Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blog Stage 5

Many consider Austin to be a green city focusing on environmental issues and saving the world. An important issue that comes up from time to time is public transportation and its usefulness. Austin has CapMetro, the public transportation provider in charge of operating the bus and rail system. The bus system is vast and easily accessible, the rail system on the other hand, not so good. Today, I will be focusing on this issue. The rail system in Austin, MetroRail, began operation on March 22, 2010 (Source) but it started off slowly averaging only 800 riders per day (Source). So the question is, should Texas continue to expand this system? In my opinion, a city's metro system is only as good as the number of people who use it. In Austin's case, this is almost abysmal. Today on average, there are only 1800 riders per day (Source). If we calculate this, if each rider gets the most expensive single pass, $2.75, MetroRail is only making $5000 per day and less than $2 million per year and this is being optimistic. The construction itself was more than $100 million (Source). In other words, the rail system seems to be losing money fast. The only good thing that can come from this are for Austinites having the ability to say that their own city has a rail system, but at what cost? The metro lines only have a total of 9 stations, meaning a very small coverage area. Their target market is very small and because its relatively new most people might not even know about it. Austin is a very big city expanding across valleys, mountains and hills. The expansion of the MetroRail would costs millions, maybe even more than what it costs to start up and with its current ridership, there is no way that MetroRail could pay for all this even with help from the government.  As for now, it is clear that MetroRail should remain as is and not consider expanding. Austin is a rapidly growing city and transportation is always needed, however the MetroRail should only expand when the demand is high and right now, there seems to be a very high supply but very, very low demand.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Stage 4

Following the trend of talking about topics that have been discussed in our participation topics and exams, this post will be about how the Democrats are coming back in Texas government. In this BurkaBlog, we see him talking about the rise of the Democrats in Texas. He brings up many of the same points that the textbook does, talking about the aging community of the Republicans and the increase of Hispanic Texas in the state. In fact, he backs this up with Obama's own words saying that even the president believes Texas will be a swing state soon meaning no single party will dominate the state. Burka provides statistical evidence supporting his claim saying that the only way the Democrats can come back is if they attempt to mobilize the Hispanic population since many Hispanics favor the Democrats. His conclusion states that he agrees with the fact that Texas will become a swing state but will take many years for this to happen.
Burka seems to be targeting Democrats that are unsure of the party's future and Republicans that do not think their opponents will come back. He provides the audience with a clear argument about the Democrat's future.
After some research, Paul Burka is the Senior Executive Editor of the Texas Monthly, a monthly magazine focused mainly on Texas and its roots. In his past, he has served as an attorney with the Texas Legislature and a member of the State bar of Texas (Source). The blog itself is known to be a liberal blog. There have been other blogs that question Burka and his credibility. However, if you read the specific blog that I've been talking about, you can see that Burka relies primarily on facts and stats to support his claim. Whether he is credible or not, the facts are that and any way you interpret them, they prove his argument.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blog Stage 3

With our participation topic this week focusing on Texas Exceptionalism, this article fits right in with what we’ve been talking about recently. This editorial looks at Texas’s rankings among the other 49 states and how these rankings affect Texas. Right off the bat, the author acknowledges the fact that Texas is not always at the top of every list pointing out that many people in the state recognize this as well. In fact, it even points out that the newspaper that this editorial is published in, The Dallas Morning News, has flaws from time to time too. The main point the author makes is Texas’s low ranking in categories such as educational spending and environmental protection, can be made up for and improved by our other leading categories. By providing evidence of actual rankings based off of CNBC and other news sources, the author shows how Texas is #1 in many categories. He then uses this to strengthen his argument saying that compared to other highly populated areas, many Texas cities are doing better economically and transportation-wise. One important thing to note is the fact that the author does a good job and analyzing both sides of the argument. He knows it’s true that Texas ranks #1 in rankings such as “Most Amount of carbon dioxide emissions” and “Highest percentage of population without insurance.” He looks at both sides and concludes that by balancing both aspects of this problem, in the long run, they will work together. In my opinion, his logic makes sense. The fact that Texas is able to be #1 in rankings in categories that have a good outcome show that it has the ability to outshine others. Although it is true that Texas lags behind in some categories, if we apply the same mindset as we do for our #1 rankings, Texas could rank positively in every aspect.
The author seems to be aiming at people who recognize the fact that Texas is not all that great when it comes to educational and environmental spending. He could be targeting people who have given up on Texas thinking that despite the good rankings, there are enough bad rankings to make the state seem like a bad place. It seems he is aiming more towards people who are pessimistic about Texas’s current condition.
Unfortunately, this editorial does not provide an author to its article. However, judging from the fact that the author mainly analyzes numbers and rankings from news sources such as CNBC, the author is only as credible as these external sources. Nevertheless, this is merely an assumption and shouldn’t be taken as fact because again, the editorial does not provide an author. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blog Stage 2

Health Care has had a very important role in Texas government. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding federal health reform a few weeks ago, Texas has difficult decisions to make regarding this ruling. This article in the Texas Tribune lays out what these decisions are and and what consequences will come from the result of each decision.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Texas had the option of accepting funds to expand Medicaid or to make a consumer marketplace where people could buy their own insurance coverage. It is important to note that the government in Texas is mostly GOP-dominated. Thus, most people are overwhelmingly opposed to "Obamacare" and prefer the second option. The article notes that the Texas government does not have a sure answer if they will accept the fund or not. If they do, the expansion would be targeting those of lower income as well as financially supporting the Affordable Care Act. Both sides realize that a quick decision will be needed if they are to get what they want. But at the same time know that analysis and careful research need to be done before further legal action is to take place.
Overall, this article gives a good clear summary of what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was and how it affects the Texas government. Rather than taking a look at just one side of the story, it brings in both sides to see how  they both differ. This is a good article for those that are just learning about this ruling.