Letters to the editor: Nov. 26, 2017

    Updated Nov 29, 2017

Re: Nov. 20 article, “Campaign cash, outreach to parents fueled big Austin school bond win.

I voted for the school bond. But make no mistake — that doesn’t mean I was part of some “Trump effect” reacting to the opponents.

I am beginning to feel like property owners are an oppressed minority, getting stomped on so everyone’s kids can go to school. I am over 65. Two weeks ago, I sent in just over $7,000 for my property tax bill, which I could not afford. When I actually retire, how do I afford that?

My concern is taxes increase with rising property values. That doesn’t benefit me unless or until I am forced to sell — and that’s a benefit I don’t need. Or, the whim of local officials who decide they need to increase the rate due to runaway spending. We need a freeze — and non-property owners must pay a fairer share for school funding.


Re: Nov. 19 letter to the editor, “Renaming schools reveals ignorance.

Removing Confederate names from buildings and roads will not erase history. We have books and computers for that, so at any time people can read about how states that wanted “negro slavery” broke off from the Union and caused over 600,000 Americans to die.

People can claim that the soldiers were “doing what they felt was right at the time,” but without context that statement falls flat.

We should demand that anywhere a Confederate statue or memorial exists in this state, a plaque should be erected of the Declaration of Causes: Feb. 2, 1861, a document written by the Texas Legislature to ensure all future generations knew their reasons. Look it up — and prepare to be disgusted.

Research exactly why these people fought, then tell me why they should be memorialized.


Re: Nov. 20 letter to the editor, “Health care not a right, it’s a privilege.

In a recent letter, a writer argued health care isn’t a right but a privilege. His reasoning is “nothing can be a right that requires others to provide it.” He notes free speech, free assembly and freedom from unwarranted searches are rights because they are not paid for through taxes. He asks us to “ruminate on that.”

I ruminated and realized he is right — nothing can be a right which requires “others” to provide it. What the writer evidently doesn’t recognize is all of our rights are due to “others” providing it. Our government provides us the right to free speech, free assembly and unwarranted searches.

If tomorrow our government decided to abolish those rights they would be gone, and we’d join the ranks of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other repressive nations. All rights our government provides are privileges. Taxes have nothing to do with it. Ruminate on that.


Re: Nov. 19 commentary, “Juan Castillo: How common sense can transcend ideology about guns.”

Juan Castillo got it right. There’s plenty can be done about gun violence. Sociologists (who study society) should lay it all out, how it can be done.

How did tobacco use get reduced so much? Laws, taxation and public education. Drunk driving? Laws and public education. Increased seat belt use? Ditto.

Change can happen. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it begins the process. Big Tobacco tried to stop anti-smoking efforts, just like the NRA tries to stop anti-gun campaigns. It must be overcome to restore a measure of sanity. Every single person in the U.S.A. is threatened by random, mass shootings. Has the NRA no shame?


Re: Nov. 17 commentary, “Phillips: How an environmental deal led to Austin’s gentrification.”

In her opinion piece, Alberta Phillips lays the blame for East Austin gentrification on policies from the 1990s that steer development away from the aquifer feeding Barton Springs. She ignores numerous factors of far greater importance.

Over the past 10 years, the city’s population grew by more than 200,000, driven by our having one of the nation’s few thriving economies during the Great Recession. Folks moving here needed to live somewhere, and East Austin housing was among the most reasonably priced.

A preference among millennials for inner-city apartment living — a national trend — is another factor. So is the state’s overreliance on property taxes, especially for funding public education. As a longtime Austinite, I am disappointed to see Phillips blame protecting the environment and the leaders who worked to do so.


The move to repeal the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act within tax reform legislation is misguided.

No American goes without “health care.” But people end up in the emergency room, where care is delivered inefficiently, unfairly and inhumanely. Treatable medical conditions are not attended to and go on to become costly tragedies: a breast mass, ignored, may become a more advanced cancer. The bills for all this ER care are ultimately paid by all of us though increased taxes (local, state, federal) and hospital cost shifting — charging insurance companies more to cover those patients who cannot pay their bills.

The GOP proposal is deceitful accounting. Health care costs are being hidden and shifted so as to justify the Republican tax plan. Health care will be more expensive for all. It is time for our leaders to address the real issues of cost and accessibility of health care in this country.