Monday, January 28, 2008

No private toll roads in Texas!

In the last, Texas, state legislative session the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC) was put on hold, but no other method was made available for funding new road construction, or operating and maintaining existing infrastructure. So, the Perry appointees at TxDOT HQ whine that there's no money for them to do their job; a corner they willfully backed into.

There has been an experiment in a private toll road in south Texas, the Camino-Columbia toll road, where drivers proved that they would much rather wait in snarled traffic than pay profitable toll rates. So, the lesson that Perry's minions at TxDOT HQ learned was that you take negotiations for privately owned toll roads behind closed doors and give away the farm.

TX is now the second most populous state in the nation and is burdened with a burgeoning flow of NAFTA related traffic. This has put a tremendous, and increasing, burden on the ground transportation infrastructure of our state in the last decade, while inflation has upped the cost of building, operating and maintaining said facilities. Yet our fuel taxes have stagnated for well more than 10 years. Our state legislature wants us to believe that the only adequate solution is to turn our road and train routes over to private, campaign contributing, companies.

We've had one proof of the concept that common carriage transportation is not going to be sufficiently profitable for private companies, but if more proof is needed it should be on a project much smaller than the TTC. In the meantime let's take care of the current needs by raising the state and federal fuel taxes, as the federal government’s commission has wisely suggested.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Health Care For All...

Health care issues won't be solved by elected officials at the state or federal level till the voters realize that there are simple decisions to be made. Do you want good health care? Did you know that it can be done better, for all, cheaper than what we, as a nation, are paying now? Do you, as voters, have what it takes to hang in there long enough to fight moneyed interests with lots of profits to loose?

There are three approaches to medical care: prevention, cure and treatment. The best for the patient is prevention; not getting sick. The second best is to be cured; quickest possible complete recovery. The third best is extended treatment of a medical problem; when prevention and cure aren't an option.

The problem is that the most profitable approach to medicine is treatment. If one wants the most efficient and effective medical care you must go head-to-head with industries that have developed around, and profited greatly, from treatment exclusively.

This is not a difficult decision to make, because study after study has determined that citizens of the USA spend the most for their health care and get the least return on that investment (when compared to the health care of any of the other first world, and many developing, countries).

The answer is single payer health care. This is not to be confused with single provider medicine, because it is no such thing. This is not an answer that needs to come from state or federal legislatures, because it needs to come from voters fighting (determined to get to the best health care for their families) against persistent, well vested interests with serious profit margins to loose.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Trickle Down? You mean Trick-me Debt!


Let’s see:

1. Jobs trickling to China, India, the Philippines, etc…

2. $60 Billion every month in trade deficit!

3. $9 Trillion federal deficit ($30,000 for every man, woman and child in the USA).

4. 47 Million Uninsured citizens in the USA.

5. Sub-prime debt problems creating an economic recession!

The Reagan Administration began a program of tax relief for the wealthy, and as you can see it’s had enormous effect on the economy. Faced with the aforementioned inconvenient details the W Administration has, as usual, chosen denial and continued the policy misnamed “Trickle Down.”

It’s well past time for a change;


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Once again, it's the economy...

The economic situation of 2008 might remind a person of the collapse of the savings and loan industry in 1986.

It seems that an entire branch of the financial services industry had huge portfolios of investments that were collapsing and leaving them with unmanageable debt. The market had been left on its own by the Reagan administration and the result was a really huge economic disaster that was left to the taxpayers to resolve.

Of course 1986 was an election year for all of the US House of Representatives and one third of the US Senate, so no mention was made of the impending disaster (except for one, and only one, time that Rep. Henry Gonzalez let the secret slip). The year of delay allowed what was estimated to be a $50 billion problem to fester till it was to take $500 billion to resolve.

The Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), a temporary division of our federal government, was created to find the nonperforming (defaulted) assets, and bill cleaning up the mess to the taxpayers. Then find the remaining, performing assets and create portfolios to be given to surviving financial institutions. The Savings and Loan industry disappeared. In addition to the S&L vanishing act, local ownership of every multi-branch bank in Texas, with the sole exception of Frost Bank, was ceded to out-of-state interests (a financial necessity) privately or by the RTC.

Another part of the RTC's charter was that they were NOT to investigate, or turn over to investigating agencies, any evidence of suspected criminal activity.

Today we find ourselves in the midst of an economic crisis brought on largely by excessive numbers of nonperforming, sub-prime, home loans. It should be remembered that the S&L industry was a home loan providing, financial services industry.

Once again the market is mired in trouble of its own making and the cry has gone out for Uncle Sam to, "save us." The Federal Reserve has cut interest rates so that the market can borrow its way out of the credit problem, it created, as cheaply as possible. Oh, while you’re at it, reduce taxes on the very folks and corporations that were at the helm of the businesses that had aggressively marketed the loans that they knew to be sub-prime; NOT!

It's time to ask the voters to stand, once again, against well vested interests that repeatedly pay for lawmakers and laws that allow them to work behind closed doors, then seek government bail-outs when the market realizes its in serious trouble (of its own creation); without admitting any guilt.

The federal government, Congress and the White House, are stumbling over each other in a race to provide economic stimulus packages. Stop! The economy cycles up and down; always has. Now we’re in a down cycle, made worse because financial services businesses were allowed to market too much credit to too many barely qualified borrowers, at exorbitant rates, hence the ‘sub-prime’ moniker. The Federal Reserve has already lowered interest rates. If one wants to be helpful, make sure that affordable refinancing is getting to the folks who need it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Quotes from Ben and Thomas

Quotes from History:

"Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." (Ben Franklin)

"It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights... Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism. Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence. It is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power... Our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go... In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." (Thomas Jefferson from the Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798)