Thursday, February 12, 2015

Plutocracy and the Projects

Plutocracy is defined as government by the wealthy, or an elite or ruling class of people whose power derives from their wealth.  I can't think of a better word to describe the government of the state of Texas.  Now, I hear you, you're saying, Texas, right?  Yes, I'm talking about our great state of Texas, and while the government of Texas hasn't done EVERYTHING wrong, there is definitely room for improvement.

I'll start off with one good thing; Texas' decision to refuse the use of Common Core Standards for our public school system.  Not just the standards, but the money that the feds dangled in front of the state.  Let's face it, the government doesn't give anything away for nothing.  They always want something in return-there are always strings attached.  Common Core was no different.  However, the reason that the state turned down the money wasn't just because they were trying to be honorable, and 'do the right thing'.  It was simply a case of not being able to profit from the implementation of Common Core statewide.

Next topic, low income housing.  Yep, I hear you groaning.  Once again, the feds are at the ready to offer up money to the state, in the form of tax credits, but guess what kids, there are strings attached.  The state has an agency set up called Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), and they hand out the tax credits to the developers who score the most points in order to build the low income housing I mentioned.

Low income housing usually lowers property values, increases crime rates and overcrowds the system; fire departments, schools, EMS services, etc.  However, that's of no concern to the developers who only see dollar signs when they come into the neighborhood they are trying to 'bust'. That's a real term, 'neighborhood busting' and it's a term and an action that has trickled down from liberal Washington, D.C.  Surprise!

So, back to these points that the developers try to accumulate in order to build; you may be asking, who can award those points?  I'm so glad you asked. The state legislators of the designated development area have points to award, as do county commissioners, school districts, water districts and community coalitions, which brings me to my main point.  The state does NOT have to accept this money from the feds!!  If they had courage of conviction, the state would tell the feds to get the hell out of our state, similar to the courage, ahem, they exhibited when they shunned Common Core.  There is one glaring difference here, though.

If you guessed the potential for capital gain on the part of the legislators, then you guessed correctly.  Hmmm, let's see, the developers just might sidle up to the legislator whose district they want to build in, and oh, maybe make a campaign contribution.  Gee, I can't imagine why the legislators wouldn't want these developers to keep coming back.

To another point that has my pants in a bunch is that during the last legislative session, the Senate voted to do away with their points.  Now they have no say in what comes into their districts.  The House is planning on doing the same thing this session.  This can only lead the voter to one conclusion; that the representatives WANT the campaign contributions to continue to flow without having any accountability to those they represent.

This issue isn't over.  I'll be following it and sharing with all of you to keep you informed.  Big shout out to Kay Smith and Barbara and James Hardin for forming the Cypress Coalition and getting out in front of this important issue.  Please go to their website to find out more and to join the coalition.  

6 comments:

  1. Excellent introduction to a truly complex and troubling program. Thanks for the effort.

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  2. The blockbusting of the 60s will become neighborhood busting now.

    It all gained steam with the Mt. Laurel ruling out of NJ (fetid swamp) that mandated municipalities use their powers in an affirmative manner to provide a realistic opportunity for the production of housing affordable to low and moderate income households.

    It's grown to a fed financed, state embraced, county and city supported scam. We subsidize the builders and their partners who then rent to subsidy tenants. They laugh all the way to the bank. We deal with the aftermath.

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