Carl Parker's archive

Texas’ newest United States senator is attracting quite a bit of attention in Washington. Apparently, Ted Cruz is stepping on lots of toes in his early entrance into the good ole boys club known as the United States Senate. Recently, Cruz was criticized for inferring former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the president’s selection for Defense Secretary, had taken money from Iran, Saudi Arabia and/or North Korea. He further alleged Iran had celebrated the nomination of Hagel as Defense Secretary of the United States. The allegation concerning Iran’s celebration turned out to be patently false.

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Bill Hobby, a former Texas lieutenant governor, was often quoted as saying any impending legislative session would be about the allocation of money or appropriation of tax dollars. All else, said Hobby, was poetry.

I’m not sure it was poetry, but anything other than the allocation of money fades into obscurity during any legislative session. Always the last and most important focus of any session is the passage of the appropriations bill and adjustments for differences therein between the House and Senate.

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When questioned about state funding of education, I have often said the cost of ignorance is far greater than the cost of educating young people in Texas. One only has to compare our prison system to our schools. We pay as much as $40,000 a year to incarcerate a young person and $8,746 per year to teach one. Even so, our legislature seems intent on continuing to squeeze both public and higher education. The cost of Texas being without an adequately prepared workforce in the next generation will be a tremendously high, the price paid for doing nothing.

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Bill Hammond, the president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, issued a prediction this week. By 2040, if current trends continue in Texas, one-third of Texas adults would not have a high school diploma, Hammonds said. His concern strikes me as being very similar to the little boy who killed his parents and then pleaded for mercy before the judge on the grounds he was now an orphan.

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One of the things that sets America apart from most other countries is the freedom we enjoy to give our opinions and basically say what we want to say. The importance of this right was reflected in numerous quotes of Thomas Jefferson who placed freedom of speech and freedom of the press at the highest level of our constitutionally guaranteed liberties. The right to speak one’s mind was further reinforced by a revolutionary new concept in America when early on our Supreme Court ruled that truth was a defense to libel and slander.

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