Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I’m quite sure the vast majority of citizens in Southeast Texas can do basic arithmetic, including the multiplication tables as well as simple addition and subtraction.  Unfortunately, when considering candidates for public office, it appears to me too many of my fellow citizens forget to do some basic math.

A great example is the current and surprising support for Donald Trump.  Mr. Trump has succeeded in gathering a large following through vague promises to build a wall without telling us how to make Mexico pay for it and a whole series of other boastful predictions of what he can do.  Unfortunately, when basic arithmetic is applied to most of Trump’s promises, they simply don’t add up.

First of all, Trump kowtows to older voters by pledging not to touch entitlements—basically, Social Security and Medicare. Apparently, Trump once supported raising the age limit for Social Security recipients, but he has now backed off from that commitment and promises to continue Social Security as it is with billionaires receiving a cost of living adjustment every year.

Even worse, Trump claims to be a great negotiator and would change the law passed by Congress prohibiting Medicare to negotiate for savings on prescription drugs.  He claims he could save 300 billion dollars by negotiating for drug price.  However, the total amount spent by Medicare for prescription drugs was only 78 billion.  I doubt seriously if Mr. Trump, even with his negotiation skills, could persuade the pharmaceutical industry to contribute to the national deficit.

Closer to home, however, are the promises made by the current ruling party in Texas.  We’ve been promised no new taxes, conservative government and doing away with waste.  At the same time, we’ve been promised quality education, good highways, great law enforcement and most recently a termination of the influx of uninvited guests (illegal aliens).  Recently we have learned one of our great fiscal conservatives, Rick Perry, donated a quarter million dollars to his outgoing staff in appreciation for their service.  He engineered a 5 billion dollar reduction in school funding which caused your property taxes to go up significantly while we had 12 billion dollars in the savings account for Texas.

While Texas politicians boast of no new taxes, without hesitation they force middle America to spend more and more.  Recent studies have shown that in our urban areas people are spending thousands of dollars each year idling their vehicles in traffic jams in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.  While we have not raised the gasoline tax since the 90's, everything else has gone up, the quality of our roads and bridges have gone down substantially.  You should know this if you’ve recently driven on a no-new-tax washboard which passes for a decent highway.

Conservative politicians, like our Governor Abbott, speak of the American dream and how they want our children do better than we did in school—and yet, they have made access to our high-quality institutions of higher learning almost impossible because of the continuing rise in tuition.  A&M and UT currently have substantial tuition increases on the table for consideration by their boards of regents. 

While I’m railing about my conservative Republican friends, I do not leave out some crazy Democratic promises as well.  Who really believes Bernie Sanders when he says a single-payer health system could be bought for $500 a citizen and return $5,000 in benefits?  I’m given to wonder—with so many people believing these outlandish political promises, where is our common sense and ability to calculate?  

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