How Many Times Can We Pretend We Don't See?

RECEIVED Fri., May 25, 2007

Dear Editor,
    The Texas budget surplus is estimated to be at least $8 billion. News reports on the subject are more confusing than enlightening. I’m left wondering:
    1) Why did the United States Postal Service have to collect food for the Capital Area Food Bank? We must forget reliance on individuals and charities and demand help from the state.
    2) Why are food-stamp benefits the first to be cut? When these people turn to the food bank, the shelves are as bare as their own pantries. It’s hard to get back on your feet when your kids are hungry.
    3) Why were so many Texas children, whose parents are raking in big bucks from minimum-wage jobs, declared ineligible for CHIP’s health coverage? Paying to keep our kids healthy is an investment in the future. Pay now or pay later.
    4) Why has the state appropriated tax dollars earmarked for Texas Parks and Wildlife for years, leaving a once-exemplary park system in a state of disgrace?
    5) Why can’t I back out of my northeast Austin driveway without having to pay a toll purported to pay for roads already paid for? Toll roads encourage driving, pollution, and high gas prices.
    6) Why are new graduates avoiding the teaching profession, opting for more lucrative jobs in the private sector, like sewing buttons on cards for piecework pay? Thousands of current teachers are quitting or retiring early, lured away by the higher wages paid to intersection panhandlers.
    7) Why is the state willing to fund a Summer Without Gasoline Taxes, which will encourage people to drive and pollute more? That money would buy a lot of solar panels and wind turbines.
    8) If I’m asking these questions, why aren’t our legislators, congressmen, governor, and president?
    Food-bank shelves are empty, and people can’t get desperately needed assistance, while oil companies announce record-breaking, obscene profits and Texas has a surplus of several billion dollars no one will spend to help the needy. The Texas I grew up in was all about lending a helping hand to your neighbors.
    Bob Dylan asked, “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” Apparently 8 billion times and counting.
Janet Kilgore
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