Monday, July 13, 2009

Texas is 'number one' in executions, murders, children in poverty, industrial pollution

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Texas recently beat Mississippi in a race to dead last in high school graduations. At the same time, Texas may 'boast' that it is 'number one' in executions, number 'one' in the number of children living in poverty, number one the number of murders per one thousand persons, number one in various forms of industrial pollution! Number one in the race to bottom.

I had toyed with headlining this piece: 'Why Capitalism Must be Eliminated and Replaced'. But the answer was too obvious: Texas! Texas will have proven Marx correct about almost everything! Marx was certainly correct about the source of 'value' in any economic system. He was most certainly correct about the incompatibility of capitalism and democracy. Texas is the best evidence Marx didn't live long enough to cite.

Texas is called the gulag state for good reasons. Certainly, justice in Texas is applied inequitably. Minorities --primarily black and Hispanic --are disproportionately represented in the Texas gulag system but under represented in the State legislature, the various city councils, and the state judicial system. Texas is about 50 years behind the times in this regard.

Texas is a state in which so-called 'free enterprise' has robbed millions of children of a decent education and as many poor of justice in a state ruled by elites. As a result of so-called 'free enterprise':
  • Texas/Bush syle provides the residents of Texas with some of the nation's very worst crime and incarceration rates;
  • Texas subjects the residents of Texas to deteriorating air quality and wanton ecosystem destruction;
  • Texas can boast of the the nation's very worst murder, crime and incarceration rates!
  • Texas --a state that now leads the nation in pollution, crime, and illiteracy --should be studied by any other state wishing to avoid a similar distastrous fate.

Surreal Scenes from a State in Terminal Denial

Recently --Texas Gov Rick Perry's boisterous audience of schizoid idiots were caught waving US flags even as they shouted: SECEDE! Clearly, a result of the monumental failure of Texas to educate its young. It is a lapse of values! It is as well an utter failure of policy and budget priorities resulting in Texas' utter and humiliating failure to educate its younger generations. Nevertheless, Perry is said to have 'fired up an anti-tax tea party with an old Southern mantra: 'states' rights'. I say 'state's right' is old-time, old South bigotry. 'State's rights' is a wake up call to a black community that was denied in Texas the promise of Dr. Martin Luther King's struggles.

I doubt that this so-called 'tea party' was exceptionally stupid! It was, rather, typically stupid, based on a profound and growing ignorance of economics, history, and recent headlines. The 'tea-parties' are an obvious result of Texas' proven inability to educate its young! Perry was whistling past the graveyard with a tired old tune: "...the Texas' economy is in good shape compared with other states" and "...the federal budget mess"

Is it?

No!

Texas is, rather, out of oil and out of time. Like the US, as a whole, one is hard pressed to name a single viable industry since the East Texas and, later, the West Texas oil fields failed to compete with Middle Eastern oil. Before the oil boom, Texas was a farm and ranch economy. Without oil or its equal, Texas will be fortunate if it makes a peaceful transition to a farm and ranch economy. Indeed, the nation --having exported its auto, steel and electronic industries during the Reagan years --will be fortunate to survive as a farm and ranch economy. It will be fortunate because the conduct of farming and ranching has been taken over by the huge monopolies. In simpler times, a family might survive a downturn or even a financial collapse by living off the land. Today --there is, perhaps, no land left that might be homesteaded and everywhere poor people are deprived of the means by which they may survive or make an honest living.

Gore Vidal, meanwhile, foresees a US bankruptcy putting an end to what he called 'insane wars'. He is correct about the insanity of US wars in particular. In the end, however, bankruptcy will be even costlier as a direct result of 'reagonomics'. That is, only one percent of the nation owns more than about 90 percent of the rest of us combined. Only these elites benefit from wars of aggression and oil theft.

Any person not a 'member' of this tiny one percent pays for US wars with his/her life or with higher taxes as a percentage of his/her income. The elites pay absolutely nothing!War is, in fact, the elites' bread and butter. There is a good living to be made with war, a killing, in fact! The elites are the sole beneificiaries of US wars, adventures and land grabs. These elites --for whom war is most often fought --will eagerly sacrifice the lives of every young man or woman not carrying their seed; they will, likewise, finance upon the backs and futures of the unborn poor numerous wars of aggression from which only they benefit. It is a form of eugenics that numerous famous Americans notoriously supported.

A bankruptcy for America will be a very, very hard crash from which there may be no bounce as there had been during the FDR administration. Later, a GOP President, Ronald Reagan, would preside over what had been at that time, the biggest, longest, deepest depression since the crash of '29. Yet --the nation recovered under a Democrat, Bill Clinton, demonized and hated for having dared undo the harm that had been done by Ronald Reagan.

Texas is the Number Backwater in Education: Another Idiotic Idea
The school board in this impoverished rural hamlet in North Texas has drawn national attention with its decision to let some teachers carry concealed weapons, a track no other school in the country has followed. The idea is to ward off a massacre along the lines of what happened at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

“Our people just don’t want their children to be fish in a bowl,” said David Thweatt, the schools superintendent and driving force behind the policy. “Country people are take-care-of-yourself people. They are not under the illusion that the police are there to protect them.”

Even in Texas, with its tradition of lenient gun laws and frontier justice, the idea of teachers’ taking guns to class has rattled some people and sparked a fiery debate.

Gun-control advocates are wringing their hands, while pro-gun groups are gleeful. Leaders of the state’s major teachers unions have expressed stunned outrage, while the conservative Republican governor, Rick Perry, has endorsed the idea.

--In Texas School, Teachers Carry Books and Guns, New York Times
Texas Is No. One; Leads the Nation in Executions
When Justice Byron White wrote the Enmund decision in 1982, he observed that the Court was not aware of a single execution of someone who did not kill or intend to kill. What a difference another quarter-century makes. Months after Enmund was decided, Texas executed its first prisoner since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. In the tidal wave of capital cases that followed, numerous defendants would be sentenced to die under the law of parties.

One was Norman Green. Green was charged for a murder during a botched robbery in an electronics store in 1985. He got death. His accomplice, the man who actually pulled the trigger, got life. The arbitrary result exemplifies what Green's appellate lawyer, Verna Langham -- who also handled Kenneth Foster's first appeal -- sees as the danger of the law of parties. "[It] is subject to such loose interpretation," she told the Austin Chronicle in 2005. "A kid in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people can end up being sentenced to death." Green was executed in 1999.

--Alternet, Innocent Man Sentenced to Death Under Cruel Texas Law
Everything's big in Texas — big pickup trucks, big SUVs and the state's big carbon footprint, too.

Texans' fondness for large, manly vehicles has helped make the Lone Star State the biggest carbon polluter in the nation.

The headquarters state of America's oil industry spewed 670 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2003, enough that Texas would rank seventh in the world if it were its own country, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The amount is more than that of California and Pennsylvania — the second- and third-ranking states — combined.

A multitude of factors contribute to the carbon output, among them: Texas' 19 coal-burning power plants; a heavy concentration of refineries and chemical plants; a lack of mass transit; and a penchant among ranchers and urban cowboys alike for brawny, gas-guzzling trucks — sometimes to haul things, but often just to look Texas tough.

Debbie Howden, an Austin real estate agent, said her family of six has two pickup trucks, three SUVs, and no apologies. "I would definitely put size and safety over the emissions thing," said Howden, 55. She calls their high fuel bills a "necessary evil."

--Texas Is Biggest Carbon Polluter
Ten large companies generate more than one third of the 2.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted each year by U.S. electric power generators, according to figures in a first-of-its-kind database unveiled Wednesday.

American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, and Southern Co. of Atlanta, which run the largest coal power plants in the country, top the list of U.S. companies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, according to data compiled by the Center for Global Development, a global economic development think tank in Washington, D.C.

The database, called CARMA or Carbon Monitoring for Action, culls for the first time data both from government regulators around the world and commercial databases to provide an up-to-date look at the state of CO2 from power production—which accounts for one quarter of all carbon emissions. (The database doesn't look at other large sources, like transportation and manufacturing.) Here are the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in the United

--The 10 Biggest Carbon Dioxide Polluters
The fascist corporatization of state prisons makes a slick end run, perhaps a 'triple option', around the Bill of Rights, sets up crony corporations with a guaranteed gravy train at tax payer expense, and --to sweeten the deal --it provides them with slave labor. Bill Yeoman nor Darrel Royal could have done better on the gridiron.

It is no accident that under Gov George W. Bush, Texas beat out Mississippi for 'dead last' in education. As education declines, crime increases. Increasing crime fuels the corporate prison gravy train. Justice has nothing to do with it.

It's about warehousing and enslaving people for profit

There is nothing in the middle ages half so slick, so cunning, so evil! Unless the nation wakes up to what happened in Texas, the nation will enter not just an economic depression but a new dark age, perhaps an end to civilization as we know it. We already share with the middle ages, a careless disregard for life. In Texas, the crime rate has increased as the prison systems --under Bush Jr --went corporate! As a result, one in 100 Texas residents are in prison, many of them 'corporate' lock ups in which prisoners have no rights. As Texas took the GOP/fascist prison route, education tanked --a recipe for future unemployment, poverty and increased crime.

I see a pattern

Declining education guarantees that unemployment, poverty, and crime will rise. Declining education likewise guarantees a risk free income for the evil corporations who run the state's corporate gulag with no-bid contracts! As long as the quality of public education declines, two groups will benefit: the corporate owned prisons and expensive private schools affordable only to the very, very rich and/or privileged. I was naive to believe that everyone was entitled to an education. I was naive to believe that education was not just another status symbol as was Yale to Bush.

The GOP runs states like Bush ran the war of aggression against Iraq. State prisons are just another money making opportunity, as was Iraq for the likes of Dick Cheney's Halliburton and professional thugs like Blackwater. And 'education' is just another area in which everyone but about one percent of the population is priced out.

My assertions are backed up by a recent Pew study of trends that had been embraced by Bush's Texas, primarily the rapid outsourcing of prison construction and management throughout the US. As in Texas, crime rates over the period under study increased. Guilt or innocence is of no concern to corporate robber barons.
For the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in America are in jail or prison—a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety. According to a new report released today by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project, at the start of 2008, 2,319,258 adults were held in American prisons or jails, or one in every 99.1 men and women, according to the study. During 2007, the prison population rose by more than 25,000 inmates. In addition to detailing state and regional prison growth rates, Pew’s report, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, identifies how corrections spending compares to other state investments, why it has increased, and what some states are doing to limit growth in both prison populations and costs while maintaining public safety.

As prison populations expand, costs to states are on the rise. Last year alone, states spent more than $49 billion on corrections, up from $11 billion 20 years before. However, the national recidivism rate remains virtually unchanged, with about half of released inmates returning to jail or prison within three years. And while violent criminals and other serious offenders account for some of the growth, many inmates are low-level offenders or people who have violated the terms of their probation or parole.

--More than One in 100 Adults Are Behind Bars, Pew Study Finds
It is an Orwellian nightmare of waste, graft, and fascism in which no one is held to account. It is a corporate 'gravy train', reliving elected officials of almost every responsibility that government is traditionally and rightfully accorded. It's a scheme, a legalized payoff, a 'good living' for those profiting from incompetent and irresponsible government.

As the GOP "Enronized" the great state of Texas, an assembly line criminal justice system, in cahoots with a medieval, privatized prison system, proved to be an oxymoron. It was "criminal" but hardly "justice". Despite the GOPs "worst" efforts, crime in Texas, always a topic of much discussion and study, has gotten worse. Texas is big on capital punishment, but even the industrialized application of the death penalty cannot kill off the criminals as fast as they procreate and multiply. The GOP may one day cite this fact in support of a "final solution".
...by year's end 1999, there were 706,600 Texans in prison, jail, parole or probation on any given day. In a state with 14 million adults, this meant that 5% of adult Texans, or 1 out of every 20, are under some form of criminal justice supervision. The scale of what is happening in Texas is so huge, it is difficult to contrast the size of its criminal justice systems to the other states' systems it dwarfs:

  • There are more Texans under criminal justice control than the entire populations of some states, including Vermont, Wyoming and Alaska.
  • According to Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates, one quarter of the nation's parole and probationers are in Texas. California and Texas, together, comprise half the nation's parolees and probationers.
  • The number of people incarcerated in Texas (in prison or jail) reached 207,526 in mid-year 1999. Only California, with 10 million more citizens, has more people in both prison and jail.
  • Texas has a rate of 1,035 people behind bars for every 100,000 in the population, the second highest incarceration rate in the nation (second only to Louisiana). If Texas was a nation separate from the United States, it would have the world's highest incarceration rate--significantly higher than the United States (682), and Russia (685) which has 1 million prisoners, the world's third biggest prison system. Texas' incarceration rate is also higher than China (115), which has the world's second largest prison population (1.4 million prisoners).
  • If the US shared the incarceration rate of Texas, there would be nearly three million Americans behind bars (2,822,300)--instead of our current 2 million prisoners.
  • The Texas prison population tripled since 1990, and rose 61.5% in the last five years of this decade alone. In 1994, there were 92, 669 prisoners in Texas. This number had increased to 149,684 by mid-year 1999.
  • The Texas correctional system has grown so large that in July 2000, corrections officials ran out of six digit numbers to assign inmates, and officially created prisoner number 1,000,000.

    --An Analysis of Incarceration and Crime Trends in The Lone Star State

The lessons of the recent 'downturn' are lost on the 'mainstream media'! Owned by some some five or six like thinking conglomerates, the MSM is the last place one should expect to find the truth. For example, the MSM will never tell you that Karl Marx was absolutely correct! Capitalism and democracy are incompatible.
If we divided the income of the US into thirds, we find that the top ten percent of the population gets a third, the next thirty percent gets another third, and the bottom sixty percent get the last third. If we divide the wealth of the US into thirds, we find that the top one percent own a third, the next nine percent own another third, and the bottom ninety percent claim the rest. (Actually, these percentages, true a decade ago, are now out of date. The top one percent are now estimated to own between forty and fifty percent of the nation's wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 95%.

--David Schwikerd, After Capitalism
Schwikerd suggests that 'economic freedom' and 'capitalism' are just as incompatible as Karl Marx has already stated. Schwikerd proposes, therefore, that we eliminate capitalism because capitalists, he says, are consistently bad for democracy. Contrary to what you may hear on FOX news and other symptoms of this failed system, Schwikerd holds that the US can, in fact, must eliminate the class of 'capitalists' who have transfered the product of US labor i.e, the very wealth of this nation upward to but about one percent of the entire population.

Diehards will object that despite the growing divide between obscene wealth on the one hand and abysmal poverty on the other, the US is still a 'land of opportunity'. That is just not true, and perhaps never was.
If the data were to show, for example, that many families were likely to move from the bottom fifth of the income distribution to the top over time, or that children of wealthy families might switch places with middle-class kids when they became adults, then one could conclude that the benefits of growth were more broadly shared than suggested by the profound inequality displayed in the snapshots of Chapter 1.

The evidence, however, does not find this degree of mobility. Of course, some families do move up and down the income scales, but most maintain their relative positions, meaning that relative to other families in their cohort, they remain at or near the income or wealth position in which they started out. For example, one recent study finds that about 60% of families that start in the bottom fifth are still there a decade later. At the other end of the income scale, 52% of families that start in the top fifth finish there at the end of the decade.

--The State of Working America [ PDF ]
Why Karl Marx was Right and Republicans are Just Plain Stupid

How is wealth re-distributed?
  • The rich elites pay less as a percentage of their income because they have write-offs and dodges that you do not;
  • The rich pay much, much less as a percentage of their total income just staying alive;

As the L-curve demonstrates, most of you reading this article may never find yourself occupying a house costing some one or two million dollars or more. Those in the elite one percent, however, may have several much more expensive houses the total value of which is but a small percentage of total income, an even smaller percentage of total wealth. Should you secure a mortgage for a five hundred thousand dollar house, you should ask yourself what is the value of that house as a percentage of your total income, total net worth? What is the value of that house as a percentage of Bill Gate' total income? Minuscule! Life on a curve is skewed!

Marx adopted Hegel's 'dialectic' substituting 'realism' for 'idealism'. Marx's use of the 'dialectic' was not to explain the world in metaphysical terms but, rather, to makes sense of history. The result is an economic assessment in which Marx interprets history in terms that make sense to biologists: a struggle for survival. Like Darwinists, Marx believes that it is this 'struggle for survival' that determines the nature of societal evolution. The history of humankind is reduced to a class struggle, how one class' exploits another, how 'capital' exploits 'labor', how 'elites' enrich themselves upon the 'value' that is created by acts of labor and labor alone.

Marx saw no other solution but a workers revolution to overthrow the ruling capitalists, to establish a 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. Marx foresaw and described a return to a 'classless' society at the end of an economic cataclysm that would lead inexorably to the communal ownership of the means of production.

So --it is no wonder, then, that the likes of George W. Bush, the leadership of the GOP, the elite robber barons of big business have 'labored' mightily to demonize and discredit the words and concept: 'class warfare'. They are frightened little wimps! I say: "bring it on"

If the ruling elites are incorrect about everything, they must surely be terrified of a world wide revolution that will inexorably and inevitably sweep aside their house o'cards at the end of an economic tsunami.

The GOP has supported and effected outright transfers of wealth from all Americans to an increasingly tiny percentage of the US population. There is but one word for this: THEFT! [See: 'Greed is Good': The Death of an Economic Religion]

Although the US economy produces tremendous wealth, it is always accompanied in GOP regimes by tremendous poverty. The US, for example, was most egalitarian in the years immediately following WWII. During GOP regimes, income inequality increased as measured with the GINI index. Higher Ginis indicate greater levels of income inequality. These indices have been significantly greater in every GOP regime since World War II.

Certainly --there is enough wealth to go around. Instead, wealth flows upward ---not down, as the propagandists of 'supply side' i.e. 'trickle down theory' would have you believe. The problem is systemic --the result of identifiable, right wing policies.

The primary culprits are GOP tax cuts by Mssrs Ronald Reagan and Bush; the effect of those cuts have been the deliberate transfer of wealth first to the upper quintile and, most recently, to an increasingly tiny elite of about one percent of the total population [See: Dr. Daniel Weinberger, US Census Bureau Briefings; Also see: The Quarterly Journal of Economics: Income Inequality in the United States at the following. It's a PDF and cites academic and official, original sources of data.]

The financial collapse of the US is tragic enough but complicated by the fact that Bush stole your money in order to commit capital crimes --crimes for which he could be executed when found guilty as charged. There is a place in the dock for Bush. [See: US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441]

The GOP hopes to deflect attention from its traditional marching orders. The GOP raison d'etre is simply this: pass tax cuts and other measures that enrich only the ruling elites far beyond what they might have achieved solely on merit. IF you are NOT among the top one percent of the nation, the GOP has ROBBED you under the rubric of "cutting taxes".

Wealth does not originate with rich people.

Thanks to GOP policies which, in fact, concentrate wealth at the top, there are increasingly FEWER 'small business' people because small business can no longer compete with HUGE corporations favored by the GOP. There are no more Bedford Falls. The GOP has a vested interest in keeping the truth from the American people. The truth is: wealth does not originate with rich people. Every economist --even right wing economists like Milton Friedman --subscribe to an established principle --the labor theory of value. The labor theory of value has been the basis for almost every major economic theory since Aristotle.

The GOP believes the opposite. The GOP would have you believe that capital creates wealth. Think about it --if wealth had been created by the rich and, indeed, trickled down, the GOP would never feel 'compelled' to pursue its unfair tax policies which are, in fact, the source of their wealth. If what the GOP tells you is true, the wealthy would have already been wealthy. The term 'nouveau riche' would be an oxymoron. The official statistics prove beyond any reasonable doubt that GOP tax policies have enriched an increasingly small percentage of the total US population. It only makes sense to support 'trickle down' economics if, in fact, wealth does not trickle down. The GOP pursues unfair tax policies because wealth does not and has never 'trickled down'. Wealth trickles up and the government always taxes it at its source, its creation! Its 'creation' is the act of labor itself. Government, therefore, puts an unfair 'tax' upon this 'labor' and transfers the proceeds to an elite that has done nothing to create it and, in fact, does nothing to deserve it.

Lower and working classes, therefore, pay more than their fair share of taxes. The government taxes labor and gives capital a free ride, a recipe for an impending economic collapse, a collapse that appears to be well underway and quite beyond anyone's power or ability to stop. But that has not stopped the government from playing it's well-rehearsed role as the shakedown arm of the nation's tiny and shrinking elite.

If because of GOP transfers of unearned wealth to the increasingly tiny elite of about one percent of the population, labor is unproductive or impoverished the productivity of the nation will decline and ultimately collapse. That is what we see happening as I write this. The poor are increasingly denied decent housing or food because elites have bid up prices on commodities. If you can no longer afford decent housing, health care or food, you have then, perhaps recently under Bush, fallen off the ladder. It's the GOP way.

During the booming, Democratic sixties, a distinguished economist had written that there were increasingly fewer 'status symbols' available to millionaires that were not also available to anyone earning 20 thousand dollars per year. In those days, a 30 thousand dollar home was a two-story, four bedroom, two car garage affair, perhaps on a cul-de-sac, and it may or may not have come with a pool. Have you shopped for a similar home lately?

Social Darwinism is one of many ideas that have harmed mankind. Social Darwinism is an idea that has harmed mankind by providing a rationalization for the perpetual and deliberate impoverishment of large segments of our society. It does so insidiously with a baseless theory that is not only fallaciously associated with Darwin, it is a 'theory' for which there is no evidence.

In simpler terms, the philosophical basis for the American right wing is this:
"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? Then let them die and decrease the surplus population."

—Scrooge, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
In those categories and thanks to the GOP, Texas is NUMBER ONE!

Addendum
"It's Like A Whole Other Country"

--EyeSpy
Welcome to the third world. Texas has nothing over the rest of the nation. We will soon be living under a freeway overpass eating cat food while our volunteer military gets its ass kicked to protect our right to eat cat food.

--blufin
Isn't democracy great?

--Nighthawk
Found quoted on the Barefoot Bum:
Folly, thou conquest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly's uncurbed steed,
Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
To the fool-king belongs the world.

— Friedrich Schiller, The Maid of Orleans (translated by Anna Swanwick)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ6mje5etlc
The Texas Criminal INJUSTICE System!


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