Tuesday, December 29, 2015


I’ve often said the most important thing Texas government does is to provide educational opportunities for Texans and their children.  I am still of that opinion even though there are those in this state who would abolish public education in favor of privatization of our schools.

The very future of this state, as well as this country, depends on how well educated future generations are.  The key to a prosperous future for all of us is to be well prepared with an abundance of educational opportunities and demand the educational opportunities offered are of the highest quality and in keeping with the future needs of our economy and social interests.

The Legislature’s cuts to public education in the range of five billion dollars and ignoring the results of a lawsuit where the court found that Texas’ provisions for public education did not meet our constitutional mandate are all foreboding.  Even more foreboding is the ever upward spiral of the cost of higher education.  Since the Legislature abandoned its role of setting college tuition in our state and failed to adequately fund our colleges and universities, college tuition has more than quadrupled for most state colleges.

I’m also chagrined at the fact that too many of our legislators continue to advocate lowering the standard saying it is discouraging to students to not be able to do well enough on standardized tests or college entrance exams.  They suggest lowering the standard instead of redoubling our efforts to get our students up to speed.  It seems that advocates of lower standards would take lessons from winning coaches who continually raise the bar at practice and the requirements to join the team in seeking winners.  Students who are coddled and simply pushed through any educational process will sooner or later be sorely disappointed when they face the challenges of the real world.  Employers will not lower the standards, and as I have often told graduating classes to whom I speak, you may set out to conquer the world but you should be advised that the world fights back.

Preparing for future quality education in this state requires not only a financial commitment but a commitment to look with long-term perspectives.  One thing which should be observed, monitored and responded to is the demographics of the future population of this state which tells us much about where and what our future educational needs are and will be.

Something which should be studied are the following facts.  There are 5,215,282 students in our public school system in Texas.  Of those 2,714,266, or 52%, are Hispanic.  There are more than 659,000 African Americans, 202,000 Asians, and 1,500,000 Caucasians in our current system.  Of these, 51.2% of our school population are considered at risk.  Almost 60% are economically disadvantaged.  Of all of these populations, only 7.6% are considered gifted and talented.

Texas' SAT scores have hit a 22 year low.  Scores have declined overall by nine points.  In math they have dropped  six points.  A perfect score for math is 800—Texas' average SAT score in math is 470.  This is a sad commentary on how well Texas education is preparing our young people.

Our system will only get better when parents and non-parents start demanding more of our Legislature for education.  We must do more to fund education and demand that it is well spent.  We must demand lower college tuition to enable more to gain the knowledge necessary for a futuristic economy in our state, and one which will compete well in the world.  Unless we present-day Texans do these things, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will not inherit the opportunity to live a better world as we did. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015


One state program which, as a state senator, I was proud to support and help create was a program to collect child support from deadbeat parents.  The program originated at the federal level to encourage states to create a program by which the state would employ attorneys to collect overdue, delinquent support for dependent children from parents who refuse to accept their responsibility as parents.  The program has saved children from unnecessary suffering as victims of divorce, and has saved the country untold millions in payments for welfare for dependent children.

The program was started and resided in the office of the State’s Attorney General under the direction of Jim Mattox.  Since then, the program has grown exponentially and has generally been well-received by all citizens—other than those deadbeats who get caught in its net.  Unfortunately, under the leadership of our current Governor, or lack thereof while he was Attorney General, an entirely different story is unfolding.  Our recently elected Governor Greg Abbott was our Attorney General for a long time.  He used to boast his job was to go to work, sue Obama and then go home. 

Unfortunately, as Attorney General, he was not doing a very good job of minding the store.  The T-2 System (as it was styled) was to be a dynamic, new and innovative program. But, with obvious encouragement from then-Governor Rick Perry to privatize some government services, Abbott allowed a contract to be let to improve the T-2 System collection of delinquent child support. 

The contract to "improve" the T-2 System was to cost $1.8 million dollars.  After the initial letting of the contract, the contract was renewed five different times until the cost to Texas taxpayers ballooned from $1.8 million to over $46 million dollars.  The secondary tragedy to this shameful episode is the fact the majority of the workers hired to create this great new system were working in India, not the United States.

Worse, the current cost of the system is now estimated at $86.4 million—and experts who have examined the system and pronounced it virtually worthless say it will cost another $50 million to fix the problems.  

So much for good old Greg Abbott, Rick Perry and Republican conservatism. The entire episode should be a huge embarrassment to those who support our Governor who was elected by promoting his conservative credentials.  

When the early Roman people started getting uneasy about their leadership in the world, instead of addressing serious problems of the people, the Roman officeholders created games, building the famed Coliseum as a great venue of entertainment for the masses.  Perhaps too many of my Republican friends would find it difficult to learn this lesson from history, but it seems disturbing familiar to note that—while serious problems run the gamut in Texas— our conservative Governor Abbott is today giving us “games” by spending over $19 million dollars of taxpayer money to lure entertainment to Texas.  His latest fiasco is investing $2.7 million dollars of our money in an effort to bring wrestling shows to Arlington, Texas.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015


The combination of a mass killing in California and Donald Trump’s ranting about the impending invasion of ISIS operatives disguised as Syrian refugees has obviously ramped up Americans' concern for safety.  Gun sales are at an all-time high, and much of that is attributed to the fact that people are fearful for their own safety.  Even though experts have told us the likelihood of being victimized by an ISIS plot here in the United States is less than being struck by lightning, we, and some of our so-called leaders, tend to fear ISIS and overlook some real threats to our lives and our safety.

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle by Ms. Hersman pointed out one of Texas’ shameful firsts.  Apparently, we lead the nation in traffic deaths.  It is reported by the Texas Department of Transportation that at least one fatality occurs every day and has been that way for over 5,000 days.

Simple solutions have been offered and rejected by the collective wisdom of our state legislature; the most recent of which was a proposal offered by my longtime acquaintance, friend and former speaker of the house, Tom Craddick of Midland.  Repeatedly, Craddick has offered to make it a crime to text on your cell phone while driving 75 miles an hour down a Texas roadway.  What appears to me to be a reasonable proposal was roundly rejected by the Texas House of Representatives as an impingement on personal freedom.  After this rejection, Texas remains one of only four states in the union without a statewide texting ban for all of its drivers.  While it may be a win for personal freedom, it is probably also a win for our state’s funeral homes.

While I sheepishly admit to occasionally driving slightly over the speed limit, my mis adherence to our traffic laws pales by comparison to what I see, particularly, on our major thoroughfares.  While I’m driving one or two clicks above the 75 mile an hour limit, I am more often than not passed as though I’m sitting still by drivers swooping in and out, changing lanes and tailgating other drivers on our interstate highways.  Texas’ safety advocates several years ago used to remark that “speed kills.”  I strongly suspect that it still does.  

Another phenomenon I have noticed of late on Texas highways is the marked absence of highway patrolmen. It seems a rational way to slow down traffic would be to have our highways and byways adequately patrolled.  Unfortunately, our statewide leadership—including our governor, attorney general and lieutenant governor—have opted to divert over $800-million ofour tax dollars toward sending troopers to guard the Mexican border, demonstrating their conservative defense of our borders against illegal aliens. They have also sent about 100 new troopers who could be better used to fight crime in our neighborhoods and control speeders and tailgaters on our busy freeways.

I suspect without fear of rebuke that more lives will be saved by policing our roadways than protecting us against the influx of women and children from South American countries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Making the world a better place

I periodically pause to think what a lucky guy I am.  I’ve had a profession I love, a family I worship, a hometown I like, and generally am easily able to maintain an optimistic attitude.  Of late, however, listening to news reports and reading the three newspapers I do on a daily basis, I am becoming increasingly alarmed about the future and fabric of our nation. 

The strength of America lies in the unity of its people and the privileges which are guaranteed to us by virtue of our constitution. Recently what has alarmed me is the continuing divisiveness of our politics which is creeping into our other liberties and relationships.

The multiple rantings of Donald Trump—whereby he would have us all wiretapped, water-boarded or divided by religion or national origin—do not alarm me so much as the fact that apparently so many people agree with him and fail to contradict his message of disunity in our country.  The proposal to simply classify people of the Islamic faith as second-class citizens not worthy of being in America is completely off the chart.

I have many Hispanic friends among whom I know of no drug dealers or criminals.  Additionally, I have friends who worship at the Islamic Mosque—and they are God-fearing, America-loving citizens whom any sane person would be delighted to have as friends and neighbors.  To divide Americans based on these type categories will ultimately destroy America as we know it.

I have often said that one should never point out a problem of governance or social compact without suggesting some solution to make things better.  Taking my own advice in that respect, I have a few suggestions.

First of all, politicians of every party and every stripe need to stop generalizing and painting our own government as if it were a foreign power which has landed from a different planet and invaded earth.  Next there needs to begin reasonable and rational discourse between liberals, conservatives and everybody in between about how we attack serious problems facing not only Americans, but humanity.  How can we live together without killing one another?  How can we protect the resources of this earth without allowing human activities to destroy it?  How we can provide adequate food, shelter and medical care to our fellow man?  These challenges will never be met until we begin to discuss them among ourselves and truly seek solutions.

Not only do our leaders need to put their shoulders to the wheel, but we, as citizens need to become more informed about how we govern ourselves, how we live together and participate in the process—whether it is through activities through our church, our civic club, our city, county or state governments, or merely through informed citizenship. 

It is amazing to me that anyone could live in the United States of America and enjoy the blessings and benefits we have and not appreciate them enough to carry his or her own load.  It is my fervent hope that all my fellow citizens will awaken to how good we have it, smell the roses, and resolve to make the world a better place—beginning with our own hometown, state and nation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


As I have often written, I firmly believe ignorance is the greatest danger and enemy of democracy.  One of the sub-categories of dangerous lack of knowledge is the woeful ignorance concerning history. 

After the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor,  Franklin Roosevelt said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Dictators of nations before have used fear to manipulate populations of nations, and thereby in many instances have caused world tribulation.

Anyone who is a student of the history of Germany can easily see how Adolph Hitler manipulated the German people into believing their nation was about to be taken over by Communists and Jews.  Hitler represented to his people that he could be the savior of their nation by ridding them of threats or perceived threats, persuading them to forsake freedom for his version of safety.  As we all now know, the result was the killing of many people of Jewish faith and ultimate tragedy and defeat for the nation of Germany. 

Benjamin Franklin once said that those who forsake freedom for safety deserve neither.  Unfortunately, today many politicians — particularly some seeking the office of president — are employing the fear factor as the central theme of their campaigns.  Sadly, those like Donald Trump who claim not to be political, are employing the most common of political ruses.  If one notices, Trump never says no, even to the craziest idea.  The best you can expect from him in these circumstances is to say, “Maybe” or “We’ll have to look at that.”  The most recent and  scariest  ideas presented to Trump were not greeted with the disdain they deserve, but ostensibly encouraged by Trump’s failure to spurn them.  For example, according to press reports, one idea recently put forth  was to register all Muslims in America and perhaps require papers or armbands to identify them.  Does this bring back memories of the Nazis requiring the Jews be tattooed in sequential numbers?  Unfortunately, Trump failed to give such ideas the short shrift they deserve, but only pandered to the craziness of his admirer’s proposal.

Trump has openly declared that perhaps we do not need to pander to acceptable conversation between American citizens of different ethnic backgrounds, but has also even proposed it would be acceptable to torture in an effort to help secure us from threats of terrorists. 

Equally dangerous to our religious freedom is the proposal of Ted Cruz that we allow only Christians to immigrate.  He is playing to the fear of non-Christians and is only a step away from government classification of citizens based on their beliefs.

Such crazy ideas by Trump, Cruz and several others currently seeking to be president would destroy the very fabric of what has made our nation a beacon of freedom, and in all probability the best country on earth in which to reside.

If we do not denounce such attitudes and remember the lessons of history which we should have learned, we will end up being no better than ISIS itself.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


If our governor and lieutenant governor have vision for the future, they are concealing it extremely well.  While claiming to be fiscal conservatives, they continue to waste money and ignore long-term threats to our very existence. 

It seems our governor, in league with our current attorney general, is hell-bent on spending millions of dollars proving he hates our president more than any other officeholder around.  To the applause of our lieutenant governor, the attorney general — as well as the governor when he was the attorney general — have filed dozens of lawsuits against our own government.  Most of these lawsuits have produced no profitable results for our state.  In fact, a recent accounting has revealed that we have already spent 5 million dollars of your tax money proving our elected leaders in Texas dislike President Obama and things he has done.

In another effort to prove how tough they are, our leadership is spending $800 million dollars keeping DPS troopers along the border.  This is simply an effort to prove how much our governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general want to keep unlawful aliens from crossing our borders.  Unfortunately, state troopers have no authority whatsoever to arrest people who illegally cross our borders and absolutely no power to return them from whence they came.  One must ask, why have them there if they can’t arrest wrongdoers?  Unfortunately, the answer is as plain as the nose on your face.  It is to prove how tough our governor and lieutenant governor are on illegal aliens in Texas.

Another wasteful area of which our so-called conservative leaders are guilty is the area of our highways.  Historically, Texas has had a pay-as-you-go policy avoiding debt at the state level. Rick Perry, along with our current governor and other so-called conservatives, sold a bill of goods to Texans by passing a constitutional amendment to let us take care of our highways on credit.  They said the debt would be paid for by economic growth spurred by having good roads and bridges in Texas.  Alas, that has not happened.  It seems every prediction ever made in recent years that we could do without additional income from tax sources by simply depending on an increase in our business activity in Texas has proven to be a lie.  We are now robbing other vital programs such as public education and our colleges and universities to pay an enormous debt on the borrowed money foisted on Texans in an effort to keep our roads and bridges from completely falling apart.

A real truism is that people will perish when leaders have no vision.  It is difficult to claim a vision of the future when right-wing leadership will not acknowledge such things as climate change and the fact that lack of regulation is rapidly causing us to be without water resources in this state.  The aquifers are falling.  They are being overused.  And before you know it, everyone will recognize that we in Texas are rapidly running out of water.

It is fine if you want to to dislike our president.  You do not need to spend my tax money, however, to prove it.  I believe you!  Just say so!  But, please take my tax money and spend it on problems that any rational human being can detect as those that will be fatal for us in the future. 

It seems to me we will be better served by leaders who will try to develop their vision and use our tax money in a way to meet challenges of the future rather than using our tax money to play political games.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Ted Cruz takes great pride in claiming he speaks for the Tea Party.  While the Tea Party was born and inspired by those patriots who dumped tea into Boston Harbor, the newly formed group should remember the patriots only threw the tea in the harbor, they didn’t sink the ships which brought goods to the fledgling nation of America.

If you listen to Ted Cruz talk, it sounds like he considers himself one of the few real American patriots left in the United States.  Unfortunately, Mr. Cruz seems to forget a majority of Americans voted for and elected Mr. Obama president of this country.  A person so selected deserves the respect of all American citizens, including those who disagree with his programs.  Unfortunately for those here in Texas, Mr. Cruz’ zeal to demonstrate his conservative credentials is not serving us well.

A case in point of how Mr. Cruz’ misdirected war on government is counterproductive is his current crusade to abolish the Mbank.  Most Americans would ask, “What the heck is the Mbank?  The Mbank is short for export/import bank, an agency of the United States government.  

The export/import bank was formed 81 years ago in 1934 under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt.  It will provide loans to foreign corporations who choose to buy goods manufactured in the United States.  The bank will also assure manufacturers and sellers in this country they will be paid if they contract with overseas customers. While Mr. Cruz wants to classify this as corporate welfare, the agency has served America well.  

Unfortunately, there is little free trade throughout the world.  Most other industrialized nations such as Japan, Germany and certainly China, subsidize many of their companies with whom American manufacturers must compete.  The Mbank gives American manufacturers dealing in the export of products some measure of relief and allows them in many cases to compete.  Prime examples are Boeing Aircraft and General Electric, both of whom deal on the international market for aircraft engines and various heavy industrial equipment.

To its credit, the Mbank is one of the very few federal agencies that makes the nation money.  In return for extending credit to their customers and guaranteeing payment, American companies pay Mbank an annual fee.  Losses to the bank are rare and all in all the bank operation is self-sufficient, costing the taxpayers nothing.

If Mr. Cruz is sincere in his quest to find corporate welfare, he should take a look at the subsidies throughout the nation we are paying to big oil who for the last several years have made huge profits while destroying many parts of our environment.  

Or perhaps, it would be in order for Mr. Cruz and his fellow conservatives to explore the reasons pharmaceutical companies are allowed to gouge Americans — particularly, senior citizens.  The administrators of Medicare are prohibited by federal law from even negotiating for a better price.  Maybe he should even look into why it is that Americans are not allowed to order manufactured drugs from Canada which has a safety review process pretty much equivalent to ours. 

Mr. Cruz claims to be a great Bible scholar and to hear him tell it one of the few real Christians serving in politics.  Perhaps Mr. Cruz has forgotten the phrase in the Bible about straining gnats and swallowing camels.

While Mr. Cruz makes bold statements about how he wants to help the middle class create jobs and prosperity in this country, his actions  would result in shutting down government, not paying the nation’s bills and doing away with an agency that is assuring America that our exporters will continue to provide good jobs for our citizens. 

Monday, November 9, 2015


Through the tutelage of my mother I obtained and possess a deep abiding faith in the teachings of Christianity.  I also consider myself a diligent student of self-government and the democratic process.  Having spent 33 years in elected office, and even more working as a consultant in the legislative process, I have a close and in-depth view of how many politicians conduct themselves publicly and privately.

It makes me almost sick to my stomach to see some politicians use religion strictly for political purposes.  A current example is our newly elected Attorney General who has confessed to violating laws amounting to a third degree felony, and when called on about his misconduct, he fled immediately to the sanctuary of churches.  He appears to be seeking aid and comfort by publicly announcing his faith, leading congregations in prayer and filing frivolous lawsuits on behalf of the State purportedly to protect religious liberty.  What can you call it other than pure hypocrisy? 

In the sixth chapter of Matthew, Jesus  reminded us that our conversations with the Almighty should be in private, and not held publicly — as the Pharisees and hypocrites would do, praying loudly in the Synagogue mainly to capture the attention of man to demonstrate their religiosity.  How is this much different from the politicians who encourage and purportedly defend wanting to have prayer in school and at football games, and who try to make themselves heroes by defending the practice in court?  

While in office, I was more than once approached by persons condemning me for not supporting the practice of having teachers announce when students should bow their heads and pray in school.  They generally lamented the fact that Christianity was being attacked and that we were becoming a godless state and nation.  Generally, I would respond to these people by asking whether or not they chose to have a daily prayer session in their home.  Most had no favorable answer to this question other than a few who weakly claimed to say the blessing regularly at mealtimes.  It seems to me we should concentrate on praying in home before we start telling other people when and where prayer should be had.

If they could, some of our politicians — like Ted Cruz or Ray Huckaby — would have America’s government patterned after the likes of ISIS or Saudi Arabia, where the government punishes you for failure to adopt the beliefs of the rulers.  We would be much like those entities should we give in to the temptation of enforcing religious practices favored by the majority at the time.  We could have jail sentences for buying contraceptives, working on Sunday or purchasing or consuming alcohol.

Some of the most flagrant hypocrisy demonstrated by our elected leaders has to do with the issue of abortion.  Again, abortion is personally repugnant to me — but I do not believe that the issue of when life begins in the womb has been scientifically settled, but is a matter of faith with most people.  We get in trouble with government every time we give into the urge to enforce religious beliefs by government edict.  The hypocrisy of most of this is that many are very passionate about protecting the unborn such as our Governor, recently elected, who goes to great lengths to put roadblocks to legal abortions in the name of protecting the unborn. On the other hand, he does not lift a finger to try to help the half million children in Texas who are sick and dying because of Republicans’ obstinate refusal to accept the funds to cover these children with adequate medical care.   It seems to me a true Christian would be as concerned about those children who have already been born as with those yet unborn.

If one is truly concerned about stopping women from aborting unwanted children, why not make contraception easier and more available?  Why not streamline the procedure and encourage through tax incentives if necessary the adoption of unwanted children throughout this state. 

It is my fervent belief that ever since the Old Testament, God has not appointed man-made judges to judge my religious conduct here on earth.  It is also my belief that if politicians would concentrate on living religious their beliefs rather than using religion to get themselves elected or using government to impose their beliefs on others, we would all have a better country, state and community.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Unfair Job Postings

At one time there was a football rule which declared that touching a punted football by the receiving team was a rule violation — but one with no penalty.  I, along with many others, thought having a rules violation with no penalty was silly, and apparently the leagues finally agreed with me and simply ceased calling it a violation and declared the ball dead when touched by the receiving team.  It seems the State of Texas and our elected leaders have been given the gift of the same lack of penalty for a violation.

Our Legislature in its wisdom sometime back put a law in the books allegedly to give all Texans equal opportunity at well-paying state jobs.  It seems that many of our newly elected statewide officials either don’t care or do not believe they are required to follow the law. 

The new Land Commissioner, recently elected Governor, Agricultural Commissioner, Comptroller, Attorney General and Railroad Commission have all ignored the mandate of posting jobs so that ordinary Texas citizens could apply.  Theoretically, such a system would allow persons to be hired based on their ability and skill rather than their political connections — goal which almost every conservative politician touts.  How many times have you heard that Texas, and America, is the place where you can go as far as you want through developing your skills and being willing to work hard?

It is difficult for me to see how statewide officials can declare that Texas citizens should be law abiding and obey the law at all times when they flout the law with complete impunity and even lack of apology.

The worst offender is newly elected Mr. George P. Bush.  Apparently, he thinks he is the new crown prince of Texas political royalty having been named “Bush.”  Mr. Bush hired 76.4% of his staff in complete violation of the law and now says henceforth he will follow the law.  I doubt very seriously if one of my clients were to be stopped for speeding and promised the highway patrolman that even though he was going 100 m.p.h. in a 50 m.p.h. zone, he would not do it in the future, that this would serve him well to avoid receiving a citation.

Governor Abbott hired about 70% of his staff in violation of the law; and other statewide officials a lesser percentage, but still in significant numbers.

Perhaps most egregious and hypocritical conduct was that of our newly elected Attorney General who is currently under indictment for misconduct and who continues to sue the President claiming President Obama has ignored the law.  Texans should remember next election that the promises of equal opportunity for all on the part of most of our statewide elected officials has a hollow ring — and also remember their actions tell us they really don’t care about giving ordinary Texans an equal shot at well paying, taxpayer funded jobs.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


One of the biggest wasteful holes into which Americans pour millions of dollars is the quest for adequate medical care.  It has been estimated by a high-ranking federal official that Americans could triple the amount they pay for medical services and not increase our gross national product 1%.  Collectively, the medical profession continues to claim we have the finest medical care in the world, which is clearly not true.  Study after study ranks the United States no better than ninth in the world as to medical care for all of our citizens.  More than 42,000 Americans die each year from preventable causes.  The average American spends almost twice as much on healthcare as citizens of other industrialized countries.

In general, Republicans and conservatives continue to bash and call for the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").  However, none of them seems to be able, or want, to offer an alternative which would provide the American people with access to decent health care.  People like Senator Ted Cruz offer a supposed solution which is outright goofy.  He wants to create a tax-free medical savings plan which would allow families to place money in the bank to save for future medical care; they would not be taxed on that income.  Senator Cruz does not seem to understand that people, many of whom are in dire need of medical care, have no extra income to put in the bank.  They are spending every penny they make for food, shelter and clothing.

A business writer for the Houston Chronicle in Sunday’s edition offered what seems to me to be a reasonable answer for this dilemma.  Mr. Tomlinson proposes Medicare for everyone; all American citizens.  Currently, Medicare is being provided at a cheaper rate than most medical care provided by insurance carriers.  According to the Chronicle, insurance carriers spend more than 15% of every dollar on overhead and profit. 

Mr. Tomlinson correctly points out that medical care provided by private insurers is actually costlier because it provides the insurance carriers a profit and pays for multiple layers of overhead–the CEOs, the managers, etc., etc. Medicare, he points out, spends about 3% on overhead and pays no profit.  The writer goes on to propose that if someone prefers to have private insurance they could opt out of Medicare and purchase their own coverage from a private insurer.  Another option would be to buy a policy of insurance which would cover any procedure or care not provided by Medicare. 

The system he proposes would in effect be a single-payer system which exists efficiently in many other countries and could ultimately be a money saver to all citizens of the United States.  The single-payer system affords a better system for doctors and medical providers in that they do not have to file multiple types of paperwork, nor are they required to adhere to a multiple system of guidelines.  While much to-do was made during the Affordable Care Act about patients not being able to have choice, the current system does exactly the opposite.  It is common for an individual covered by an employer's health system to be told they must choose from accepted health providers rather than the provider of the individual's choice.

Of course, there are some issues Mr. Tomlinson failed to address which are keeping the cost of medical care almost out of sight for many.  A prime example is the provision demanded by big-time, well-paid lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry.  It’s illegal to purchase drugs from outside the United States and illegal for the administrators of Medicare to even bargain with pharmaceutical corporations for price.

Obviously, Mr. Tomlinson has given the matter some thought which is more than I can say for many members of Congress whose only thought seems to be to oppose anything the Democrats or our current president propose.  While such a mind-set maybe good politics for them, it’s really not good policy for American families.  It is disgraceful the wealthiest nation on earth leaves many of its citizens at risk of their lives because too many of our elected officials would rather play politics than come up with plans that would relieve not only the physical but also financial suffering of millions of Americans.

Monday, October 12, 2015


Most states of the union require and strictly enforce the mandate that people provide liability insurance before placing their vehicles on the public roadways. It seems simple enough to follow the action that people who drive on Texas highways should be responsible enough to protect their fellow citizen and fellow drivers against the likelihood that sooner or later they, or their property, would be damaged by the negligence of another driver. Unfortunately, Texas has simply winked at the problem and instead of enforcing or passing a simple mandate to be enforced by withholding license plates or driver’s license of those not insured have gone on to try gimmick after gimmick — none of which has worked.  

More unfortunately, in the past few years the Legislature has enacted a program which makes the situation significantly worse. The Legislature has repeatedly succumbed to the insurance lobbyists who do not want mandatory liability coverage because then every time an injured driver faces a jury, the jury will know that more than likely they are reaching into the pocket of an insurance company not the poor widowed defendant that stands before the jury box. Wholly forgotten in this process is the widowed lady who is probably driving the last vehicle she will ever be able to afford, and who has her vehicle and maybe her body completely impaired by a thoughtless, uncaring, uninsured driver.

The recent folly by the Legislature involves another bit of hypocrisy with the brag of passing no new taxes. Not only is it a lie, it’s most hypocritical. The Legislature, in an effort to put more money in the pot, enacted a surcharge system whereby you are fined for having paid a fine. It was first thought of as a sly system of getting into the pocket of irresponsible drivers without being subjected to the criticism of increasing the taxes. Unfortunately, it not only has not worked, it has backfired and made our highways much more unsafe for you if you are a responsible driver.

Unfortunately, Texas is blessed with too many poor folks. If they are apprehended, ticketed and have to pay a fine, too often they are saddled with growing surcharges which many of them can ill afford. Rather than paying the surcharges, many of these folks (and it appears to be a growing number) simply choose to run the risk of being stopped and arrested for not having a driver’s license and for not having liability insurance. 

You see, you can’t get liability insurance unless you are a licensed driver in Texas. Recent studies and examiners of the project have learned there is an alarming escalation in the number of people choosing to drive not only without insurance but also without a valid driver’s license. The Legislature has even relaxed the penalties for driving without a license. Previously, a patrolman would stop a car, and if the driver had no valid driver’s license they were arrested —because it would have been an additional violation of the law for them to simply continue driving without the license.  Now, because of legislative action, unlicensed drivers are being merely ticketed and sent on their way.

Inaction by the Legislature to address this problem is costing you money, making our roads unsafe, and rewarding scofflaws who choose to ignore any responsibility for protecting their fellow drivers on the Texas roadways.

Monday, October 5, 2015


It appears a majority of Texans continue to demand less government. Unfortunately, it also appears that our state Legislature and our statewide elected leadership agrees. I’m not sure the average Texan, however, requested less government in some of the areas we now enjoy. We have less higher education at a reasonable cost, less funding for public education, less preparation of our young people to be ready for college, less health care, even less safety on our public roadways, and, on the national level, less chance of exporting more goods manufactured in the United States.

Our leadership has turned down several billion dollars of available grants from our federal government. As a result, Texas continues to lead the nation in medically uninsured children. This is accompanied by some of the nation’s largest numbers of children afflicted with childhood diseases and with one of the highest death rates for Texans experiencing serious injuries in the workplace.  I doubt seriously if parents of children with disabilities needing intensive therapy are pleased with the recent reduction in funding depriving many of these children of the much needed therapy in order to function in society. Apparently, they simply must console themselves watching their children suffer by saying, “Well at least our leaders have shrunk government in this particular area.”

We continue to shrink the state’s responsibility for education of our children via the public education system. This is so even though the founders of Texas — our brave forefathers who carved a nation from a territory and a state from a nation — had the foresight to provide in our constitution that the Legislature must provide an efficient, free system of public education. The recent leadership in Austin has continued to sacrifice adequate funding for public education on the altar of shrinking government and no new taxes. In today’s political world, I hear few, if any, of our elected members of the Legislature boasting about how great Texas is doing with its public education system. 

A recent study of ACT, a national group that rates education progress in the various states, has estimated that only 27% of our high school graduates in Texas are prepared and able to pass the basics of English, Math and Science at the college level. Even worse, the college board, which administers the SAT — a standard measurement of readiness for college — estimates two-thirds of our high school graduates are not ready to meet the challenges of college.  What this means in plain and simple terms is that Texas will continue on its current path — which is not unlike a third-world nation — with little regulation. This pleases folks like the Koch brothers and leadership in the industrial world who want to continue to provide low-paying, low-tech, low-quality jobs.

In my humble opinion, much of this is caused by the misplaced faith of too many Texas voters who simply believe we can produce quality education on the cheap — that fewer taxes will produce more jobs and a thriving economy. And then the money saved is wasted on paranoia that we are being invaded by aliens from south of the border stealing all of our good jobs.  Just imagine the improvements in education which could have been accomplished if we had used the almost $1 billion dollars for education instead of spending it on our national guard and highway patrolmen going to the border to stem the flow of illegal aliens —  neither of which  even has the authority to arrest illegal aliens.  Sadly, the more it is examined, the more obvious it becomes that the motive and the waste of this money was done purely to make certain politicians look good in the eyes of uninformed voters with misplaced agendas.