that rich; rich enough to run a yellow-and-blue taxi for Milton Friedman. But his story--being a distinctly American tale of the 1970s and early-1980s economy--is not altogether a success story, and his "best investment" was not exactly what one would expect from a then thirty-nine-year-old entrepreneur with an ambition to change sharply the architectural and intellectual horizons of his city, now renowned chiefly as the home of the University of Oklahoma football team. Wayne Copeland devoted his "best investment" to the politics of transforming the U.S. tax structure, with its nominally high rates riddled with loopholes, and with its endless traps and complexities, into a simple flat-rate system. In part, he succeeded, and learned the pains of Pyrrhus amid Oklahoma's crash of oil and S&Ls.
Like so many business venturers, he was thrust into the role as a small boy when his father--another compulsive entrepreneur--left the family in Oklahoma to seek his fortune in California. Wayne Junior found himself assuming the male role in the family. Also like many other entrepreneurs from broken homes,