Carl Parker's archive

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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Recently, prompted by a Republican rant about how America’s economy and the world would be better off if we would only get government off the backs of corporations, I engaged in a sometimes dangerous exercise. I started thinking about it. Almost every speech Mitt Romney or his surrogates make contains the same philosophy. They talk about how, if we simply gave tax breaks to corporations and rich people, and did away with the oppressive regulations, we would free up the job creators to produce untold numbers of jobs, and we would all once again be prosperous, rolling in dough.

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For many years, property taxes have been a source of conversation and consternation in Texas. Even though overall, Texas ranks among the lowest taxing states of the union, property tax remains a sore spot with almost all citizens. In Texas, property taxes have risen from near the lowest in the United States in the mid-1950s to among the top three or four in the U.S. today.

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