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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Rumors of Wealth V Rumors get out once in a while that most of the wealth in America is in the hands of very few people. Now the government is embarking on a project to look into this. The Federal Reserve Board and six other federal agencies are conducting a survey on the distribution of wealth in the United States. Initial findings were disclosed in October and participating researchers called them “striking.” The study found a concentration of wealth in the hands of “a small number of families with very high incomes.” Specifically, the top 2 percent of the families control 30 percent of all financial assets. One problem the researchers have is getting those rich folk to talk. “The wealthy are a very elusive group and we really don’t know very much about them,” a Federal Reserve researcher told the Associated Press. “It is harder to interview wealthy people. They are usually unwilling to participate in surveys.” V The Wall Street Journal reports that plans have been advanced to move Hong Kong to Texas rather than to have the merchants and workers stick around when China takes over the city in 1997. Leo J. Tolle, Jr. of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio told the Journal the Rio Grande Valley is the “ideal location” for Hong Kong manufacturing firms that wish to relocate. Four Hong Kong entrepreneurs have reportedly expressed interest already, and Texas business executives are forming a task force to lure even more. Press Tax V Comptroller Bob Bullock has asked Attorney General Jim Mattox for an opinion on whether the sales tax on newspapers is constitutional. Bullock says, “freedom of the press and freedom of speech are directly endangered” by the tax. Also, he says “the tax is an administrative nightmare.” The legislature included the tax in part of the plan passed in special session last summer. V A handful of the nation’s largest farmers received a disproportionate share of government farm benefits, according to a recent Senate Budget Committee publication. The 17 percent of the farmers working 500 acres or more got 60 percent of the government benefits. According to the report, “If Congress desires to provide a greater income assistance to the smaller producers a different mechanism for determining payments would have to be devised.” Though farmers in Arizona, California, and Mississippi got the highest average benefits, farmers in Texas received about a fourth of all the money spent by the Agriculture Department. v Judge Harley Clark on October 24 held off from issuing a temporary restraining order that would have prohibited the Texas Employment Commission from continuing to deny farmworkers unemployment compensation claims. Another hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13. The battle for workers’ compensation for farmworkers was won last summer, but the court case on unemployment comp is expected to stretch into the winter. The Texas Civil Liberties Union is arguing the case. State Rep. Lloyd Criss, D-Galveston, has announced that he will carry legislation in the coming session to include farmworkers in the unemployment compensation program. V The TCLU won a victory on the privacy rights front in late September when Judge Joseph Hart of Travis County prohibited the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation from using polygraph tests on its employees. Hart ruled the tests violated the employees’ right to privacy. Surprise V Governor Mark White said at a press conference October 18 that he was “surprised” at the firestorm caused by his reappointment of Ruben Montemayor to the Texas prison board. Rep. Ray Keller, R-Duncanville, had called the appointment “a dramatic step backward.” CURE, the prison reform group, said Montemayor’s previous record on the board was “deplorable.” CURE director Charles Sullivan said Montemayor is “a board member who said everything was fine when he was on the board a few years ago,” and said the reappointment is not an encouraging sign for prison reform. “The house is on fire and he comes up with a used fire extinguisher that never worked in the first place,” Sullivan said. White claimed there is “an indiscernable difference between Harry Whittington and Ruben Montemayor.” Whittington is a board member who is seen as a progressive advocate and who White says had an almost identical voting record to Montemayor’s. But Whittington does not now defend the board’s history over the worst years of the prison crisis. Montemayor told a newspaper recently that the prison board had “acted properly” in those years. CURE advised the governor’s office in advance of the appointment that the group would oppose it. Sullivan says the governor “is kind of taking us for granted.” Noted On George Bush’s “kick a little ass” remark: “With this crude display the Vice President accomplished the opposite of what he intended. His strained effort to to be one of the boys proved nothing so much as his distance from them. He defended his gracelessness as “an old Texas football expression,” only underlining his inauthenticity. Bush never played “Texas football.” He was captain of the baseball team, and the team was Yale’s. One of the boys is one of the many things George Bush is not. “Bush is a Yankee who tried to make it as a cowboy, and the Stetson makes him a very peculiarlooking Yankee indeed. He’s too conservative to be a New England Republican, yet he’s not a bloodred Sunbelt conservative, and he’s not a moderate, either. He votes in Texas, his only home is in Maine, and he works in Washington. The Vice Presidency, a job that demands no independent identity, compounds his identity crisis. Even larger-thanlife figures such as Lyndon Johnson were diminished by it. What happens to someone who is not larger than life?” Sidney Blumenthal, The New Republic, November 5, 1984. BED & BREAKFAST CORPUS CHRISTI Take a break from the sameness of motel accom modations. Over 20 listings, many within walking distance of the water. Friendly, hospitable hosts. Breakfasts continental to Texas-size. Rates from $20. Sand Dollar Hospitality, 3605 Mendenhall, Cor THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15