OBSERVATIONS New York City As we saunter toward the run-up to the fall campaign for governor of Texas, the political situation is poisonous. Bill Clements, running against Governor Mark White, says: “His record is crystal clear. Mark White is like the captain of the Titanic. He has shipwrecked the Texas economy. He heads a ship of state that has brought the Texas economy to its knees.” Since it’s $10 oil that has brought the economy down, Clements is dishonestly blaming White for the fall in oil prices. White has called a special session without waiting for legislators to produce a plan for dealing with the predicted shortage of $2.3 to $3 billion in the current two-year budget as he’d earlier announced. But of course the legislators would prefer to hide until next year. After talking to some of them, Peter Applebome reported in the New York Times: “A tax increase in an election year is extremely unlikely despite the fact that Texas ranks 48th nationally in per capita taxation and near the bottom in most spending categories, legislators say.” State Treasurer Ann Richards warns that the state may literally run out of cash by the end of the year, but to the legislators that looks like the pot of votes at the end of the rainbow because they can wait until after the November election to act. But what will they do even then? White is not to be expected to forget the electoral outcome of Walter Mondale’s advocacy of higher taxes to pay for nothing inspiring. At least White is working with legislative leaders to come up with a plan of spending cuts that will protect education and social welfare programs. Unfortunately he also intends to protect expensive highway boondoggles. The state should be coming up with a public works program to employ some of the 846,000 Texans who are out of a job. Surely progressive members of the legislature should come forward with their own package, new taxes rooted in a corporate income tax, combined with a total moratorium on the highway program, to protect social spending. With the federal revision of the income tax pending, a visionary leader might even propose that we join the new federal system with a state income tax, but that’s even less likely than parimutuel betting. And this is the point! Necessity can be delayed. As Jim Rudd, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told Applebome, “I just want the least possible to happen. The less you do, the less problems you have. The more you do, the more people you alienate. At this time, I’m going to do the minimum it takes to get to the problem.” But come November or next spring we are going to have to have a taxbath, a bloodbath for the poor, or a churchbath as we adopt .horserace gambling. With $10 oil, there just won’t be enough money to pay the state’s bills. I think, myself, that the schoolteachers of the state had better get over their anger with White as soon as they can and go to work for his reelection. I can see why some of them are mad at him about the competency test, but he was thinking of the students, and teachers ought to be high-minded enough about education to take that into account. I am still mad at him myself for that dumb crack he made about testing teachers for drugs. But he ran the honorable risk on taxes to get the teachers better pay, and he took on the jocks to restore academic standards to their rightful primacy in the public schools. Let Clements in there again, and it’s bye-bye social welfare spending, byebye teachers’ pay, bye-bye good education, and in 1988 another eight years of Reaganism. Think it through, teach. You’re the one who’s supposed to be able to think it through. Binational Law The afternoon of July 9th, officials unlocked the door of a boxcar in Cotulla and found 26 undocumented workers who had been locked in there by the coyotes, whom the aliens had paid to get them into the United States. One of the workers was dead, another one was dying, and a 16-year-old girl was suffering from shock and dehydration. In 1954, when I was in the Valley during one of the high crests of immigration from Mexico, bodies of drowned Mexican citizens washed up on the shores of the Rio Grande two or three times a week. Again this summer, as the New York Times reported June 26, “law-enforcement officers say that almost every day they find the bodies of shooting victims in the bushes or floating in the Rio Grande, some of them immigrants robbed while trying to cross the border, some of them victims of smuggling deals that went wrong.” Isn’t it time that neighbor-nations start enacting laws together to deal with situations like this that inextricably concern both nations? American politicians junket to the meetings of the Interparliamentary Union, but how about some interparliamentary legislation? One can visualize joint hearings conducted by legislators from both the U.S. and Mexico alternately in Mexico City and Washington, followed by the invention of new techniques and technologies for binational legislation. There would be hitches and snags but we might at least try to take one real step toward the establishment of new ad hoc international systems of governance. A Nuclear-Free Texas? According to The New Abolitionist, which identifies itself as “the newsletter of nuclear-free America” and takes a specialist interest in nuclear-free zones, 14,388,371 Americans live in 115 nuclear-free zones as of May this year. Not one of these zones is in Texas. The nuclear-free-zone movement has spread all over the world. There are 18 nuclear-free-zone countries \(including, those in the U.S., there are 3,078 nuclear-free-zone communities. Yet in Texas The New Abolitionist lists only Galveston as a place where a nuclearfree-zone campaign is now under way. If New York City can do it, why not Houston? If Chicago can do it, why not San Antonio? If Wallowa County, Oregon, why not Bell County? If Boulder, Colorado, why not Austin? Anyone interested in this movement The Governor’s Race and Other Texans By Ronnie Dugger 6 JULY 31, 1986
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