New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 23, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
^a£e 6A Herald-Zeitung — Wednesday, February 23, 2000Opinions FORUM I -14,1 1.1..v I s
New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958.
Doug Toney, Editor and Publisher Margaret Edmonson, Managing Editor
By the Associated Press
Amarillo Globe-News on cell phone law:
Cellular telephones admittedly can be a nuisance — and even a potential threat to motorists and pedestrians. But is the potential threat deserving of another law on the books? Hardly. We prefer a stepped-up public education initiative to advise people of the hazards of operating a cell phone while at the same time operating a two-ton motor vehicle. To date, only three states — California, Florida and Massachusetts —have laws limiting cell phone use in cars. No state prohibits cell phone use. Several other states, including Texas, have considered such legislation. Our own view is that such a law starts the state dow n the proverbial slippery slope. What activity does the state prohibit next? Lighting a cigarette off the car lighter? Reloading a cassette tape or compact disc player? Switching channels on the car radio? Make no mistake about the dangers inherent in using cell phones while driving a car. Traffic records are replete with incidents involving people losing control of their car while operating a phone. Motorists should use discretion in dialing up a cell phone. Common sense would seem to dictate that using a phone in heavy traffic is a risky endeavor. A new law, however, isn’t the answer to forcing people to behave responsibly while driving a car.
Beaumont Enterprise on the death tax:
Presidential candidates in the East are discussing a variety of issues this primary season, but Sen. Phil Gramm’s appearance in Beaumont on Sunday highlighted one that deserves more awareness. Gramm visited M&D Supply on College Street to illustrate one of the biggest challenges faced today by small businesses in America the death of their owner. The so-called “death tax” levied on the heirs of a company’s founder can be so prohibitively expensive that their only recourse is to sell out. The numbers on this issue speak for themselves. Ninety-one percent of all U.S. businesses are family owTied...and 70 percent don’t survive past the first generation. The federal government spends 65 cents for every dollar it collects from the estate tax, spending $12 billion in 1997 to raise $20 billion. From the M&D Supply Co. in Beaumont to the Chicago Defender (one of only two black-owned daily newspapers in America), the death tax has made it difficult for the sons and daughters of entrepreneurs to carry on the family business. If this controversial tax were eliminated or drastically scaled back, American business owners could devote more of their assets to wages and benefits for employees or build up more capital to expand their operation and thus create more jobs. Gramm said sentiment is strong in both houses of Congress to fix this problem, and now’s the time to do it. If Congress won’t eliminate a burdensome and unpopular tax when federal revenues are pouring in at a record-breaking pace, it never will.
Today in History
By The Associated Press
Today is Wednesday, Feb. 23, the 54th day of 2000. There are 312 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Feb. 23, 1945, during World War II, U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi, where they raised the American flag.
On this date:
In 1822, Boston was granted a charter to incorporate as a city.
In 1836, the siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.
In 1847, U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista in Mexico.
In 1848, the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, died of a stroke at age 80.
In 1861, President-elect Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take office, an assassination plot having been foiled in Baltimore.
In 1870, Mississippi was readmitted to the Union.
Growth, prosperity depend on water
The third drought in four years continues its stranglehold on Texas, searing range land and manicured lawns with equal intensity.
Last year was the driest on record. One rancher observed that even after a rain the ground remains so dry he can turn over a few inches of top soil and find a dirt clod hard enough to strike a match on.
State reservoirs are the lowest in 22 years, and 60 of the state’s public water systems are under mandatory water restrictions. In addition to its physical impact on land and livestock, the drought has a devastating fiscal effect, costing the state $10.7 billion in 1999.
On Feb. I when the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Appropriations met to discuss drought issues, a National Weather Center meteorologist stated that as the result of La Nina, current weather trends aren’t good for Texas.
Because Texas’ future growth and prosperity depend on an available water supply for a population that is expected to double by 2050, the 75th Legislature passed a comprehensive water bill in 1997. The bill requires that regional water planning groups work with the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission in the management of the state's rural and urban water
TWDB provides assistance to groundwater districts that are formulating water-con-servation and drought-management plans. TNRCC issues licenses and permits and partially funds rain-enhancement or cloud-seeding operations.
Seven cloud-seeding projects, covering about 36 million acres in West and South Texas are currently permitted by TNRCC for 2000. The projects are part of a long-term, water-management strategy to replenish aquifers and meet the needs of agriculture, industry and municipalities.
Research indicates that cloud seeding can result in a IO percent to 20 percent rainfall increase. The West Texas Weather Modification and the Edwards Aquifer Authority projects include 13 of the 17 counties in Senate District 25.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority plans to begin cloud seeding March I over a 6-mil
lion acre target area that includes Bandera, Bexar, Blanco, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Kerr and Medina counties in Senate District 25. Gillespie and portions of Llano also could benefit from the project.
The authority has committed $500,000 to the project’s 4-cents-an-acre cost with TNRCC reimbursing half the expenses. ;
The West Texas Weather Modification • Association’s rain-enhancement program ,is in its fourth year of operation, embracing t seven counties, including Sutton, Schleicher and part of Tom Green.
The economic benefits of cloud seeding are incalculable. One study indicates that* in terms of crops and cattle, the regional economy would increase by $4 million and personal income by more than $2 million, with more than a half million dollars saved in « irrigation costs. ;
Rainfall resulting from cloud seeding also provides savings to home- and business ! owners by decreasing landscape watering costs. :
Water is our most vital natural resource; Together we must conserve it, manage it dnd enhance it to ensure that Texas’ finite water supply will meet its future needs.
(Jeff Wentw orth represents District 25 in the Texas Senate.)
Letter to the EditorShelter thanks Fischer for service
Congratulations to Kathy Fischer on her 10-year anniversary of working at the Children’s Shelter in New Braunfels. The shelter is celebrating Kathy’s anniversary on Feb. 23. In 1990 when Kathy
started, the shelter was a small operation near the interstate.
It was moved in October of last year to a 17-acre facility out in the country. With the growth of the shelter, Kathy’s job of administrative assistant has become more of a challenge.
The shelter provides residential care for children, birth to
11 years, who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Kathy handles the shelter’s daily clerical and financial responsibilities.
She works with employees, administration, board members, outside agencies and the general public. She is a wealth of information and an opti
mistic and friendly person.
Kathy loves the children who reside at the shelter and is a kind and caring friend to staff. We at the shelter hope that Kathy stays to celebrate many more anniversaries here.
Congratulations, Kathy!The staff at the Corpal County Emergency Children’s ShelterUnfortunately, mean curve outpacing society
They re rioting in Africa They 're starv ing in Spain There s hurricanes in Florida And Texas needs rain.
The w hole w orld is festering unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch And I don t like anybody very' much.
The Kingston Trio, 1960-something AUSTIN — Where is that idiot who wrote the piece about the end of history a few years back? Would somebody haul that guy back here so we can all make fun of him again? After California stops shaking and the eastern half of the country thaws (Jay Leno says it’s so cold in Washington that people are huddled around Bob Dole for warmth), then we can get back to our manmade problems.
As natural disasters and a big mess in Washington are pretty much part of the
permanent landscape, it behooves us to greet these perennial disasters with a certain phlegm Phlegm is one of those British qualities, like spunk and pluck, that have an intrinsically droll sound. It’s not so much the famous stiff upper lip as a sort of impenetrable calm — e.g., Edward R. Murrow’s famous recordings of the unhurried footsteps of Londoners heading for bomb shelters in World War ll, with sirens and explosions in the background.
Phlegm, alas, is not a very American trait. We’re slightly more in the Chicken Little School of Reaction. After visiting Canada last fall — a country whose national motto is “Now let s not get
excited” I embarked on a search for a word meaning the opposite of hyperbole. If you spent a few days in Canada, you too would feel the need for the opposite of hyperbole. Aunt Eula suggested low-perbole, which I think is awfully good, but it’s not in the dictionary. But then the invaluable Linda T. Anderson of Dallas, with the help of an English teacher in Denison, found litotes. We haven’t figured out how to pronounce it yet, but it means wild understatement, as in “Joe DiMaggio was a pretty fair ballplayer.”
What we have here is a need for litotes, since a quick survey of the national condition raises the always timely question, “Is God punishing us?” It’s not so much earthquakes in California, people getting flash-frozen in the Midwest and Bobby Ray Inman getting chewed up in Washington that worry me. What concerns me is the level of mean with which we’re reacting to these natural and political events.
The other day, a radio talk-show host
in Atlanta greeted the advent of sub-zero temperatures there by chortling about how many “homeless-icles” might be found in the morning homeless people who had frozen overnight like Popsicles.
For several years now, Jap Cartwright of Texas Monthly and I have written alternative versions of a yet-to-be published article on Texas Mean. We are both connoisseurs of a certain genre of Texas stories about how mean people can be. The guy who kept a rattlesnake in a brown paper bag in his pickup as an antiburglary device — stuff like that.
I called Jap this morning to tell him we’re both behind the mean curve, and what’s more, we’re not going to catch up any time soon. Its one thing to read that someone froze to death because of the weather. It’s another to read about the 69-year-old lady in Worcester, Mass., who couldn’t get into her house because the lock was frozen. It was 5 degrees below zero, she knocked on a neighbor’s door
to ask for help, and the neighbor refused to answer. The woman froze to death. ’ The neighbor said, “I feel so bad that She died all alone. But you just can’t take chances these days. I told police that if it happened IO years ago, I would have J opened the door.”
It’s one thing to say mean things abojut politicians, which I have been doing for a long time. It’s another thing to hear a radio talkmeister call the president’s daughter “butt-ugly” and tell scurrilous jokes about the first lady on the air.
I remember another time in this country, in this state, when the air was full Of hatred when people told hateful jokes! about a first lady, when contempt for tjie
president was everywhere. Dallas. j
Afterward as though some noxious o boil had been lanced and all the pus r^i out, voices of hatred were regarded with horror, and silenced for a time. ;
(Molly Ivins is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.) j