T! TEXAS TN! server A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are . dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all .interests, to the rights of human-kind as the foundation of democracy: we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we .agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. SINCE 1954 Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: David Armstrong Managing Editor: Brett Campbell Associate Editor: Scott Henson Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Capitol Correspondent: Jennifer Wong Mexico City Correspondent: Barbara Belejack Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Terry FitzPatrick, Gregg Franzwa, James Harrington, Bill Helmer, Ellen Hosmer, Steven Kellman, Michael King, Mary Lenz, Tom MCCIellan, Bryce Milligan, Greg Moses, Debbie Nathan, Gary Pomerantz, Lawrence Walsh. Editorial Advisory Board: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Dave Denison, Cambridge, Mass; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, ,,N:C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Austin; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana; Susan Reid, Austin; Geoffrey Rips, Schmidt, Fredericksburg. Contributing Photographers: Bill Albrecht, Vic Hinterlang, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Carlos Lowry, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods, Matt Wuerker. Managing Publisher: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom Special Projects Director: Bill Simmons Development Consultant: Frances Barton SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year $27, two years $48. three years $69. Full-time students $15 per year. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign. group, and bulk rites on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl.. 300 N. Zeeb Woad, Ann Arbor. MI 48106. Any current subscriber who finds the price a burden should say so at renewal time; no one need forgo reading the Observer simply because of the cost. published biweekly except for a three-week interval between issues in Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street. Austin, Texas 78701. Sign Me Up I am renewing my subscription to the Observer for only one more year. I am 81 years old and losing a battle with leukemia \(besides trying to survive on Social year’s subscription. With the feds determined to turn back to the states the responsibility for as many social benefits as possible, it’s more important than ever to keep informed about what is going on right here in Texas. Your marvelous article about the insurance business is worth the price of a lifetime subscription. I wish that I were able to contribute more to your efforts. You are out there almost by yourselves. Thanks and good luck. John Ferguson Sleaze Reigns In your February 22, 1991 issue is an article entitled “Unhealthy Profits” by Elizabeth Travis Roberts. It is probably the sleaziest piece of writing I have seen in the Observer in a long time. Throughout the article Ms. Roberts refers to the excessive profits of insurance companies, but she nowhere gives any facts which would justify that conclusion. She does refer to an increase in “income.” Net or gross? It does make a difference. And on what volume of business? And how does one determine that it is “excessive”? Ms. Roberts does refer to group insurance. Receipts were $70 billion, payments $63 billion. However, this information is inadequate to determine whether profits are excessive. How much were the administrative costs? I assume they were paid from the gross profit of seven billion, but until we know what they were, we are only guessing at the profit, we do not even reach the question of whether it was excessive. Ms. Roberts remedy is even worle than the disease: a state agency to administer a selfinsurance plan for state employees. The last thing I want is another state administrative agency, filled with bureaucrats, riddled with politics, handling vast sums of money. Ms. Roberts must live in a dream world. I hope you will not think me an apologist for the insurance industry. I am not connectedwith it in any way except as a consumer of insurance. And I should, of course, welcome a reduction in the cost. Before we start pointing fingers we need some facts Ms. Roberts has not supplied. Herbert Finklestein Houston More on the TCLU As one of the “slate” of Central Texas Civil Liberties Union board candidates referred to by Nancy Baker Jones in her recent letter, I want to respond to a few of her statements. Although I disagree with several of her comments, it is important that she and her husband, Al King, receive public gratitude for the long hours, hard work, and financial contribution they have made over the years to the CTCLU. My disagreements with Ms. Jories do not detract from my respect for the consistent dedication she displayed while serving on the board. I was asked to run for election to the CTCLU Board by Virginia Raymond, who was formerly executive director of the CTCLU, but at that time was a volunteer at the state office and the local chapter. My immediate response was, “the last thing this board needs is another white male.” However, I agreed to run with the assurance that there would also be minority candidates. I personally recruited Esther Chavez, a former CURE cohort, as a candidate and suggested to her, Miguel Guajardo, an incumbent board member, and Laquita Hamilton, a black attorney, that we run as a slate, a tactic I learned in South Texas. Two persons ran as write-in candidatesToni Luckett, a black, openly lesbian president of the UT Students’ Association, and Jill Gronquist, the Director of the Central-America Resource Center. At the time of the election, Jim Harrington and the State , Board were locked in a struggle which would result in the firing of Harrington and the dissolution of the State Board. Each of the six of us decided to run for election, not because we wanted to support Jim Harrington’ in any. personal battle with the TCLU board, but because we wanted to ensure the continuation of what we believed was the proper role of a civil liberties union, which Harrington had initiated. Historically the organization had acted primarily in response to governmental interference with traditional first-amendment rights, which frequently affected only middleclass Anglos. Harrington converted the TCLU into an aggressive advocate for an entire range of civil liberties of which the disenfranchised members of society farmworkers, people classified as mentally ill, and hourly employees, to name a few, had long been deprived. Because all six of us strongly agreed with that approach, we sought election to continue that philosophy and to attempt to expand the membership to encompass persons of color, gay men and lesbian women and other persons most adversely affected by the loss of civil liberties. I do not apologize for suggesting that because our group shared a common philoso See Dialogue page 13 DIALOGUE 2 APRIL 19, 1991
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