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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Greg Abbott isn’t confident he can win on the issues

Most of the analysis of Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s withdrawal from the only statewide televised debate talks about it in horse race terms. The various talking heads say it’s a smart move because it removes a chance for Democratic candidate Wendy Davis to get statewide exposure and possibly close the increasingly tight gap. Unfortunately I haven’t heard any analyst talk about what the citizens of Texas lose by not getting the opportunity to hear from both candidates on the issues.

Abbott’s withdrawal is called smart by Republicans and cowardly by Democrats but it’s really a disservice to the people of Texas. We should be exposed to both candidates and their ideas on how to best service our state. We should hear from them in their own words and not some script read for a 30 second television spot.

The real problem here is Greg Abbott isn’t confident he can win on the issues so he’d rather play it safe and hide until the election is over.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lamar Smith fulfills Upton Sinclair's quote "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Congressman Lamar Smith’s August 9 letter “Funding NASA” makes the spurious claim that climate change research is part of a partisan agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. Global climate change is the single most important threat to the future of mankind.

97% of climate scientists, not to be confused with the local TV weatherman, say that humans are the cause of most of the coming global climate change and we have the power to mitigate it. If 97 aerospace engineers told you that the airliner you were about to board would likely crash on the next flight and 3 paid by the airline said it wouldn’t; who would you believe?

Most of the scientists claiming that human caused global climate change is a hoax are paid for by the very industries contributing the most to the problem. These are the same people using the same techniques to obfuscate scientific truth who stymied action on leaded gasoline and the connection between tobacco use and lung cancer.

Learn the truth about how industry has poisoned our environment and our political system, read “Merchants of Doubt” by Professor Naomi Oreskes and historian Erik Conway.

Response to SA Express News article on sex ed program in one California school district

Jill Tucker’s August 5 story “Health textbook too explicit for some East Bay parents” covers an issue many Texas School Boards would rather left buried. As pointed out by Board member Ann Crossbie our kids need to understand the implications of drug and alcohol use as well as the risks of sexual activity, especially unprotected sex much younger than most parents would like to believe.

Just a few years ago one of my daughter’s classmates, a girl from a traditional Catholic family, was pregnant in the seventh grade. Our school district doesn’t even mention sex ed until the last months of seventh grade. You can see that would be a little late to have affected my daughter’s friend.

As Texas districts go we’re fortunate that after more than a year of effort by me and other parents in the SCUC ISD the Student Health Advisory Council recommended and the district has implemented a medically accurate Abstinence Plus program replacing the failed Abstinence Only program. While it doesn’t come near the information provided in the textbook this article discusses it is a significant improvement.

A growing number of Texas school districts are using “Big Decisions”, a curriculum by San Antonio’s own Dr. Janet Realini, which complies with Texas law while providing districts with a program that actually lowers teen pregnancy rates.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Extending unemployment benefits is a no brainer

Mike Collins May 14 guest commentary “Unemployment benefits need real discussion” talks about taking a second job as the solution for workers not earning enough. What Collins doesn’t consider is that with nearly 2.5 workers for every job opening there aren’t enough jobs for everyone to have just one let alone two. He also doesn’t take into account that many of the low wage jobs in Texas are fast food and similar jobs with highly variable schedules that don’t lend themselves to having a second job.

Those opposing extended unemployment benefits while the economy is still in a slump claim that those on benefits are somehow shirkers and living high on the hog at our expense. That’s just crazy talk given that the maximum weekly benefit is $454 which wouldn’t pay my family’s medical bills and insurance let alone housing, transportation and food.

When this nation has a full employment policy and finds meaningful work for everyone who wants a job then I’ll support cutting extended unemployment compensation. Doing so while so many in Texas are unemployed or under-employed just makes a bad situation worse.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Real Christians would expand Medicaid, Campbell and Patrick not so much

Republicans politicians like Texas Senator Donna Campbell make a big deal about being Christians when campaigning yet when it comes to caring for the least among us she and other Republicans like Sen. Dan Patrick turn a blind eye. They had a golden opportunity to make the lives of hundreds of thousands of Texans better by expanding Medicaid as offered by Obamacare. Campbell and Patrick chose to play politics instead and now, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, an estimated 1261 Texans will die needlessly every year simply for lack of medical insurance. My old Catholic school principal, Sister Agnes, would not call that Christian behavior.

Another recently published study in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that expanding health insurance coverage saves one life for every 830 people covered. The group of Harvard researchers used Massachusetts as a reference since the state provided the model for Obamacare in the 2006 legislation signed by then Gov. Romney.

So if conservatives in Texas really want to act on their Christian principles they’ll vote Leticia Van de Putte for Lt. Governor and Dan Boone for Texas senate because they’ll work to expand Medicaid and save the lives of our neighbors, co-workers, employees and their families. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cornyn Votes for Corporate Welfare

Wednesday, Senator John Cornyn once again voted in favor of welfare for businesses. He voted to continue subsidizing the profits of many of America’s largest and most profitable corporations by filibustering debate on raising the minimum wage.

Full time employees currently paid at or near minimum wage often live in poverty and receive various forms of government assistance such as food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid. We the tax payer are essentially subsidizing the profits of businesses that employ them.

As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”

Dr. David Alameel who is running to be the Democratic nominee for US Senate in November knows what it’s like to live on low wages, he worked in the California strawberry fields as a young man to help his family make ends meet. Later Alameel joined the US Army and used his GI benefits to go to college, eventually becoming a successful dentist. After years of building a multi-location practice he sold his business and became an investor and philanthropist who as worked to improve education for the most vulnerable in the Dallas area.

David Alameel will make a much better senator than the one we have now. Vote for him in the May runoff and again in November for a better Texas and a better America.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cornyn Failing Texans Again

Senator John Cornyn is letting Texans down. He has failed to submit recommendations for any of the seven federal bench seats currently vacant, some for three years. Wednesday he voted against legislation that would allow women who have suffered harm by not being paid equally for equal work to sue.

Two of the judgeships Sen. Cornyn has failed us on are now classified as judicial emergencies due to the backlog of cases that have collected while he dithers. There are real people here in Texas who are suffering delays in getting justice and as the old saying goes “justice delayed is justice denied”.

John Cornyn has once again shown he isn’t willing to look after the interests of Texas women by voting against their rights to enforce pay equity. He apparently agrees with Rick Perry who calls it nonsense.

We have an opportunity to retire John Cornyn this November by electing Dr. David Alameel. He has served his country in the US Army, he has served his community as a dentist and philanthropist and is now willing to serve his state and the nation in the US Senate. I urge your support for Dr. Alameel.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why am I a liberal?

I’m a married, straight, middle aged, white male living in the suburbs, the product of 12 years of Catholic schools so you might expect me to be a conservative and yet I’m a liberal; not a neo-liberal but a New Deal/Great Society liberal.

I’m a liberal because I believe that public education is what made this nation great and helped win WWII as well as the peace that followed it. I believe that every child no matter how poor or broken the home or how poor a community they come from deserves a decent education. I believe quality education makes for more productive workforce and a happier, healthier life.

I’m a liberal because I believe that the criminal justice system should be even handed with rich and poor. I believe that justice isn’t just about punishment it’s also about healing the community. I believe that while the death penalty may make you think “they got what they deserved” that penalty has been dealt out to those who were innocent and even when meted out to those who were guilty it only served to harm that person’s family.

I’m a liberal because I believe in economic fairness including fair pay for all, women should be paid the same as men when they do the same job. I believe that everyone who works a full time job deserves a living wage and access to medical care for their family. I believe that farm workers and domestic workers deserve the same minimum wage and job protections as everyone else.

I’m a liberal because I believe our society is rich enough that we as a nation are responsible for seeing to it that no child goes unfed or with medical conditions untreated.

I’m a liberal because I believe the best way to restore and maintain this nation’s economy is to have a full employment policy so that when market demand for labor is low our government puts people to work either directly or through infrastructure improvement projects. I believe that shared prosperity is the only sustainable prosperity.

I’m a liberal because I believe in inclusiveness and human rights so I support marriage equality since every human has a fundamental right to love whom they choose. I believe in immigration reform because every human has a right to earn a living and care for their families. No one should worry that they’ll lose their job if the boss finds out they’re gay or an atheist.

I’m a liberal because I believe that it’s none of the government’s business what anyone does in their own home or to their own body so jailing someone for smoking marijuana or restricting a woman’s right to control her own body is out of the question.

I’m a liberal because I believe in community, we all do better when we work together instead of stepping on others in a race to get "ahead". I support expanding Medicaid because like public education it is good for everyone, healthy students learn more, healthy employees are more productive and all that saves money in the long run.

I’m a liberal because I believe that making war is too often done for the profit of a wealthy few and not the welfare of the many either in this country or in the nation that is the battlefield. I believe that if we do make war then our troops deserve not only our respect but also the finest medical care available whether they are wounded physically or mentally.

I’m a liberal because I believe that in a democracy government is nothing more or less than the organized will of the people. Government is there to insure that those people are not taken advantage of whether through outright fraud or abusing the commons.

I’m a liberal because I believe in protecting the environment that humans and our society have adapted to. Being green doesn't cost jobs by raising costs, it actually creates jobs and saves money as well as leaving a better world for all our children. I believe that as the nation that creates the most green house gases per capita we have an obligation to lead by example and significantly reduce our emissions before asking others to do so especially developing nations like India.

In short I’m a proud liberal because I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to make our world a better place and I accept my share of that responsibility. Do you?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Greg Abbott's family values apparently include statutory rape and draft dodging

Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for governor, has been campaigning and drawing crowds with Ted Nugent. The aging rock star has publicly bragged about his sexual encounters with under age girls. As the father of a teenage daughter, I am outraged at Nugent’s behavior but Greg Abbott, currently the Texas Attorney General, continues palling around with Nugent and that’s reprehensible. What does it say about Greg Abbott’s family values that he enthusiastically embraces a sexual predator who has admitted to multiple counts of statutory rape?

Nugent claims to be a true patriot and supporter of the Second Amendment yet he once told an interviewer that he dodged the draft during the Viet Nam war by defecating in has pants and continuing to wear them for days until his appearance before the draft board. Abbott claims he’ll defend Texas and our constitution yet he publicly associates himself with an admitted draft dodger. Nugent later claimed he had pulled the wool over the reporter’s eyes, so either way he’s been disrespectful of those who served our nation, many of whom gave their very lives for it. What does Abbott’s continued embrace of Nugent say about his idea of patriotism?

How can any Texan calling themselves patriots not be outraged? How can any man who respects women not be outraged that a high government official and seeker of yet higher office associates with someone as repulsive as Ted Nugent?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

GOP Violating Ethics and Possibly Campaign Finance Law

In Florida the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) created a website that gave the appearance of backing Democrat Alex Sink for Congress and took contributions from people who thought they were supporting her with the intention of providing those funds to her adversary. Rather than campaign on ideas and policy leading Republicans have stooped so low as to lie about their identity and intentions in order to steal money from people who disagree with them.

15 Democratic candidates in other states have also been targeted by the same corrupt Republican ploy. Lest you believe this corrupt operation is just a few rogue individuals you should know that Daniel Scarpinato, the NRCC's press secretary told CNN “we are very proud of this program.” Scarpinato says the sites have been so successful that the NRCC plans to build more of them in the 2014 election cycle. While here in Texas an as yet unidentified group is making robo-calls using a woman’s voice claiming to be Sen. Wendy Davis.

While the GOP, aka God’s Own Party, claims to be the only party of morals, law and order, party leaders are violating simple ethics and possibly campaign finance law. Rather than campaign on ideas and policies the morally bankrupt leadership of the Republican Party is willing to violate ethical standards to win elections. That should tell you something about the moral quality of their ideas and policies.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why are our tax dollars subsidizing highly profitable corporations?

Roughly half of all fast food workers use some form of public assistance, Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance. 68 percent of fast-food workers are single or married adults who aren’t in school, 26 percent are raising children. Big companies that pay minimum or near minimum wage to their mostly adult employees are responsible for a high percentage of people on government assistance.

If you’re one of the 49 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes then you are being taken advantage of by Mike Duke, CEO of Walmart, and other top executives because you’re subsidizing their profits to the tune of $7 billion every year. That’s what it takes to pay for the public assistance relied upon by their employees. McDonald's subsidy alone is worth $1.2 billion a year, which equates to more than a fifth of its 2012 profits.

If you think you pay too much in federal taxes ask Congressman Lamar Smith why he allows your tax dollars to subsidize the profits of big corporations like McDonald’s, Walmart and Papa John’s. If you think your state taxes are too high ask Senator Donna Campbell why she isn’t working to make highly profitable companies pay their employees enough that they don’t qualify for public assistance.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to stop subsidizing their profitability by raising the minimum wage so that anyone working a full time job didn’t need our tax dollars to pay for health care, food and rent?