economic intelligence… ports that finance companies are mounting a lobbying campaign to “legalize loan sharking in Texas.” The firms want as much as a 25 percent boost in charges for consumer loans, hiking the total interest payments on a 3-year loan of $1,000 from $339 to $425. Patman says the finance companies already charge “extra high” rates, unwarranted by their own costs. The Communications Workers of America’s Austin local claims that 27 percent of the information operators in the capital city stand to lose their jobs with the advent of the 200 charge that Southwestern Bell is making for information calls. Bell was quick out of the chute with a denial. PR director Pete Feldman said, “No permanent operators will be terminated because of the plan.” But Feldman told the Austin Citizen that the 877 directory assistance operators in Texas constituted an endangered species, acknowledging that they had been told when hired that they might be cut “as the operational needs of the business change.” Nice try General Dynamics Corporation tried to evade some $3 million in Texas franchise taxes, but Comptroller Bob Bullock, Atty. Gen. John Hill, and the state supreme court combined to make the firm pony up. GDCa major defense contractorclaimed that the money it makes from facilities on land leased by the military qualifies as foreign receipts and thus are not subject to the Texas franchise tax. Nothing doing, said the court. In a report to the Texas Senate, the subcommittee on consumer affairs called for legislation that would require item-by-item pricing by supermarkets to help shoppers know what groceries cost. The chain stores had opposed such legislation at December hearings \(Obs., Jan. The Dallas Morning News reports that the district office of the Small Business Administration will handle about 600 loans to start new enterprises this fiscal year, compared with 487 last 28 The Texas Observer year. SBA official Jim Baskin said the boom reflects new optimism on the part of small business people and a willingness of banks to turn loose some of their capital at rates of 9 to 10 percent. That’s not much of a deal, but it’s the only deal in town. Baptist ads The Baptist Church of Texas is spending $1 million on a mass media campaign that is meant to help people find “peace of mind.” According to Advertising Age, a four-week blitz involving 76 newspapers, 300 radio stations, 50 TV stations, and some 1,800 posters is headed our way in February. The campaign is in the hands of Dallas’ Bloom Advertising, which has applied what it calls its “market-by-market leveraging concept” to develop the ads and lead Texans to better things. What Bloom has done is target-test “geographic, demographic, and psychographic segments” of the state’s populationthe same technique, the ad agency says, that has worked well in selling rice, mayonnaise, and other stuff for Riviana Foods, Campbell Taggart, Anderson-Clayton, and other clients. Curious. First City National Bank of Hous ton, which keeps track of such things, reports that Houston has the highest inflation rate in America. Of the 2.3 million houses in rural Texas, 26 percent are substandard, according to figures in the 1970 federal census. The designation is most often given because of inadequate plumbing. Nearly 75,000 rural people in the state live with no piped water in their houses, and nearly 120,000 are without a flush toilet. Laura E isenhour The report on the 1974 agriculture census is out, and the Texas data confirms the need for state and federal government action to protect the efficiency and productivityand existenceof the family farm. State farms sold $5.7 billion worth of food and fiber in 1974, but expenses came to $5 billion. The subtraction and division works out to an average net income of about $3,700 for 185,572 Texas farmers. The number of owner-operated farms decreased by 10,000 in the decade since the 1964 census was taken, while the average age of farmers now is 54, up from 52.7 in 1964. The Texas farm census report is available for 250 from Subscriber Services, Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233. 3,000 farmers Texas Agriculture Commissioner John White says another 3,000 farmers can be expected to succumb to the cost-price squeeze in 1977meaning they will go out of business. And, unlike previous years, it is not expected that neighboring farmers will pick up the acreage of the departing families, since farm prices are low, production expenses high, and farmland taxes on the rise. As a result, White says, Texas can expect to have 400,000 fewer acres in production a year from now. E-Systems, Inc., the Dallas-based electronics firm, went to court to cut off the unemployment compensation benefits being paid to five of its employees who refused to cross their union’s picket line. The men had been laid off their jobs at E-System’s Greenville plant, which was later struck by a United Auto Workers local. The company then called the five back to work, but they honored the UAW picket line and continued to draw their unemployment checks. E-Systems promptly asked the Texas Employment Commission to disqualify the men, since they had refused an offer of work, but TEC stood with the workers. E-Systems appealed the TEC decision and won in district court. But the Waco Court of Civil Appeals, the same that ruled for locked-out workers in an earlier unemployment compensation case \(Obs., turned the decision. On Jan. 5, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the Waco jurists, agreeing that the Greenville workers were entitled to payments.
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