Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Want Economic Development – Buy Local

With the news that Bitmain is “Scaling Back Operations,” many in Milam County are asking what’s next? Everyone is looking for the Homerun that will put Milam County back in the positive as far as tax base goes and help lower the tax rate that threatens to still go higher in the near future.

As reality starts to set in, it’s important to realize that a tax base and county-wide gravy train like ALCOA only comes along once in a long while. To continue on with the baseball analogy, and truth be told, any good baseball coach will tell you that homeruns rarely win you the game. It’s when a team puts together the base hits and solid overall offense that the game is won.

ALCOA was a homerun and every since they folded up shop, Milam County has been looking for the next grand slam. It’s time to get serious about economic development in Milam County and that starts, like all things political, at the local level. So, in short, the local level is where we have to start if we truly want to build a stronger Milam County.

I’ve looked around and there really isn’t anything you need, or want, that can’t be found right here in Milam County. From groceries, to clothing, to household supplies, to building materials, to auto dealers, to furniture, to any list of items you could need; It’s all right here in Milam County. I hear the arguments all the time; from it’s too expensive to there’s not enough selection, you make the argument and I guarantee you I’ve already heard it. So what’s the truth?

It’s your money, do what you want with it, but when businesses fold in Milam County we all lose. You might spend a bit more to shop at home and you might not be able to get that exact designer brand you had your heart set on, but when you shop local you are supporting you neighbors, friends, and your own pocket book over the long run. And when you leave the county to do you shopping, the county loses out on the tax money generated by the sales, and in turn so do the Milam County Tax-payers.

When you buy in Temple, Bell county enjoys the windfall of your purchase, Milam County gets nothing. If you buy in Bryan, Brazos County wins; buy in Austin, Travis County gains; buy in Waco and McLennan County adds to their coffers. See the trend?

When you shop out of county for items and stores fold in Milam County, the tax base shrinks. When Milam County citizens leave the county to find work, the county loses a tax-payer and the tax base shrinks. When the tax base shrinks, the tax rate has to go up to pay for county services.

I hear all the time, ”if there was an HEB here in Milam County I’d shop there, but I have to go to Temple/Taylor/Bryan/Waco to use HEB?”

GUESS WHAT…. If we all “sacrificed” some and shopped locally for a while, HEB would notice and build in Milam County. BUT… HEB doesn’t build in Milam County because they know you’ll make the 25-45 minute trip to the nearest HEB. They don’t need to come to Milam County because Milam County will come to them.

We have three car dealerships in Milam County and several used car lots, yet how many people take the trip down the road and buy a car and give their tax money to other counties. That’s a lot of money every year that leaves Milam County.

Home improvements are an always an ongoing occurrence, yet every hardware store and lumber yard in Milam County struggles while you drive to the next county over to shop at the big chain store. I’m not sure, but I think most of the local stores employ local Milam County folks and help sponsor a great deal of the charitable works throughout the county. You don’t see too many of the big chain stores helping around Milam County.

Patronizing local businesses are the base hits that win a game. Sure it would be nice to hit the homerun, but the base hits and the full team press of a shopping local are what makes for a strong tax base, a lower tax rate, greater overall economic development, and a more prosperous Milam County. We might not be able to draw the Home Run, but each of us can make the base hits it takes to keep Milam County Strong.

Batter Up,
Bill

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Civility in the Modern Political Era

With this week’s death and funeral services of President George H. W. Bush, we have seen a great deal of civility and national unity. It always does my heart well to see this sort of camaraderie in our country, especially considering the constant bickering, name-calling, and hateful talk that normally comes from Washington, and the rest of the nation on a daily basis.

Regardless of your feeling for the former president, one thing that is apparent is that during the time of Bush 41 and before, there was greater cooperation and thoughtfulness in every part of the political arena. Prior to and during Bush 41’s presidency, there were disagreements over issues and differing plans on what was best for the country, but those disagreements were generally handled in a professional and respectable manner even when members hated the other members.

In today’s government it’s quite the opposite. Today, the hatred is openly displayed and even if the members of the two parties actually get along, they can’t be seen as such in the public eye. It’s too hard for these members to admit that while they don’t agree with the other side, they actually can have a friendship with each other. It’s too hard because we as a society can’t believe that we can be friends with those who have different political views.

When Jack Kemp died a few years back, thee was talk about how to bring civility back into politics. When John McCain died recently, there was once again talk of bringing civility back into politics. And this week once again, we talk of how civility has been lost in the halls of government. Yet in reality, all this talk will fade in the next week.

This time next week we will once again be in a place where one state party is trying to boost membership by offering bumper stickers that don’t promote their party, but make fun on the other party’s losing nominee. Next week will see the leader of one party spewing venom at the other party’s leader and vice versa. We will see on PAC running ads not promoting their stance on an issue, but attacking the values of the alternative view. Not telling us why they’re right and the other view is wrong, but simply why those who believe opposite of them are a racist, or degenerate, or whatever attack they can make not to give their views substance, but to denigrate those who subscribe to the opposing view.

Can we get back to a place of civility in American politics and government?  I don’t know.

But regardless of the leadership we are to follow, civility starts like all things in politics – at the local level.

We must learn to be civil to each other, we must learn to be respectful of each other, and most importantly we must learn to make our arguments in support of what we believe and now to denigrate those who believe opposite of us. Until we learn to do that, we are doomed to the same partisan bickering that has our country in a death spiral. AND make no mistake, that is the direction America is heading.

God Speed 41 and God Bless America,
Bill

Friday, December 8, 2017

Spending Bill My Foot!

In the last 24 hours the Congress passed yet another bill so they can keep their doors open. When Congress does this it's called a Spending Bill, when a company does this it's called Fraud, and when we as individual Americans do this it's called Bankruptcy.

But not the government!

For them it's business as usual.

Why do they call it a spending bill?

Because it would be too long it they called it the "we can't live up to our obligations as responsible stewards of the public's money and are completely incapable of balancing a budget" Bill - which is entirely what it is.

Oh, make no mistake about it, both parties are complicit in this charade. When one party is in the power they say it's necessary to keep the country (Code for government) working and the other party says it financial irresponsibility. When the other party is in power they just change jerseys and play the others parts.

In reality, a spending bill means that once again the elected officials and bureaucrats have let us down and are kicking the Washington bar tab farther down the road. A road that is unsustainably deepening with each subsequent Spending Bill.

10 years age, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, it doesn't matter. Every few years we hear how this new budget will put us on a "path to a balanced budget" in the next decade. How's that working out for us?

Basically, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Think about that the next time you rush to the polls to vote for your favorite incumbent. Until we hold them accountable for their inability to meet the demands of the fiscal responsibility that only a balanced budget can deliver, then nothing will change.

Oh, and before some politico or their staff asks you how you would fix the problem, remind them that they were elected to make the changes necessary to do just that. AND if they can't, then they need to get out of the way and let someone in there who can lead.

The answers to fiscally responsible governing aren't hard to find, but they can be, and usually are hard to follow through on.

Cha-Ching – There They Go Again!!

Later,
Bill

Friday, March 31, 2017

STILL Hoping You Are IGNORANT

So, in an earlier post a few days ago, we discussed how so many of the politicos in Austin and Washington count on the voting public to remain ignorantly emotional on subjects instead of understanding the facts. Well, in this second installment we will discuss another group that operates the same way – Lobbyists.

AND they’re really good at it too.

First, they’ll get a group of powerful people with a common cause together, then they use those powerful people to generate the capital to pay their over-inflated budgets and salaries, then they’ll come up with a cute name to make it sound like they are a heartfelt and caring grass-roots organizations, and then they’ll use their alternative facts to sell their client’s case.

One example of this has jumped up at me recently on social-media, and it’s so glaringly obvious how their bad their spin is, AND how obviously uninformed the comments are that they use to support their cause.

I won’t even acknowledge the names of the two lobbyist groups in this particular campaign; however, from what I have been able to ascertain, both are essentially made up of a group of Big Medicine, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance. You know, the same folks who have spent the last 40 to 60 years assisting politicians in running our healthcare system into the ground.

In recent years, people have used Emergency Rooms for things other than emergencies more and more. I’ll spare you with the reasons this shift from visiting your doctor to visiting the ER has occurred over the years, but much of it has to do with government involvement in the healthcare issue.

It’s safe it to say that far too many people visit far too many ER’s for far too few reasons that actually constitute an emergency.

Recently there has been a new form of Emergency Rooms that are called Free-Standing Emergency Rooms. This means that they are not attached to a medical center or hospital, but private facilities that only take patients with private insurance or patients who agree to fully pay for their treatment.

Guess who this has threatened?

You got it…. Big Medicine.

Why?

Because suddenly, those with insurance to actually cover emergency services are taking their insurance money to the private ERs and moving away from the traditional Big Medicine ERs that are less-efficient, more time-consuming, and just as costly.

How does this hurt Big Medicine installations?

Because Insurance pays more per dollar than government healthcare plans and they lose out on the bigger paydays.

BUT not to worry, in rides the lobbyist groups to aid Big Medicine by covering their true nature with a respectable sounding name while acting like they are a Grass-Roots organization here to help the little guy. They have used many scenarios “representing” the little guy to attack the Free-Standing ERs, without mentioning them all, let’s just talk about this example I saw this week that was typical of their spin-masters’ work.

In this social-media post, they compared the cost of an ER visit with that of a visit to Urgent Care clinic. Yes, the insurance didn’t cover as much at the ER as it would have at the Urgent Care clinic, but that was because the patient didn’t have an emergency, she had a COLD……A COLD…. That’s what an Urgent Care clinic is for, not an ER!

If the person would have gone to a General Practitioner (Doctor) or an Urgent Care, she would have gotten the care she needed and the Insurance Company would have covered most of the expense. BUT, since she went to an Emergency Room (any ER) for a non-emergency, the insurance company didn’t cover some of the unnecessary costs of the visit.

But this is how these organizations work. Not with real facts designed to educate the public, but by working off most folks’ fears and ignorance of the subject with comparisons that don’t add up according to testimonials that are ridiculous.

They prey on your fear rather than looking at the real cause of the problem.

Here’s the simple fact, if you break a leg, sever a finger, poke your eye with scissors (that’s on me), have a ruptured appendix – you get the idea; then go to the Emergency Room – ANY EMERGENCY ROOM. Your insurance should cover that.

If you have a cold, a hang-nail, a sinus infection (or any non-life threatening infection), a sore knee, tennis elbow, allergies, or any other myriad of common health issues that aren’t likely to kill you in the next 48 hours, then call your doctor to make an appointment or visit an Urgent Care Clinic. Your insurance should cover that, but it probably won’t at the ER – ANY ER!

So rather than start a campaign to educate and benefit the consumer, Big Medicine will spend money on lobbyists to scare a pubic it regards as ignorant, coerce legislators who need your vote, and spin the facts to benefit the pockets of those who really need it…. Big Medicine.


NEXT,
Bill

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Let’s throw Congress’s Bums Out!!

I had intended for this post to be on another issue; however, that changed this morning as I was listening to the radio while getting ready for work. Normally I listen to soothing music to help me get my day started as I’m usually a little cranky in the morning – Not A Morning Person.

This morning I was feeling a little chipper so I decided to turn on news and catch on events of the world. I listened to a rant on this social issue, another on that fiscal issue, one dealing with a military issue, another on a foreign affairs issue, and even one on sports related issue that congress was considering (because we all know they have nothing better to do).

None of it made sense, and in each case, they interviewed a member of Congress who could identify all the problems, BUT couldn’t even begin the come up with even an ounce of a cure. Now these were congressmen from both parties; some representing large states and some smaller states; some representing affluent states and some representing poorer states; some urban and some rural; AND of all races, creed and colors.

So, what did they all have in common……They all would be out of office if any of the Term-Limit Bills that have been introduced in the last decade had become law.

That’s right, in every case the congressperson in question had been in office over 20 years. For Reference, think about where you were 20 years ago and consider that these people were sitting right where they are now. Think about all that has happened in your lives in 20 years and then think about this, has anything gotten any better for you in those same 20 years due to their efforts?

I didn’t think so.

Nope, they sit in Washington or Austin, keep collecting their paycheck and/or influence, and we sit outside that sphere of governance with less and less to show for our time and efforts. They continue to benefit from a system that allows for a small few to get elected and remain in office as long as they want, or until they completely screw up with some sort of scandal, or retire. After all, the way incumbents have rigged the process over the years, it’s practically impossible to throw an incumbent out of office.

What can we do? …. PAY ATTENTION!!

Don’t be an ignorant fool to the process.

Here’s a test for you on this. Name ten congressmen (Representatives or Senators) who are problem makers in Washington. There are 535 of them so it really shouldn’t be that hard.

If you can, look at their lengths of service. I’m pretty sure that 9 out of 10 will be career politicians that have over 12 years in Washington.

If you can’t, then that would qualify you as ignorant to the process, AND a part of the problem, AND probably more likely to name all the Kardashian sisters rather than your own members of Congress (you should all have three of those by the way).

Being an active American and an informed voter is what has been referred to as Advanced Citizenship. You get out of it what you put into it. Trust me, these lawmakers have much more influence over your lives than the Kardashians.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from JFK that sums this up quite well, “One man can make a difference, and every man should try.”


It’s time to throw the bums out!

Bill

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Now They’re Hoping You Really Are IGNORANT!

Several years ago, I wrote a series of blogs entitled “Counting on You Being Stupid” and it focused on how politicians of both parties, whether in Washington or Austin, counted on voters simply reacting with ignorant emotion and not informed knowledge.

Guess What?

They still are!!

But as I move forward I realize that it has more to do with most people’s ignorance of how government and its’ systems work. AND, while this isn’t a blanket covering all those elected, it does cover many politicians. AND it covers almost all the politicians who would be susceptible to proposed term-limits!

So, with that to consider, let’s look at an example of these items over the next few days. I promise to make these short and to the point. I can expound on the later.

First, School Vouchers. I wrote a blog on this earlier this year and you can find it on this page as well. But understand this, no matter what you think and how it’s all spun, in the end, School Vouchers do not and will not benefit most of those that its champions claim it will.

School Vouchers will not magically raise the level of those who cannot afford a private school to where they can attend the school of their choice, there’s no way for the government to provide that large of a voucher. And the tax breaks that are proposed? Please, what kind of tax incentive can you provide to someone who is receiving a paycheck and still living below the level to benefit from these Tax Break “vouchers?”

School Vouchers will do four things.

First, it will help offset the costs for those already sending their kids to Private School.
Secondly, it will further steal money from the public schools.
Thirdly, it would limit even further the choices for parents with special needs children.
And lastly, it will create a slippery slope to the weight of accountability known in public school circles as mandatory-testing.

That’s it, that’s the whole issue in a nut shell. Yes, they package it as “School Choice,” but it’s not. In the short term, it’s a subsidy program for those who can already afford it. In the long term, it’s the first step towards mandatory-testing and other programs for Private -School and Home-School students that have benefited the public-school students (THAT WAS SARCASM).

This is just ONE Issue. There are so many more.

Tomorrow, and in the coming days, I hope to have more of these for you to read. BUT please don’t accept my opinion as the facts. Do a little research on the issues. Don’t just Google it, find out the facts. Read the newspapers (the actual newspapers), talk to teachers, talk to you congressman.

Make a difference; regardless of how smart you think you are, or aren’t. No one has to be ignorant like so many Lawmakers, Lobbyists, and Big Business desire – unless you choose to be!

As we used to tell the kids before the left for school, “Make Good Choices!”

Have a Nice Day,

Bill

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Oval Office and Grandmother's Rules!

Many years ago, folks had respect at all times in the Oval Office. In his book "A Different Drummer," former Reagan White House Aide Michael Deaver tells a story that epitomizes that respect.

As the story goes, he was accompanying President Reagan back to the Oval Office from the front lawn following the White Easter Egg Roll. Deaver describes the day as unseasonably warm and of how everyone was hot and sweaty upon their return. As everyone begins removing their suit coats and loosening their ties, he noticed that the President was not. Deaver suggested to the President that it would be fine if he did the same. With that, the President looked up towards his staff and remarked that his respect for the office and the hallowed they were occupying prevented him from doing so. With that Deaver said the entire staff tightened their ties, put there coats back on, and never again thought of entering the Oval in anything less than a suit and tie during the workday.

This last week, President Trump  invited presidents and administrators from Historically Black Colleges to the Oval Office for a meeting. During the meeting a photographer took a picture of the event. Everyone was standing around the President in a normal staged setting for photographers, except for White House advisor Kellyanne Conway who was sitting with on her feet on the Oval Office couch.

As for me, I’ll just say that she should have been standing and standing out of the way, not sitting in front of everyone on the couch, on her feet on the couch. BUT that should be a minor Protocol issue that can be corrected and not happen again; however, the press and liberals blew it up and then the ensuing retorts from the Right have followed keeping this in the news and making it a much bigger issue than it should be. Meanwhile, the realists of society sit here and give it the much-adieu-about-nothing head shrug.

But here’s the truth, the Oval Office is not just a work place, it’s not a lounging area, and it’s not a hangout spot. The Oval Office is a special place. This is the office of the Commander and Chief of the United States of America. This is where the people of America expect the work of the President to occur. It’s the one office where Americans demand the utmost of respect and decorum.

So whether it’s Kellyanne Conway’s feet on the couch, Obama’s feet on the Resolute Desk, or other frolicking in the Oval Office; it really doesn’t matter, disrespect is disrespect.

But like everything else in the last twenty-five years or so, both sides of the political aisle are trying to one-up each other on who has had the most, or the least respect for the Oval Office. As usual, it’s political gamesmanship, and another episode of the venomous back-and-forth that weakens us as One Country.

So how about rather than making it a Democrat/Republican issue, we simply use Grandmother’s age old test of, “Would you do that in your own home and with your own furniture?”

For the Record, that was a trick question. If you answered no, she would respond with, “Then don’t do it here.” If you answered yes she would respond with, “Well this isn’t your house!”

So just like Grandmother’s house, it’s never alright to disrespect the Oval Office, even unintentionally.

Keep your feet on the floor,
Bill