Postmaster: if undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th, Austin, Tex. 78701. Please send ideas Richard Halpin’s “Will it really change?” regarding our state’s MHMR “care” system. Having been associated with the system about four years ago, then moving out of state, and now returning, I find little basic change. There were and are some very bright and dedicated people working in our state institutions but unfortunately they have little effect on policy. The very physical plants we send people to for help and assistance can’t help but induce institutionalization and warehousing. If we are moving to the community services model, then we need some real planning and priority settings. State and local resistance to this will be strong if people are not prepared and educated to its reasoning. I invite others to share their ideas on how we may enter the policy-making process regarding this 10-years-late change. David Bloxom, Jr., 5110 Byers, Fort Worth, Tex. 76107. For expungement Congress has at last moved in the direction of limiting the wholesale dissemination of computerized criminal justice information in an effort to protect the privacy of American citizens. It is time Texas took steps in this direction as well. Apparently, however, neither this or any other proposal relating to the protection of a citizen’s right to privacy has become an issue in any of this year’s statewide political campaigns. It is all too easy today to acquire a permanent criminal record. Your neighbor or business competitor can file an unfounded charge against you or a mistaken policeman can arrest you on mere probable cause or less. Regardless of whether you are never prosecuted, or if you are prosecuted and acquitted in a court of law, you will forever after have a “criminal record” which will follow you for the remainder of your days. You will have difficulty finding a job and you will continually be embarrassed by 24 The Texas Observer IDialogue the question on a multitude of forms, “Have you ever been arrested? Give full details.” If you are the victim of a crime, the police will weigh your “record” against you in evaluating your complaint. You can forget holding a bonded position or running for public office. If you are a witness in court or sue someone for running into your automobile, you can expect to be asked to explain your arrest. The implication will be that you are, in fact, a criminal and unworthy of belief. If you are ever again a defendant in a criminal case, you will be hindered in your defense by your prior record even though you may have been totally innocent. In fact, whether you are prosecuted at all may be influenced by your “record.” Even if you were arrested 20 years ago, the prosecutor can ask your character witnesses if they have “heard” that you were arrested for whatever it might have been. In sum, you will never be whole again. Numerous other states have recognized the unfairness in all this and have enacted laws requiring the expungement, that is the total destruction, of all records of arrests which do not lead to convictions. Texas recently extended this type of protection to juveniles, but has done nothing to protect the remainder of its citizens from the sitgmatizing consequences of an arrest record. Among the states which presently provide in their statutes for the expungement of arrest records in one form or another are Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The criminal courts exist to determine guilt or innocence and the time is long overdue for out Texas legislators to address themselves to the right of presumptively innocent Texans to be free of unwarranted permanent arrest records as well as to enjoy the right of privacy as extended to the citizens of other states. . . . Bob Atwood, Rockport, Tex. 78382. Root cause Worker income must grow with economic output to maintain prosperity. If investment income grows faster than real output, the inescapable result is price inflation. Then wages also must grow faster than real output, or there will be runaway recession and unemployment. History shows that investment income increases at a rate almost precisely equal to the prime interest rate. This result is guaranteed by habitual reinvestment of a large fraction of investment income, plus large additions from earned income. Average return on business investments can be no less than the prime interest rate, or business activity will plunge. It is clear that wages must grow at an annual rate also equal to the prime interest rate, or workers will not receive their fair and necessary share of economic output. Therefore, if the prime interest rate exceeds the annual increase in real economic output, the inescapable result is price inflation. When excessive interest rates finally lead to price inflation, the greedy banking vultures cry for tighter money supplies and even higher interest rates to solve the problem they alone have created. It is no wonder that such policies fail, whether applied alone or in combination with other policies. If the people are ever to have prosperity without inflation they must wrest control of the money supply from monopolistic banking parasites and their overpaid professional economic prostitutes, who will not tolerate enough money to keep interest rates at noninflationary levels. In the long run, labor must receive annual wage increases equal to prime interest rates. To accept less is to invite economic disaster. When annual wage increase demands are rigidly based on the prime interest rate, the public will become acutely aware of the root cause of price inflation, and will demand really effective action. Donald P. Harris, 3301 French Place, Austin, Tex. 78722. Twice funny Disclaimers notwithstanding, M.I. has written an account of her travels through the USSR that challenges readers to decide in which sense of the word it is funnier. For my part, as an alien who has endured much USBS about ‘Murga winning the Battle of Britain, sinking the Graf Spee and the Bismark, scouring the seas and conquering the continents in behalf of her prostrate World War Two allies, I most enjoyed Ms. Ivins’s patriotic pique over a little SSBS from the same crock. A. C. Hall, 6231 Tremont St., Dallas, Tex. 75214. Power just goes to two poles to those who’ve got money and those who have people. Saul Alinsky
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