The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Equal Time

Mike Thomas over at Rhetoric & Rhythm found a really good article from way back in 1998 about John Sharp. Here's a few choice lines:

“Let me tell you the reason government makes you mad” says John Sharp. “It doesn’t act like your business does and it doesn’t act like your family does. When your family runs short of money, you have to figure out how to cut back on stuff. When a business runs short of money, it can’t just raise the price of oil. That family can’t just stand up the next day and give themselves a raise. If that family could give itself a raise, it would. It’s easier than cutting back. If that business could raise the price of oil, it would, but its competitors won’t let it.”

When Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts John Sharp gets to talking about the government wasting the taxpayer’s dollar, he sits up in his chair. It’s clear he is also describing the reason government makes him mad.

“The problem is that government can give itself a raise. It has that power. They don’t call it a raise. They call it a tax increase or a fee increase or a tuition increase. What we’re about is making government go the other way. Do the hard stuff. Find the fraud in Medicaid. Find the fraud in food stamps. Find a way to make the universities work better.

“Until 1991, Texas government, like any other government, would meet and say ‘Here’s how much money we spent. We want 10% more.’ If the money wasn’t there, they raised the taxes to pay for it. Since 1991, there’s a whole new dynamic in the Texas legislature. They meet and every agency has to fight off... my recommendations and they’re lucky if they get back where they were. In the process, there’s been a really good self-examination to cut spending.”

...

“One of the big differences between Rick and me,” says Sharp “is that Rick is severely partisan. He really believes the Republican party is the most important thing in the world. I think that the reason Washington, D.C. is screwed up is that half the people up there think to be a Republican or Democrat is more important than being an American citizen. I think the last thing we need in Texas is that kind of partisan politics. That’s what Bullock preached and I think the reason Bush is as popular as he is, is that he is perceived as to be nonpartisan.

“Every single business group has endorsed George Bush and every single business group but one has endorsed me over my opponent. Texans are going to vote for the person. If you’re a candidate, Democrat or Republican, counting on being elected just because of your political party, then I think you are going to lose.”

...

“What we’ve discovered is that once people remember that I’m the guy who did the Lone Star card and a million people dropped off the food stamps, did the performance review and kept us, literally I think, from having to have an income tax, then the polls will go ballistic...soon as we can do a little television. Your office won the first Texas Quality Award ever presented to a government agency. Al Gore and Colin Powell have both pointed to programs of yours as models for other states. Does it bother you that the average voter doesn’t know more about your track record?

“If you take the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Bob Bullock, and you took a poll right now, he would have between 30% and 40% name recognition. The guy with the highest name recognition in the state of Texas is...Ronald McDonald. People are working. They’ve got other things to do besides know as much about state government as we do. That’s what campaigns are about. Two of your programs, the Texas Tomorrow Fund and Lone Star Scholars, are targeted toward development of human resources. In the speech announcing your candidacy, you said “...the economic empires of the past were built on Texas’ natural resources - from cattle to cotton to crude, but those days are gone. The next economic empire will be built on out human resources...” Speak about that.

Oil and gas and cattle and cotton are going to be important to Texas until my children are dead and gone but what’s going to build a huge spike in the Texas economy...is human resources. If you look demographically at the United States, the entire eastern seaboard, virtually all of the upper midwest...all of them except Wisconsin, are losing population.

Manufacturers have got to have kids. Their prime targets to manufacture their goods are 18-21 years olds. If you don’t have those kids, you’re not going to get those industries. The cheapest thing you can do if you’re going to build a new Ford plant or a new microchip plant is to go where the workers are...and the workers are in Texas and Utah. Both of those states are receiving huge amounts of growth as a result of industries moving in to take advantage of the workforce.

“We’ve got the kids...just like we had the oil, just like we had the cattle, just like we had the cotton. We are going to have more kids than any other state in America in numbers, and only Utah surpasses us by percentage.

“If they are uneducated, prepare to look exactly like Mexico twelve years from now because those companies will say, “Well, I can get a whole bunch of kids that are not very well educated in Mexico City. If you can’t give me educated kids, I’ll go down there.”

If we have the best educated work force and it is the largest number, we’ll create that fourth boom that makes the other three look like a barn dance.”

That's some pretty prescient stuff. Especially when you realize he's been talking like this since he first ran for Comptroller in 1990... maybe even before that.

I haven't been able to find a Chris Bell interview online yet, so if anyone can point me to one, shoot away. Until then, here's a link to Bell's stump speech, "Mandate of the New Mainstream," and you'll find his new blog ad on the right scroll bar. And yes, we'll put up a John Sharp blog ad just as soon as he gets a web site... and a blog ad.