Posts Tagged ‘ government ’

Special Interests

While I have always been intrigued by politics, I find the practice of having companies being able to donate to campaigns and other events hosted for politicians atrocious.

This practice has been around for ages, and it is not soon going away. I just think that since it the people who elect lawmakers, the people should be the people that benefit from his/her work. However, that is rarely the case and the reason that I find myself not wanting to work in the political world.

I found an article (via Twitter) to a list of corporations (and a few people) who donated to the inauguration to Texas Governor Rick Perry. I am hardly a fan of Rick Perry, but this by no means is meant as an argument against him–it’s an argument against special interests all together.

If you look at the list, you will notice there are multiple energy companies, and in fact, a large portion are companies that have money vested in Texas energy. These companies include: Exxon, American Electric Power, Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, Devon Energy, Energy Future Holdings, Marathon Oil, Conoco Phillips, Spark Energy, and many more.

We’re using the energy industry as our example. Each of these companies, as has long been the practice of every company donating to a politician, expects something in return; no company in their right mind would just give money. They either want a return from the investment directly, or they want good PR aimed their way so the public will think they are a generous corporation.

I’m going to (hopefully, safely) assume that the companies that donated to Perry’s inauguration have the first objective I listed.

Texas is a land of vast energy resources–old-school (oil, natural gas) and new-school (if that’s a word; wind, solar, etc.). Each of these companies want to have their way when it comes to regulations placed on them. Each of these companies wants the Governor to allow them rights to produce energy in Texas. And quite honestly, as most politicians do, he will allow it.

Texas currently faces a debt crisis–somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-something billion. While the Governor, during the campaign, for all intents and purposes, denied this–he is now starting to admit the state is in trouble–big trouble. Proposing cuts to the tune of $1.7 billion from higher education is absolutely insane. If Texas is going to be a premier state in the country, we need to be expanding higher education, not reducing it by 7.6%. Now, I do realize that in a budgetary gap, you have to make sacrifices. But why couldn’t we first take away tax incentives offered to energy companies along with other companies who have become “friends” of virtually every elected official? Eventually, the cost of products would rise, but tax revenue would increase, and possibly the incentives could be offered again once the budget is balanced. Disclaimer: the preceding sentence are a theory. I have no proof to back that up.

Anyway, no matter what the industry or company, and no matter at what level of government donations are given to, special interests will always be around in some sort–we should just resign ourselves to that fact, and therefore citizens lose part of their constitutional voice in government.

February 18, 2010–Austin’s Oklahoma City Bombing

I have heard it said in the last day and a half that the attack on a federal building in Austin has “become Austin’s Oklahoma City Bombing.”  Luckily, only one innocent person was killed as well as Joe Stacks, 53, the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Echelon building in northwest Austin.

There were also thirteen people injured, two seriously.  One was treated in Austin, but one was injured so badly that he had to be flown to Brooke Army Medical Center’s burn unit in San Antonio.

This attack has hit home for me in too many ways:

  • I know the man who was injured so badly he had to be transported to San Antonio.  As of last night, he was said to not be expecting any surgeries and is planning to leave the hospital sometime next week.  He will then need 4-6 weeks of recovery before he is well.
  • Stacks’s house is one block away from some close family friends and just two houses down from someone else I know.  This home is two miles from my church.
  • The office building that was hit is about three miles from my dad’s office.  It is about five blocks from where I get my car serviced.  It is in the same immediate area where one of my friends worked last summer.
  • The spokesman for the Stacks family is an elder at my church and I know him very well.  He did not previously know the family; a mutual friend referred the family to him.

It just hit too close to home–almost too close.

In the last few years, I have wondered how a terrorist–or a disgruntled tax payer, in this case, could cause a lot of harm and damage without really being a ‘blip on the radar’ until after the event.  This is exactly what I thought of: someone with a private jet–owned or leased could take it and fly (below radar level if it is a longer distance) it into a building or landmark of great recognizability.

Only one thing is different in this case–it was in a nondescript building on a stretch of road that has many office buildings, hotels, and shopping center in the immediate area.

The Associated Press spoke to one aviation security analyst (see article here), Tom Walsh, said that terrorists would realize that small planes, similar to the Piper Cherokee PA-28 that Stacks flew, do not pack enough of a punch that they would want to attack with.

“I don’t see a gaping security hole here,” Walsh said. “In terms of aviation security, there are much bigger fish to fry than worrying about small aircraft.”