Page 19


It’s nothing to laugh about. I’ve been telling you that this is an imperialistic government. The multinationals are the new imperial agents. They go all over the world exploiting people and our government backs them up. That the same government that’s been slapping Lockheed, Gulf, Westinghouse, Exxon, and some of the other biggies around for passing out the grease in those foreign countries? Window-dressing. So what if they do slap a few wrists? Do you think that’s going to change anything? To hear ’em scream, it already has. Now we have an attorney general who’s got some indictments that may send the upper cut of McDonnell-Douglas to jailwouldn’t that be something? It hasn’t happened, and that’s just one incident. We don’t even know all that those corporations are doing to ushow they steal us blind, how they poison the earth, dump their chemicals in the rivers, pollute the airthese industrial poisons could kill us all, as they have a lot of fish already. Bad, bad to kill fish like that, but now we got laws to stop that. Didn’t have them when you started out. Don’t you remember the little black and white signs that used to be alongside the highways leading into small Texas towns? Those signs told you whether the water in that town was fit to drink. No kidding, that’s what the Texas State Health Department had for a water program. If you didn’t see that sign, you didn’t stop for a drink. Polluted? There wasn’t necessarily any industry doing it. Let’s just say it gave strangers the shizzly-dritswhat Carter called Montezuma’s Revenge. You see those pictures in the papers of international conferences with bottled water set on the table in front of Vance, Arafat, Sadat, Beginwhoever’s there. That’s because they don’t have a Texas State Health Department telling them what’s safe to drink. We had’signs. Now we go anywhere in the country without giving it a thought. I’m not talking about public water supplies. Of course, that’s better, but what good is having a lot of laws if you can’t get them enforced against those corporations that are poisoning our rivers? Oh, but you ‘can. Once I gathered up a Mason jar of water out of the Elm Fork and took it in and set it on Senator Yarborough’s desk and told him how the fish were floating bottom up, and he took one look at that blue waterain’t any blue river water in Texasand right then got the big honcho of the Corps of Engineers on the phone. I’m going to quote him: he told that guy, “Dammit,”he seldom cussed”I know it’s New Year’s Eve, but I sit on the committee in the United States Senate that sets your salary, and I don’t want that Denison mill dumping its dye in that river, and I want you to do something about itNOW. Call me back and tell me what you’ve done.” I could have hugged his neck. That mill’s been doing that there since I was a kid. We used to not have a government that could do anything about things ,like that. Maybe you never walked around Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Louisville, and places like that before they cleaned them up. If not, you don’t know what air pollution is. Yarborough was an exception; look what we got up there now. An exception that hope made possiblehis, yours, mine. And, in a way, he’s still there, because he left his mark on some law we wouldn’t have had he not been there. What are you laughing about? How Yarboroughgood man as he is and always has beenran for governor in the ’50s on a platform opposed to the “forced commingling of the races.” We all learned a new word and been doing more commingling ever since. That’s a change for the better, but don’t you realize what the income statistics showthe gap between the earnings of blacks and whites .. . Know about that. There’s a lot of catching up yet to be done: between blacks and whites, between South and North, between rural and urban, between old and not-so-old, between farmworkers and industrial workers you name it. But look behind you, look back 25 years: there wasn’t a black in the country who could get a room in any of our hotels, who could eat a hamburger sitting down at a table, or even get served at the same window where whites got theirs. A black woman couldn’t even try on a dress before she bought it and when you went into a bank, store, any commercial place, you never saw any black or brown faces behind the counter the way you do now. Did you know there weren’t any Mexican-Americans allowed to tend the stamp windows at the United States Post Office in San Antonio as late as 1960? San Antonio, for christsakes. Henry Gonzalez, who they once wouldn’t let swim in the San Marcos pool, straightened that out. There’re things more wrenching than income gaps. Don’t ever forget how blacks used to have to ride in the back of the buses and the Interurban. Interurban? You don’t remember the Interurban? Best little electric train you ever sawran all the way from Waco to Oklahomaa real doozy, pick you up anywhere and let you out anywhere, and ran right through the heart of Waco, Dallas, Sherman, all those towns. It could really scoot. That’s what I’m talking about. You had a good, energy-efficient transportation system and you let them junk itall for money. Maybe if they were making money they wouldn’t have junked it. No federal government handing out subsidies like today. They probably tore it up to sell off the right of way to some real estate developers and make a killing. There could have been some of that, but I suspect the automobile had more to do with it. That and building that first so-called Dallas freeway that put Richardson on the map. You used to wear the sidewalls of your tires out driv’ing to Richardson when the ruts in those gumbo roads hardened. Christ, after the war, if yOu had a job, you had credit; you ‘could buy anything for two-bits down and two-bits forever. We been on that track ever since. You see, there weren’t any new houses built during those four years of war, and there were six million of us coming home hungry for one. Only thing available was .Quonset huts set out in the mud, like outside of Dallas. We lived in them until we could get our hands on one of those green lumber GI houses, the kind that made up the suburbs. Suburbs are another thing that killed the streetcar in places like Austinstreetcars couldn’t climb the hills and the town couldn’t go anywhere except uphill with us having so many babies. Boy. Howdy, I wish I’d bought the hills west of Austin when they were’ selling for $5 an acre, except I didn’t have $5. When you were living on the $15 a month NYA paid you on a made-up job to finish college in the ’30s there wasn’t much left for real estate speculation. That $15 just paid the bills. Tuition and registration was the big crunchthat cost $25 at UT. Even Barney Rapoport’s job didn’t pay that; he had to borrow it. Now they shove loans and scholarships at you. That’s what I was saying about inflation: it robs us all, it destroys all our gains, it’s going to wreck this economy. Not necessarily. You think inflation’s good? Not good, not as good as price stability, but better than five-cent cotton and ten-cents-a-barrel oil and having over 16 percent unemployed. Politicians have learned that lesson real good: the definition of full employment is the amount of unemployment you can have and still get re-elected. Look how Carter’s trying to engineer a quiet recession now. Phillips curvebaloney. There are a lot of things you can do besides throw people out of work. The smart money knows how to take care of itself. It thrives on inflation. Look at what they’re paying on Treasury bills today, but you have to have at least 6 DECEMBER 28, 1979