Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Our Commons

It's time to look at HJR 80, 380 Agreements, SB 1022 and corporate tax giveaways and something called OUR COMMONS.

If you're not familiar with who Thom Hartmann is than your missing out on great wealth of knowledge. I found him through his radio program. Unfortunately it's not on in our area yet, but you can listen over the internet. Thom writes articles about democracy for Common Dreams and has also written many books. But enough about him. The reason I bring him up is because he often talks about "the shared commons of our nation..
..including our air, water, transportation routes, airwaves and cable networks, communication systems, military, police, prisons, fire services, health care infrastructure, and courts must be held either by locally-controlled non-profit corporations or by government responsive to its citizens."
A similar topic he talks about is the fact that there are no self-made people. Somewhere along the line, successful people have piggy-backed on an idea or an invention or a technology that came before them. For example, the research for the internet was financed by the federal government. The American people paid for the research with their tax dollars for many years. Therefore all those making money off the internet owe a considerable debt of gratitude to all those previous Americans who sacrificed their time, treasure and talent to invent something that now allows others to prosper. Make sense? Well, how do you repay those that came before you? By doing the same that they did for you, of course.

So last week when I saw this article, Amendment would benefit Bee Cave mall, I got a little curious, and not just because Rep. Krusee is in the middle of it. When I first started reading it I was wondering why in the hell does Mike Krusee care so much about this? But not too far in, I found out why:
Krusee introduced the amendment at the request of the Texas Municipal League and the City of Round Rock, which has a 380 agreement with Dell Inc.
Very nice. But what is a "380 agreement"? Well, it refers to giving tax incentives in the form of grants and loans to businesses to entice them to build in your city, or as it is called for reasons of "economic development". We can debate whether this is a worthwhile use of taxpayer money and I think, like anything else, it depends. Depends on what? It depends on the state of things and what our priorities are. Now, if you refer back up to what was defined earlier as OUR COMMONS and see that most of that is in a shambles, it becomes apparent that we need to focus more on that than on giving away taxpayer money to build another mall.

The legislation I referred to earlier, HJR 80 and SB 1022, are attempts to make sure the line between "economic development" and your tax dollars is not severed. HJR 80, authored by Rep. Mike Krusee, is a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the recently-ruled-unconstitutional agreement in Bee Cave to become legal and not jeopardize any current or future tax giveaways. SB 1022 on the other hand is Sen. Barrientos' bill that depending on who you ask, is either:
a responsibly crafted measure that ensures proper oversight and environmental controls, or a giveaway to mall developer Chris Milam and his business associates.
The point in all of this is that taxpayer money is being given away to corporations in hopes of bringing economic development. I believe providing every American or Texan with health care would provide much better economic development. These agreements are not being made for the benefit of the people. They are being done to protect the interests of those who give money to these politicians. For too many years now, our commons have been ceded to corporations in the name of economic development. As you look at the state of our economies -- local, state, federal, global -- it becomes apparent who has been benefiting from the "economic development" of OUR COMMONS.

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