The Wording Says It All

Bill Neinast

No guessing required. The wording says it all.

The banner headline in this newspaper on Dec. 31 was, “Texas economy allows many to live in poverty.”  Nothing more than a glance at those words telegraphs that the article was written from the far left field of the class warrior team.

The first part of the article castigates the cruel, greedy, upper crust Republicans for dumping a large part of the state’s population into poverty and abandoning them there.  Consider, for example these two excerpts from the article.

 First, the Republican role. “Politicians of all stripes decry the high poverty rate in Texas, but what differs is how to deal with it. Republicans [control every state department and agency]…. Perry’s oft repeated formula for economic growth is low taxes, few regulations and limited lawsuits….[H]e has promised to limit state spending to less than population growth plus inflation.  To help the poor and unemployed he has proposed requiring drug testing as a condition for some people to receive welfare benefits to make sure they are employable.”

Next, the class warrior approach.  “Democrats are pushing for state government to provide services they believe will help people move out of poverty, including restoring $5.4 billion cut from the public school budget and nearly $1 billion cut from higher education.  Democrats also want the state to expand Medicaid to provide 1.5 million Texans with health insurance at a minimal cost to the state through 2020.”

The article emphasizes that Texas’  poverty rate has been rising for three years.  4.6 million Texans now live below the poverty line.  “That’s 18.5 percent of the population, 3 percent higher than the nation as a whole.”

McAllen-Edinburg, El Paso, and other areas along the state’s southern border are identified as the areas with the highest rates of poverty.  There is no discussion, however, why there are such areas of poverty in a state with one of the most robust, growing economies in the country.  The state’s unemployment rate of 6.2% is two percentage points below the national average and is one of the lowest among the 50 states.

There is no discussion about the crying need for employees of all types in the Midland/Odessa area.  The Permian Basin is jumping back and forth with North Dakota for having the lowest unemployment rate under 3% in the country.

Our son, Mark, is the North America Sales Manager for ESP, a GE subsidiary, in Midland.  He reports that H-E-B has the lowest prices of any food chain in the area, but he hates to shop there because of the long lines at the check out counters.  H-E-B’s response to requests to open more stores in the area is that they would consider more locations if they ever get enough employees to fill all the positions they have in their one store.

Also, in Midland, McDonald marquees advertise openings for employees with wages from $8.25 to $14.00 an hour.  The local newspaper is full of help wanted ads from both the Permian Basin area and North Dakota.

Mark notes, also, the difficulty in keeping employees.  If an employee becomes unhappy, he just quits because he knows there is another job waiting for him or her down the street.  Or, after some have worked for a while, and saved a bit for a vacation, they quit, go for a jaunt, come back, and find a job at a competitor.

“But, but, but” the class warriors will sputter, those in poverty live in the Valley and the jobs are a few hundred miles north and west.  So?  Some of the vilified undocumented or illegal aliens walked hundreds of miles through hostile territory to leave their poverty behind and find employment where the jobs are.

Could it be that waiting for the state to renew the balance in one’s Lone Star card and then walking to the H-E-B for some choice steaks is easier than walking a hundred miles for a job?

The article under review also notes that “Most Democrats fiercely oppose the drug testing proposal.  ‘To automatically assume that a single mother, a recently unemployed veteran, or a teacher who lost his or her job because of Governor Perry’s budget cuts is a drug user is shameful,’ state Rep. Martinez Fisher, D-San Antonio, said.”

In contrast, Mark reports that applicants for employment with his company are required to pass drug tests and, thereafter, are subject to random, unannounced drug tests.  Failing a test results in immediate dismissal--zero tolerance.

Every Thursday afternoon, I volunteer at the front desk at Scott and White Hospital, Brenham.  Every day when I am at that desk, at least one man or woman comes in for an employment drug test for a local company.

In the eyes of some, therefore, it is OK to require a drug test for employment but “shameful” to ask someone getting a hand out of tax money to do the same.

So here’s the perspective.

The article under review is strong evidence that one of the political parties in the country would be best known as the class warrior or the tax and spend party.  That party’s philosophy is that every social problem can best be solved by the government filling the public trough with more tax money.

Thank goodness for the requirement for a balanced budget in the Texas Constitution. 


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