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Continued from Page 11 . they receive adequate maternity and prenatal health care and nutrition. PRESERVING THE FAMILY Representative Gonzalo Barrientos, DAustin, is introducing a bill to provide medicaid coverage to those whose income is slightly above the AFDC maximum levels, to those who become poor due to medical costs, to dependent children under 21, and to pregnant women with AFDC income levels. Because the “working poor” and twoparent households do not qualify for AFDC funding, they do not qualify for medicaid in Texas. The federal government provides an option for states to provide medicaid to those making slightly more than the medicaid maximum, and Rep. Barrientos’ bill calls for the extension of this coverage to families earning 33.3% more than AFDC levels as provided by the federal government. Under current rules, the Department of Human Resources has rejected its “medically needy” responsibility. In many cases, when families are hit by large medical expenses, the father leaves home in order for the family to qualify for AFDC and medicaid. Barrientos’ bill provides preventive health care for working lower-income families. In the long run, this results in local savings as the number of people requiring hospitilization and emergency room care drops. It also enables many people to stay on the job instead of being suddenly overwhelmed by untreated ailments. 34 states currently have “medically needy” programs. The Texas Alliance is also encouraging the passage of legislation that would force the Department of Human Resources to exercise its option to pick up the federal emergency funds program. Rep. El Franco Lee, D-Houston, is preparing legislation to this effect. The program would provide emergency assistance to poor families hit with’ disastrous medical bills, eviction, or a heat cut-off. The United Way is pushing a similar measure, but its bill puts primary responsibility on local governments rather than the state. The counties that can least afford to provide emergency assistance are those where the need for such assistance will probably be greatest. NEW PRIORITIES The budgetary measures called for by the Texas Alliance to supplement 1982 spending levels would provide minimum acceptable funding for social programs in Texas. They would offset the cruelest cuts of Reaganomics and provide many Texans with the means to survive. Members of the Alliance have suggested that the funding increases can be provid ed for by increases in the oil and natural gas severance tax, by certain excise taxes, or by a corporate income tax. Certainly those are possibilities. But, as Sen. Doggett suggested to the Alliance, “The highway lobby should bear the burden of a tax bill.” The supplementary budget delineated by the Poverty Education and the bucket compared to budgetary increases being sought this year for highways. Recently the highway lobby produced a report that attempted to justify the huge highway increase request by pointing to Annapolis, MD Agood indication of the dominance of economics over politics \(and I use the latter word ‘ in the universal acceptance of the concept of interest as the cornerstone of political and ethical thought. PolitiCians, journalists, political theorists and scientists, right down to the ever-present dupe of massmedia politics and journalism, the average man on the street all of us assume that we have reached rock bottom when we justify our actions by referring to “my interest,” the “national interest,” or “our interest.” The dominance of interest-group politics and of the concept of interest in political thought and discussion bespeaks the transformation from a philosophical to a scientific understanding of the things of the polis, and thus the need to base political conceptions on some kind of ultimate factual basis, to wit, upon interests. This individual, this group, this nation, simply has this interest, and it fights to protect it. The word “interest” could be used in a deeper, more philosophical vein one might say, for example, that man is a being of interest but in current parlance it refers only to sociological facts. In terms of classical political thought, “interest” in the current sense refers only to the apparent good to whatever someone happens to think is good. Craig Edward Clifford is a free-lance writer and native Texan living in Annapolis. This essay appeared originally in Carolina Quarterly. the jobs and consequent boost to the economy it would provide. But consider this: If workers received preventive health care and could stay on the job, if children received nutrition and education adequate for them to become productive, fulfilled citizens, if incomes weren’t deflated by medical and utility costs, if rural communities were helped to redevelop their economic bases, then more money would be spent among more people, more taxes would be paid, more roads would be built, and more people would have somewhere to go and a way to get there. The interest-group understanding of politics is based on the idea that each group may fight for its interest with whatever means are available. According to this way of thinking, the free marketplace of ideas is not the arena in which ideas compete with one another according to their intrinsic merit, but just that the marketplace in which ideas are bought and sold. The marketplace of ideas, as Charles Rembar has pointed out, has lost its metaphorical status, and thus its meaning. * The original conception of the First Amendment places dialogue at the heart of the democratic political process, and the heart of dialogue is the free exchange of ideas, It does not mean that one individual or group has the right to use whatever means are at its disposal to speak without interruption and without regard for the rights of others to speak, whether those means consist of a loud voice, a bull horn, a vocal majority, the threat of violence, or a lot of money for TV time and ad campaigns. When Polus complains to Socrates in Plato’s Gorgias that Socrates won’t let him exercise the Athenian right to free speech at great length, Socrates explains that it would indeed be a shame if Polus were to be denied this sacred Athenian right during his visit to Athens, but that it would also be a.shame if Polus were to deny everyone else the right to speak. Socrates’ remedy is simply to threaten to walk away if Polus does not restrain his megalogia. Unluckily, it is not possible to walk away from multi *”For Sale: Freedom of Speech” \(Atlantic, March Re-thinking Interest-Group Politics By Craig Edward Clifford THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13