Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Texas House Passes Tax Cut For Chewing Tobacco—I Am Not Making This Up

I am not making this up—As funds for education and vital state services in Texas are being slashed to the bone in the ongoing legislative session, the Republican-controlled  Texas House of Representatives has passed a tax cut for the purchase of chewing tobacco.

From the Austin American-Statesman

“Members of the Texas House on Wednesday approved a bill to lower a tax on Red Man and other brands of loose-leaf chewing tobacco. When Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland , laid out House Bill 2599, one freshman House member from Central Texas couldn’t believe his ears. “I just had to clarify. It’s cutting taxes to chewing tobacco?” a shocked Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, asked from the floor. Isaac was the only member to question the measure, which passed 83-53. “We just created an incentive for people to use cancer-causing products,” Isaac said after the bill was approved. “When we have the fiscal problems that we have, it’s wrong to be cutting taxes on products like chewing tobacco.”

(Above—Tobacco flower. Photo by William Rafti. Here are facts about the cultivation of tobacco.)   

Already, the Texas House is considering a tax break for the purchase of yachts.

Texas is first in the nation in percentage of people without health insurance. Texas is fighting the federal health care reform law which will expand coverage to millions of Americans.

Yet at the same time, Texas is considering making it more affordable for people to use chewing tobacco.

How any person of any ideological outlook can see this overall course of action as advisable.

Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about the use of chewing tobacco.

The Mayo Clinic does not think that using chewing tobacco is a very good idea.

My friend John Coby has written about this tobacco tax cut at his blog Bay Area Houston.

(Below–People have been chewing tobacco for a long time. They also have been getting sick from chewing tobacco for a long time. Here is a history of the use of tobacco.)  

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Jarvis Johnson For Real As He Discusses Poverty In Race Against Sheila Jackson Lee?

Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson sent out the numbers you see below about the 18th Congressional District of  Texas. Mr. Johnson is running in a Democratic primary in this district to unseat incumbent Sheila Jackson Lee.

(Above–The 18th was once represented by Barbara Jordan.)

(Here is a profile of this race from the Houston Chronicle.)

From Mr. Johnson about the 18th

151,855 (23%) residents are in poverty,

66,238 (35.4%) children are in poverty

25% of women are in poverty

28 % of African Americans are in poverty

25% of Latinos are in poverty.

From the 2006-2008 American Community Survey Census

67% are high school graduates or higher compared to the 85% national average.

17% have a Bachelor’s degree or better compared to the 27% national average.

50% of housing units are owner occupied compared to the 67% national average.

50% of housing units are renter occupied compared to the 33% national average.

$37,133 is the median household income compared to the $52,175 national average.

Here is a map of the 18th District.

Okay– I’m glad Mr. Johnson is discussing poverty. Poverty is an issue that should have mattered in the race for Mayor of Houston last year. Houston is full of poverty and misery.

The question is—What is Mr. Johnson going to do about any of this?

Here is something of an issues platform on Mr. Johnson’s campaign web home. I think it has a measure of substance.

However, nowhere on Mr. Johnson’s web home can you find a detailed explanation of what he would propose to help fight poverty in the 18th district.

I think many people are tired of Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s endless publicity seeking and are open to change.

Earning the trust of voters is difficult when minority voters and urban Democrats of all kinds vote for Democrats year-after-year and our cities only seem to get worse.

Imagine if state legislators and Congressional representatives in electorally safe urban districts devoted some of their campaign war chests to voter registration? Imagine if they began to really speak the truth about the problems facing the poor and the problems facing urban America?

Here’s an article recently published in New Scientist magazine about the impact of stress, poverty, and crime on breast cancer rates of women in American urban neighborhoods.

From the article—

“But according to a novel collaboration between sociologists and biologists, the strain of living in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in the US may cause biological changes that lead directly to earlier deaths. Results from the collaboration indicate that social isolation and a fear of crime cause an overload of stress hormones that can change cell biology, sending tumours into overdrive. “We’re showing that your social environment can affect your health directly,” says Suzanne Conzen of the University of Chicago. “It goes into gene expression. That concept is really new.”

Science is finding new ways to report a story that anyone could guess—Poverty kills.

Republicans seem lost to any measure of decency on this issue. What is so frustrating is the silence of so many Democrats on the question.

I’m going to listen to what Mr. Johnson says on these issues of poverty as the campaign moves on to the March 2nd primary Election Day.

Hopefully he is for real.

Despite many disappointments with politicians,  I like to “Keep Hope Alive” as Jesse Jackson often urged folks to do.

(This is the Texas Liberal “*Texas Primary Post of the Day.* Posts do not appear each day.)

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

There Is Hope, But Only So Much Hope—Cards To Send

The painting in this post was completed by a young cancer patient at the M.D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

It is a Thanksgiving card. You can go to the M.D Anderson web site and buy this card and other things made by young people with cancer.

In this painting, I like the presence of some color on the leaves on the tree, and I like the red barn. I also like the bleakness of the scene. It is clearly a cold late autumn day.

The color offers some hope, but there is only so much hope.

I bought a pack of these cards at the M.D Anderson store here in Houston. This store is in the Uptown Plaza in the Galleria area.

I’ve decided to start writing some letters and cards to folks and I’m going to start with this illustration of a barn in autumn.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Malignancy Known As The Texas Legislature Metastasizes Into Special Session

File:Neuroblastoma.jpg

The malignancy known as the Texas legislature is set to metastasize into a special session. The session is planned to begin on July 1.

(Above–Bad cells that are part of a growth in the nervous system. Photo from the National Cancer Institute.)

They did not get all the work they needed to complete done in regular session.

The Texas legislature meets once every two years.

Instead of worrying about health insurance for children or poverty or other issues of merit, a silly voter identification measure took up much the legislature’s time.

Our Texas legislature does, to be fair, a little that is good. But it does much more harm than good.

I am sorry to see it come back so soon. Usually we get a two-year remission.

Houston and Texas political blogger Charles Kuffner discusses here some of the particulars of the special session.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Malignancy Known As The Texas Legislature Rejects Expanded Health Insurance For Kids

As always in the malignancy known as the Texas legislature, it is proving difficult to pass a bill that would expand health insurance for kids. In Texas this is known as the CHIP program. Fights about health insurance for kids are a mainstay in the Texas legislature.   

( Above–The legislative process in Texas. It starts with nasty voters who have suppressed any decent thoughts. After the mutations of  party primaries, the general election and committee assignments, the process results in the legislative session. 

The mutation process insures that only the most aggressive and malignant legislators form the majority in legislative chamber. The legislature goes into remission for almost two years after the end of each session, but always comes back strong so as to do more harm.  There is hope for a cure, but so far voters have rejected any cure.)     

You can read about the latest go-round on kid’s health insurance in the Houston Chronicle.    

Governor Rick Perry, who has said that Texas might wish to consider leaving the union, says that he would in any case veto an expansion of children’s heath care if it came to his desk.

What can I add? Texas is a cold-hearted mess and many people seem content with that fact.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cincinnati Radiation Experiments

The New York Times today reported the death of Dr. Eugene Saenger of Cincinnati. He was 90.

Dr. Saenger was a radiologist and expert on nuclear medicine who did Cold War era radiation experiments on poor folks and black folks in Cincinnati between 1960 and 1971.

While a University of Cincinnati English Professor named Martha Stephens made an effort to publicize this issue in the early 1970’s, the experiments gained the most attention in Cincinnati in the 1990’s. This was when other government Cold War experiments elsewhere in the country came under a renewed scrutiny.

In 2002, Professor Stephens published a book on this subject called The Treatment.

What Dr. Saenger did, was give people with cancer radiation over their entire bodies instead of just where the cancer was located.  This despite evidence that existed at the time that such treatment would do more harm than good.

The real purpose of the “treatments” was to determine how much radiation a solider could take before being disabled.

In the mid 1990’s I worked for a Cincinnati City Council member named Tyrone Yates. Tyrone and I read some of the files from the experiments. It was horrible stuff. Tyrone held hearings on the issue at Cincinnati City Hall. 

About 90 people got this radiation bombardment. Two-thirds of these people were black and, it seems, all were poor or working class people.  The experiments were done at Cincinnati’s General Hospital. That facility is now the University of Cincinnati Hospital.  

As someone who lived in Cincinnati for 18 years and who has some knowledge of Cincinnati’s history, it is entirely believable that this could have taken place in the 1960’s and that nobody in authority would have stopped the process.  

And, as anyone with any grounding in human nature or American history could tell you, something like this could easily happen again in our country.   

October 11, 2007 Posted by | Books, Cincinnati, History | , , , , , , | 8 Comments