Thou shalt serve thy sponsors.
Thou shalt poison and despoil the works of God.
Thou shalt imprison all people in thy sponsors’ schemes.
Thou shalt sow the seeds of tax increases.
Above are the ten commandments given to Republican politicians at Mt. Koch. Yes, only four are listed, but ten is the number that applies to commandments.
The fourth commandment is the most confusing for ordinary people. In order to assure future tax increases, the Republicans have found it necessary to always speak of tax decreases. There are some who claim Thou shalt speak misleading rhetoric is the fifth commandment, but the original clay tablet was broken and the evidence is unclear on this point. Nevertheless, Republican politicians diligently speak carefully designed talking points which play upon the frustrations and complaints of the voting public.
The seeds of tax increases are best planted in the fertile ground of policies to carry out the first three commandments. From the big picture view, the Republican politicians transfer public wealth to their private sponsors, encourage pollution and waste, and eliminate possible alternatives. The commandment to serve thy sponsors requires Republican politicians to maximize fossil fuel consumption, to maximize mortgage and auto loan debt, and (with help from their Democrat brothers) to maximize public debt. They carry out these commandments through transportation policy, suburban real estate development, industrial agriculture, and the foreign policy of perpetual war. The system of imprisonment has four walls: home mortgage (rent), auto expense (loan, fuel), health care expense, and public debt (municipal bonds, federal deficit). The prison is built on a foundation of income that is slightly less than expenses, so that “success” appears possible while remaining just out of reach and the public is kept in a state of chronic economic insecurity.
In Texas, the Republicans are currently implementing these commandments at the state government level in the budget. They are recovering from the setback of public anger over their toll road plan, and building on past accomplishments which were focused on transportation, pollution, and reduced education. The Republicans were able to engineer a transfer of $2.5 Billion from the general fund to the highway fund through a 2015 constitutional amendment approved by about 8% of eligible voters. Republicans also cemented the privileges of the money-losing fracking industry to create water and air pollution and eliminated local interference. Subsidies for the fracking industry are provided by the federal reserve banking cartel, so the Republicans only needed to provide $250 Million to cover road and bridge damage from fracking in the state budget. The difficult part for the 2017 state budget is the reduction in public services necessitated by the $2.5 Billion transfer to the highway fund.
The Republican plan is to transfer the need to raise revenue to local government agencies or to simply not pay the bills. Thus, it is inevitable that $2.5 Billion will be the approximate amount of tax increase Texans will experience through a myriad of local tax increases. These tax increases will be seen mainly in local school district taxes, which will also advance the Republican goal of eliminating public education by setting the stage for further budget reductions. Shifting public expenses to private individuals is another Republican method, which is seen most clearly in reduced services for the mentally impaired, health care needs due to pollution, and reduced care for drug addiction. These symptoms of Republican policy result from degrading and mismanaging the public sphere in favor of private sponsors and are actually public responsibilities.
While public education will likely be the next focus of tax frustration, the most promising seeds of future tax increases are in the Republican transportation policy. The so-called iron triangle of house, car, and job is in fact a money loser at the public level. The house, car, and job do not create enough of a tax base to support the motor vehicle infrastructure. Added to this is the infrastructure of suburban sprawl, so that when water and sewer lines need replacement, the suburbs will not have the money or tax base to pay these enormous expenses. The Texas Department of Transportation has stated that their entire budget will be needed simply for maintaining the current highway system, but the Republican commandments require expansion of the highway system and suburban sprawl. Expanded highway systems require expanded local roads, create traffic congestion, increase pollution, increase existing maintenance needs, and increase infrastructure costs for other systems. Therefore, future tax increases for highway and local roads spending are inevitable. Regardless, the motor vehicle transportation monopoly must be maintained to maximize fossil fuel consumption.
It should come as no surprise to see that transportation options such as public transportation, railways, pedestrian paths, and cycling paths receive almost no funding under Republican policies. The common feature of these alternatives is reduced fossil fuel usage, which violates the first two commandments. They would also create practical choices in transportation, which violates the third commandment.
In order to actually achieve tax reductions it is necessary to operate public functions in an equitable and economical manner. Since our present infrastructure is so devoted to wasteful usage, actual tax reductions are only a distant possibility. The right direction for transportation policy is roughly opposite of the Republican policies. Texas should be creating locally scaled networks of public transportation, pedestrian paths, and cycling paths to meaningfully reduce car dependence and the need for huge highway monuments. Texas should be promoting greater density in cities and livable cities built for human beings. Texas should be creating a network of railroads for transportation between cities.
In short, Texas should stop funding the Republican sponsors and start taking care of its people.