By Steve Land, chairman of the Potter County Democratic Party
So, when I made the decision yesterday to write this op-ed, the first choice of course was what topic should I write about? There were a lot of options available with quite a few leading candidates.
Healthcare is very important to our very lives. Shorting it will lead to premature deaths of people who aren’t able to afford premiums or have to declare bankruptcy in order to afford a catastrophic malady.
The economy of our state and the nation has trended in the recent past to favor the rich. The 1% of highest wage earners have 70% of the wealth and that percentage is increasing faster than any other segment of our wage earners. And I heard in a news article that the Koch brothers who own Georgia Pacific will make an additional $1 Billion in the year following our recently passed tax cuts. How many college scholarships would that pay for?
On the topic of immigration, does anyone really know how many children are kept separate from their parents at the border? A Federal court ruled that they must be reunited with their parents, but over half of their parents have been deported back to their home countries without their children. And why hasn’t anyone gone to jail for contempt of court for defying a court order? Our country is in a very bad state of affairs if the rule of law can be ignored.
I didn’t want to leave out women’s rights not only in the workplace, but in their daily lives. Do women not deserve equal pay for equal work in our state?
I also didn’t want to leave out a mention of the mean spirited efforts for voter suppression and gerrymandering either. Both were evidenced in our last election. It was determined by a Federal Court that Texas was found to have illegal districts carved out for the single purpose of dividing or isolating voters of the opposition party. Nothing has been undertaken to correct that illegal situation.
And what about the education of our children?
I would expect that a huge number of people who own property in Amarillo, especially if they currently don’t have children in school, do not realize that in 2008 the percentage of property taxes that were applied to education in Texas was 48%. In 2018, just ten years later, that percentage has dropped to 38%.
In the past year, I attended a speech by our state Senator Kel Seliger who spent half an hour of eloquent oratory describing in detail all the efforts at legislation he has made in saving money for our school systems statewide. When I asked if there were any plans for the legislature to enhance the revenue streams that education might benefit from, his first answer was “It’s illegal to have an income tax in Texas.” Not only was that not the answer to the question that was asked, it was a totally incorrect. ( I verified that it was incorrect from a professor of constitutional law at UT Austin). The legislature is starving our educational system and there are only two conclusions that can be made from that statement. (1) The rich people who control our state government who don’t want to pay any taxes only care about their money and don’t care about the educational achievement of our children, or (2) they have an agenda to relegate the next generation of Texans to be low wage, undeducated, laborers. Uneducated people are easier to control, too.
In Oklahoma, the teachers who had organized into Unions went on strike demanding higher wages. They won their fight relatively easily. The governor and the voters were faced with the stark reality that the controlling political party had starved education to the point where the teachers of our most cherished possession, our children, had to stand up to the forces responsible for their poverty and demand a wage commensurate with their educational level. Oklahoma’s educational system is ahead of Texas’ in the list of 50 states. It’s also illegal in Texas to organize a Union for teachers. Texas teachers are faced with stagnant health benefits from their retirement system. Healthcare costs have caused many sleepless nights for these people to whom we all owe so much.
Our teachers are of paramount importance to the economic success of the panhandle. They deserve not to have to work second jobs to make ends meet in their daily lives. If teacher pay were equitable for Texas compared to other states, we could reclaim the distinction of having one of the best educational systems in the United States instead of one of the worst.
And so in closing, the conclusion I have drawn is that our media is not giving the residents and taxpayers of Texas a fair reporting of what is actually going on in our state. They enable the incumbents who are not qualified and are not in touch with the realities of our lives to be reelected. The incumbent Attorney General of Texas was reelected even though felony charges were brought against him. Never mind that he has a Supreme Court case pending that will strip taxpayers of any benefit from pre-existing medical conditions.
And with the media currently ensconced in the Panhandle, we can’t elect representatives who consider that the people are being forced into having less and less in their lives for the benefit of the rich. The voters need to realize that the man in the election is more important than the party to which he is associated. The candidates for the party in power do not have a credible agenda that the voters would approve of, and so they are relegated to spending millions of dollars running campaigns with messages based on fear and humiliating their opponent. One example that occurred just before the midterm election was the “Migrant Caravan” containing criminals and terrorists which prompted the needless deployment of Army troops to our border. And Ted Cruz was asked by a reporter if he had a statement about the false campaign allegations that his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, was aiding illegal aliens when in reality it was a charitable effort for LEGAL residents. Cruz brushed it off as happening during the election and was of no consequence.
The oligarchy controls us. It’s that simple. The working man is supporting the infrastructure of the state and the nation on their backs and have slim prospects to better their lives due to economic and educational limitations. Better buckle up… It’s only going to get worse if the trends continue.