I know that it’s impolite to speak ill of the dead, but, hey, the truth is the truth. Now that Ann Richards has passed on to her eternal reward, or more likely, punishment, everyone has all these nice things to say about her. She’s being held up as a “model for Texas women”, “a Texas icon”, and “great example of women in goverment.”
I take offense to these statements on two levels – one as a woman and two as a native (68th generation) Texan. Thanks to Ann Richards, there were a lot of taxes passed on things that had never been taxed before. These are things that pretty much everyone uses but no one got to vote on, which is required by state law here. They were disguised as “disposal fees” and “infrastructure use fees” instead of calling them what they really are – a tax.
I’m going to digress for a moment to explain something that most people just don’t grok until they come here. Everyone in Texas owns a car. We all drive because you can drive 60 mph for 8 hours non-stop and still be in Texas. If you do that in Europe, you’ve passed through at least a half a dozen countries. Here, you’re not even in El Paso yet. Since cars are a necessity, everyone has one because everyone needs one.
If you buy a quart of motor oil in Texas, there is an extra 25 cents tacked on as “a disposal fee” even though 99% of all motor oil in Texas gets recycled. If you buy a tire for your car, $3.50 per tire for the disposal fee. Furthermore, if you buy a used tire (which has already had it’s fee paid), you must pay the disposal fee again. If you buy a battery for your car, it’s a $3.00 disposal fee. If you buy a used battery, which has already had it’s fee paid, you still have to pay the disposal fee again. Your gasoline – well, twenty cents out of every gallon you purchase goes straight into the state coffers. In fairness, she’s not personally responsible for the entire 20 cents, but 12 cents of it was part of one of her proposals to the State Legislature.
If you use a cell phone in Texas, I’m sure that you’ve seen the nifty little fees at the bottom of your bill that add another 20%-25% to your phone bill. $12.19 on my cell phone bill that goes to the State of Texas every single month. Take that and multiply it by the 8 million or so residents in Texas. That’s another bit of nifty-ness you can thank Ann Richards for. If you have land line in Texas, it gets hit with similar fees. If you have electricity in Texas, you can thank Ann Richards for helping to bring you electric power deregulation and electric rates nearly twice that of the states that surround us. The states around are at 8 cents per killowatt hour while Texas is currently at 15 cents per killowatt hour and climbing. In addition, natural gas rates are higher here so you don’t even get cheap heat in the winter any more.
To my mind, she is nothing more than a prime example of the political process gone horribly wrong. She subverted the legislative process to pass taxes which the inhabitants of the state are forced to pay in order to obtain goods and services that they desperately need. State law requires that any new tax be placed on the ballot and that the residents here must vote on it before it can be enacted. It also requires an explanantion of what the money is going to be used for as well as follow up procedures to ensure that the money is indeed used for its intended purpose. I find nothing “iconic” or admirable about her. There is nothing there that I would ever care to emulate, since I find her methods to be more than questionable. How is this supposed to be a role model for Texans or women? Is the message here that I should become a lying, cheating, backstabbing moneygrubber? Is that how we measure success? Enron and Jeff Skilling were some of her largest campaign contributors. Need I say more about her ethics?
Instead of letting her lie in state, all the churches should be ringing bells and small children should be running through the streets shouting “Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!”