Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Little Socialism is Good for America

Socialism has gotten a bad rap in the U.S. over the last 60 years, so much so that we don’t even recognize how much socialism we rely on every day. Did you drive to work or ride a bus? Did you get your mail? Do you have a borrowed library book on the table or perhaps download one to your mobile device? If so, you’ve taken advantage of socialism.

If there’s anyone in your family over 65 there’s a good chance that the reason that the only reason they have affordable health insurance is that there have enrolled in Medicare, the socialist insurance organization. If you’ve got a family member who is over 67 it’s sure thing that at least part of their income is from Social Security.

Cold War propaganda against the Soviet Union and Cuba, both totalitarian communist countries, has many Americans convinced socialism is evil. Communism is an extreme version of socialism just like oligarchy is an extreme version free market economics. Socialism is an economic system that thrives in democratic republics like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The common thread found between all countries with varying degrees of socialism is that absolutely necessary services are provided for the good of the community rather than expecting a profit. Many of these services couldn’t be provided at a reasonable price by a private company. Can you imagine the cost to mail a letter to a rancher in Loving County population 82?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

EPA Ruling Means More Jobs for Texans

In this week’s version of Sen. Cornyn’s weekly email to constituents he makes some spurious claims about Pres. Obama’s new EPA regulations and energy costs; especially how they will affect Texans. If anything the new regulations will hasten the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation which will improve the Texas job outlook.

For most of this year natural gas prices have been falling and drilling activity in the Eagle Ford shale and the Barnett shale areas have dropped precipitously. The new EPA regulations on power plant emissions will encourage electric power companies to switch to natural gas thereby increasing demand for it and hence promoting drilling in Texas again. Drilling brings jobs and good paying ones at that.

An additional benefit is that wind and solar generation will also be encouraged and they produce more high paying jobs than coal does and Texas is a prime location for both. So why is Sen. Cornyn knocking the EPA regulations? Could it be that the investors who own those old dirty coal plants that will be shuttered stand to lose out on further profits? Could it be his campaign contributors from the coal industry aren’t happy?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Campbell wants to give discounts to wealthy parents

State Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) his introduced a bill she claims is aimed at addressing inadequate funding of public education in Texas by allowing state funds to pay $3,500 in tuition to private schools. One of the several problems with this concept, as documented in a study of a similar program in Minnesota, is that children from families are financially unable to take advantage of such a program even though they are the students most likely to attend poor performing schools. Low performing schools and districts are usually in low income areas where there isn’t a sufficient tax base to adequately fund public education needs. So parents are usually too poor to pay the difference between the state funds and the annual $10,000 to $25,000 tuition private schools charge.

This bill is really about providing a discount to parents already wealthy enough to send their children to private schools. Once enough better off parents are sending their children to private schools they may no longer care about the quality of public education or be willing to pay the necessary taxes to fund it.

All Campbell’s bill really does is broaden the gulf between the haves and the have nots.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Religious Freedom Day - Letter to the Editor

The Texas legislature will soon be in session and several ostensible “religious freedom” bills have already been submitted including one from Senator Donna Campbell (SD 25). Unfortunately neither Campbell nor her colleagues seem to understand the intent of our constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. January 16 is Religious Freedom Day commemorating the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 and an opportunity to remind her and others what “religious freedom” really means.

At the time of the Revolution religious freedom was not guaranteed by any government then existent. Most of the colonies had officially established religions and citizens were expected to attend that church and pay taxes supporting that church.

Before the U.S. Constitution was drafted, future presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison worked to free Virginia from its official state church, the Anglican Church. Jefferson wrote the bill and Madison pushed its passage as a member of the state legislature.

Shortly after the bills passage Madison went to Philadelphia and became the primary author of the U.S Constitution and the First Amendment. During the lengthy debates between delegates to the constitutional convention several attempts were made to include statements claiming the United States to be a Christian nation but they were soundly rebuffed each time.

There only two mentions of religion in our constitution, both in the negative. Article VI prohibits a religious test in order to hold public office and the First Amendment bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our tax dollars shouldn't subsidize Walmart profits

On Black Friday, for the third year in a row, demonstrators gathered at Walmart’s across the nation; but this year was different because for the first time there were demonstrators at the Schertz store as well as 1500 other locations. The local demonstrators pointed out that Walmart, like too many other large and profitable companies, receives subsidies from our tax dollars because they pay the staff so poorly that many of their families qualify for and receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps. Many also qualify for Medicaid and other taxpayer financed assistance.

Forbes magazine reports that Walmart accounts for $6.2 billion in such subsidies every year. Raising minimum wage to at least the poverty line would significantly reduce the $400,000 per year subsidy that an average Walmart location gets from us, the taxpayers.

In addition demonstrators called for Walmart to make more positions full time so that more employees would qualify for company health insurance benefits. Another issue discussed was unpredictable and erratic scheduling that makes it difficult to take care of family needs like doctor appointments and meetings at school.

Our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when explaining his support for the original minimum wage bill he signed into law said: “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” It’s long past time that our legislators end this corporate welfare.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cornyn Votes Against the Interests of the American People - A Letter to the Editor

Last Thursday Sen. John Cornyn (R) was one of 42 U.S. Senators who voted to prevent the people of the United States from even having the chance vote on restricting campaign donations that currently influence our elected officials. He is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

The American people overwhelmingly support action to limit the amount of money that corporations, unions and other organizations can spend on elections. Public support is also bipartisan as shown a 2010 Peter Hart poll 68% of Republicans, 82% of independents, and 87% of Democrats support such an amendment. A 2012 Associated Press poll showed that 81% of Republicans, 78% of independents, and 85% of Democrats want to limit corporate, union, and other outside spending.

If John Cornyn refuses to act in the interests of the people he needs to be fired. Dr. David Alameel would make a fine replacement.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Republicans again found to unconstitutionally under fund public education, it's time to do better

Once again the system Texas uses to fund public schools was found to violate the state's constitution by not providing enough money to school districts and failing to distribute it fairly. The situation is so bad even the conservative SCUC ISD Board of Trustees approved suing the state over the unjust funding formula.

What’s worse is that the same judge, John Dietz, found the system unconstitutional well before the last legislative session was over and yet state our Representative John Kuempel and state Senator Donna Campbell voted for it anyway.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott who as Attorney General is defending the state has again lost in court. Senators Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, now running for governor and lieutenant governor, both worked hard to overcome resistance to adequately funding public education in the legislature.

On November 4th we’ll elect our state leaders, I’ll be voting for people who have shown they believe in public education and are willing to work hard to invest in our kids futures. I hope you will too.