There has been much talk about education funding for years. We taxpayers are spending more and more on education for children and not seeing the return on the investment. Simply throwing money at a "problem" will not solve the problem. School funding has increased over the years, and yet we as a State and a Nation continue to slip further behind. The focus and foundation of "education" has been lost, or redirected. It is safe to say that government regulations and requirements have led to this state in our education system.
So much so that many people now consider "public school" as unattractive and seek alternatives. To this, we (as a society) end up punishing those who refuse to "invest" in public schools by maintaining the tax requirements for people who refuse the "service"..
We should refocus our efforts on understanding where the "system" has failed our students and teachers, and address those first. Providing an environment which promotes thought, learning and growth as a primary example. Teaching students what it means to be a citizen and that ALL parts of society are important is a second example.
The current system does not do this, and we see the results only years later. When discussions turn to increasing spending, our first question should be "What will this affect in the future?". Should we continue to try and build "model citizens" according to dictates, or should we re-focus on teaching children what it means to be a good/productive person?
Finally, some have referred to the "School to Jail" cycle, and the need to "break it". To that I would ask: What has led to this "cycle"? Shouldn't we address THAT problem first? Or should we simply continue to treat the "symptom", and ignore the underlying "illness"?
Healthcare in the United States, and Texas, has become abysmal. I submit that "healthcare" today isn't caring for health, it is treating symptoms. We do not have "healthcare", we have "symptom-care".
We, the United States, used to be one of the most advanced in this area, yet over the past decades we have fallen behind. It is possible to lay this at the feet of "Big Pharma". or blame it on "Healthcare Industry". It is also possible to say that our government has led to this. Government is, at it's core, inefficient. The processes for gaining medical coverage outside of corporate America is not a simple task, nor is it inexpensive. The current regulations surrounding healthcare have grown and ballooned to become a multi-billion dollar "industry", Industrialized Healthcare.
As in so many other areas of our daily lives, recognizing a problem exists leads government and politicians to immediately recommend raising taxes or passing more regulations. These rarely resolve the issues for which they were raised, and place a huge burden on all of us.
Another of our Foundations being eroded.
Year after year we see increases in property taxes for many Texans. We ALL have a goal to own our homes. This is a false reality. Even if you pay off your home, you will never "own" that home. You will be assessed property taxes in perpetuity. Even in retirement, the value of your greatest asset will increase and you are subject to "renting" your home from the government. We need to reassess our priorities and address this inequity. Proposals for revising the property tax code should be a priority for all of Texas. A homestead exemption currently lowers the property taxes, but there are no provisions for retirees, or those without the means to afford to keep their homes.
Other taxes intrude on our lives. One can see multiple memes concerning the taxes on income, gasoline, electricity, cellular phone service, goods... The list is almost endless. Then the local governments impose property, school, road & bridge... Add "Bonds", which are simply another form of tax.
These tax codes and collections erode our foundations and weaken society. Where is the return? Are we, the people, really getting services for what we pay out? In my own neighborhood, there are drainage issues with the streets which have not been addressed. I will likely either suffer water damage or take steps, paying out of my own pocket, to address something which should be taken care of by my tax dollars.
Is there a crisis at the border? Yes. We are seeing massive increases in the number of people crossing illegally, along with increases in crime and drug smuggling. Why? One primary reason is the current immigration policies. This is a Federal issue, yet we Texans are left to deal with the Federal failures. Gov. Abbott has instituted the building of the border wall. OK, that may help, but what about the "unintended consequences"? How many people consider the requirements of the wildlife along the border? How many consider the ecosystems impacted by walling off parts of the environment?
Another reason for increased illegal activity at the border is the failed "drug war". It is past time for this particular issue to be addressed. Unfortunately, much of the "drug war" is controlled at the federal level. The removal and restriction on State's Rights has allowed the federal government to control the majority of the people's daily lives.
For more on this, please read my blog: "Close the Border:? Or Control?".
In recent years there has been much said about "defunding the police". Here in Central Texas we have seen this in action. It simply doesn't work. Defunding the police has tremendous negative consequences on our society, communities and neighborhoods. We need to critically look at what is being done, and what can or should be done. Militarizing the police has not reduced crime. Lawbreakers do not fear the criminal justice system.
At the same time, we have over-crowding in the jails and prison system. Why? Again, we need to take a critical look at WHO we are incarcerating... There are statistics available to show that there is a fairly significant percentage of people in prison now for non-violent, often drug-related crimes. The "drug war" has failed. When will we, as a people and society, recognize that criminalizing something does not make that thing stop. This was tried with Prohibition, and was an abject failure then. That hasn't changed. Legislating morality simply isn't possible.
Following the 2020 election, the "duopoly" began fighting tooth and nail against any changes to voting opportunities proposed by either side. The trouble is, there are still a LOT of unanswered questions regarding the collection and counting/accounting of ballots. In the most recent Texas legislative session, there were bills proposed to "alleviate concern" over the efficacy and completeness of elections. Believe it or not, a large number of ELECTED OFFICIALS, YOUR REPRESENTATIVES, decided to leave rather than do the job they were hired to do: namely, represent YOU, their constituents!
If you were running a company, or department in a company, and one of your employees decided they didn't want to perform a task, perhaps even an unpleasant task, would that be acceptable? Probably not. The new district lines encompass two previous districts, and BOTH of those representatives, elected to office by YOU, (making them YOUR employees), decided to run away rather than do their jobs to represent you!
Yes, voting rights are important. LEGAL voting is more so.
Environmental issues are all the rage now. Forty years ago, ice ages were to be the result or human interference in the climate. Those predictions changed until now, we are the "reason" for climate change. We all need to realize that our home, our planet, is a living planet. Our planet experiences cycles. Are we "causing" climate change? Possibly. Are we exacerbating climate change" Probably.
So we should remain conscious of our choices, and our directions. I have solar panels, partly because of the reduction in the requirements I need from the electrical grid. I cannot generate enough power to completely offset my power requirements. Few can. Wind and solar are good additions to our power generation capacity, but they are NOT the panacea many will claim.
Electric vehicles, which are all the rage now, will NOT completely offset human effects on the environment. After all, the power to recharge them MUST some from somewhere. That "somewhere" is a power station hundreds of miles away.
Additionally, many, if not most, people will forget that the batteries used in electric vehicles are responsible for extreme environmental damage in other countries. All we are doing is moving the environmental damage to another location. A true environmentalist will look at the complete picture, not just the local view...
We should continue research in to alternatives, and remove our blinders to existing, non-polluting options. Carbon taxes are another tax on people already taxed too much. In the short and mid-term, we rely on petroleum. In the long-term, we will find alternatives. In the interim, we can either shut down to pre-industrial societies, or accept that we must take active steps now to reduce our footprint and effect as much as possible. Returning to pre-industrial societies would almost eliminate the human carbon footprint. However, it would also severely restrict our current societies.
The foundation here is to find that balance. The rhetoric from the duopoly is NOT helping.