Futurology The high plains will run out of water The south plains will run out of gas The coast is knee-deep in pollution Then bring on that critical mass. Bring on, Bring on Bring on that critical mass Bring on, Sing on They’ll soon cram a nuke up your nose. A city will soon reach from Huntsville To Conroe to Houston to Nome To Beaumont to west of the Brazos: We’ll call it my old country home. Bring on, Bring on Bring on that critical mass Sing on, Sing on They’re cramming a Blurb up your nose. Now Texas is filling with people From high in the temperate zone Who’ve done with their half of the nation And we’ll help them screw up our own. Sing on, Sing on The chamber of commerce has class Bring on, Bring on Bring on that critical mass. Our farmland makes wonderful suburbs Our dump grounds smell smoky but sweet Our rivers well up from our kidneys Who cares what our grandchildren eat? Sing on, Bring on Bring on that critical mass Sing on, Bring on That hyper-intestinal gas. Pete Gunter, when he’s not writing or singing songs, is president of the Big Thicket Association and chairman of the philosophy department at North Texas State University. There’s oil and there’s tar on our beaches And crud where the strip mines begin There’s bull in our governor’s speeches Thank God for the fiefdom we’re in. Bring on, Bring on Bring on that corporate class Bring on, Sing on Bring on that critical mass. solved without more money, either. We need creative solutions to our educational and social service needs, but none of the solutions is likely to get far without an adequate financial commitment. A fourth item is the changing political marketplace. No longer is it likely that Mr. or Ms. Smith can go to Washington, or to Austin for that matter, solely on the basis of good deeds, enthusiasm, and a willingness to hand out cards to every person in the county. Our political marketplace, much like the marketplace for many goods and services, is becoming dominated by fewer and fewer conglomerates. The cost of running for public office has soared. While many know that Governor Clements spent $7 million to get elected in 1978, few recognize that the cost of a contested State Senate seat reached about $200,000. On the supply side the money is increasingly provided by political action committees whose interest in good government is usually confined to a handful of issues. We need to develop strategies to counter increasing oligopoly in this vital market of political expression. The same Texas which produced John B. Connally and other elements of the plutocracy also nourished, a century before, the spark that began the populist movement in America. But change will not result from just talking among ourselves. Our neighbors who perceive inflation, high taxes, and overregulation as major problems of the day cannot be ignored. We need to address these concerns in constructive ways consistent with social progress. Such a program could include the Sunset process that addresses the hypocrisy of those who are really seeking benevolent regulation, an attack on government-sanctioned practices that increase the price of goods and services, and a tax reform program with a refinery tax for those who feel the pinch of a regressive tax system. Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, says, “Every society faces not merely a succession of probable futures, but an array of possible futures as well.” In Texas the decisions we make in the next few years will determine whether or not we want a future that is simply an unplanned succession of the past, or a future that incorporates rational coordination of impulses and thoughts. If we affirm the latter, then it will be necessary in Texas to have more leaders who have the courage to differentiate between political principle and political expediency. We have the capacity to recognize the problems, learn from our experiences, and effect a different future. Nineteeneighty will be a key year in determining whether we do. 0 Lloyd Doggett is the state senator representing a Central Texas district centered in Austin. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 35
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