Texas Liberal

All People Matter

If Massachusetts Repeals State Income Tax, Maybe They Could Rename The State “Texas.”

Massachusetts has an initiative on the ballot that would repeal the state income tax.

Latest polls have the issue failing, but not by much.

(Above–What might as well be Massachusetts.)

If the people of Massachusetts choose to repeal the state income tax, maybe they could just rename the state “Texas.” Texas has no income tax.

Massachusetts could have our high poverty rate and absence of basic services. Maybe the folks up in Boston and Gloucester and Worcester could even start executing people like we do down here.

Howdy Massachusetts! Why don’t you folks pull the trigger and become the new Texas. We’d love to look up north and see you Yankees living as we do.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , | 2 Comments

As Planet Mercury Is More Interesting Than We Knew, Maybe The Same Holds True For People In Our Lives

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A NASA probe says the planet Mercury is more lively than people imagine.

It’s more than just a dusty black and white place. That’s been the image of Mercury over the years. Now we know that there is blue stuff (Above) on Mercury and that it was once a volcanic hotbed—

“Astronomers used to dismiss Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, as mere “dead rock,” little more than a target for cosmic collisions that shaped it, said MIT planetary scientist Maria Zuber. “Now, it’s looking a lot more interesting,” said Zuber, who has experiments on the Messenger probe. “It’s an awful lot of volcanic material.” New images of filled-in craters — one the size of the Baltimore-Washington area and filled in with more than a mile deep of cooled lava — show that 3.8 to 4 billion years ago, Mercury was more of a volcanic hotspot than the moon ever was, Zuber said. But it isn’t just filled-in craters. Using special cameras, the probe showed what one scientist called “the mysterious dark blue material.” It was all over the planet. That led Arizona State University geologist Mark Robinson to speculate that the mineral is important but still unknown stuff ejected from Mercury’s large core in the volcanic eruptions.”

Maybe as we learn that Mercury is more than we imagined, there are people in our lives that we need to reconsider. People may have previously unknown talents or insights that we have simply missed over the years.

Think about somebody you know and give them a new look. 

Here is the web home of the Messenger mission to Mercury. 

Here is information about Mercury.

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Relationships, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Take The Lemon Of The Bailout And Make The Lemonade Of Greater Regulation And Universal Health Care

With the $700 billion Wall Street bailout moving towards a vote in Congress, let us no longer hear that government should stay out of our economy.

This proposal came from a far-right Republican President and has had the support of most Republican senators.

If we can do this, we can have universal health care. If an argument in favor of the bailout is that in time taxpayers will get the money back from the bailout, why not also invest in average Americans? Won’t we also get a return on an investment in average folks?  

(Here in Texas, many are making use of government programs to help recover from Hurricane Ike.  Even in Texas people are finding that stuff happens and that help is sometimes needed from government.)

It’s clear now that we can have more regulation of our economy and that government can take steps needed to protect Americans from the excesses of Wall Street and irresponsible banks and financial firms. 

Do you think your retirement is safe in the hands of an unregulated Wall Street? And in regard to health insurance, do you trust the private sector to ever deliver on the right that all have of access to health care?   

I understand the bailout is hard to accept in many respects. Who wants to bailout Wall Street?

It is conservatives from the White House and Senate who have made the case here for government intervention in the economy. We should take advantage of this unexpected support for a place for government in our economy. We should do this just as Franklin Roosevelt turned the Great Crash into something better. Let’s take this lemon and make lemonade.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Outside The Houston Public Library

Here is a picture I took of the plaza in front of the newly renovated Downtown branch of the Houston Public Library.

I took this picture from a third floor window.

The library is a fine example of how government makes a positive difference in people’s lives.

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Taxes---Yes! | , , , | 3 Comments

Billions In Hurricane Aid For Texas—Please Stop Talking About Small Government

Texas is going to get billions of dollars in federal money for hurricane relief after Hurricane Ike.

Good.

When Texans refuse this money, I’ll believe all the talk around here about small government and government out of our lives.

Maybe as we get the help we need from money raised by the taxes we pay, we can begin to see ourselves as part of a community instead of lone rangers or whatever.

Stuff happens and people need help—Even in Texas.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Am Not A Bridge-Builder

At the top of this blog it says All People Matter. I believe this. Everybody has value.

At the same time, I am not a bridge-builder. I have the resources of time and effort that I have. These resources allow me to reach the people I can reach. There will always be people who don’t agree with what I say. That’s just as well because I’m often wrong and because people have minds of their own.

I would not restrict the ability of others to say what they wish. I’m for as open a society as possible. If my view loses out in public debate and at the ballot box, so be it. That there is an element of nihilism in that view may or not be apparent, but life is what it is.   

I think that in this country, as much as it has offer in many regards, nothing is so awful it can’t be true. Our history bears this assertion out in many respects. As do current conditions for many. I’m not going hide my views that many in our society are as mean-spirited and as selfish as could be.  

Disagreement, and partisanship, is natural. I’m not a strict partisan for the Democratic Party because I’m open to third parties, such as Greens, and because I often criticize the Democratic Party for its frequent disregard of poor voters and minority voters. I view my blog as ideological more than partisan.

When I say “All People Matter”, I’m telling you, among other things, that I support universal health care, decent wages, a fair criminal justice system, and peace instead of unnecessary war. I’m telling you I support the rights of people to have the beliefs they choose, follow the religion they choose, and live pretty much as they wish. ( As long as you pay your damn taxes. You can’t have a civilization without raising sufficient taxes.)

What I’m telling you with this post is that I’m not going to go out of my way to make my views more palatable to others. If you agree with me–Wonderful. If not—maybe I’m mistaken—but maybe you’re wrong. 

What we do with the people in our personal lives is one thing.  We’ve got to reach out when possible. How we conduct our political lives in a country that has made so many wrong choices at the polls in recent years is another thing. I only have so much energy and, as my time grows shorter, so much willingness, to engage in debate with people who believe mean and crazy things.

It is often only mean and crazy things that are on the table anymore when you are dealing with modern conservatives and Republicans.

I will, however, include below a picture of a good-sized ferry to show that while I’m not a bridge-builder, nor do I feel we can fully cut off communication. I will use the ferry below to bring others back on over to my point of view.  

August 15, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Relationships, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , | 3 Comments

Senator Clinton Pandering On Gas Tax Holiday

Senator Hillary Clinton wants to repeal the federal gas tax for the summer.

This is a bad idea.

(Senator John McCain also supports this idea. But I expect nothing from Mr. McCain.)

I’ve advocated a Fonz-like cool as we select between Senator Clinton and Barack Obama. The bottom line is winning in November.

But this is a policy difference and a fair topic for discussion.  

The money collected from this tax goes into repairing roads and bridges.

Here is a story about last year’s Minneapolis bridge collapse. 

Senator Clinton says a windfall profits tax on oil companies could make up the lost revenue.

Do you see that idea getting 60 votes in the Senate?

Senator Obama correctly opposes this tax “holiday.”

This NPR blog post discussing the issue suggests this proposal might even increase gas prices.

If lower prices make for more summer driving, than supply will be restricted and prices will go up.

Here is a Portland Oregonian editorial against this proposal.

Paying taxes isn’t a penalty or even a burden. It’s the price we pay for living in a society.

With support of this gas tax holiday notion, Senator Clinton undermines the principles of the Democratic Party and, one supposes, her own principles.

Also, she risks taking away money for needed infrastructure programs.  

Barack Obama is the candidate showing leadership on this issue. 

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Democrats, Republicans, Texans & All People Like Earmarks—Because Earmarks Are Good

Here is a link to a Houston Chronicle story about the widespread good done by federal earmarks in the Houston-area and in Texas.  

Our government has the right and the responsibility to promote the general welfare.  

Earmarks return taxpayer money back to the people in form of help for needed projects that would otherwise go undone, and in the form of the jobs these projects create. 

Here is some of what the story says–

•Earmarks are bipartisan. Sen. Hutchison was the state’s most successful proponent of such spending in 2007, bringing home $254 million in projects. Every other Texas lawmaker in Congress except one, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, sought them.

•Military and water projects accounted for nearly 85 percent of the funding of Texas’ earmarks. The military projects included the construction of barracks and other facilities designed to improve the lives of the troops. The water projects included flood-control and dredging programs….

The state won 18 earmarks worth about $6 million for a variety of cultural projects, including the Pearl Fincher Arts Museum in Spring, the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum in the North Texas town of Greenville and a museum marking the site of a World War II prisoner-of-war camp in the Central Texas community of Hearne.

Other earmarks included agricultural research programs, such as a $242,000 project for bee studies at the Agriculture Research Service in Weslaco in Central Texas and a $111,000 grant for dairy and goat research at Prairie View A&M University.

Don’t be ashamed to tell friends and family that you support earmarks. Earmarks help people in all walks of life and all across the United States.

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

After Years Of Voting For Democrats, Institutionalized Regressive Taxes Remain For Providence, Rhode Island Schools

In a recent column in the excellent liberal magazine The American Prospect discussing the debate over slavery reparations, I read some disturbing information about the public school system in Providence, Rhode Island.

I lived in Providence as a kid from 1968 until 1980. I attended the public schools in Providence in those years.

From the column by Dana Goldstein

Three-quarters of children in the Providence schools live in poverty. Rhode Island ranks among the top three states dependent on municipal property taxes to fund education, a regressive system that disadvantages city schools…Providence–like many other cities across the nation—is geographically contiguous with affluent suburbs…”  

I’ll just make the point I’ve made a number of times in this blog. While Rhode Island has had a run of Republican governors in recent years, most voters in this state and in Providence vote for Democrats year after year. Rhode Island is one of the most Democratic states in the nation.

How long are black folks and city residents of all races going to vote for Democrats and see no improvement in the institutionalized conditions that help keep people poor and disempowered?  

(Here is a recent Texas Liberal post called The Institutionalized Way We Kill Black People about sub-standard operating conditions in many urban hospitals.)       

January 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aggregation Or Association?—The People We Spend Our Time With

  

The National Audubon Society Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World uses the word “aggregation” to describe dolphins that come together only for purposes of feeding. These dolphins are linked in this case by a practical purpose and will break back down into more stable and normal social groupings once they eat enough fish. 

In Jean-Jacques Rosseau’s The Social Contract, Rosseau uses the word “association” to describe people in political union or unified in some way transcendent of immediate needs.

I was reading both books around the same time. Seeing both words used in these ways got me to thinking about why we spend time with the people we spend time with.

For example, on a city bus you have an aggregation. The people are on the bus only until they reach the right stop.

At work, you might have of mix. At core it’s an aggregation because you are the there to get a job done and earn a living. But with time, as relationships form and the common purpose, possibly, takes on more meaning, an association may exist.        

When I hung out at punk rock bars, I always felt that many of us had something in common—If only various types and degrees of alienation. That would be an association.    

At a hotel bar you would have more of an aggregation. People just passing through.

How about school? For some it is an association with real meaning and substance. For others it is an aggregation as the days are counted down to summer vacation, graduation or dropping out.  

People today can be linked today by computer and e-mail. You might have a substantive association with others far away, while you feel the people you spend your time with daily are no more than an aggregation. 

Jail would be an aggregation. Tough I suppose a widespread plot to escape could turn it into an association.

I see society itself as an association. People on the right might see it as an aggregation.  

You might see the distinction between aggregation and association as a kind of academic exercise.

However, I’d say it is important to realize who we feel we share a common purpose with and who may be more incidental to our lives. Having such knowledge would provide a more clear sense of what is important in life and what is worth your time. 

On the level of society as a whole, the more people we feel as truly connected with in an association of fellow citizens and fellow human beings, the more likely we are to pursue fair and humane policies of basic social justice.

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Books, Politics, Sea Life, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Democrats Back Regressive Sales Tax Increases, What Hope Do We Have For Fair Progressive Taxation?

Cities, counties and states are proposing regressive sales tax increases at the ballot box next week to fund various initiatives, close budget shortfalls and reduce property taxes.    

This according to a report in USA Today.

You’d think these proposals would come from Republicans. Sales taxes are regressive flat taxes where the poor, the wealthy and everybody in-between pays the same. This is in contrast to a progressive income tax.

Yet such proposals are on the ballot in Democratic-leaning Maryland, New Jersey and Cook County, Illinois. Chicago is in Cook County.

If this is proposed tax policy in places where Democrats are in control, what hope do we have for fair taxation?

The progressive income tax is at the heart of the income redistribution and funding of social programs that stand at the core of liberalism. If Democrats are not on board with this, who will be?

Raising sales taxes to fund property tax cuts is simply redistributing income upwards.

Please click here for an article relating the benefits of the income tax. 

Hopefully voters around the country will reject sales tax increases and demand a fair and progressive income tax to meet the needs of society.     

November 2, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Low Pay For Houston City Workers Recalls Death Of Jerry Hines Jr.

City of Houston workers are some of the lowest paid big city municipal workers in Texas.

This information comes from a new Houston city employee effort to raise these poor salaries.

HOPE is an employee union affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and also with the Service Employees International Union.

HOPE has set the website Houston, We Have A Problem to draw attention to the situation.

HOPE points out that many city employees work in sewers and on dangerous roads. From the website—

A new study on city worker pay revealed that Houston‘s city workers make substantially less than their counterparts in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio and other large U.S. cities. The study, commissioned by the City of Houston and conducted by the Mercer consulting firm, found that Houston city workers make up to 21 percent less than the median of workers in these other cities. Many of the occupations in the survey are vital to the City’s quality of life and involved difficult, dirty work.

None of this is a surprise to people who recall the death of Houston city employee Jerry Hines Jr.

 

Mr. Hines died last January after being hit by a car as he was helping a motorist on an icy highway. According to media reports at the time, Mr. Hines was only making around $17,000 a year.

After the death of Mr. Hines, I e-mailed a letter to Houston Mayor Bill White and to Democratic members of Houston City Council asking why pay for a city employee was so low. The responses I got back either blew me off or defended the low pay earned by city employees.

The Mayor and Council Democrats must take action on this issue.

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Taxes---Yes! | 1 Comment

Gay Marriage & Taxes—Yes. Sex In Public Bathrooms—No

Politically I am an economic liberal, a human rights liberal and a social moderate. 

As an economic liberal I favor a government that raises the taxes needed to help ensure a decent society. This is something we do not have in Texas. 

A decent society is one that, for example, guarantees health care for all and provides its people with a quality education.

I believe in a government that takes an active role in regulating the safety of the products we use and consume.

I favor a government that insists employers pay workers a decent wage.

I oppose any privatization of Social Security. I oppose the privatization of just about anything. 

As a human rights liberal, I support the right of all citizens to get married and join the military.

I view the gains of the Civil Rights movement as a cornerstone of our American freedoms no less so than the Bill of Rights.The gains made by women and gays in the last 40 years are also of great value and have made our country better. 

I don’t care what religion a person follows and I don’t care if someone is an atheist.

I don’t care where anybody was born. 

As a social moderate, I oppose the legalization of drugs.

I support efforts, within the bounds of the constitution, to regulate sexually orientated business places.

With Senator Craig in the news, I will also say that I favor policing public restrooms for people having sex.

As long as it is illegal, the police are right to bust people for such behavior.

I want to live in a decent society that is not some Wild West outpost. 

When I give my more socially moderate views, I feel sometimes I’m conveying the idea that I’m not fully tolerant on the broad questions of social justice.

Maybe this is, in part, because I’m not communicating my ideas well. It may also be because we often assume that a person who holds “View A” will automatically hold “View B.”

Yet every person and the views they hold must be considered on an individual basis.

So, on my part, a big yes to gay marriage and a big no to sex in public restrooms.

And, at bottom line, please pay all the taxes that you owe.   

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | 7 Comments

Carnival Cruise Ship Conquest Is Smoke-Belching Disease-Producing Monstrosity

 

The Carnival Cruise ship Conquest is a smoke-belching, disease-producing monstrosity. 

I saw this ship today docked at Galveston, Texas. It was letting off a lot of dirty smoke into the air. Here is a link about cruise ship pollution.

Why is this ship called the Conquest? I don’t know. Much of the native population of the Caribbean was exterminated some time ago. Who is left to conquer? Here is a link to Caribbean slavery. Here is link to smallpox. Here is a link to venereal disease.

What the ship should be called is the Tax Avoidance. Tax avoidance is why it is registered in Panama.

On board ship, passengers may contract Norwalk virus. This affliction can also be termed viral gastroenteritis. There have been repeated outbreaks of Norwalk virus on cruise ships because people don’t wash their hands. The passengers make each other sick.

Here is a link about low pay for the crew on cruise ships.

Here are some real facts about Jamaica instead of the little you see when you take a cruise that stops in that nation.  

Here is a story about comments Pope John Paul II made pertaining to the exploitive aspects of tourism. Here is another link to the same subject.

Cruise junkie.com has a lot of good information about cruise ships. It has lists of cruise ship accidents, illness outbreaks, the number of people who have fallen overboard and other good stuff. 

September 3, 2007 Posted by | Galveston, Please Wash Your Hands, Sea Life, Taxes---Yes!, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Is Bolivar Ferry Free Because Texans Are Socialists? Or Is It About A Free Ride?

Is the government operated Bolivar Ferry across Galveston Bay free because Texans are socialists? Or, is it because no matter what they say about so-called free markets, Texans love a free ride? 

The Bolivar Ferry is run by the Texas Department of Transportation.

I ride the ferry, which runs between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula, about twice a year. I park and walk on. That way I don’t have to wait in the long line of traffic. I get a nice 50 minute round trip and a chance to see ships and, maybe, dolphins.

Each time I ride the ferry, I imagine that the Texans on board are realizing the virtues of government as they cross the bay.

They are saying to each other, “This nice free ferry trip is a reminder that government has a role to play in our lives. When we reach land, we shall compose a letter to our elected representatives in favor of state-run health care.”

Regretfully, a recent Houston Chronicle article suggests ferry riders have something else on their minds. They are grumpy that they must wait so long to board the free ferry. Crew members to run the boats are hard to find because potential workers can make more money in the private sector. 

In reply to grumbling ferry passengers I say—“How about having an income tax in Texas? Then maybe you’d have better services.”

Have to wait in a long line to board the ferry this weekend? Bring a book. Talk to your family. Or, even better, demand a tax structure in Texas able to meet the needs of this huge state.

July 12, 2007 Posted by | Galveston, Sea Life, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | 11 Comments