While the Mayoral candidates debate, our crime situation analytics are a useful tool in evaluating where we stand. Location Inc. is a SAAS company that uses analytics and mapping tools to power risk assessment. Think of it as the crime analysis version of Astros' baseball.
What do they find about Houston? With a crime rate of 54 per one thousand residents, Houston has one of the highest crime rates in America. Your chances of becoming a crime victim are one in 19. Compared to the rest of Texas, a stunning 98% have a lower crime rate. In fact, we are safer than only 4% of U.S. cities!
So the critics of Sylvester Turner in this case, Tony Buzbee and Bill King and others, are correct. The major media (Chronicle) is looking at it the wrong way, not the historical statistics, but they should be looking at how we are doing in comparison to other cities.
The short answer, our crime is worse than almost every city in America. Citizens want leadership change at City Hall.
Harris County Democratic Commissioners
Have Tax And Spending Disease
Elections have consequences. So in the last election, Harris County voters voted straight Democrat in historic numbers, because they thought "Beto" O'Rourke (and his $100 million) was the second coming and they were not big fans of Senator Ted Cruz or President Trump and the GOP campaigns weren't as effective as they needed to be.
So we elected Lina Hidalgo, a novice candidate for County Judge over well-regarded Judge Ed Emmett and perennial candidate Adrian Garcia over Commissioner Jack Morman in a close race. Under the leadership of a career leftist politician, Rodney Ellis (put on Commissioners Court by essentially the Democratic precinct chairs), the county has embraced the tax and spending ways of D.C.
So taxpayers, hold on to your wallets because as described by the taxpayers' watchdog, Senator Paul Bettencourt, here's what is coming:
"During the recent Harris County Commissioner Court meeting, the commissioners proposed a massive double digit property tax rate increase. This is a 'Maximum Smash' on Taxpayers the last year before Senate Bill 2 takes effect in 2020, reducing the rollback rate from 8% to 3.5%."
"For the average home with a taxable value of $179,660, the homeowner will see an estimated 12.6% tax increase.
"The key point is that such an onerous tax increase next year would require commissioner's court to take it to the voters for ratification in November. It is bad enough public policy that they can have a double digit increase in 2019, but SB2 will stop these preposterous increases in 2020 and leave it up to the voters to decide in a November election, as opposed to them being 'Taxed To The Max' on a 3-2 vote.
"Average homeowners in Harris County are not getting a 12% pay raise and they shouldn't be paying a 12% tax hike either."
Note this happens while appraisals creep up and more property goes on the tax rolls, and massive toll road revenue has increased county coffers by over $200 million with a year-to-year assessed valuation growth of 7.73%!
The massive tax increase falls significantly on homeowners throughout Harris County regardless of political party or race. We wonder if Commissioners Ellis and Garcia have heard from their constituents about this 12% average tax hike and gotten their outrage back.
With All Of Houston's Challenges,
Turner's Case For Reelection Is...Donald Trump?
In the "you can't make this up" department, the campaign for Sylvester Turner is to say Tony Buzbee is friends with Donald Trump.
Of course, if you had an embarrassing record of failures as Mayor, you would trash your opponent.
TCR is waiting for answers of why the City of Houston is failing in so many areas?
Scary Movie: The Ten "Major" Democratic Candidates For President
Years ago, it was proposed that voters get a third choice in political races, none of the above. Looking at the major Democratic candidates, it would be an appropriate choice.
To those who slogged through last week's endless 3-hour debate in Houston, my condolences. The show they presented was just plain scary.
For your review, here are some of the radical leftist, out of the mainstream ideas:
- Put government in charge of healthcare and abolish your private insurance.
- "Free" health for illegals in the U.S. (remember free doesn't mean some taxpayer won't be paying for it.
- Amnesty to all illegals in the country and fast track citizenship.
- Declare war on fossil fuels.
- Maintain and expand the failing public schools system.
- Abolish the second amendment and seize guns from law-abiding citizens.
- Raise taxes on corporations, and "ultra-millionaires" with a net worth tax.
- Offer free college, free childcare and wipe out student loan debt.
- The Green New Deal while using climate change as an excuse, the real goal is to radically remake our economy. The 2015 Stanford study estimates the cost at $13 trillion plus. Some estimates are as high as $100 trillion. Note our current total U.S. federal spending FY 2019 is $4.53 trillion.
- Expand Social Security by $200 a month to be paid by guess who? Higher taxes on the rich.
- Nationwide housing building program and rent control.
We are exhausted with these radical big spending ideas. Note this spending and taxes fest of the Democrats takes place while spending in D.C. is out of control with our deficit estimate this year at $1.1 trillion!
And on almost every expensive radical idea, an answer to the question of how to pay for it is always to tax the wealthy.
Let's be frank, we could tax 100% of the money of the top one-tenth of one percent and still not have brought enough to fund their schemes.
The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget led by Republican Mitch Daniels and Democrats Leon Panetta, and Tim Penny, call it a "myth" that taxing the top 1% can fix the debt problem and this was before figuring the costs of their nutty ideas. You can start with well north of $100 trillion over ten years. For a sense of scale, the projected U.S. government spending over the next 10 years is $60 trillion.
Lessons Of North Carolina's
Special Election Success For The GOP
The major media building up to the N.C. special elections for Congress had been telling us that the GOP would lose and it's a referendum on President Trump. The Democrats outspent the GOP almost 2 to 1.
What was really fascinating is that in Cumberland County, N.C., Trump lost by 20,000 votes plus in 2016 and last week the Republican for Congress won it with a slight majority of black voters. The county has a 35% black population.
So let's take a step and ask why? Factors such as the lowest black unemployment in decades and the significantly declining food stamp participation among blacks, means the Trump economy is really helping working people. Also, the GOP campaigns went after black votes instead of conceding them to the Democrats as they usually do.
What Really Happens If We Get Medicare For All
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
A huge issue in the coming national election, Medicare for All, has been pitched as the next step by Leftists who want to nationalize our health care system. Yet it seems very little introspection has been done on the subject as to what really will happen. It is time we take a look.
First and most importantly, all private insurance will go bye-bye. From the polls taken, most people do not understand that. There are an estimated 180 million Americans who have private insurance. Most like their private insurance even though they are bothered by it at times. If you cannot get someone on the phone to resolve your issue, typically your insurance agent can, or your doctor can. Compare that to your experience with the government.
I work with tax agencies all the time. These are the revenue producing and collecting entities. They are impossible to deal with. When you are spending the government's money, do you think it will be better or worse? The elected officials who want to put this medical system in place have their own preferred system. Do you think they wait in line? Do you think they stay on the phone for hours trying to get approval for a procedure?
A material argument made is there is less paperwork with Medicare. Two things to consider. First, how much of that is their lack of responsiveness? Second, most paperwork currently sent by insurance companies is due to government mandate. They cause a problem and then their advocates complain about the problem. My experience with the federal government, particularly the IRS, is they are a huge waster of paper. And their technology is terrible. Why do we think it will be better at a cost center than their revenue-producing division?
What will happen to your hospital? Since the only payer for services to them will be the federal government, who do they really work for - you or the government? What will be the incentive for the hospitals to provide better care or buy the newest equipment or have a division dedicated to working on a new procedure or developing that new procedure? Currently if you go to a hospital, they are tacitly responsible to you (and your insurance company). If you are told you cannot have something at the hospital, do you complain to the nurse, doctor or hospital administrator?
Or would you want to complain to some government employee somewhere in an unknown locale who only works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and promises to get back to you in 24-48 hours?
Then there is the fact Medicare and Medicaid under pay for services now to hospitals paying only 80% of the hospitals hard costs. Private insurance makes up the difference now. What happens when the government is the only payor? Bankruptcy for hospitals and then the government takes over?
What will happen to your doctor? They will not work for you any longer as they will have to answer to the government to get paid. Already the doctors are subsidized by the private insurance companies. Medicare pays about 80% of their costs also so the private insurance companies make it up. It is a cost transfer to private industry now. Medicaid pays even less.
One of the big pitches of Medicare for All is that they will cut expenses (I will believe it when I see it), if we ever get to see it. Just an example of their lies on this. When Obama took over student loans in 2010 they told us they would spend $800 million on administrative costs. This year they will spend $2.9 billion. Why would we believe the administrative costs for government run health insurance would be any different?
They also are going to cut reimbursement rates. That is what happens when you have a monopoly; you can dictate prices.
Or will doctors just become employees of the national government plan? Either way, your doctor will not be responsible to you.
The biggest question is what will be the quality of people becoming doctors in the future? They will have less chance to make a fine living, so will the best and brightest become doctors or hedge fund operators? Either way, how many people will want to endure the rigors of becoming a doctor for the joy of becoming a government employee.
In addition, will doctors be compensated like school teachers where the most skilled and capable make the same amount as the dud who should be a washout, but is hung on to?
Last the drug companies. They have been attacked relentlessly, but they are a godsend. They have developed many medicines that are life-savers. I know many people who would already be dead and would have been years ago without little pills. These are not 80-year-olds. These are people in the 40's or 50's who popped a pill and have a functioning thyroid or normal blood pressure.
The government gives the drug companies enough angst now on new product developments. What will happen when the government is the only payor?
I can go on with device manufacturers, nurses, etc., but you get the idea. We have laws against monopolies in our country. Why would we turn our health care system into a monopoly?
Don't be fooled by the public option. Whether it is the short course that Senator Sanders favors or the ten-year phase-in from Senator Harris, it is all the same. It is a way to degrade private insurance companies by taxpayer underwritten healthcare which buffers the true cost to the policy holder.
One of the hallmark arguments for Medicare for All is that "health care is a right." Yet no one seems to ask these simple questions:
1. When exactly did it become a right?
2. If it is a right, then those who have chosen to become health care providers must provide a person health care even if the patient has no ability or will to compensate them? What about the economic harm to the provider?
3. What exactly needs to be provided? Since vision care is included in the latest plan, what are the restrictions on how many pairs of glasses or contacts are provided for as one example?
4. We have many advanced surgeries today. For example, knee replacements, stents, hip replacements and on and on and on. Are all those considered part of that right?
You get the point. Someone has to make all those decisions and it will not be you or me.
We are told that other countries like England and Canada delight in their health care system which is single-payer. Part of it is they don't realize how bad it is because it is the only system they have. Somehow, they think it is "free" despite coming at a high cost. We know many Canadians cross our border to pay out-of-pocket for procedures they either cannot obtain or would have to wait a lifetime to obtain.
We have two functioning health care systems already in the U.S. run by our federal government. Those are the VA and the Indian reservation health care. You must consider whether that is really what you want for you and your family. You are dreaming if you think it will be any better.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @brucebialosky.
TCR on the Air
Red, White, and Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland on Fridays at 7:30 pm on Houston Public Media TV 8, replaying Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8, Monday at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpublicmedia.org.
About Your Editor
09-20-19 - Homeland Security and Immigration includes interviews with Representative Gina Calanni (District 132); Member of Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee), Manne Favor (Executive Director, Justice for Our Neighbors), Jacob Monty (Managing Partner, Monty & Ramirez LLP).
09-27-19 - Supreme Court Preview includes interviews with Josh Blackman (Professor of Law, South Texas-George Mason University School of Law), Emily Berman (Assistant Professor, University of Houston Law Center).
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his twenty-second year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last eighteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 16 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 18th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on Houston Public Media TV 8 PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary serves on the Board of Directors of American Values, a national pro-family, pro-faith, conservative organization supporting the unity of the American people around the vision of our founding fathers and dedicated to reminding the public of the conservative principles fundamental to the survival of our nation. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.