Follow the Money - Local Politicians Campaign Contributors
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Texas Voter ID Law Ensnares Former Speaker of the House, Candidates for Governor, State Judge | Perspectives, What Matters Today | BillMoyers.com
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Passing a viable transportation bill is crucially important for the still-sluggish American economy. Usually, except for fighting over who gets what share of the public works money, political parties cooperate on such bills. They authorize highways, bridges and public transit systems, among other things, projects that create jobs and improved infrastructure that benefits consumers and businesses alike.
But this year the House chose a silly approach: a three-month extension of current authorizations larded down with election-year ideology and nonsense. The Senate's more serious two-year bill keeps the focus on current and future transportation needs. What a concept.
The silliest House provision would grant approval to a Canadian company's controversial application to add about 1,600 miles to an existing 2,100-mile oil pipeline system. TransCanada's Keystone pipeline already runs from northern Alberta to Cushing, Okla., with a spur running across Missouri to refinery and storage facilities at Roxana and Patoka, Ill.
The new Keystone XL proposal adds another pipeline along a different route from Canada to Cushing and then on to Texas refineries in Houston and Port Arthur on the Gulf coast.
As we have noted before, the Keystone XL proposal is a hustle being sold on phony promises of tens of thousands of jobs and environmental safety. This latest Republican-led attempt (with the support of some Democrats and labor unions) to bypass procedural safeguards and force the proposal down America's throat is no more acceptable than the previous failed attempt in January.
That's when President Barack Obama rejected TransCanada's application as not in the national interest, rather than play along with a timetable artificially accelerated by pipeline supporters in what amounted to attempted political blackmail.
Because XL would cross the international border between the United States and Canada, the proposal must be reviewed and approved - both the broad strokes and the fine details - by the State Department. Most of all, before it receives final approval, the president must determine that it advances the national interests of the United States.
Last week, TransCanada filed a new XL application that includes a slightly modified route through Nebraska, supposedly to address genuine concerns in that state about the awful consequences of a pipeline breach on aquifers that supply fresh water for drinking and irrigation to millions of Midwesterners. Environmental groups say the new route does little to ameliorate the threat.
TransCanada, a private, foreign company, also continues to use the power of eminent domain to pressure U.S. landowners to grant easements for the pipeline and, in some cases, to seize property in court. This even though the project has not yet received, and may never receive, authorization.
In reality, not Republican fantasy, Keystone XL would generate only a few thousand jobs and would have little effect on unemployment rates. Much of the oil that would be carried by the pipeline is already under contract to companies that plan to refine and ship it overseas; thus, it would not enhance the security of America's energy supplies.
The transportation conference committee must make sure the final version of the bill is free from any Keystone XL contamination.
Friday, April 27, 2012
"So Meadows doing a shout-out to the feds, whom Perry is so fond of slamming, demonstrates just how fiscally reckless Perry's highway commission is, despite Perry's claim to a fiscal conservative pedigree," notes Terri Hall, Founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom.Add to that, the TIFIA loan program is 100% BORROWED money and you begin to see how these toll roads use the identical financing schemes that brought us the subprime mortgage crisis fueled by borrowed money being used to secure more borrowed money and then yet more borrowed money and so on. DEBT BOMB AND BAILOUTS
"This debt bomb is what so-called fiscal conservatives that run Texas want to wreak upon unsuspecting Texans for generations," Hall stated in disbelief.Indeed, a Commissioner said today that the Commission expects local leaders to 'leverage every penny' of the state gas taxes and other revenues it bestows upon each region -- or else don't ask us for any money. Translation: the Commission is MANDATING that local governments issue debt for STATE highways or they won't get their due allocations, regardless of state law that prohibits TxDOT from withholding money due to a region if officials decide not to include toll roads. The rumblings of a bailout for the coming infrastructure bubble just careened into a full throttle earthquake. One local official from the Rio Grande Valley even quipped:
"I've noticed there's a tsunami of leveraging." "Taxpayers and commuters weary from high gas prices had better wake-up and hold the Governor, lawmakers, and local elected officials accountable for their fiscal 'tsunami,' or they'll soon be overtaken by it with no turning back," warned Hall.TURF is a non-partisan, grassroots, all-volunteer group defending citizens' concerns with Agenda 21, toll road policy, public private partnerships, and eminent domain abuse. TURF promotes pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom, & non-toll transportation solutions. For more information or to support the work of TURF, please visit www.TexasTURF.org.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
An "amen chorus" to Timothy B. Lee's article in The Atlantic, The Mirage of Free-Market Roads. martha
March 29, 2012
Acton Institute (blog)by Joe Carter http://blog.acton.org/archives/30879-how-free-market-roads-can-restrict-freedom.html
How “Free-Market Roads” Can Restrict Freedom
In a political climate dominated by debates about individual mandates and restrictions on religious freedoms, an issue like road privatization isn’t likely to be on the top of anyone’s list of major concerns. But the excellent post on “The Mirage of Free-Market Roads” by Timothy B. Lee, a writer with Ars Technica and the Cato Institute, is worth reading even if you don’t care about toll roads. Lee provides an intriguing example of why we need to think clearly about how we apply principles to policy:
While I’m generally sympathetic to the idea of privately-managed roads, I’ve become convinced that the broader vision of “free-market roads” is a conceptual confusion. In the abstract, the idea of competing, privately-owned roads has a lot of appeal. But the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. Roads are deeply intertwined with governments. They always have been and as far as I can see they always will be. This means that they’ll never be truly private in the sense that other private companies like restaurants or shoe factors can be.
Assembling the land needed for a long-distance road is prohibitively expensive without government assistance. Unsurprisingly, private roads almost never come into existence without extensive government assistance. And that means that the profitability of a “private” road depends crucially on how many competing roads the government allows to exist.
It’s unsurprising, then, that real-world privatization schemes are often explicitly protectionist. A 2004 GAO survey found that four of the five privately-funded toll road projects started or completed in the preceding 15 years included non-compete clauses that restricted the creation of competing freeways nearby. It’s much easier to turn a profit when would-be competitors are barred from entering the market.
[. . .]
To be clear, this isn’t to say libertarians should oppose road privatization. To the contrary, private road management can be an excellent way to bring private capital and technical expertise to the provision of a public service. But it is to say that private road operators should be viewed as providing a service to the government, rather than operating an ordinary private business. [emphasis added]
Lee touches on one of the disturbing ironies of modern politics: purportedly “free-market” approaches can sometimes lead to more government involvement and greater restrictions on freedom. Those of us on the right side of the political spectrum have always been wary of government. But it’s refreshing to see that many of us are also becoming more aware of the dangers of rent-seeking behavior by crony capitalists.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. - Thomas Jefferson