Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Are The People Who Run Texas Human Beings?

Are the people who run the State of Texas human beings in the sense that we associate humanity with the possession of basic morality and regard for life? In the ten years I’ve lived in Texas I’ve wondered about this more than once. A recent Houston Chronicle story about the debate over expansion of children’s health insurance, taking place in that malignancy known as the Texas Legislature, made me ponder this question again. 

One in five children in Texas lack health insurance. It’s another way we hate children for not having the ability to pay their own way.  Children are in this regard as despicable as old people and wounded veterans. Drains on society. Is their any more certain death sentence in our society than the widespread expression of care and sentiment?  

From the Chronicle article

The debate over children’s health care this year will be as arduous as ever, but so is the ante: More than 160,000 Texas children whose cash-strapped parents can’t get state help to pay medical expenses for maladies as common as chronic ear infections or as daunting as cancer treatment. The argument among legislators will be whether to raise income-eligibility levels so that those children can join the 451,000 now covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Supporters say reducing the number of uninsured youngsters — now one in five — would benefit not only the children’s physical health but the fiscal health of Texas taxpayers. The federal government picks up 72 percent of the cost and providing health care in doctors’ offices is almost always cheaper than treating children in public hospital emergency rooms.

Critics worry about undermining employer-sponsored health coverage and point to the growing costs for the state. CHIP enrollment increases over the past two years have driven the state’s tab from $102 million to $267.5 million. There are no monthly premiums but families pay an annual enrollment fee of $50 and most co-payments for doctor visits or prescription drugs range from $3 to $10. A pending federal bill that renews CHIP is expected to allow Texas to increase income limits so more can enroll. The current limit for a mother and two children of $35,200 could be increased to $52,800. Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston…Cohen this week plans to introduce a bill that would expand CHIP and take advantage of anticipated new federal funds. “Since 2003, Texas has turned away almost $1 billion of federal matching funds by failing to invest in CHIP,” Cohen said. “As a result, we are left with the highest uninsured population of children in the nation.” Gov. Rick Perry’s spokeswoman, Allison Castle, said the governor does not support expanding CHIP’s eligibility standards because of the higher income families who would be covered. She said Congress is trying to lure the state into expanding programs in tough times and doing so would put the state on a “slippery slope to socialized medicine.”

Children living in middle-income families are increasingly joining the ranks of the uninsured. That is largely because employer-based health insurance premiums have more than doubled since 2000. The average annual cost to employees is $3,355 and the cost to employers is $9,325, for a total cost of $12,680, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only half of Texas private-sector employers offer insurance, and among small businesses, the percentage drops to 34, the federal government reports.

The “slippery slope to socialized medicine.” Sure. We can’t have that. We”ll just have all these kids without health insurance.

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January 26, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Texas, Ways We Hate Children | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Many Texas Kids May Lose Health Insurance Because Of Hurricane Ike

This is from the Houston Chronicle—

“At least 36,000 children living in the areas affected by Hurricane Ike may fall off the rolls of government health insurance programs because they have not re-enrolled for the coming year. Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said more than half of the 72,000 children statewide who did not re-enroll in Medicaid are from the Houston and Beaumont areas — both hit by Hurricane Ike. “We expect to see some swings in enrollment, but this was bigger than normal,” Goodman said. “Seeing a higher percentage from one area also raised warning signs that we need to stop and take a look at this.” Children will have coverage through the end of the year as agency workers call families to find out why they did not submit applications. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike and a worsening economy, it is critical that safety net programs are operating as efficiently as possible so that struggling families can get the help that they need,” said Barbara Best of the Houston-based Children’s Defense Fund Texas office. Medicaid coverage applies to children whose families are at federal poverty levels, meaning a family of three would earn no more than $17,600. CHIP coverage is available for a similar family earning up to twice that amount. Goodman said many families did not return application renewal forms that were mailed to their homes. The agency is trying to determine if mail and other disruptions caused by the hurricane prevented families from completing paperwork.”

This was all foreseeable. It could have been a priority to address.  It’s just that nobody bothered.

Now when it comes to job cuts at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston–Well, folks are all over that making sure it gets done. 

Where is the coordinated response of our elected officials— at least the Democrats—to these problems? Where are the doctors who worked hard for so-called tort reform in Texas, but are now silent when people need help?

(Update–This issue has been addressed for the time being. We’ll see how this is dealt with over the longer haul. Why is it such an adventure to make sure kids have health insurance in this state? Or adults for that matter.)

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Ways We Hate Children | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kids In Corpus Christi Play In Rat-Infested Playground

 

The playground at Cole Park in Corpus Christi, Texas was closed over the weekend.

Children at the playground had been playing with a dead rat.

Here is a story about the park closure

(The above photo is of a rat in proximity to a squirrel. Both creatures are dirty and should be avoided. Here is information about rats.)

I was in Corpus Christi this weekend.

I saw the playground. It’s in a park along the waterfront and near downtown.

The playground was blocked off with an orange plastic mesh barrier.

The rat story was well-covered in both the newspaper and on television news. I’m sure it was also on local radio. 

Yet when I saw the playground on Saturday afternoon, at least 10 people had crossed the barrier and were in the rat zone.   

I had to look twice to believe what I was seeing.

Some of the people in the rat zone were adults. Most were kids.  

It’s possible, I suppose, that the parents had not recently read or seen any local news.

Still, the playground was barricaded. The parents could have guessed it was barricaded for some reason.

I wondered why the City of Corpus Christi had not posted a sign in both English and Spanish notifying people why the park had been closed.

The city park superintendent, a Chris Semtner, was interviewed on TV. He said the city lacked the resources to keep the park as nice and rat free as he would wish. 

I bet Mr. Semtner was telling the truth.

The park is now open again.

Corpus Christi is an excellent city and I will have nice things to say about it in upcoming posts.

However, it does appear that some parents in Corpus Christi lack parenting skills and that the people of that community have not yet decided that children deserve a nice place to play.

Also, based on what I’ve read about this issue, it would be good if people using Cole Park would not leave rat food in the form of trash all around the playground.

This story could happen anywhere in America.

What is wrong with people and why are our priorities so wrong in this society? 

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Texas, Ways We Hate Children | , , , , | 6 Comments

I Voted Yes On Houston School Levy So Kids Can Take More Civics Classes And Question Legtimacy Of Political Structure Unable To Address Global Economy And Climate Change

I voted this morning in our Houston city elections. I voted just a few minutes ago. I did not get the sense of high turnout.

High turnout would require voters that care, a Republican Party that thought Houston was worth fighting for, and a Democratic Party that had the competence and imagination to make at least some effort to generate turnout of Democratic voters.

We don’t have any of those things in Houston.

For Mayor of Houston I voted for Amanda Ulman. I posted about this last week. Bill White did not need my vote and voters deserve options.

Can you imagine that not one Republican in Houston cared enough about his or her city to run and offer competing ideas in contrast to Mayor White to our citizens? 

I voted forJolanda Jones for Houston At-Large Position 5. Hopefully she’ll make it to a run-off and the sneaky Zaf Tahir will not. Please click here to read about Mr. Tahir and the things he has been up to as a candidate.

I voted for Melissa Noriega and Peter Brown in other at-large Council races. I’m looking forward to Mr. Brown’s possible candidacy against Annise Parker for Houston Mayor in 2009. I think Mr. Brown will offer a hopeful vision for Houston in sharp contrast to the deadening business-as-usual pragmatism that characterizes Ms. Parker’s type of politics.     

In addition to the city candidates, there were a number of important school levies, county bond issues and Texas statewide matters on the ballot.

I voted yes on the Houston school levy because we need to prepare these kids to have the civic awareness to realize that both major parties are selling them down the river on the global economy and climate change.

I think that with a few more social studies, civics and history classes, kids might begin to ask questions about the basic legitimacy of a system that either cannot or will not address the most important issues of the future.     

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics, Ways We Hate Children | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Care Bears Cartoon Had Commerical Every Six Or Seven Minutes

 

This morning I watched the Care Bears cartoon on CBS. I watched it while in a very nice room at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas. 

There was a commercial every six or seven minutes during the Care Bears. Don’t we have any standards for the amount of advertising in kids programming?

I bet we don’t.

This morning, Funshine Bear was cleaning up pollution in a place called Rainshine Hollow. I think that’s what the place was called.

While Funshine worked at picking up trash and cleaning streams, the other Care Bears just kept playing their games. Only when they saw how discouraged Funshine had become from the enormity of his task did the other Care Bears assist him. 

I’m glad they came to his aid. Though I’m not certain how bears so practiced in helping others would have allowed Funshine to go without help at any point. I found that to be a hole in the story.   

The given reason for the pollution in Rainshine Hollow was a “storm.” Maybe a kind of Care Bear Katrina had occurred.

I did note that the Care Bears talked in complete sentences and did not talk down to the audience. Adults could learn something from the Care Bears in that respect. I always speak to children in an adult tone to convey that I don’t think they are dolts. 

The Care Bears logo is owned by the American Greetings Corporation. The folks at American Greetings should realize that any good messages the Care Bears have are drowned out when you have an advertisement every seven minutes.  

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Things Watching Tv Made Me Think About, Ways We Hate Children | , , , , | 8 Comments

Texas Poverty Rate Is Terrible—Where Are The Democrats And The Christians?

Recent figures from the Census Bureau show that Texas is 9th among the states in the percentage of people living in poverty.

This terrible number has an even greater impact because Texas in the 2nd most populous state in the nation. Over 23 million people live in Texas.

This report was met by silence by both Democrats, who are so-called advocates of the poor, and by so-called Christians.

Christians can be found all over Texas. That is they can be found anytime except when voices are needed to fight for basic social justice in our barbaric state.

16.9% of Texans live in poverty against a national average of 13.3%. 

Texas is 8th of 51 in for the worst percentage of children living in poverty. 23.9% of Texas children live in poverty. The national average is 18.3%.

Both the national average and the Texas average are disgusting.

America hates children because children are economic dependants and we despise anybody not able to pay their own way. Some might protest that people love their own children. Who cares? Maybe Himmler loved his own children. What about other children who live outside your home? They count as well.

Where the all Democrats and the liberals and the Christians? Where is the compassionate conservatism?       

September 6, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Texas, Ways We Hate Children | 9 Comments

Government Intervention For Wall Street, But Not For Kid’s Health Insurance

The Federal Reserve has cut interest rates once already and may do so again this week in order to calm down jittery Wall Steet.   

At the same time, our morally sick President Bush is fighting against the extension of health insurance to working -class and middle-class uninsured kids.

Government intervantion is okay for Wall Street, but not for hard-working Americans and their children.

What a warped country.      

August 22, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Ways We Hate Children | Leave a comment

Collecting Enough Taxes Would Mean Your Kid Would Not Have To Sell Wrapping Paper To Fund Schools

A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed parents rebelling against school fundraisers. They are tired of being hit up for money. In Houston and elsewhere, school kids go out and sell wrapping paper and candy to raise money for schools. Often only about 50% of the money collected really goes to the schools.

The parents profiled discussed solutions to the problem. Most of the solutions involve giving money directly to schools and teachers. 

A few years ago my sister-in-law in the Chicago area asked me to buy wrapping paper for her son’s school. This fundraiser was being run by the local PTA. I told her I would join the PTA but I would not buy the rip-off wrapping paper. That is how I became a member of the Illinois PTA.

The solution to all this, of course, is to collect sufficient taxes to run our schools. People will pay for what they value. It’s clear enough the value our society places on education. 

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Ways We Hate Children | 13 Comments

Poor Children Should Die To Ease Strain On Public Resources

The Texas Legislature is debating what to do about the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In 2005 the program was cut and many Texas kids were kicked off health insurance.

Some Republicans favor fully barbaric solutions while some Democrats favor less barbaric solutions. The solution that is never discussed is raising enough tax revenue for all Texans to live as human beings.

None of this is a surprise. Many Texas children serve no economic value. In fact, they are an economic drag if the state must provide them an education and health insurance.

There is nothing more a real Texan dislikes than somebody who can’t pull his or her own weight.

Prosperous Texans and their representatives in the legislature know that healthy and educated kids are potential rivals against their own children for college admission spots and the shrinking pool of good jobs.

What we see in Texas is simply a mirror of the American hatred of children. Children, like soldiers who can’t afford to purchase their own body armor for Iraq, are people who cost us money. It’s best that enough of them die so our public budgets not be strained.

March 1, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas, Ways We Hate Children | 13 Comments