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Friday, February 10, 2006

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Jimmy and Jimmy’s big
economic adventure

Last week I wrote a column titled, “Did the Chamber sell the Citizen of the Year award?”

In it I questioned the following chain of events: 1) The County Commissioners vote to hire Chamber of Commerce President Jimmy Dutchover at $40,000/year to “consult.” 2) The Commissioners unveil a plan to go partners with prison management company Geo Group and expand the prison. 3) The annual Chamber Banquet turns into a Chamber-County-Geo lovefest crowned by Geo being named citizen of the year.

It sounded to me like the citizen of the year award was bought and paid for by the county to drum up good will for the expansion.

Still does.

That same day the Enterprise ran a front-page article in which County Judge Jimmy Galindo and Dutchover justified Dutchover’s new salary.

The article sounded like they first read my column and then answered the criticism, but that could not be so since the column and the article ran the same day.

I can only guess that the situation so invited criticism that the need for some quick damage control was obvious.

Unfortunately, the justifications are at least as stinky as the chamber deal.

Lets examine a few choice quotes from that article:

“Over the last six months, we have been preparing and planning several county economic development initiatives to develop and market county property…we must create a business environment that will encourage investment and long-term public-private partnerships.” - Judge Jimmy Galindo.

Good grief. First, don’t we have an Economic Development Corporation and is not Mr. Dutchover already on that board?

Does the county have to spend 40,000 tax dollars to gain cooperation?

Second, what is this public-private junk? The business environment we need is one that invites private investment without creating opportunities for corruption amongst petty government officials.

Benito Mussolini said it well when he said, “ Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." No thanks.

Here is another jewel:

“If we can create the business environment to persuade Wal-Mart to partner with us to develop a Super Center on county property…” - Judge Jimmy Galindo.

What? Tell me I did not just hear that. Please.

A Wal-Mart Super Center is the cure for Pecos’ economic troubles? Yeah, and I’m Batman.

While we are at it lets go ahead and set off a nuke downtown and call it a tourist attraction.

Let me get this straight. You are going to spend tax dollars paid by businesses like La Tienda, Gibsons, Brownlee Hardware, Lee Lumber Company, Needleworks, Napa, Autozone, Taylor’s Flowers, Four Seasons Flowers, Desiree Boutique, Airlawn Furniture, Desert Rentals, Fuentes Furniture, and Reeves County Feed to name a few - to attract a store than will be in direct competition with them.

What an absolute stab in the back by a bunch of low-lying skunks.

Hey, La Tienda, thanks for the million-dollar makeover and all. To show our appreciation for you investing in this town we are going to purposefully go recruit the largest retailer in the world to compete directly against you. By the way, don’t forget to pay your taxes this month.

I have got news for you guys. Economic development means developing businesses that make something and then sell it. Economic development is not bringing in another service industry.

You can bring in 10 Wal-Marts, 12 HEBs, 15 dry cleaners, 20 Home Depots and 50 restaurants and we still will not have an economy.

First you have to make something and sell it. That is the part of the equation Pecos is missing. We do not make cotton or melons or much of anything around here anymore. That is the problem.

If we do not fix that, there will not be anybody to shop at Wal-Mart except for truck drivers on their way to El Paso.

Adding a Wal-Mart is not job creation, it is job trading. For every job you add at Wal-Mart you can scratch one at another business in Pecos.

All right, lets try this gem of wisdom: “For many years people have expressed a desire for people to ‘Shop Pecos First,’ but in order for this to happen more often, the prices of food and household items have to be affordable for working families and those less fortunate in our community,” - Judge Jimmy Galindo.

Oh, okay, now I understand. You fix an economy by finding cheaper stuff for poor people to buy.

And here all these years I thought the key was attracting industry where poor people could get a decent job and make more money and not be poor so they could afford to buy stuff.

“If the study of economics teaches you one thing, it is buy low - sell high,” - Jimmy Dutchover.

You had to study to figure that out?

Furthermore, economic development is not about “buy low - sell high.” That is great for stocks but does not mean squat in terms of economic development.

Economic development is about attracting industry of some kind. A business that makes something or does something that somebody else, somewhere else, will pay for.

It can be farming, industrial manufacture, tire testing, making onion rings, telemarketing - whatever.

What economic development is not is using existing businesses’ tax dollars to attract new competition.

A new Wal-Mart is not economic development. The only way anybody in Pecos is going to profit from this deal is if it involves a kickback.

Your View

Private capital will restore our economy, not government programs

Letter to The Editor:

In his February 13, 2006, column Forbes Publisher Rich Karlgaard stated “. . . truths help us see the world in which we live. And where that world is going. With the right belief system we can predict the future.” To that I will add a line from a Merle Haggard song “a man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” Whether profound or mundane the meaning is the same. Our core beliefs, as individuals and as a community, ultimately determine our success or failure. They are the foundation upon which our future is built. Be they sand or stone? By definition a core belief cannot be transient or subject to fad or fancy or something that convincing argument can change. It is immutable and timeless. Karlgaard further states “Beliefs have consequences, and they’re sometimes harsh.”

I graduated from college 30 years ago and like most of my generation knew all there was to know. According to Karlgaard, “In 1976 [Bicentennial year] the prevailing view of the world was: The planet was severely overpopulated and would soon run out of natural resources; The age of entrepreneurship was dead and was being replaced by the conglomerated efficiencies of large companies; and Capitalism was morally repugnant because it wasted resources and oppressed the poor.” Nattering nabobs of negativism, permeating college campuses and mainstream media, began to assault conservative core values. 30 years later core values such as personal responsibility, Judeo/Christian work ethic and the Golden Rule are all but forgotten. Alive and well is the idea that government is the answer and individuals are not accountable for their actions or accountable to one another.

Thomas Jefferson said “I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple. Were we directed from Washington when to sow, when to reap, we should soon want bread.” Local, State and National governments feed at the trough of capitalism like bloated swine. Those suckling at the teat of government, and they are many great and small, rich and poor, are addicted to its sweet milk. My father, a 50’s democrat, was fond of saying “Hogs go to slaughter and pigs get fat.” Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute calls it “Potomac Fever”.

“Potomac Fever causes members of congress to see themselves as philanthropists with unlimited means to solve every problem in society” says Edwards. Government officials acting as Santa Claus are rewarded for their spending when they are lauded in the media for their noble public service and toasted at gala dinners in their honor. Unfortunately, they forget that they are spending other people’s money. What real work could be done by the private sector if resources weren’t redirected to government to fund its “philanthropy”? It is not capitalism that wastes resources and oppresses the poor, but the public’s demand for more handouts, programs and give-aways. 40 years of “Great Society” programs and the transfer of $14 Trillion in government benefits have done little to keep families together and promote personal responsibility and strong work ethic.

Fathers have been replaced as the bread winner by the government check. Moms have been replaced by “early childhood development” programs so that moms can work to afford that new car, big screen TV and latest electronic gadget. “The hand that rocks the cradle. . .” is a forgotten phrase from a bygone era. Our schools teach how to take a test so that state funding won’t be reduced under the noble banner “No Child Left Behind.” Athletic Directors are valued on their win/loss ratio and not the content of their character. Knowledge is no longer understanding but rote memorization and any mention of the Creator of life and Author of all knowledge is prohibited. Ben Franklin wrote “A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as for the body.”

While we are yet full as the richest nation in the world we suffer from profound emptiness. We are full of ourselves but we have empty hearts, empty heads and many are empty of hope. How miserable the man whose only hope is in the world? But, be of good cheer. We have been created for a good work and God is faithful to complete in us his purpose. There is more to the promise, we must walk according to God’s purpose for His purpose to be fulfilled in us.

Residents of Reeves County are at a crossroad come election day. We can vote to deepen our dependence on government and drive investment capital away. Or we can vote to encourage investment capital, create free market jobs, improve education, build a strong and growing economy based upon home ownership, and more importantly insist upon fiscal responsibility and accountability from our public officials. I encourage you to be informed about the issues and the candidates. Vote for the most qualified candidates and the content of their character.

Rich Karlgaard ends his article with these quotes from Walter Wriston, financier and thinker, “Capital will always go where it’s welcome and stay where it’s well treated.” ‘Capital is mobile, capital is in play, and if you want some of it, you’d better treat it well.’ ‘Wriston once told me that capital is not just money,’ “It’s also talent and ideas. They, too, will go where they’re welcome and stay where they’re well treated.”

Private capital will restore our economy not government programs. The founding fathers understood the role of government and private enterprise.

Thomas Jefferson Quotes:

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

To preserve our independence... We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.

Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.

John Adams Quotes:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.

Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty but it is religion and morality alone that can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.

James Madison Quote:

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

Ben Franklin Quotes:

All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.

Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.

There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government

Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. ... Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept. Industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them. John Grant

Grandmother shares horrifying story on trip to ER

To the Editor:

I would like to share with the people of Pecos a horrifying nightmare that my family and I experienced this past weekend.

My grandson, 21 months old, and his parents and family were supposed to come from Midland to visit. I received a call from my son saying my grandson was sick and vomiting. They had taken him to the emergency room in Midland. By Sunday he was still ill, once again he was taken to the same hospital in Midland, Emergency Department. My husband and I decided to travel to Midland to see the baby. When we arrived, mother and baby were still at the ER. So we went there. When we arrived she was coming out of the exam room. I saw my baby and didn’t recognize him, his eyes sunken, his body limp, his little hands totally dry. He looked lifeless.

I told my daughter-in-law, “My God what’s wrong with him?” She said some kind of virus. The doctor had said to take him home and rotate Tylenol and Motrin every four to six hours.

I requested to talk to the doctor. I asked him what’s wrong with my grandson, he said I already told your daughter. I then asked him to tell me. He said he has a gastro virus. I asked him if blood work needed to be done. The doctor said, “No, he doesn’t need it.” I told him this baby is totally dehydrated can’t you put him on IV or something to help him. He said ‘no’ he doesn’t need them. I told him this baby needs some kind of care, can’t you do something for him, he said, “No and this conversation is over,” and walked off.

I told my husband, son, and daughter-in-law, we’re taking him to Pecos. We drove from the ER in Midland to the ER in Pecos.

Immediately upon our arrival, the ER nurses and Dr. Dele started him on IV and did some blood work. At this time, his heart rate dropped, blood pressure dropped. His blood work was also abnormal. The baby was going into shock. His organs were shutting down. The staff and doctor prepared to help him if he went into cardiac arrest. My baby was dying. Dr. Dele had him flown to the pediatric intensive care unit, University Medical Center in Lubbock.

Dr. Dele and staff saved my baby’s life. If my daughter-in-law had followed the other doctor’s instructions and taken him home, the baby would have died at home within two hours.

I feel we don’t give Reeves County Hospital enough recognition for the care we receive. You always heard hospitals like Midland are better equipped for our medical needs. They might have more equipment, but they totally lack in human kindness and concern for their patients. My grandson is still in the pediatric ICU, but he is recovering.

A small rural hospital did more in a few hours, compared to a Midland hospital, which had two different opportunities in three days.

I want to thank Reeves County Hospital staff, Dr. Dele, Cheril, Faye, Keena, Jerry, Leticia, Raymond, Angie, Norma, Carmen, Diana and all the employees that keep our hospital working. God Bless you for your special talents.


Community members stand up for athletic director

To the Editor:

Some of us in the community and school district, not all willing to sign due to issues it could create, would like it to be known that we are very disappointed in the school board’s decision to discontinue the Athletic Director’s contract.

We feel this is a loss for this community and school district, especially the students. This was evidenced by a signed football given to Coach Willis in appreciation of his work with them.

Several board members were spoken to about this before the final move was made. There was a move to have a petition signed but after the last board meeting and all the negative input no one felt we should even encourage a stand because who would want to encourage Coach Willis to stay after being spoken about the way he was in several board meetings.

Others will stand to gain by our loss and we pray we will not return to coaches with lesser values such as we have had from time to time in the past. Coach Willis not only wanted to see students perform well athletically but with good sportsmanship and value on academics and lifestyle as well.

Pecos has not always had a good reputation about some of these areas. Unless our leaders demonstrate it, our youth will not have a good example to follow. Wining the sport is not everything, but winning in life is also important.

Board members and community please look at the values we are trying to promote by who we hire. We all know that our youth struggle in Pecos with the pressures of drugs, alcohol and sexual activity! If leaders do not lead where will we go? Crystal Orosco
Sylvia Dannelly-McCree
Sylvia Dominguez
Gilda Vejil
Carla Sneed

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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