The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chief Economist Vance Ginn and economist E.J. Antoni break down the massive spending proposals in President Biden’s recent address to Congress.
$225 billion toward high-quality childcare and ensuring families pay only a portion of their income toward child-care services, based on a sliding scale
Raising taxes from one pocket to put money in the other is just shuffling dollars. The subsidies will also increase the overall cost of child care for those who need it.
$225 billion to create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program
Americans should be free to negotiate compensation packages like paid leave as they see fit; it shouldn’t be dictated by a bureaucrat. The consequence of a government-mandated paid family and medical leave will be lower wages and less opportunities for those with less skill and experience.
$200 billion for free universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, offered through a national partnership with states
Parents want valuable schooling options for their kids, especially during critical years of early development, not rhetorical fallacies that something is free. Instead of creating another spendthrift program with a profligate bureaucracy behind it that will reduce the quality of preschool like government has to K-12 education, government should focus on removing imposed barriers of high taxes and marriage penalties that reduce parents’ resources to meet their child’s unique needs.
$109 billion toward ensuring two years of free community college for all students
College, including community college, is not always the right fit. Some people enter trade or technical schools or begin their careers right after high school. This is especially true among those with lower lifetime earnings. “Free” college programs just take tax money from those with lower earnings to pay for the tuition of those who will likely have higher potential lifetime earnings. Government-guaranteed funding for higher education will also further inflate costs and reduce quality as things are rationed without market prices.
About $85 billion toward Pell Grants, and increasing the maximum award by about $1,400 for low-income students
Pell Grants, like many subsidies for higher education, benefit school administrators more than students. As subsidies increase, so does tuition, and so do administrative costs. Students eligible for Pell Grants often take out student loans to cover the remainder of their education expenses and they graduate with heavy debt burdens. To help make higher education more affordable, government should remove demand subsidies and supply restrictions, forcing schools to compete for students by slimming down their bloated administrative departments and by increasing access to lower tuition.
A $62 billion grant program to increase college retention and completion rates
There is no evidence that a lack of funding is causing retention problems at colleges and universities. There is, however, substantial evidence that low-quality government-run primary and secondary schools have failed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to succeed at the college level. The solution is not more government spending, but more educational choice throughout the education system.
A $39 billion program that gives two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in a four-year historically Black college or university, tribal college or university, or minority-serving institution
Subsidies in higher education is what’s leading to the rapid increases in tuition, so doubling down on that is poor policy rather than finding ways to increase competition and lower prices while improving quality.
$45 billion toward meeting child nutritional needs, including by expanding access to the summer EBT program, which helps some low-income families with children buy food outside the school year
This is another government program that is fraught with waste and inefficiency. We would do better to lift burdensome regulations and taxes off the backs of small business, stimulating development, investment, and job growth. A parent with a well-paying job can afford to feed his or her own children.
$200 billion to make permanent the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan’s provision lowering health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own
This sounds like a subsidy for those buying health insurance, but it is actually a subsidy for the insurance companies. After the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which would supposedly reign in profits of the insurance companies, those profits reached record highs. People want more choices for healthcare, not handouts to insurance companies.
Extending through 2025, and making permanently fully refundable, the child tax credit expansion that was included in the COVID-19 relief bill
As Ronald Reagan said, nothing is so close to eternity as a temporary government program. The justification for transitory COVID-19 relief was the pandemic, which is now far past its peak as we approach herd immunity. There is no reason to continue these temporary relief measures going forward.
Making permanent the recent expansion of the child and dependent care tax credit
These tax credits are accomplishing the opposite of the bipartisan welfare reforms of the 1990s. Instead of rewarding work, they reward idleness. These government handouts will serve to trap people in a cycle of poverty and dependency.
Making permanent the earned income tax credit for childless workers
This is another example of a government program taking on a life of its own. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) tripled the credit and gave benefits to childless workers that were previously reserved to working parents. The justification for this ill-conceived measure was the temporary hardship from government-imposed lockdowns; there is no reason to make them permanent but rather open their economies so people can find jobs and prosper. The effect of these government handouts is to keep people in low-wage jobs because the tax credit is quickly phased out as income rises. Once again, these programs cause dependency on government instead of letting people prosper.
The extortionate cost of higher education continues to rise and is unlikely to moderate soon. From 2000 to 2020, college tuition and fees nationwide rose more than three times faster than general price inflation and more than twice as fast as average hourly wages.
Put simply, college is unaffordable to many and becoming more out of reach for many more.
Making matters worse, the Biden administration has proposed to attempt to solve this problem with record levels of new government spending. This is on top of the billions of dollars Congress has already allocated to more than double the Department of Education’s most recent annual budget. Biden wants a 41% increase in the department’s pre-pandemic budget along with “free” college for families earning less than $125,000 annually and “free” community college for all, together with a long list of other costly, socialist-style programs.
Of course, nothing is free, as the cost to taxpayers and students will be much higher in terms of taxes, lower quality education, and waiting lists.
This proposal is another D.C. idea of throwing more money at problems, even though that fails every time. The U.S. spends roughly twice the amount on higher education per student as the average spent by OECD countries. Our problem is not lack of resources, but lack of vision.
Driving higher tuition is excessive government intervention with increases on the demand side from subsidized student loans, Pell grants, and other factors, and suppression on the supply side through restrictions and accreditation limitations on new institutions and opportunities for competition.
So, what justifies more than doubling of the price of higher education?
The quality of instruction has not doubled. Neither has the student-to-teacher ratio. Students are not earning substantially more post-graduation, and in fact are graduating with more debt than ever as the total student loan debt now exceeds $1.7 trillion.
If student outcomes are not improving, then where is the money going? In a word: administrators.
Administrative staff has grown substantially faster than faculty, to the point where there are now more administrators than faculty at a typical university. From 1987 to 2012, colleges and universities nationwide more than doubled their administrative staffs. The portion of college budgets devoted to teaching—which is the actual mission of education—has fallen substantially. The source of this spendthrift administrative growth is government subsidies for higher education.
As grants, student loans, and other state and federal funding have increased, institutions of higher education have lost the need to spend efficiently. They waste these taxpayer dollars on profligate administrative expenditures, knowing full well that Uncle Sam (read: You!) will keep the assistance coming.
The normal free-market mechanism of competition which keeps prices down has been abrogated by this heavy-handed government intervention. The “profits” gained by these public institutions would bring about competitors in the private market, but that’s not possible given the restricted supply and limited accreditations, which is why the inflated demand simply pushes up tuition at rapid rates.
Instead of doubling down on government failures like these, it’s time to do something different. In Texas, we can temporarily limit tuition growth via Senate Bill 167 in the Texas Legislature.
This bill would provide a viable alternative to more spending proposed by the Biden administration.
It temporarily limits tuition at public colleges and universities to price inflation for the next five years. This would better match the cost-of-living adjustment received in wage growth by many families and taxpayers. While the limitation does not include fees, tuition is a much larger portion of the total cost of attending these public schools.
The effect will be to force these public institutions to rein in the number of administrators (and associated costs), along with other inefficiencies. If these institutions foolishly cut spending on instruction, then students and faculty can simply leave and go to another school.
A perfect example of this policy, voluntarily prescribed, is Purdue University—a public institution of higher education in Indiana that is comparable in size to the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Purdue has kept tuition frozen for the last decade, during which its inflation-adjusted funding from the state legislature has actually decreased.
Clearly, restraining the cost of tuition can be done—not by expanding government intervention, but rather by better managing the resources provided to these institutions, and ultimately through competition. If we want things in higher education to change, then we must change them. Otherwise, they will continue as they are, unaffordable as that may be.
Vance Ginn, PhD, is chief economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
By combining property tax reductions and reform with spending limitations, Texas could shift to a more efficient and fairer sales tax system. In this way, Texans can be assured meaningful, lasting property tax relief and an improved Texas Model that will sustain economic prosperity for generations.
Testimony in Support to Texas House Appropriations Committee
Vance Ginn, PhD, is the chief economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Considering that high taxes and debt are always and everywhere a government spending problem, the state’s current weak spending limit has contributed to excessive government spending that has resulted in less economic prosperity for Texans. Fortunately, the Legislature has taken strides to improve the budget picture during the last three budgets by better following the Conservative Texas Budget, which is why it is crucial to put this responsible, conservative fiscal management in statute.
Testimony in Support Before the Texas House Appropriations Committee
It’s easy to tell who the Texans are in a crowd; you simply shout, “the stars at night, are big and bright”—then wait for about the span of four quick claps.
It’s easy to tell if a budget in Texas is truly conservative—and worthy of the great Lone Star State’s commitment to freedom and prosperity. If the biennial budget grows less than population plus inflation—our formula for a Conservative Texas Budget (CTB)—then it’s a budget that doesn’t grow beyond the average Texan’s ability to pay.
We love budget and tax cuts, of course; the Texas Legislature should take every opportunity to ease the burden on taxpayers, leaving more of their money in their own pockets. Yet the CTB is a useful guideline for lawmakers.
The good news is that both the House and Senate versions of the 2022-23 budget come in well under the CTB level.
This is a big win for Texans (see this thread), and it includes rightfully rejecting funding for Medicaid expansion in the budget, which effectively kills this attempt by the left. There are better, more affordable ways to help those in need rather than just providing government-run coverage that does not result in quality, timely care, as market-based reforms that put patients in charge would do.
There are other conservative policy victories in the budget, as well. It defunds some corporate welfare, it requires proposals of some state agency cuts each session, and it improves the process in determining the use of COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government.
Note that we appropriately don’t count these federal funds in our budget calculations because they haven’t been accepted yet (and much if not all with strings attached should be rejected) and should be used for only one-time expenditures to keep from unnecessarily growing government and then falling into the trap like the state did when the federal funds from President Obama dried up.
Now, some are saying that the budget doesn’t provide additional property tax relief for Texas families. That’s true. But it does preserve property tax relief from the last biennium. This is relief just like it was last session, when $5 billion was allocated toward lowering school district M&O property taxes—which meant taxpayers paid less than otherwise.
The $6 billion in this budget is to fund that same 7-cent property tax rate compression because of rising appraisals across the state. If that $6 billion wasn’t in the budget, then property owners would face a 7-cent tax increase and those funds would go to other programs that grow government.
So, the $6 billion is property tax relief by keeping property taxes and the size of government lower than otherwise—that’s certainly better than the alternative.
The next step in the budget process is for the conference committee on the budget to iron out the differences of a gap of $4 billion more in the Senate budget than the House budget, which the amount of expected federal funds is the main difference. This should include continued spending restraint for actual tax cuts and additional tax relief before the end of session.
There are a few key amendments to the budget by the House that lawmakers should keep, including:
Asking state agencies to provide proposed cuts of 1%, 5%, and 10% each session;
Defunding more corporate welfare; and
Improving federal COVID-19 funds determination.
Overall, this approach to the budget is a key part of TPPF’s Responsible Recovery Agenda that will support more growth, job creation, and economic opportunity in Texas.
It’s never hard to tell who the Texans are in a crowd, and in a crowded legislative session, it’s not hard to tell which budgetary decisions are the right ones. They’re the ones that lead to more freedom and more prosperity for Texans like the Legislature looks poised to do.
Vance Ginn, PhD, is chief economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute in Austin.
Texas’s public higher education systems can withstand a temporary tuition freeze. SB 167 would freeze tuition for 5 years in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and tuition would be adjusted by the previous year’s change in the consumer price index (CPI). This sort of freeze will be a step in the right direction, and the temporary nature of the freeze will allow for the results of this action to be evaluated to determine if it is working better than the current flawed approach. Tuition freezes have been successfully instituted by other public colleges.
Testimony in Support to the Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education
In Texas, we dream big. That’s what House Bill 59 does—it imagines a Texas that lightens the tax burden on Texans, upholds property rights and ensures that education is properly funded.
Authored by Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, the bill would eliminate the school maintenance and operations portion of your property tax bill on Jan. 1, 2024, and would create a legislative commission that would use the intervening time to study the best way to replace that revenue. This bill would cut local property taxes nearly in half while adhering to the state’s constitutional responsibility of funding government schools.
The key to achieving this, of course, is restraining government spending at the state and local government levels.
The fact is that the skyrocketing local property tax burden remains one of the state’s most pressing policy challenges. Property taxes have been growing faster than the average taxpayer’s ability to pay for them. Any growth over population-plus-inflation represents a growth in government above our ability to pay. For more on this formula, which we call the Conservative Texas Budget, click here.
According to the Tax Foundation, Texas has the seventh most burdensome property tax on homeowners. Using a different calculation, Fox News ranks Texas third-worst.
Too many have been forced out of their homes and businesses because of rapidly rising property taxes.
It would be great to eliminate all property taxes, which tend to hurt lower-income earners the most, so Texans can stop effectively renting from the government forever.
A good start in that process would be to eliminate school district M&O property taxes, which account for nearly half of the total property tax burden on Texans. Eliminating just the school district M&O property taxes is rather straightforward because the state determines the funding formulas for the school finance system, and it represents nearly half of the property tax levy across the state.
The question is how to replace this revenue. That’s easy—with a broader-based sales tax.
State sales taxes have grown far less than property taxes, less than personal income, and more closely with population growth plus inflation. This indicates that moving to a system based on the sales tax better aligns with the average taxpayer’s ability to pay for these taxes that fund government spending over time.
There are some important reasons why a sales tax is the better way to fund schools.
First, property taxes are inefficient. Property taxes in Texas are based primarily on subjective valuations by appraisal review boards and tax rates determined by local tax entities with little to no feedback from citizens, creating a highly inefficient collection mechanism.
Next, property taxes are more regressive than sales taxes. Sales taxes are paid once at purchase, yet property taxes are paid annually, hurting low- and fixed-income Texans the most because the costs compound over time. A high property tax also prevents many low-income earners from purchasing their first home and forces many others who do purchase to struggle to keep their home—they may even lose it.
Finally, during recessions (like the recent pandemic), lower-income earners tend to face the highest levels of unemployment and are least able to shoulder a tax burden. Their property tax burden, however, would increase relative to their income, while their sales tax burden would fall more proportionately with their income.
The sales tax is money that comes directly from the choices of consumers. It ensures that all financial power remains within their control, whereas property taxes are a burden that is forced upon all taxpayers with little means of working around it.
It would work—and result in fully funding schools based on the state’s school finance system.
Economists of the Baker Institute at Rice University studied the economic effects of replacing property taxes with sales taxes over time. They found that just a 3.6% decrease in school district M&O property taxes could contribute to a $14.3 billion increase in economic output and 217,000 new jobs after just the first year of reforms and more thereafter. Imagine if we eliminated that burden!
By combining property tax reductions and reform with spending limitations, Texas could shift to a more efficient and fairer sales tax system. In this way, Texans can be assured meaningful, lasting, property tax relief and an improved Texas Model that will sustain economic prosperity for generations.
Texas’s economy continues improving from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and forced business shutdowns by government since spring 2020. This includes robust job creation in March 2021 as state restrictions ended on March 10, which should further improve economic growth and job creation this year.
To help overcome the challenges still facing many struggling Texans and the assault on prosperity by those in D.C., Texas should commit to the Foundation’s Responsible Recovery Agenda.
More on the data and how Texans can get back to work as quickly and safely as possible ⬇️
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the devastating mental health effects of the pandemic on children. Kids have been subjected to stifling lockdowns even though there has been overwhelming evidence that children are at low to no risk of experiencing severe symptoms or transmitting COVID-19. While the article is certainly correct to emphasize the terrible state of America’s youth, it wrongly places the blame—the pandemic did not do this to our children. Government-imposed lockdowns did.
Isolation has taken its toll on everyone, but most especially the very young and very old.
A study conducted at a pediatric emergency department in Texas found that suicide ideation among 11- to 21-year-olds as well as suicide attempts are up significantly from 2019. Mental health-related emergency department visits for minors jumped 11.3% in the first quarter of 2020 and then another 44.1% through October 2020. Remote learning has negatively affected the mental and emotional health of one in four children.
Instead of normal, healthy human interaction, children have been left to their own devices—literally. These include phones, tablets, gaming consoles, and computers, all of which are poor substitutes for human relationships and interpersonal connections.
But the toll on children goes beyond deteriorating mental health and retrograding social skills. Children are falling behind in the classroom, especially in math. Remote learning and so-called hybrid learning have proved a poor substitute in educating many of the young.
Almost half of parents in a study of low-income families reported experiencing food insecurity. Given the sky-high unemployment caused by government-imposed lockdowns, this is not surprising, especially because low-income earners were more heavily affected by this forced unemployment. Parental angst due to economic issues adds to a child’s already increased anxiety.
Like the isolation imposed on children, the source of the nation’s unemployment also has not been a virus, but government-imposed lockdowns.
The proof of this is the comparison between states that implemented lockdowns and those that did not. The lowest unemployment rates are found in states that have essentially returned to normal, or never imposed restrictions in the first place. The highest unemployment rates are found in states that implemented the harshest lockdowns.
While the tightest lockdowns were all in Democrat-run states, this is not strictly a political issue. Among all Republican trifecta states, (where Republicans control the entire legislature and the governorship) Texas has the worst unemployment, as Texas imposed some of the tightest and longest restrictions. Texas must now catch up to states like South Dakota and Florida, which both returned to normal long before Texas.
Just as unemployment has been highest in states with harsher lockdowns, school closures have been the worst in those same states. And yet, despite the severe costs which the lockdowns have imposed upon children, those lockdowns were seemingly ineffective at slowing the spread and reducing the death rate of COVID-19. (New cases and deaths in Texas are continuing their downward trend since the statewide mask mandate was lifted on March 10.) In fact, the chart below shows a slightly positive, although statistically insignificant, relationship between government-imposed lockdowns and state death rates.
In contrast, there is a strong relationship between the severity of government-imposed lockdowns and both school closures and state unemployment rates. Unsurprisingly, the states that forced businesses and schools to close suffered, and continue to suffer, the highest unemployment.
So, while the government-imposed lockdowns failed to achieve their primary stated objective, those lockdowns succeeded in crashing the best economy in half a century and inflicting our children with low-quality educational experiences and mental-health afflictions. Sadly, even after the government-imposed lockdowns end, children are more likely to have depression and anxiety because of this artificial isolation.
The lockdowns were a mistake, but where do we go from here?
First and foremost, we need to return to normal, and not some kind of Orwellian “new normal.” Families need to be allowed to practice personal responsibility rather than be told how to act by politicians or bureaucrats.
Second, our children will need more mental and emotional support, which starts with healthy and robust families, and is buttressed by private organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) that cater to these family issues at the local level.
Finally, this last year has been a massive case study demonstrating why educational freedom is essential. Giving parents more options in how their children are educated is a powerful way to improve educational outcomes because of the competition that arises when students are not forced to attend a particular school but rather choose one that meets their unique needs.
None of these strategies involve growing government or bureaucracy. In fact, they involve limiting or reducing the roles of governments by strengthening institutions and freeing local communities to help children and families prosper. And given how far many children have fallen behind in the last year, they need all the help we can give them.
A decade ago today, I was a graduate student in the PhD program at Texas Tech University and had just finished judging an undergraduate research poster competition. I was riding the bus back to my apartment when I received a horrible phone call from my mom. She said my dad has passed away in his sleep from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy: http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/impact/mortality/sudep).
We will come back to that. But first let me tell you about this remarkable person and how he got to this point.
One day in 1972 when my dad was 17 and had just left a place in Brookshire, Texas, my dad was in a terrible traffic accident. He was a passenger in a truck that was struck by what we believe was a drunk driver who had seemingly run a red light. The result was that he had a severe head injury. Little did he know it would change his life forever.
After weeks in a coma and after the doctors telling his family he may not live, my dad woke up and worked every day to live a "normal" life.
Without any memories before the wreck (amnesia) and short-term memory loss thereafter, he battled not knowing anyone in his classes, not knowing he was class president, not knowing he was president of his school's National Honor Society, not knowing he was a football player, and much more. To this day, I still don't know much about him before the wreck.
He once shared a story with me of how he was sitting in class after he returned to school and the principal called someone over the loudspeaker. His friend tapped him on the shoulder and told him that he was just called—he periodically didn't know his own name. He was taken to a room for a National Honors Society meeting and told he should sit at the head of the table. He asked why. They said he was the president and would lead the meeting. Of course, he was unable, but the level of respect he had at Royal High School in Brookshire, TX is remarkable.
This is one of many similar stories. Let me tell you more.
Time passed and he went to school at Sam Houston State University for three years to study drafting before his memory declined so much he started making Bs, Cs, and eventually failing classes, all of which were the first time, I believe, that he earned less than an A. He had to drop out but took what he learned to be a productive draftsman. He would eventually sometimes work two jobs to pay the bills for the family. He later worked at a gas company, Entex, in Houston checking gas meters.
He fell in love with my mom while they were living in Brookshire, TX, and they soon married. They were happy and lived life like any other newly married couple would. My dad acted a little strange from time to time, which is why his nickname was "Weird Harold," but not much else seemed wrong.
Then in the mid-1980s, something started to change.
He started having small petit mal seizures (he would stare into space without being able to speak and would smile big for no reason). No one paid attention the first few times. Eventually, he started having grand mal seizures (features a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions; it's the type of seizure most people picture when the person falls to the ground and convulses). He was in and out of hospitals after having grand mal seizures twice per month or even more frequently.
After a couple years and wrecking three cars, one while working at Entex (now Reliant Energy), he reluctantly filed for disability in 1987 and never worked or drove again.
This crushed him and the numerous drugs he was on and lack of ability to remember things put pressure on his psyche and my parent's marriage—they eventually got divorced, remarried, and divorced again when I was young. He lived off and on with us to help pay bills or with his mom, mainly with my granny during most of my childhood.
When he was at home, we would play baseball in the backyard or at Wilson Park and basketball in the front yard for hours. I have so many great memories of those times. He would go over my schoolwork with me while I was in home school. He was a math guru and taught me tricks along the way. He listened to me beating on the drums when I had little clue how to play and later would go to my rock concerts when I was in the band Sindrome.
I remember picking him up from his mom's and taking him to the neurologist, Dr. Neumark, at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston's Medical Center for years. I learned much about epilepsy, and how it can affect someone's life from reading books, watching my dad have hundreds of seizures over my lifetime, and talking with him about the struggle he had to deal with his situation.
He took roughly 12 pills per day and had a vagus nerve stimulation surgically implanted near his chest that would send electronic impulses to his brain to help him have fewer seizures. It helped reduce the seizures over time from two per month to about one every 3 or 4 months. He would keep track of all his seizures and I remember how proud we were when they were less frequent.
Each time he had one he would be exhausted for several days. He was always energetic and in a fairly good mood, so after he had a seizure, it was very unlike him to sit around most the day and not talk much.
During my days at Tech, I visited home, South Houston, about twice per year (9-hour drive is too long to visit often). While I was home, I would take dad out as much as possible and play pool, watch Astros games, and have fun. Without the independence to drive and few friends to take him anywhere, he spent most of his time at home and I tried my best to get him out and enjoy the world.
He never complained about his situation. He did voice frustration that he couldn't drive or do things others could do, but for the most part, he lived a normal life and could do anything he wanted.
Years passed and he moved in with a friend and me in a townhouse in Lubbock on June 1, 2008. It was my second year of graduate school. We would go eat breakfast in the mornings when I didn't have class. We would go for long walks and talk about my research, politics, and the meaning of life. That was how he relaxed; he would go on long walks. There was nothing better for him than being with family or alone with nature. He could get away from the thought of being disabled or feeling trapped in a body that kept him from doing the things he wanted.
After I moved in with Emily, dad got an apartment in the same complex about 30 yards away. It was the first time he ever lived on his own and had a sense of independence since that cloudy day in 1972 when his life changed forever.
We would barbecue together and he would visit us often. I am so thankful he had the opportunity to know Emily and she will have memories to tell our sons, Bricen Wayne, who is named after my dad Harold Wayne, Cooper Thomas, and our future children.
Dad and I had many great memories together in Lubbock. He had some complications with his epilepsy and I stayed in the hospital with him for a week as they did a number of tests to see if they could surgically repair the place on his brain that caused the seizures. They determined it was too risky because it was near the part of your brain that controls your speech and he went on with his life.
After two and a half years (in December 2010) living near me in Lubbock, dad moved to Houston to live with my sister, Tiffany, and her family. He was excited about living with them and being around his grandkids, but he was upset about leaving his life in Lubbock. Although I missed him every day, I knew he was happy and everything seemed fine.
Then that day came in 2011 when I was on the bus that I received the phone call from my mom. My mom said Tiffany had checked on dad after he seemed to be sleeping unusually late. She found him lying there, not breathing. My first reaction was to my mom telling me he wasn’t breathing was: Why not? What are you doing about it? Is he at the hospital?
My mom had few answers other than: Vance, he passed away.
It was the first time that I had someone close to me die. The person that I did not live with much growing up, didn’t know much about his childhood, but had got to know much more during the previous two-plus years had suddenly, without any warning, passed away!
I was crushed. I screamed uncontrollably at the front of a packed bus and ran off the bus to my truck as soon as it stopped. I sobbed driving home and frantically paced back and forth around my apartment when I made it home.
My dad, one of my best friends, and the person I learned so many lessons from was taken from me. How could I go on? So many things raced through my head and I hoped that I would soon wake up from this nightmare. A truly life-changing event challenged me in ways that I’ve never been challenged. To this day, that moment still gives me chills and makes me teary-eyed.
Dad died from what is known as SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy).
My sister said that he went to sleep the night before without signs of anything wrong. The best explanation from doctors that we have is that he went to sleep, had a seizure, and his organs shut down. It was not painful and he probably did not know anything was going on. Doctors say that even if he was in the hospital there would be little chance they could have saved him. There is little known about SUDEP and what triggers it, which is why we allowed an autopsy and continue donating to the Epilepsy Foundation today.
Somehow, someway, God has a mysterious way of working in our lives.
Prayer, family, and friends helped me through the hurt. Days, weeks, months, and years later I find myself weeping over the loss of my dad. To this day, I feel deep sorrow. However, I think about the numerous lessons I learned from my dad during my 29 years around him and treasure the many memories.
He loved music. He would sing to classic rock songs and loved Journey, Elton John, and many others. He would snap his fingers when dancing and would clap when listening to music. Music helped him release his worries, along with walking. He also loved playing pool.
A man with what some could consider so little left to live for had so much courage to take on the world. No complaining and no handout. He would work every day if he could. Love others unconditionally and never give up is what I take from his life.
There are too many who have less and live with many more problems than we do. If my dad can take on the world with his faith in God and his ability to see the sun shining with so many clouds around, it is easy to find hope and find beauty in this world. There is so much for us to be thankful.
Ten years have passed. Years that I will not be able to tell him the wonderful things that have happened in my life and those in the family.
However, I have faith that he knows. I believe he is still watching over us and that we will see him again someday. I believe he is with Bricen and Cooper always. His bright smile is the picture in my head that I see and it fills the hearts of all those who knew him. Years pass in a flash, but my dad's memory will live on.
Harold Wayne Ginn was a wonderful father, pepaw, and hero. He will always be our family's hero. There is so much to say. His life is a testimony that I hope will bring joy and a stronger faith for others. I know it does for me.
I know he was a Godly, kind, smart, generous, loving, sweet, caring, empathetic, and more man. Thank you, Dad! I love you.
Free-market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.
The Tax Code should not pick winners and losers but rather fund limited roles for government.
Unfortunately, Chapter 313 property tax abatements do pick winners: Big businesses are favored over small businesses.
Businesses that may not be in operation for the long term receive long-term tax breaks.
Nearly two thirds of Chapter 313 projects are for renewable energy, which would likely locate in Texas anyway given Texas’s geography of open lands, a lot of sun, and wind in specific regions.
A third of those renewable energy projects are for foreign companies, like those affiliated with French and Chinese governments.
These agreements can result in increased property values in certain areas, which reduces housing affordability, and decreased property values in others.
Chapter 313 tax breaks socialize the cost of those local school districts’ deals to the rest of the state’s taxpayers by holding school districts harmless.
Many Americans continue recovering from the recession that began in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and forced business closures by state and local governments. The economy had expanded in the second half of 2020 as many of those governments removed or reduced restrictions on the private sector. However, the growth stalled a little at the beginning of 2021 as many governments re-imposed restrictions as cases and hospitalizations spiked.
Fortunately, those governmental restrictions have been reduced again and the economy looks to have picked up, helping Americans regain the tangible prosperity experienced until March of last year. We need more openings and pro-growth policies to let people prosper.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D.