It's out nationally and with a local spin for the state of Texas - a report on the "widening income gap" between the rich and poor, in which Texas is the worst offender behind New York.
The study comes from a well-meaning but admittedly progressive think tank, and it's a clarion call for the sort of social remedies those folks often advocate. The study blames a number of factors, including "long periods of high unemployment, globalization, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the expansion of low-wage service jobs."
But I'm not so sure. Not about any of this.
For starters, let's look at what a "widening income gap" is. I'm going to use simple, round numbers for my illustration because, well, I'm not that bright when it comes to math, but I can cipher out the basic stuff.
You got Mr. Smith making $20,000.
You got Ms. Jones making $200,000.
That's a starting income gap of - wait, let me use a calculator - $180,000.
Let's say that both of their salaries grow by 10 percent over the course of a year.
So Mr. Smith is now making $22,000. And Ms. Jones is making $220,000.
Both are doing demonstrably better. But now the income gap is $198,000.
The gap has widened dramatically, even as they both experienced growth in salary. So gap growth isn't exactly a bad thing.
But of course, the study found that people on the top end of average earnings had incomes that grew at a faster percentage rate than people in the middle and on the low end. They found that, adjusted for inflation, over the last 20 years:
Incomes of the poorest 20 percent of families nationally grew by an average of $2,660, or 19 percent
Incomes of families in the middle fifth percentile saw their incomes rise 28 percent, or $10,218
Incomes of the richest fifth of families grew by $45,100, or nearly 59 percent
So everyone is doing better, on average, even if at different rates.
This is bad news?
And I guess I'm not surprised that the rich get richer quicker, because unless they're particularly thick-headed, rich people will keep doing the kind of things that got them rich in the first place. (Not that the people in the top 20 percent in the first year are necessarily the same people in the top 20 percent two decades later - income mobility says otherwise - but we're talking averages.)
In the end, is income equality something we should be striving for at all? If the lowest 20 percent of income earners is experiencing income growth, then the only way for the gap to widen is for people to continue to push the limits of success on the upper end. That's a bad thing? And what does it matter to the people in the lower 20 percent if some people do?
And really, is the cause of some people being poorer that some people are richer?
I ran a marathon last year. Didn't do that great - insert stardard injury excuse here - but I finished. I don't think my performance was impeded by the way the elite runners ran it. I don't think I'd do better if they were forced to start later, or wear leg weights. If anything, I'll do better next year if I work some of their training techniques into my running. This may or may not have anything to do with the income gap study - I just like mentioning that I ran a marathon.
DallasBlog would like to welcome David McNabb as its High School sports Blogger. For 40 years David had played in and written about high school sports in the Lone Star State. He has written for the Dallas News, Dave Campbell's Texas Football, and a variety of other publications and may be the stat's top expert on high school sports. So whatever your sport or school stay in touch with David McNabb. We are darn proud to have him. (Today McNabb talks about great HS Football coaches who made it big, and those on their way)
My good friend Glenn Hunter at the Dallas Business Journal reports that The Donald may be looking at Dallas for a new project called Trump Tower Dallas. Trump was cagey on details, but we can rest assured that whatever the project is - should it materialize - it will be marked by the same quiet taste and dignity that is the New York developer's signature.
The daily is reporting the none-too-surprising news that almost half the Dallas City Council may (or may not) consider challenging Mayor Laura Miller in 2007. Sorry but this is about as surprising as finding that your U.S. senator would one day like to be president.
Paul BremerThe cities of Dallas and Fort Worth may have their differences over some things but more and more they are doing things together. Today, for example, the Dallas Council on World Affairs and the Fort Worth Council on World Affairs will become the World Affairs Council of Dallas and Fort Worth. In the future most speakers coming to the Council will address gatherings in both Fort Worth and Dallas. Today, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, former administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, will speak in both Dallas at a Noon luncheon at the Fairmount Hotel and this evening at TCU in Fort Worth.
The Council, which has offices in both Dallas and Fort Worth, has long been widely recognized as one of the region’s most important civic causes. Last year, in fact, the Dallas Council was honored as the finest mid-sized council in the U.S. by the World Affairs Councils of America. Having grown by almost 1,000% in the past four years, the council now has more than 1,500 members and a staff of 13.
In addition to presenting programs, the Council manages the Dallas and Fort Worth Councils for International Visitors, which are sponsored by the Department of State. The Council also takes education directly into public and private schools, providing highly praised educational programs that in the past year alone instructed more than 15,000 North Texas students in world affairs.
The non-profit, nonpartisan Council was established in 1951 in Dallas and in 1961 in Fort Worth to educate citizens on crucial issues of international affairs and foreign policy. To learn about upcoming programs and obtain membership information go to www.dfwworld.org
Chris BellIt appears that Democrat Chris Bell thinks the people of Texas are opposed to vouchers and wants everyone to know up front where he stands.
"Let me say right up front that I oppose vouchers. I’ve always opposed vouchers and I will always oppose vouchers. Texas won’t have the best public schools in the country if we’re raiding their funding to send kids to private schools."
Of course, it may be he wants Texas teachers to know that Carole Strayhorn has taken big money from pro-voucher advocates while opposing vouchers to gain an endorsement from the Texas State Teachers Association. Without teachers Democratic campaigns are a non-starter but that group recently endorsed Strayhorn giving her a huge boost on the way to November. Bell to teachers: You cannot trust Carole but you can trust me.
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and President BushEveryone is mad at HUD. Today, Sen. Kay Hutchison, Sen. John Cornyn, Gov. Rick Perry, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst dispatched a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development expressing their unhappiness with the "pittance" HUD has provided Texas as reimbursement for expenses related to hurricane refugees.
HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced Wednesday that Texas would receive only $74.5 million of the $11.5 billion Congress has appropriated to HUD for aid to Gulf coast states. The amount represents less than 10 percent of the costs incurred by Texans and less than 1 percent of available funding.
To date, the state of Texas has documented more than $1 billion in infrastructure damages that should be covered by HUD, including:
$250 million in critical repairs needed for schools, universities, ports, waterways, and water and sewer lines.
More than $350 million in damage to the state’s electrical grid.
$240 million in preliminary damage reports for an estimated 14,000 single family homes, mobile homes and apartments. More than 35,000 single family homes, mobile homes and apartments were severely damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Rita.
After all Texas has been through, this level of funding is completely inadequate. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Texans opened their homes and their hearts to their neighbors in need. The federal government welcomed our help and said we'd be reimbursed," Sen. Hutchison said.
"I was disappointed that HUD chose a methodology for allocating this funding that created such an immense disparity for Texas. But I am working with the governor, Senator Hutchison and the Texas congressional delegation to ensure fundamental fairness for Texas in this and future relief funding," Sen. Cornyn said.
Not only is this broadside by every high ranking GOP official in Texas at a Texas Republican's administration astounding, but the fact that HUD is headed by Texan and Bush confidant Alphonso Jackson of Dallas makes it doubly astounding. But it is a fair issue for Texas Democrats to raise. How can Texas get so little of so much?
Lobbyist Todd BoulangerState Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn, and Independent/Republican candidate for Governor, announced today that her office will conduct an audit of the state's contract with Washington DC lobbying firm of Cassidy & Associates. The Houston Chronicle reported last week that Cassidy partner Todd Boulanger was paid $330,000 by the Texas office of State/Federal Affairs. Boulanger is not only a long-time associate of former House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Houston) but a very close associate of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who has recently pled guilty to several crims. DeLay once called Abramoff "one of my closest friends."
The governor's office has fired back that the State Auditor was already auditing the contract as a matter of standard procedure and that the Comptroller has no legal authority to conduct an audit. Anyone want to take any bets that Strayhorn gives Cassidy and the governor's DC office a clean bill of health? But the reaction of the governor's office indicates this is a subject on which the governor is, well, touchy.
The Office of State/Federal Relations is an agency up for Sunset review in 2007. This means the legislature can give that office an up or down vote on abolishing the agency. Democrats are planning to make a real issue of the office saying that it is unnecessary, that the state has two senators and 34 congressmen and prying money out of the Feds is their job. In a roll reversal the conservative party will be arguing that the office represents tax dollars well spent.
Sen. HutchisonA random survey of Texas Congressional offices conducted by DallasBlog.com indicates that most have been overwhelmed the past three days by calls and letters dealing with the possible intrusion of Mexican troops into Texas or the more likely possibility that Mexican drug smugglers dressed as Mexican army unites penetrated the state. The same holds true of many state legislators from both parties.
Many observers believe that the standoff with Texas law enforcement officers will provide a powerful impetus to SB 1823, filed by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison during last years Congressional Session. Dubbed the "Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Empowerment Act" it would give state and local governments more power to enforce federal immigration laws and to write their own immigration laws.