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VOLUME 89, NO. 8 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 Founding Editor: Ronnie Dugger Publisher: Geoff Rips Editor: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: Michael King Production: Harrison Saunders Copy Editor: Mimi Bardagjy Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Business Manager: Amanda Toering Special Correspondent: Karen Olsson Editorial Intern: Mark Murray Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Barbara Belejack, Betty Brink, Brett Campbell, Jo Clifton, Lars Eighner, James Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, James Harrington, Jim Hightower, Molly Ivins, Paul Jennings, Steven Kellman, Tom McClellan, Bryce Milligan, Debbie Nathan, Brad Tyer, James McCarty Yeager. Contributing Photographers: Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Michael Alexander, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Dave Denison, Arlington, Mass.; Bob Eckhardt, Austin; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; 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, Jackson, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Fort Worth; James Presley, Texarkana; Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg. Development Consultant: Frances Barton Business Manager: Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 THE copyrighted, 0 1997, is published biweekly except for a three-week interval World Wide Web DownHome page: Periodicals postage paid at Austin, Texas. SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year S32, two years $59. three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year. Back issues $3 prepaid, Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zecb Road, Ann Arbor, Ml 48106. INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. THIS ISSUE DEPARTMENTS Dialogue Editorial Ice Age Wages 4 Investigative Report 5 Texas House for Sale Dateline Texas 13 Minimum Wage, Texas Style Bad Bills 15 Legislation To Look Forward To Political Intelligence 16 Molly Ivins 18 TexasTaxesTexasTaxesTexas Jim Hightower 19 Wall Street, Media Money & Gooberhead DIALOGUE/ HITTING THE BRICKS All those beautiful statistics Molly Ivins quotes in her column of February 28 \(“Boy right over the heads of those pig-headed right wingers and even over the heads of most just plain conservatives who have never worked with any tool heavier than a pen. And that is to say nothing of a lot of working stiffs I’ve known who were glad to get a job with the WPA, but once their belly buttons quit hugging their back bones they suddenly became good Republicans. I’m one of those crazies who can’t forget the time when I was glad to work on a job cleaning bricks with bloody fingers at 1/20 a brick, thus earning 500 a day in order to buy a ten-cent bowl of stew during the Depression. “Hey stupid, why don’t you find a better job or any job?” That is the story I hear today about people on welfare. And the answer is the same today as it was in the 1930s. There aren’t any jobs. I had worked as a reporter \(went from BOOKS AND THE CULTURE Kung-Fu Wit 22 Poetry by Betsy Berry Painting the Town 24 Artist Profile by Claudia Loewenstein A Portrait of Guerrero Viejo 26 Book Review by Louis Dubose Mosley’s Texas Fish Story 29 Book Review by Dallas Lacy In Memoriam 31 Death of the Poet: Allen Ginsberg Cover photo by Melissa Frazier jobs as a reporter were scarce as hen’s teethwhich is what my mom used to say about something there was nothing of. Too many papers had gone belly-up, and those that hadn’t had downsized to bare bones. I’m not wishing any of them bad luck, but gee whiz, when the Bears really go after the Dow Jones and paper millionaires start jumping out of the windows of multistoried buildings and finding a job is like finding a needle in a hay stack then many of these pampered, greedy guys and dolls will be crying for good old Uncle Sam to start another WPA. Maybe some will be glad to get a job cleaning bricks with bleeding hands for 1/20 a brick. Gerald X. Fitzgerald El Paso UNREAL WORLD Thanks to the Observer and Louis Dubose for your editorial “Wild About Barry” FEATURES All TIED Up In Washington by Michael King 6 Governor Bush and Senator Gramm are mighty ticked at the Feds holding up welfare privatization in Texas. But the Lege may still have the last word. The Poison Underground by Carol S. Stall 8 Rusty Cagle and Norman Allen thought they’d built an American dream alongside Reese Air Force Base. Then the military told them their water was poisoned. Las Americas 21 2 Electric Power Play 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 25, 1997