By Manifesto Joe
As the Texas Legislature nears the end of its biennial session, an enlightening new poll from The Texas Tribune has been released.
There's one thing for certain that the poll findings suggest: The lawmakers had better avoid any cuts they can in public education. Among Texas voters, there appears to be a remarkable degree of ignorance about the basics of public affairs.
In short, the poll indicates that Texans want services from their state government, but largely don't seem to want to generate new revenue to pay for them.
Here's a link to the poll's particular findings.
Tea Party foolishness on parade
This Texas Legislature is about 2-to-1 Republican, due in large part to Tea Party success in getting right-wingers to the polls last November. The new members are generally against any and all new taxes, and some of the old ones as well. Their solution to the state's record budget shortfall has always been to take a meat ax to state government.
They are not above lies and distortion to achieve this. Here's a link to a previous post of mine showing Young Republican deceit regarding spending on education.
The poll shows that voter intelligence, or lack thereof, lies behind their electoral success. Far more voters in Texas want to deal with the budget shortfall through cuts than through boosting revenue. But when presented with specific areas, such as public education, for such cuts, the poll respondents became very unclear and frequently contradicted themselves.
Texas has never been generous toward its public schools. Here's a link to a story from earlier this year. In short, about a decade ago, Texas was 25th among the 50 states in spending per pupil. It's now 37th. And now, clearly, that's going to get worse.
A frequent right-wing mantra is that you don't solve problems just by throwing money at them. But there seems to be some correlation between education spending and the quality of teaching that emerges.
Scoring No. 1 on the Report Card on American Education, released in 2010, was Vermont (incidentally, the home state of the only avowed socialist in Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders). That state was also No. 1 in percentage of state expenditures on public education, with 36.7% of its budget going there. It makes a difference in quality of teachers, availability of technology and equipment, and in class size, among other factors.
Although one obviously doesn't want to pay needlessly for things, quite often what you get is what you're willing to pay for.
Cutting spending on public education in Texas? This new poll demonstrates that we already have a problem here, as so many likely voters seem to believe that 2 plus 2 can be made to equal 5. For God's sake, we don't need to slash public education -- we clearly already have a deficit in that area!
So, who, then, will pay the new taxes? How about those who have the ability to pay? This state already has one of the most regressive tax structures in America. My wife and I have a very ordinary family income, and yet we pay thousands a year in sales taxes and user fees. How about making some of the big shots, like Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil, pay up?
Where will the corporate scofflaws go?
Another right-wing mantra is that if taxes start going up sharply on big business, they will pull up stakes and head for someplace more hospitable.
And where would that be? Canada? They actually tax their corporations up there. The rates are rather low, but they don't exempt two-thirds of them from paying. Seems that Canadians have figured out that if you want services, you have to pay for them.
Mexico? Would corporate executives want to send their kids to those schools, drive on those roads, and hope that none of their relatives got beheaded by drug-cartel gangsters?
Venezuela? I'm sure that Hugo Chavez would just love for ExxonMobil to relocate its executive suites to Caracas!
What we're witnessing is ignorance on a mass scale, and it goes well beyond Texas' borders. Last night, I got a comment on a post that's a few months old, from a man who has an Internet Tea Party radio show. This was the final paragraph:
Oh and unlike you, I have the balls to post under my own name. Perhaps that comes from knowing that my ideas are corrects and your ideas are nothing more than BS you picked up on MSNBC or from the New York Times. Oh how easily the stupid and naive or fooled by the mainstream media.
This semiliterate man has a radio show? Oh well, I suppose one doesn't have to be able to write and spell coherent English sentences while doing a broadcast. It still gives one pause, though.
It's been said that if you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs. I think that the wait is over.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.