Sunday, August 14, 2011

NCSL Final Thoughts

Ok, this is the last blog post on my NCSL trip. I promise. This will be just a hodgepodge of thoughts about the trip.

First, the dire straights of a nation in economic peril made more perilous by bad government policy was evident in San Antonio. San Antonio is arguably the premier convention city for Texas, and landing NCSL was a premium opportunity. NCSL has state legislators, policy experts, lobbyists, corporate and union officials from all over the nation attend. Yet, even here where Texas and their presidential hopeful governor wanted to showcase the state, at the back of the convention center were three historic buildings (complete with brass plaques advertising their importance to Texas) boarded up. After all, in Rick Perry's world who needs history and culture unless it can pull its own weight with an admission fee?

Flying into and out of San Antonio I was shocked that the countryside looked more Las Cruces, New Mexico a desert city, than the lush river city I remembered from years ago. This is not just an anecdotal observation. All 254 counties of Texas have been declared drought disasters by the US Department of Agriculture; thus making them eligible for various types of federal relief. This topic was not mentioned when Rick Perry addressed the NCSL about government spending, entitlements, et al. Interesting to note that climate change did not come up either.

It was rather ironic that on the same day Rick Perry spoke to NCSL, the final space shuttle crew made an appearance and gave a presentation. For a decade US astronauts have been building and improving the space station. NASA will now no longer have a space station program with astronauts. However, privately funded missions are being developed for corporate interests who want to experiment in space. It took "big government" to develop a space program. Now, the private sector will profit from the foundation laid by the public sector and, yes, public employees.

Finally, what's with the Alamo? A favorite saying in Texas, to this day, is "Remember the Alamo!". Personally, I think they need closure and should move on. Forget the Alamo. By the way, if you want to see the captured flag of the Alamo, you will have to go to Mexico City for that is where it sits in a museum behind Chapultepec Park. The Mexicans have denied repeated requests from Texas for the flag. I can't blame them. After all we haven't given back Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Check into that little piece of history called the Mexican American War and take note the next time you hear folks from Texas or Arizona talking about Mexicans illegally crossing into "our country".

Please don't get the wrong idea. I was born in San Angelo, Texas. I still have family in Texas. I think Texans are naturally friendly, gregarious, and down to earth. I like Texans. I like them enough to believe they deserve a better government, and a more compassionate public policy that reflects their true nature.

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