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THE TEXAS b H 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: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: James Cullen Layout and Design: Diana Paciocco, Peter Szymczak Copy Editors: Roxanne Bogucka, Amy Root Mexico City Correspondent: Barbara Belejack Editorial Interns: Paula George, Lorri J. Legge Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Terry FitzPatrick, Gregg Franzwa, James Harrington, Bill Helmer, Ellen Hosmer, Steven Kellman, Michael King, Deborah Lutterbeck, Torn McClellan, Bryce Milligan, Greg Moses, Debbie Nathan, Gary Pomerantz, Lawrence Walsh. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Austin; 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 Schwartz, Galveston; Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg. Poetry Consultant: Thomas B. Whitbread 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 Executive Assistant: Gail Woods 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 rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, 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. tents copyrighted, 1992, is published biweekly except fora three-week inter477-0746. Second-class postage paid at Austin. Texas. ‘ POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street. Austin, Texas 78701. A Member of the Association of AM; Alternative Newsweeklies Look Past Records Michael C. Worsham is wrong [in his letter of 4/24/92, criticizing an Observer book review dated 3/13/92]. The Observer did not “allow Senator Al Gore to tout his environmental book.” It allowed me to review that book and also pulished excerpts from an interview I had with the Senator in Dallas. Agreed, Gore voted for an environmental and human tragedy, the war against Iraq. Agreed, most of the environmental damage was caused by the U.S. and its allies. But a critique of Gore’s political history was not the purpose of the review or the interview. If the writer had read the review carefully he would have discovered that I did criticize the Senator’s stand on nuclear power; I also allowed Gore to respond to questions about his stand on nuclear power in the interview. If Observer readers find his answer hypocriti cal, all the better. If he had not been “allowed” by the editors to be questioned, and to answer, then Observer readers would be the poorer. I agree with Mr. Worsham that we cannot “overlook Gore’s support for the war,” but I fervently disagree that that means we also have to ignore his “positive efforts on behalf of the earth.” Come on. Are we environmentalists going to maintain our purity to the extent that we keep getting “environmental presidents” like Bush? Time is running out. That’s the point Gore makes most emphatically. The environment is finally becoming an issue in this year’s campaign; witness Clinton’s Earth Day speech. The publicity surrounding Gore and his book may have influenced Clinton’s decision. His environmental proposals are clearly akin to proposals found in Gore’s book and in Gore’s record. If Al Gore and his book are helping to push the environment to the forefront of this year’s presidential race, then we ought to be jumping for joy. We ought to also be holding these candidates’ feet to the fire, demanding environmental salvation for this old battered planet. Whining about their past records is not going to get the job done. Except for Jerry Brown, nobody’s record is good on the environment. Clinton has now joined the debate; its up to us to keep them talking. And thank God The Observer “allows” writers like myself and readers like Mr. Worsham to continue to be heard in this wonderful “jour nal of free voices.” Betty Brink, Ft. Worth Schools, Not Jails I cannot quarrel with Mr. Rapoport’s adverhigher education as an investment for Texans. However, I will make use of the graph and go one step further or maybe sideways: Am I the only person in Texas who sees the great disparity and yet connection between the costs of any eduction \(21% increase in the last 127% increase in the of, and what games have our past governors and legislators been playing with the public? I believe Ann Richards is aware of the problems and connections between prisons and the lack of decent eduction for all Texas children. When we disdain to help many others except the elite, we will end up paying many times the cost of a good education for prison cells for thousands of adults who had no decent eduction, \(and the danger of criminals on the streets today and for years to come, when the criminals are out on increased more than any education in Texas. I am particularly sensitive to prison populations because I worked as a paralegal in the Washington, D.C., prison for about two years. There I met hundreds of men who were bright, but almost completely uneducated. I am not from Texas … I grew up and went to grade and high school in Evanston, Illinois, where an excellent education was the only thing available for rich and poor alike, white and black alike. Every child in Evanston went to superb schools, got good educations, and, ‘I believe, are not residents of prisons today. They all are the business men and women, teachers, bankers, community leaders, etc. of today. One thing follows the other, as the day follows the night. Good education, from kindergarten through four years of high school, brings out, and demands the best in every student, and we then have healty, tax-paying families, who continue the tradition. Ignore decent education, and you have, almost always, discontented children and youth, who form gangs, commit many crimes, and then fill up our prisons for years and years. Do you know how much it costs every taxpayer to house a man in prison for even one year? Good grief, let us spend five thousand per child every year on a good education, and we won’t have to pay twenty thousand per year per prisoner. Consider also all the “extra” personnel needed to handle prisoners: guards, judges, police, marshals, etc. The Texas priorities are badly twisted. Texas seems to pinch pennies to keep thousands from getting a good education, and then Texans must pay and pay and pay to house thousands in prisons. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And of course, prior to prison, uneducated families are on welfare, and the State must contribute to that! I think a copy of that graph of Mr. Rapoport’s should be glued to the desk of each member of the State Legislature … and to some other desks in the Texas government. THINK BEYOND THE ENDS OF YOUR NOSES … Think years into the future, and decide where the money will bring the best return for Texans. Peggy Snyder, Comfort DIALOGUE 2 MAY 22, 1992