‘I Don’t Want My Tax Money Spent on Your Kind’ t*:,” , 4.4 ah 961 -1-G-ro POST cb. –Anc , . On the Gas Tax, Organized Deception The Senate Revealed for What It Is AUSTIN It appeared for a while last week as if this was one of those rare times when the Texas Senate stood revealed for what it actually is : a folksy sort of joint-stock company with a reputation the better for efficiency than for honor. The setting was ideal for such a revelationthe galleries were full of people, the press section overflowed, and the assorted senators squirmed in an unfamiliar parliamentary trap, one precluding their off-the-record freedom of maneuver which has kept too many senatorial records “clean” for so many, many years. It is, of course, out of character for the senators to be writhing; one has to see their cloak of poise dissemble into uneasiness, a rather rapid unraveling in some cases, to fully appreciate their better timesthe times when Ben Ramsey’s presiding gavel blanks out dissent and jocular voice votes erase responsibility. Seeing the uneasiness last week, one was moved to a new appreciation of the Senate’s voice-and-gavel method, so polished, so effortlessly invoked, andstrangelyso unacclaimed in the press. Where is the conscience of the republic when such accomplishments go unapplauded ? No matterthe Senate last week had little time to begrudge its anonymity, wanted or unwanted. It had money troubles. T HE IMMEDIATE cause of the difficulty was not the smouldering carcass of a general or not-sogeneral sales tax; it concerned that political shrine, the Texas oil and gas industry. Simply stated, the problem was this : the senators could pass a gas pipelines tax, a gas production tax, or no gas tax at all. For various complicated reasons best appreciated by senators, none of these three alternatives yielded the kind of political invulnerability they had come to expect. As any well-behaved member of a joint-stock company could attest, the pipeline tax was out. Pipelines vote heavily in any properly run joint stock company. A production tax looked for a while like a possibility. After all, even the most provincial of senators knows that independent oilmen are naive. andunder pipeline proddingdocile, two traits leaving our brethren Texas producers with precious few voting rights in the Senate’s board room. . . . and also accounting for the fact that the tax on gas producers is now seven percent while the tax on gas pipelines is zero percent. Still, the production tax had lost some of its old flavor. Some independents, after years of being clobbered by the “safe-for-business” Senate, had begun to peer through their conservative blinders and observe Ben Ramsey’s boys in a new and palpably unsafe light. As one sage of the derrick floor observed : “Why them senators are just handles on a Yankee pump!” From the New York Times: The newspapers in Dallas, Tex. . . . decided that it was not news when a total of 159 Negroes dined quietly at 36 previously all-white restaurants and cafeterias. In a sense it wasn’t news, because there were no “incidents.” In the department stores and other eating places that were visited, there were three complaints from white customers.. This experiment was carried out with the aid of the Dallas Citizens Council, an all-white organization of business leaders. The Council in turn .had worked through a special integration committee of seven whites and seven Negroes. Additional goodwill had been created by a film called “Dallas at the Crossroads.” In a city which many years ago was a center of Ku Klux Klan activities, there Though the pipelines once again clumsily laid their “industry unity” land mines, the better to blow unwary or undocile independents back onto the team, an uncomfortably large number of the boys plowed independently ahead. Long-distance phones jangled and senators got an earful of irate rhetoric from independents back home. In due course, it became apparent to most students of the Senate’s folkways that the production tax was out, too. Out by a whisker, out for the first time in many a Senate session, but out nevertheless. The whole purpose of the senators’ voice and gavel method, after all, was to avoid well-financed opponents in the next election and a passel of vengeful, bejeweled independents simply couldn’t be fitted into the equation. Which left the third possibility no gas tax at all. To the working Senate politician this was the most unpalatable of all. Despite stiff upper limps and much mutual appreciation of their own and their fellows’ “statesmanship,” most senators have been apprehensive all along about the ultimate public reaction to the sales tax. The thunder of the sales tax lobby might drown out criticism in August, but give the people four or five months of being “pennied” to death . . . say to around election time next spring . . . and who could tell how far the broom might sweep. Had not such stalwarts as California’s Knowland and Ohio’s Bricker been wiped out over a similar emotional issuein their case, the right-towork law campaigns in heavily-industrialized states? Had not the Ohio state legislature, including the almost invulnerable, highly gerrymandered Republican state senate, been similarly destroyed? Had not exuberant liberals thundered in to rewrite state tax structures, reverse the gerrymandering process, and spend a ton of money on appropriations .? These thoughts our senators earnestly pressed upon their friends in the pipeline lobby. For weeks now, it has been going on, in the Headliners Club, the Capital Club, the Deck Club, wherever senators and pipeline lobbyists gather. The refrain can perhaps best be summed up in two anguished questions, actually overheard and duly circulated among Austin’s grapevine : “How can we vote $300 million in sales taxes on the folks in the forks of the creek and let natural gas go scot free? How do we do this and get re-elected?” 0 UT OF RESPECT for the persistence of the pipeline lobbyists, it is fair to record that some of them tried to answer this question. Unsuccessfully. Senators are nothing if not politicians, and they knew that while lobbyists would survive a miscalculation of a senator’s re-election chances, the senator would not. The senators said no-thank-you and the more astute among the pipeline boys agreed. Exit the “no tax on gas” solution. seems to be today a dominant spirit of moderation and goodwill. The racial fanatics, who apparently feel like adequate human beings only when they can regard someone else as inferior, no doubt exist in the walls and under the carpets in Dallas, as they do elsewhere, but they don’t run the community. Next September Dallas will begin to integrate its schools, commencing with the first grade and moving upward step by step. With reference to the integration situation the Citizens Council said in a statement : “We thought this should be an adult experience before it is a child experience.” The outlook is promising, as it always is when racial situations are approached with an intelligent friendliness. Thus the Senate’s parliamentary trap of last week. For awhile, the independents were tentatively shoved back into the target area. The senators went into hiding from long distance calls and the pipeline lobbyists took over, wheedling the independents to “take this little tax and let’s go home” ; or “don’t be a dupe of that bunch of liberals in the House.” One by one the independent associations fell into line all except TIPRO. The state’s most politically active independent producer association moved in the opposite direction, taking a progressively tougher linefrom silence on the pipeline tax to a decision not to oppose one and finally, in late July, to the official announcement of its “refusal to cooperate in Senate efforts to make the pipeline tax unconstitutional.” The steady progression of the independents toward independence however tentative and however shortlived it may prove to benarrowed the area of the Senate’s maneuver. Predictably, but nervously \(there being entirely too much publicity about “this damn pipeline tax of Eckinevitable decision, recorded at length elsewhere in this issue of the Observer: Pass a pipeline tax, but rewrite it to make it unconstitutional, and to hell with public opinion, Daniel, Eckhardt, TIPRO, or too much introspection. The unveiling of this command decision took place in a settingthe folks in the galleries, the overflowing press sectionthat led some to hope for a new public insight into the polished .perversions of the Texas Senate. A publication called the Capitol News Letter, edited by one Ray Lowry, courageously attacked little bastards this week: AUSTIN Up at the corner drug store, there is a whispering report that one of the waitresses is pregnant again and is going to retire just as soon as she has enough illegitimate children to get by without working. This situation prevails all over. Senator Goldwater recently said. after studying a survey, “I don’t like to see my taxes paid for children born out of wedlock. I’m tired of profes But the picture was deceptive. In the judgment of veteran newspaper observers in Austin, the galleries-even the Senate floorcontained far more lobbyists than ordinary voters. In the judgment of veteran observers of newspapers, our quaint provincial customsso familiar, so saturated with hypocrisyhave dulled the senses so that even a newspaperman’s historic cynicism becomes too heavy a burden to bear, to be replaced by a somewhat detached, somewhat embarrassed awe at the sheer degeneracy of it all. Lane, Hardeman and the rest defended their non-severability clause the one that makes the pipeline tax unconstitutionalon the grounds they were protecting the producers. This from the same senators who over the years have voted production tax after production tax in order to block a pipeline levy. Eckhardt’s indignation, his impassioned personal privilege speech on the floor of the House after the Senate had hacked up the product of his years of research, this too was embarrassing to those who could not remove the image of the Senate from their minds. Indignation becomes disordered in such a setting. 0 NE CAN PARTICIPATE in organized deception, in collective mythology, only so long, before the feeling of guilt seeps into the most detached of observers. And one recalls the fatherly, somewhat resigned remark of a renowned pipeline lobbyist, his liberalism of the 1930’s a casualty that neither his friends nor his enemies now mention : “Austin is not a good town, for a young legislator to grow up in.” LARRY GOODWYN sional chiselers who don’t work and have no intention of working. Why is it that we have the greatest prosperity of all time, yet have welfare costs above those of the 1930’s?” . . Texas has 60,000 dependent children on the Department of Public Welfare rolls, and of the total, 12,000 are bastards. The DPW has been working on it, and the number might have been much greater. Matter of fact, there has been a reduction in the number over the past few years. But the fact remains that the taxpayers are still’ supporting a lot of bastards. I I DALLAS INTEGRATION Waging The Good Fight
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