Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Facebook Gets Massive Investment, Now Valued at $50 Billion

 

Facebook

Facebook has received a 0 million investment from Goldman Sachs, which values the company at billion, the NY Times Dealbook reports:

Facebook, the popular social networking site, has raised 0 million from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investor in a deal that values the company at billion, according to people involved in the transaction…

…The new money will give Facebook more firepower to steal away valuable employees, develop new products and possibly pursue acquisitions — all without being a publicly traded company. The investment may also allow earlier shareholders, including Facebook employees, to cash out at least some of their stakes.

The new investment comes as the Securities and Exchange Commission has begun an inquiry into the increasingly hot private market for shares in Internet companies, including Facebook, Twitter, the gaming site Zynga and LinkedIn, an online professional networking site. Some experts suggest the inquiry is focused on whether certain companies are improperly using the private market to get around public disclosure requirements.

The deal could add pressure on Facebook to go public even as its executives have resisted.

Winklevoss No doubt this will inspire Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss to redouble their efforts to get more than the 0 million settlement they received from the company over claims that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea:

"Next month, the twins and Mr. Narendra plan to ask a federal appeals court in San Francisco to undo the deal so they can pursue their original case against Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg, and win a richer payday. They could, though, lose it all. Still, they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the principle — and vindication."


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Seven Billion Humans

National Geographic has launched a year-long series on the global population, which grew by almost one billion in just the last ten years.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Obama Gave AIDS Prevention Efforts $4 Billion And all He Got Was This Lousy Heckling

Following the Democratic fundraiser heckling last month, President Obama was treated to another round of AIDS activists interrupting his prepared remarks, this time at a speech in Connecticut to drum up support for Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal. "Excuse me, excuse me young people," Obama told the zappers. "You've been appearing at every rally we've been doing. And we're funding global AIDS and the other side is not, so I don't know why you think this is a useful strategy to take." So there!, says the guy sending another four billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It's like Tea Party activists who hate on Obama for his taxation, and have absolutely no idea he actually granted tax breaks to 95 percent of Americans.


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NOM, Tax Cheat? The Family, Terrorist Money Launderer? Vatican, Fleecing Europe Out Of $11 Billion?

So many anti-gay organizations, so many financial scandals! There is the National Organization for Marriage's alleged non-profit tax fraud. There is The Family, sponsor of the National Prayer Breakfast and hideout for anti-gay unfaithful politicos, being accused of receiving terrorist dollars a few years back. And then there's the Vatican facing a possible billion tax bill, thanks to more than five years of tax-free operation of some 100,000 properties, which could under European Law be considered illegal state subsidies. Almost makes the Catholic Church's priest molestation bill look affordable.


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—  John Wright