Friday, December 14, 2007

No Stop to Panhandling Yet

The Austin City Council continues it tribulation with the issue of panhandling inside the city limits and what to do about the increasing number of complaints from Austin residents. Within the last few years more and more surrounding towns like George Town have passed city ordnances against panhandling. This has cause an influx of even more indigent and low income persons to the Austin area to seek money. These days it is hard to go a few blocks in south Austin without seeing someone out begging for money at a street corner. At times 3-4 to an intersection, battle for the favor of driver-bys loose change.

What’s the big deal some might say, they don’t hurt anyone? Ah but they do! I speck from personal experience to the fact that while for the most part the homeless and poor that prowl the cities corners a far less then harmless some are not. After I had refused to give particular man money, he proceeded to call me ever foul word in his vocabulary, and finished up by throwing what ever he was drinking on the windshield of my car. All because I wouldn’t give him a quarter? I believe that it is these few people that take begging to a somewhat violent level, that will ruin it for the rest of those that rely on their income though the charity of others.

Austin seems stalled of this issue choosing to perform a study of its panhandling population rather then taking any action. Meeting stiff resistance from civil rights activist that claim that to make panhandling illegal, would be to "criminalize the poorest and most valuable" residents in Austin.

While my heart drops every time I see a disabled vet begging for money on the side of the street, something needs to be done to bring more stability to these homeless people’s lives. While you may help them in the short term by giving them money, you are only helping to fuel their ability to not in prove their own lives.

The Political Circle

While most of our attention is focused on the up coming presidential campaign, it has become second nature to most Texans to loss interest in its states senate races. Where it has become, even for incumbents, a costly battle that requires upwards to 2 million dollars to win their district. Campaigns have become increasingly more expensive in the past years even for seats in the House of Representatives. What does this mean for the average voter, a lot more then one would expect. The question of where the money comes from is now becoming just as important as where the represenitive stands on particular issues. ` And the need for politicians to attract big time donors is becoming more important and with their money comes their influence on those they fund.

It seems to be a win lose scenario, while the increased price of gasoline, airtime on TV and other expenses has grown in recent years, and there has also been a change in the political climate of Texas as a whole. Areas that where once strongly republican are making shifts toward the democrats and vise versa with democrat controlled districts, is creating more swing districts then ever before. Victory is no longer assured to some incumbents or even members of a particular party. Which can be a good thing, requiring those that win a particular seat to focus on the need of those that his/ or her office serves in order to increase their chance for reelection when their term has expired.

However this mad scramble for funds in which to wage their political war has to come from somewhere? While some politicians may be independently wealthy enough to use their own money to help finance their campaigns most are not that lucky, and most rely on donations to help flip the bill. Conversely, these donations come with a price, and those that make them can have a big influence on how a representative may vote.

There are to certainties in all politics these days. First, it cost money, and second is that that money come with a cost. “Texas needs fewer politicians and more leaders”

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Proposition 15

Trowbridges article, “Texas shouldn’t take on the burden of proposition 15”, is written to try to persuade its readers to vote no on a proposition that would give funds to cancer research and other related endeavors. The writer make it quite clear he stands on this issue and makes a good convincing argument to persuade others. The first effort he makes to show readers that he is giving an un biased opinion is to state that his wife has died of cancer and that he still doesn’t support the use of this bond proposal. This insight into his life instantly give some reader pause to consider the validity of this proposal if someone affected by cancer believes that it’s a bad idea. He continues his assault against prop 15 by stating what most of us know, but always seem to over look, and that is the cost. Proposition 15 supporters have stated that the cost of 3 billion dollars over 10 year will be the price Texas tax payers will have to cover if this proposal goes into affect. What the writer states and supporters don’t know is that bonds earn interest. An investment into cancer research funded by a bond will still accumulate interest over the period of the bond. Bring the total cost to tax payers to 4.6 billion after interest is computed for ten years. A significant omission?

The main body of his argument, however, is why Texas? While it may be true that this influx of capital to the research market could increase the number of jobs for Texans, as well as support businesses. Why should Texans float the bill for research that the whole country would/will benefit from? The writer makes a great point in giving options that would help divided the burden to all 50 states through the use of federal level groups and agencies for the development of cancer science. Furthermore, a great point is made that private pharmaceutical companies will benefit greatly from tax payer paid research without having to spend a dime, and have the ability to further develop that research for profit. The last point the writer make is to state that there are no control measures in place to ensure how the money is spent, as the writer puts it “a 3 billion dollar blank check to be spent on something with the word cancer in it”, isn’t a great guarantee that it will be well spent.

Over all I believe the writer of this article did a fantastic job in not only organizing his arguments, but to convince the reader that his choice to vote no is based on more than his dislike of higher taxes.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Crtical Look at Proposition

The editorial, “No more hiding from folks in Texas,” is an opinion about a new proposition that will vote on during the next state election in Texas. This proposed proposition 11 calls for a popular vote, to decide weather or not to allow individual citizens accesses to voting records of the state Legislature. As the law stands now there are currently no way for the average vote to know how his/her elected official has voted on certain issues, or as the author states, “there is no accountability in place”. Truthfully I agree with this proposition, a certain anonymity in government is always a good thing, but not the way Texas has hidden behind its poorly written constitution. State and local officials are in a position to affect our lives in a lot of ways our federal government can’t. We as a state elect our officials based of promises they make or ideals they have, and we should expect them to vote accordingly. Accountability is seems to be the primary focus here and as voters we should come to expect nothing less

The author of this editorial does a good job stating their opinion and adds a few facts to help bolster his arguments to vote yea of this proposition. I would agree that past resentment to this sort of law is in line with Texas’s “I don’t want to change” attitude add view this as a great step forward in a freedom of information age


Friday, September 21, 2007

"Increase in Law Suits Againts Bloggers

There has been an increase of lawsuits against criticism written by anonymous blogger’s as the number of blogs in this country continues to rise. In particular there is currently a lawsuit pending in Paris, Texas to obtain the name of an anonymous blogger that has routinely made posts that have been considered overly critical of not only a local hospital, but businesses in the area as well. The article, “suit against blogger test the limits of speech, privacy”, states that the ruling Judge was strongly considering ordering the release of the bloggers real name so further legal action could proceed, due to the fact that his or her posts have been written with information obtained illegally from employees of the hospital in question. The hospital is claming that the damage to its reputation is so server that locals will only use the hospital in extreme emergencies and that they are having a difficult time keeping their facility staffed. This particular case is just one however in a growing number of cases against such bloggers. And as stated in the suggested article the courts are struggling to accommodate both the right to anonymous free speech, and the rights of those that are spoken out against.

I do believe that this article is worth reading. First of all it details the care that we as bloggers must take, not only to be objective in our posts, but to be ethical as well. While some might see the people that leaked information to this particular blogger as “whistle blowers” the information was still obtained illegally and care must be taken when using that information. On the other hand, the blogger isn’t the one that stole the information and I do believe that his/her right to free speech should be protected and his/her identity secret.


Monday, September 17, 2007