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Union dues Much to the dismay of Governor Clements and other leaders of the state’s Establishment, Atty. Gen. Mark White ruled recently that state law allows Texas agencies to make deductions from state payrolls for union dues just like the deductions now made for employee retirement funds. The union dues checkoff is hardly a radical concept: each agency has to agree to the dues deeach employee must, of course, approve it before his or her paycheck is affected. But you wouldn’t know that if all you heard was the caterwauling about the union “camel getting its nose under the tent” from Bill Clements. The attorney general was forced to rule on the issue by a formal request from State Comptroller Bob Bullock, who has come out stronglyand alone among all our top state officeholdersin favor of state employee unionization. But lawyer White deserves credit for making his decision on the merits, as he saw them, instead of tailoring his opinion to suit Texas’s anti-labor power structure, as he could have by construing the law authorizing deductions to include a restriction that isn’t there. ACLU ratings Texans in the first session of the 96th Congress did not exactly cover themselves with libertarian glory, according to an American Civil Liberties Union analysis of important votes last year. Voting on six key bills, such as one that would have deprived the federal courts of jurisdiction in school prayer cases and one that would have denied Medicaid funds for abortions even in cases of “long-lasting physical health damage” to mothers, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen came down on the ACLU side just twice and Sen. John Tower just once \(both did vote against the extremists on eight key votes in the House on a similar range of issues, only four of the 24 Texans agreed with the ACLU position more than half the time. These stalwarts were Democrats Bob Eckhardt \(seven on four of the eight issues were Democrats Jack Brooks, Martin Frost, and Jake Pickle. Of special interest is the ACLU’s 1979 key vote on draft registration. The proposal was trounced in the House in September by a margin of 252 to 163 but has come back strong this session thanks to President Carter. In September, the only Texans who cast ACLU-approved “nay” votes on draft registration were Eckhardt, Gonzalez, Leland, Mattox, Pickle, and Republican Ron Paul. Fallback position You may have noticed that the oil industry’s ongoing campaign to jus tify high profits started sounding a little different after the figures on the total take for 1979 were published. The old line of defense emphasized that oil industry profits were less than or comparable to the rates of return for most other industries in the U.S. This was statistical sleight of hand, of course: profits from the oil and gas production of the energy conglomerates ran well ahead of returns for most other industries, but that was obscured by comparing the conglomerates’ over-all performance with aggregated data for other industries. Now, however, even by that criterion their profits are excessive, so the new line is that the conglomerates need rates of return like Exxon’s 20 percent or Mobil’s 20.6 percent in order to pay for more intensive energy exploration and development. As Austin economist Jack Hopper points out in a first-rate analysis of oil industry profits in the February edition of Southwest Energy and Utility Watch, there are a couple of things wrong with this argument. First, “instead of investors taking risks and supplying capital, consumers are required to do it. But investors, not consumers, will reap the low-risk rewards; and those rewards will come from federal subsidies, grants, and guaranteed pricesat taxpayers’ expense. Consumers give industry’s stockholders two free rides.” Second, Hopper notes, “this treasure of oil cash will not all be spent on new sources of energy. Even now some goes to buy existing sources; some is now being invested in non-energy projects” like Exxon’s billion-dollar-plus takeover bid for Reliance Electric Company. Hopper concludes: “Given the long history of price fixing in oil and the political influence the industry has always enjoyed, the pros pect of even greater dominance deserves more attention from those who fear concentrations of power, whatever their party or ideology.” 1000 West Lynn, Austin, Texas 478-3001 Store hours: Mon-Sat 9:30-7, Sun 12-6 at’s It 5J11 e About? pece8 n Old St Cafe 310 East 6th St. A IC I. c 7,1 0 Parisian Charm. Omelette & Champagne Breakfast. Beautiful Crepes. Afternoon Cocktails. Gallant Waiters. Delicious Quiche. Evening Romance. Continental Steaks. Mysterious Women. Famous Pastries. Cognac & Midnight Rendezvous. In short, it’s about everything a great European style restaurant is all about. Friendly Spot Ice House Live music Friday and Saturday 1001 S. Alamo, San Antonio THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19