HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE H. W. SMITH CHAIRMAN strzicA ft. Lau:i Rst ,Ustuttit “NO HARD FEELIN’S, MR. SAMBY THE WAY, HOW ARE YOU FEELIN’ ?” on a 5h inMargin Marvelous Moments If those legislators who helped kill $44 million of the governor’s deficitretiring program last week need any further incentive to play the sales tax game, they surely did not find it in this week’s Texas Employment Commission report. The TEC disclosed that un-employment is now at a higher level in Texas than at any time since the rock-bottom depression. The total is 6.3 percent of the labor force-223,00,0 people. A quarter of a million deadbeats, some of our conservative associates might say. Yet at best these people are getting a few odd dollars in unemployment compensation, which is lower in Texas in fact than in all but two states. Many aren’t getting anything. When they shop for food, they literally must squeeze the pennies. Some of the children probably need shoes. A soft drink, no doubt, A minister of the gospel from El Paso, who came across to us from Australia, got the royal treatment in our House of Representatives Thursday morning. The reverend then proceeded to tell our good legislators, in just about these words: the profit motive is the last fine instinct humankind has, Jesus Christ upheld the profit motive \(and the reverend quotfor Kaiser Steel is good for the country,” and that fancy John Kennedy federal government will surely end up putting us all on the dole, Australian fundamentalists included. All this was delivered, with appropriate misreadings and tortured misconstructions of our own national history, with all the salty certitude the reverend had at his command, which apparently was endless. Those of our readers who belong to University faculties, women’s bridge clubs, and typesetting locals, and hence in calm isolation have not paid heed when we battered and hardened chroniclers of the Texas scene have repeatedly said that human beings really run second to partnerships, cartels, joint stock operations, and the more portly incorporated enterprises in our state, need only look at some votes down at the capital this week to be at last partly convinced. How, you ask, could a duly elected body of representatives turn down such modest safety proposals as Eckhardt’s fire marshal and Cannon’s air pollution bills? How could legislation which only seeks, with a minimum of trouble and confusion, to save the lives and protect the health of men, women, and children in our larger cities be heartily spUrned by such FIRST THINGS FIRST .. . WHEREAS the sovereign State of Texas ranks Fiftieth , in unemployment compensation payments, Thirty-fourth in teachers’ salaries, Fiftieth in per capita support of its park system, and First in the caseload per state social worker, the Legislature is memorialized to congratulate itself for the recent installation of new white toilet seats in the House cloak room. Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. Entered as second-class matter, April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. MARCH 11, 1961 Willie Morris Editor and General Manager Bob Sherrill, Associate Editor Sarah Payne, Office Manager comes as a luxury. One need not be reminded that there are any of a number of schemes in the House which would tax these items and, for that matter, everything else broke and desperate human beings need to live and to relax. There are thousands of others, in recession and out, who exist on a thin margin : old age pensioners, $900a-year farm laborers, dime store clerks, blind men on street corners, Negro janitors’ wives, that vast majority of simple folk in our state who get by on less than $3,000 every twelve months. We have heard enough these past weeks of what the charts tell us, pro and con. In this fight against a sales tax, we would like to hear again a faint human compassion for the people who would be hardest hit by it. The fellow was straight out of the `twenties, blood brother and contemporary of those illustrious corporation brethren of the Great Boom who never lacked New Testament scripture and verse to endorse the bull market, Calvin Coolidge chamber of cornmerce programs, and death to anarchists. For this reason if no other, we were not a jot surprised when he was given a standing ovation and read verbatim, coughs, pauses and all, into the House journal. The only disquieting aspect of the whole business was the harsh realization that after the escheats, REA, fire marshal, and air pollution bills, and after the franchise and utilities gross receipts taxes, the boys on the other side of the aisle are still bringing in re-inforcements from Australia. reckless and off-center condemnations? The answer lies not merely in the reversed order of values we have perpetrated for ourselves here in Texas, though that explains most of it. It lies partly in what seems now to be a sense of hesitancy and disorganization among the liberals in the legislature. It lies in an absence of vigorous, purposeful leadership from the governor’s office. It can be explained, also, by the tragic blurring and distorting of what conservatism, in a society like Texas today, ought to be. The Grovers, Floyds, Shipleys, Garrisons, and Millers \(all from Houston, all opponents of the disaster-prevention plan ; may they be prepared when have somehow equated “conservatism” with opposition to escheats bills, air pollution bills, and industrial safety billsin other words, when you get right down to it, opposition to any constructive social measure on both the state and federal levels that so much as winks at business. Actually, this brand of “conservatism,” in the context of the civilization, can more conveniently be measured in terms of geologic rather than strictly historic time. Such paleolithic gentlemen never again will be in the ascendency in a Texas lower House. They can still make the damndest oneshot coalitions, let it be added. Published once a week from Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $5 per annum. Advertising rates available on request. Extra copies 15c each. Quantity prices available on order. EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICE: 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone GReenwood 7-0746. HOUSTON OFFICE: Mrs. It D. Randolph, 419 1/2 Lovett Blvd., Houston 16, Texas. AUSTIN The knowing, the better educated, if you wish the worldly people of the state have become a political force and are pitting themselves against the know-nothings, the provincials, if you wish the hicks who have for so long controlled the legislature. For once Tuesday night, during the hearing on “the God bill,” the provincials were on the defensive. On behalf of W. T. Oliver’s bill to fire all public school and college teachers who will not swear, on an oath, that they believe in “the existence of a Supreme Being,” Oliver offered only three witnesses : himself, Bill Dungan, and Joseph Chapman, all state representatives from East Texas. Every witness against the bill was a clergyman or a spokesman for churches. Not a single minister spoke for the bill. The three self-appointed crusaders against the academic heathens were somewhat rattled, one could see, by the impressive parade of men of God rejecting, without _a thank-you, the bill to establish belief in God by law. Mr. Chapman could not resist a thrust against “communists teaching in the pool-pits in the United States.” What other defense did they have against the attacks of the clergymen whose message they were pretending to protect? N 0 ONE SPOKE UP from the colleges, nor from the public schools, nor from the freethinkers’ various leagues and garrets ; they chose, really, to let believers in intellectual freedom who had also freely chosen to believe in God carry the case to the committee. The next day, however, in The Daily Texan at the University of Texas, a professor of botany indiscreetly but realistically observed that if the bill becomes law, three fourths of the physics faculty and half of the rest of the teachers, if they were honest, would have to leave the University. There ‘ were some revealing moments. Rep. Oliver began, “Now Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, this bill is relatively simple.” .. . “I am the father of four children,” said Oliver, ” and I do not recall any time that I am able to set my children down and hold their mind in a captive state for an hour and a half at any one time.” Yet, he said, teachers do just this. Oliver opposed teaching about communism or atheism in any way. “W. T.,” said Rep. Neil Caldwell patiently, “I didn’t say advocate it, I said to teach it so we could understand it.” “Do you?” W.T. rejoined. You’re against teaching about atheism or about communism,” asked Rep. Ronald Roberts of Hillsboro. “Yes sir, I am,” said W.T. Whereupon Ronald read him from Thomas Jefferson’s Act Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia: “Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdents, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy . . .” THEN BEGAN the parade of clergymen against the bill. As they one by one harked back to the fundamental freedoms of the heritage, one knew that times have changed in Austin ; that, as a friend in the chamber said, “If we can’t pass an REA bill yet, at least now there is some concern for human dignity.” Rev. J. M. Dawson, for decades a leading Baptist spokesman, reminded the committee that James Madison had observed that invoking the power of the law for reliigous belief fosters the suspicion that the friends of religion are so conscious of its fallacies, they fear leaving it to stand on its own merits. Rev. Edmund Heinsohn, for 25 years minister of the University \(of that “in our way of freedom every man is entitled to be an atheist if he wants to be,” that any threat to his right threatens also the rights of a man of religion, and that he, Heinsohn, wants no advantages in the toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye, argumentto-argument contests of ideas and religious faith. “I think all any of us want is freedom,” he said. Harold Kilpatrick, speaking officially for the Texas Council of Churches, presented its resolution saying the bill is “unconstitutional, self-contradictory, stultifies valued administrators and teachers who cherish personal integrity and religious freedom.” AND SO IT WENT . . . dig nified, impressive men of the church, rising to defend the rights of heretics, or unbelievers, or of doubters, seeking after faith. To bear Dean Blandy of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest speak quietly of the value of those who are concerned enough to doubt ; to hear Rev. Madison Scott of the First Baptist Church in Austin say without any sense of combativeness, “I cherish deeply the freedom of any man to believe or disbelieve”; to learn from Rev. C. J. Roberts of Kingsville that 27 ministers meeting in Kleberg County had unanimously decided to oppose the bill ; to hear Edwin P. Shaw, speaking for U.T. ministers, declare, “We as orthodox Christian ministers . . . ask only that the Christian faith have a fair shake”these were marvelous moments, these were proofs of the freedom that is real among us. R.D. Re-inlorcenzen to Second Place THE TEXAS OBSERVER
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