The Texas Government is structured better than the Federal Government
Debate Rounds (3)
I'll accept that discussion and thank Pro for the opportunity to debate.
I disagree with Pro's thesis that the State Government of Texas is structured better than the Federal Government.
Texans may believe in limited government, but in practice the government only limits its intrusions in some places. The Texas legislature is perfectly happy to insert itself between the affections of gays and lesbians, to force doctors to insert ultrasound wands into the vaginas of Texan women against those doctors' recommendations, to censor biology teachers from teaching accepted science. In truth, the principle of limited government is usually only invoked when it comes to health and welfare of ordinary Texans. Texas has no fire code and is perfectly willing to save money by relying on volunteer firemen like those 9 that died when the West Fertilizer plant's illegal stockpiles of ammonium nitrate, but big government is fine when it comes to forcing US taxpayers to pick up the bill for their lack of oversight. When it came time to balance the budget in 2011, limited government allowed for a $5.4 billion reduction in spending for education, while big government tax incentives for big corporations actually increased to $19 billion. 
Accountability by Election
Elections, of course, are only part of accountability. Most accountability comes from the balance of forces between the three main estates of government and multiple parties. Texas has very little inter-estate oversight and the Republican party is so dominant that alternative parties have little power to enforce oversight. Furthermore, an electorate can only hold officials accountable if it has information. Texas only has 53% response rating to Freedom of Information Act requests and receives a grade of F from the National Freedom of Information Coalition. 
I'll agree that Texas demonstrates a more rigorous commitment to a balanced budget than the Federal Government. This policy has advantages and disadvantages, but the discipline itself is laudable. The problem in Texas' case, as stated before, is that the disadvantages are disproportionately distributed on ordinary Texans. Texas' 2013 budget is a $20 billion, 24% increase over 2012. As I said before, the Texas school budget was cut by $5.4billion in 2011 when times were lean, but almost none of that $20 billion is going back into schools two years later. Texas already has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country and legislators have increased sales taxes 10% in the last two years to fund this new windfall.  Much of this expansion is funded by the explosion of "special districts" in Texas. New districts like "Shiny Hiney" are created with the power to levy property and sales taxes (An additional 1% property tax in Shiny Hiney's case) with little or no government oversight. Shiny Hiney has an electorate and board made up of one man living in a trailer. Shiny Hiney allow the district to borrow money at government interest rates (.01%), raise $400 million in municipal bonds, and offer up land north of Dallas to developers at substantially reduced cost. Everybody gets rich except the farmers and townspeople who pay the increased tax.
Essentially another way of saying a weak executive. The Governor has little responsibility beyond veto, appointment of Secretary of State, and replacing judges until the next election. I suppose that explains why Texas Governors seem so unready when they make it into the National arena. The trouble with splitting executive power is that it leads to split chains of responsibility and accountability. When two executives are at cross purposes, its hard to know who has authority. When mistakes are made, each department blames the other.
The real power in Texas lies with the Legislative Branch. But these folks only meet for 90 days every other year, barely enough time to hash out a new budget, throw in a new abortion law to cover up the pork distributions and go home. For 21 months out every 24 in Texas, nobody's really in charge. In my State of Colorado, Legislators are in session for four times as many weeks as Texas, but receive 30% less in salary than their Texan counterparts.
Elected, split Judiciary
Again, splitting the Judiciary weakens Judicial authority. When the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals rule differently on an issue where criminal and civil finding overlaps, which takes precedence? And electing judges is almost always a bad idea. Here's current Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willet complaining:
"A former Texas governor, Sull Ross, once said, 'The loss of public confidence in the judiciary is the greatest curse that can ever befall a nation.' I don't disagree. The Texas Constitution, however, mandates a judiciary elected on a partisan ballot. Calling this system 'imperfect' is a G-rated description, and I'm intimately acquainted with the myriad drawbacks, and they are plentiful," he wrote.
"I've long favored smart judicial-selection reform -- every member of my court does -- and every legislative session, reform measures are filed ... and then they fail," he wrote. "Both major parties and lots of activist groups in Texas oppose changing the current partisan elected system. Interestingly, the business lobby and tort-reform groups all favor scrapping our current judicial-selection system."
So even the Texas Supreme Court thinks electing Supreme Court members is a bad idea. The results are a court comprised of mostly local prosecutors, with a vested interest in supporting the prosecutions of their peers. This is why so many absurd Death Penalty cases out of Texas have to be overturned at the Federal level. Elected judges have to make rulings based on politics rather than the rule of law in order to maintain their position. Worse, elected judges have to stay friends with the big business interests that fund their re-election campaigns. In cases where juries found against corporate defendants between 2004 and 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the jury decision an astonishing 74% of the time.  How can justice stand when jury findings are so regularly turned over?
Texas ranks first in executions
Texas ranks first in the number of uninsured, 49th in the number of poor people covered by Medicaid, but also 48th in the number of people covered by employer-based health insurance. Texas ranks 49th in per capita spending on Medicaid. Texas ranks last in mental health expenditures.
Texas ranks last in Workers’ compensation coverage.
Texas ranks last in the percentage of non-elderly women with health insurance. Texas ranks last in the percentage of women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester.
Texas ranks 2nd in overall birth rate and Texas ranks 2nd in the number of children enrolled in public schools. But also, Texas ranks 4th in the percentage of children living in poverty. In fact, Texas was labeled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as “the worst state in America to be a child.”
Texas ranks last in the percent of population that has a high school diploma.
Texas ranks second in hunger.
Texas ranks 49th in the average credit score of Americans.
Texas ranks 1st in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
Texas ranks 1st in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water.
Texas ranks 1st in the amount of hazardous waste generated.
Texas is 47th in tax expenditures that directly benefit their citizens.
The trouble with weak governments is that there's no other body to stand up for the people against exploitation by the rich and powerful. Good government, effective government gives everybody a chance to succeed.
JohnnyS101 forfeited this round.
JohnnyS101 forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for the forfeits. S&G was, I suppose, equal enough. Pro used no sources, while Con did, and his sources were reliable. As to arguments, I was disappointed that Pro gave up so quickly; he could have at least tried! As Con presented rebuttals that were never addressed whatsoever, arguments to Con.
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