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The Christian Life Commission has received a couple of questions about why it honored Texas Sen. Wendy Davis with its Horizon Award in 2012. As virtually everyone knows, Davis was thrust into the national political spotlight in June with her filibuster in opposition to a bill supported by many Texas Baptists, including me.

The CLC honored Sen. Davis last year for her support of various issues that are important to Texas Baptists, including opposition to predatory lending practices. The senator from Fort Worth has been vital to the legislative effort to limit immoral payday and auto title lending practices, which are devastating thousands of lives in our state.

The reality of working on public policy issues in Austin is that specific senators and representatives side with us on some issues and disagree with us on others. In our dealings with all elected officials we seek to be clear, truthful, and respectful whether or not an official agrees with us. This is one of the reasons the CLC has a great deal of influence in Austin; legislators trust us and respect us, though they do not always agree with us.

It would not be wise for Texas Baptists to make one issue the most important issue and sacrifice all of our other legislative concerns. Since life is sacred, we work hard to bring that understanding of life to bear on a wide range of issues. In other words, just as we value the life of a child in a mother’s womb, we also value that child after it is born and in need of nutrition, education, and security. And this sanctity of life does not end with childhood; we continue to value people throughout the life process, including their final years.

This approach to life is informed by Jesus’ injunction to care for “the least of these,” the most vulnerable among us. This is part of why the protection of unborn life is so very important; these children represent the most vulnerable among us. It would not be consistent with the teachings of Christ and of Scripture if the CLC set concern for pre-born life above concern for all human life; Jesus’ concern for the vulnerable covers all.

Abortion is indeed a critical issue and one which tugs at the heart of so many of us. We simply cringe with pain at some of what happens in our culture today. During the first special session, the CLC staff hand-delivered a letter from BGCT Executive Director David Hardage to each legislator’s office in the Capitol. These legislators, including Sen. Davis, know where we stand on these proposals.

Texas Baptists care deeply about the abortion issue because of the sacredness of life and the importance of caring for the most vulnerable among us. It would not, however, be wise for us to convey a message that this is the only issue that is important to the followers of Christ.

We care because we love, as God first loved us. That love seeks to protect the weak from the powerful, the hurting from those who seek to harm, and the least of these in a world that often honors the opposite. In Christ, God has brought salvation to the world. The sad reality of abortion reminds us that while we glimpse heaven through our walk with Christ, we  still have work to do–God’s work.

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Suzii Paynter, Director, Christian Life CommissionLive! at the Legislature

On February 22, 2011 the Senate Business and Commerce Committee met for a hearing on SB 253 (Davis), SB 251 (West) and SB 254 (Davis). All three of these bills address limiting fees and abuse by payday lenders by closing the CSO loophole that allows them to operate outside the Texas Finance Loan Code. Below is excerpts of testimony by Suzii Paynter and Dr. Chad Chaddick of Northeast Baptist Church in San Antonio

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If Christmas Eve is a time of joyful anticipation, and New Years ‘s Eve is the time of hopeful celebrating, then prepare yourself for Legislative Eve as a time of enduring contradictions.

Glancing  over our shoulders back to 2009 and 2010 reveals that the Lone Star State is making it through the Great Recession in better shape than most other states. The Texas economy has avoided collapse, our population is growing, jobs are coming back, home sales have improved in all metro areas.   Texas, as some like to say, is wide open for business. Texas’ economic resilience can be chalked up to the state’s many assets and advantages: relatively low living costs, modest taxes, oil and gas wealth, great research institutions, a youthful working-age population, and an attractive business climate (Laila Assane and Pia Orrenius, “Texas Economy Shakes Off Rough Ride in 2009,” Southwest Economy – Dallas, Texas: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2010).

Contradiction #1: Ok got it. If all that is true, why is Texas facing a record setting budget deficit of $27B? And why are Texas families going broke? Why are young, educated adults unemployed? Why are seriously ill seniors on an 8 year waiting list? Why are so many Texans hungry?  Isn’t a “good economy” supposed to mean  a “good econo-for-ME”, too?

Texas families, the state’s greatest economic asset,  are not riding this latest wave of success.  While the state’s economy overall is moving ahead, the state’s hardworking families are struggling to stay afloat.  Texas families have less net worth and more debt than 46 of the other states (CFED 2009-10 Scorecard – Texas and U.S. Households by Assets and Income:  2009-2010. net worth 48th/50 states; installment debt 46th/50states).

Despite our apparent needs, Texans (especially Texas’ elected officials)  are very fond of talking about Texas’ independence, and I don’t mean the Alamo.  I mean that Texas is “a whole nuther country”, unique, not subject to the same rules (environmental or otherwise) as other states. As Texas we have unique needs in food security, agriculture, energy, immigration, border security, education, roads, transportation, tax structure, family services, insurance rates, healthcare, wellness, water quality. You name it, you’ll find an association, business or advocate group to tell you that Texas is solitary and proud.

Contradiction #2:  OK got it; all that is true. Texas may be unique, but Texas is not a “whole nuther planet.” Quite the contrary, Texas is a hub to the world; full of international business and families, Texas government and Texas cities partner around the globe and Texans are in every corner of the world for business, pleasure, mission, charity and innovation. Our water, our energy, our air , our commerce, our culture, our economy, our military  and certainly our family of faith are all intertwined with the other  billions on this planet. Our Texas well-being is linked to the well-being of people everywhere. And that is just the international facet.

Texas is also (according to last week’s census release) a bigger portion of the US population than ever before. Being a leading state means being connected and cooperative with other states for the well-being of our country.  Texas is unique, but we can’t turn our message of uniqueness against the real needs of our great union, the UNITED states. Being a representative democracy is a cherished legacy, but it’s continuing health is a challenge. Ideas and words matter in every era of history and ours is no different  leadership is stewardship and as Texans, we can’t maintain the tone of a rebellious adolescent who so slander his family that he has no home.

There is no mere business interest, there is no association, there is no political institution that can, by being the beneficiary of generous policy, set the single plumb line for a stable future.   And  the inaction of  ignoring the elderly, the mentally disabled, the hungry , the poor, the abused, the economically exploited, the neglected, the dying, the recovering addict, the re-entering felon,  is a sure way to  destabilize the future of  Texas families. Although the airwaves are full of dollar signs and reality-check statistics, any principled moral voice is clear that the stepladder to a successful tomorrow will not be made out of budget cuts alone.

The Texas legislators will convene in the context of these contradictions. These are real folks who come to Austin for 140 days to sort some of this out. Speaking of contradictions – I suspect  it is common among  elected officials to close their doors after 30 days in Austin and ask themselves why they worked so hard to be elected to face such a cacophony of competing  interests – head on. While campaigning a candidate has a microphone to clarify their convictions but after election, they discover there is a crowd at the microphone clamoring  to put their priorities first. As one official said to me “ Some people mistakenly think that they elected me to a screenplay. The think I’m their dutiful actor; they are the producer, director, scriptwriter and critic rolled into one… This ain’t no play, it’s the future of Texas. ”

All too often we act like we are in a screenplay – that what is said and done will be over by midnight, and all will return to normal.  If there is one compelling message in the Bible, it is that this life is not a dress rehearsal, but according to the Word of God what we do and say and live matters – even when we tell ourselves it doesn’t.  So, as the kids say “ man-up”

  • Find your voice when it comes to important  values – they almost always come with some contradictions that need to be spoken , aloud.  What we know to be right or just may not be politically feasible – at least at first.  The great statesmen of our history called this deliberation; they fought. They talked about struggling with either/or and they talked about wanting both/and  until there was a healthy compromise and they set the world on a course to constitutional democracy.  In more modern times – in the resolution of wars, the ending of apartheid, the growth of micro-enterprise, the healing  of vast diseases, the ending of ethnic genocide, the dismantling of human trafficking – workgroups and consultations and polite and not-so-polite negotiations stayed at the helm until…until there was a step to a more just tomorrow.
  • Be honest about all the points of view – even if they are not your own.  It is honest to say that you don’t want Medicaid to bankrupt the state, but you also don’t want the fragile elderly to be kicked out of nursing homes.  It’s honest to say that you don’t want to send 12 million to get immigrants out of the US, but you also don’t want a immigration system that fails to provide adequately for  lawful workers, family unification and border security.  The rise of fact checking websites and Politi-fact  tools are one expression of a desire for some honest reflection.  Your children, your city, your state need courage and strength for honesty in citizens and elected officials to build a future for all Texans, the US and thus shape the rest of the world.
  • Borrow wisdom – Take the Achievement Test.  Op Ed columnist David Brooks posed the criteria he calls “The Achievement Test” (Jan. 3, 2011 NYTimes http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/04/opinion/04brooks.html).
    • The size of government doesn’t tell you what you need to know; the social and moral content of government action does. The budgeteers and the technicians may not like it, but it’s the values inculcated by policies that matter most.
    • The best way to measure government is not by volume, but by what you might call the Achievement Test. Does a given policy arouse energy, foster skills, spur social mobility and help people transform their lives? Over the years, America has benefited from policies that passed this test, like the Homestead Act and the G.I. Bill.
    • …it might be useful to put the Achievement Test back at the center of politics. This would help focus the national mind on the fundamental challenge: moving from a consumption-dominated economy oriented around satisfying immediate needs toward a more balanced investment and consumption economy.

We are on the eve of a new Legislature in Austin. Complicated leaders representing diverse constituents will be charting a course (or not)  on  a complex landscape . My prayer is that we begin to see signposts for this kind of achievement  – stability, health, growth, and prosperity for Texas families and putting them first.

Maybe the next apps for our Texas-sized ipads and smart phones promote reflective dialogue and bring on a shiny, new moral compass?

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On Nov 15th, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon , released the Economic Research Report on Household Food Security. The report Food Security in the United States 2009 (pdf) found that 17.4 million households in America had difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of resources, about the same as in 2008. The report supports the conclusion that that federal nutrition assistance food programs are providing a valuable safety net to the most vulnerable Americans. These programs are designed to respond rapidly and automatically to emerging needs in times of economic change and will expand and contract with the economy. We anticipate that food security will improve as the economy improves but in the near-term, without these benefits, many families would face far more severe problems getting the nutritious food they need.

Texas grew hungrier and according to the report showed an increase in food insecurity.  Of Texas households, 17.4 percent of Texas were at risk of hunger between 2007and 2009, up 1.1 percent from the prior three-year period. Nationally, 14.7% of households were deemed “food insecure” in 2009 – essentially unchanged from 2008 and the highest number on record. Food insecurity was more common in large cities and rural areas, and rates were substantially higher than the national average among households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single parents, and African-American and Hispanic households.

Unsatisfied with Texas ranking, Texas Baptists and other leaders were in Washington to discuss efforts to improve food security. Jeremy Everett, Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative, Baylor University School of Social Work ,and Suzii Paynter, Director of Advocacy and Care for Texas Baptists met with Undersecretary Concannon and USDA officials to report on the major elements of a statewide effort to address hunger.

“The reported numbers of food insecure families is a wake-up call for Texas,” said JC Dwyer, State Policy Director for the Texas Food Bank Network. A partnership of state leaders, including Texas Baptists, are awake; they are not sitting on the sidelines

Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples, is challenging Texas Mayors to end hunger in their cities and is resourcing healthier meals for kids and local programs like Texans Feeding Texans.
The Texas Food Bank Network, one of the strongest in the US,  is sharing best practices and taking on new outreach efforts to enroll  eligible Texans for SNAP ( Supplemental Nutrition).

Led by regional USDA officials, Texas state agencies that administer more than 15 food programs now collaborate in a State Operations Team, for problem solving and efficiency.

Baylor School of Social Work’s Texas Hunger Initiative is helping communities, counties and councils of governments identify and change the profile of the hungry, whether in urban or rural settings.

Hundreds of Texas Baptist congregations are feeding their neighbors and generously serving up summer meals to hungry kids, including thousands of meals provided through Angel Food at the BGCT Annual Meeting in McAllen.

The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission is a convener of the Texas Food Policy Roundtable working on improving policies for access and effectiveness of feeding programs and healthy food in Texas.

Public private partnerships, like the recent cooperation of Pepsico with Central Dallas Ministries, are multiplying capacity to provide thousands, not hundreds, of meals.

Outstanding community leaders like Carol Heibert, Southland Baptist Church in San Angelo , led her city to increase feeding from 1000 to 28,000 in summer 2010.

Leaders in Washington and Texas agree that if communities and congregations promote awareness of hunger, commit to concrete solutions, and measure the progress then the face of hunger in Texas will change.

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“Once considered a private matter by western policymakers, religion is now playing an increasingly influential role – both positive and negative – in the public sphere.” This is the opening sentence of a major foreign policy report “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad. A New Imperative for US Foreign Policy.Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs.

Historically, US government leaders and foreign affairs professionals have considered  the light of the faithful  firmly under a bushel – at least  when they made decisions about public policy.  But as global connections are more interrelated and policies cross boundaries of culture and belief, the old paradigm of ignoring religious content and context is changing. Dialogue and nascent relationships have begun. Major universities, think tanks, government agencies, denominational representatives and worldwide compassionate ministries are coming together.

Religion has gone from being virtually ignored in foreign policy to being acknowledged. This is clearly stage one of a relationship and is accompanied by many of the same awkwardness of any new encounter.  If religion is being acknowledged in policy circles, the relationship is soon to advance to a process of more integration.  In the past three years, I have participated in several forums that bring religious and foreign policy leaders together.  Both sides are learning. The public policy folks are often strong on persuasion and information. The religious leaders are almost always trying to convey the diversity of religious interests and voices – there is no religious monolith in the 21st century either within religious traditions or among religious traditions.

One clear development is the inclusion of the study of religion and foreign policy at prestigious academic institutions. The level of analysis and the intriguing studies of religion and foreign policy are building a body of complex data and reference for current and future engagement.  As a result of its robust initiative on Religion and Foreign Policy, the Council on Foreign Relations convenes a group of religious leaders with leading policy makers to focus on specific issues and countries every summer.  The meetings have become robust and the reading list is growing as scholars add their important voices.

The next stages of engagement will surely be marked by more textured integration of religion and foreign policy. But when moving beyond curiosity and polite protocol to true engagement the defining questions for both the religious sector and the public policy sector yield powerful and complex responses.

At a recent consultation at Wheaton College, hosted by Bread for the World, the Micah Challenge and the Center Applied Christian Ethics, the topic was “Government, Foreign Assistance and God’s Mission in the World.” I am not sure I ever expected to see those topics  together on a dais, but the reports and reflections from mission leaders  and USAID program planners was unexpectedly robust. The consultation was guided by three questions: How do we understand the biblical and theological grounding for the government’s role in addressing global poverty? Why, should, and how can churches engage in the larger discussion of government responses to global poverty? How do we understand the church’s global poverty advocacy role in the context of God’s mission in the world?

The group of about a hundred evangelical leaders worked to articulate a position statement on Government, the Poor and Gods Mission in the World. It was valuable to articulate biblical and theological affirmations, and to begin to try to describe informed Christian engagement. Although the declaration is still a work in progress, it is clearly a discussion that needs to continue and my hope is that Texas Baptists can be an integral part.

Are you asking yourself about now, what does this have to do with Baptist Church, County Seat Texas? More than you think.  Do you send or support missions in other countries the world? Do you have a returning veteran in your congregation from Iraq or Afghanistan?  Are your church members relocating around the globe for school, work or for short term missions? What if the worldwide definition of religious liberty changed tomorrow to be only a position of anti-defamation? (no disparaging remarks) with no protection of free speech (especially for Baptist minorities)? Returning to the compelling report of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (opening quote) it asserts important patterns of the intersection of religion and foreign policy that will affect our future:

  1. The influence of religious groups is changing virtually every sector of society –politics, culture, business and science.
  2. Patterns of religious identification are changing worldwide. (For example: African nations are more than 80% religiously converted since 1980.)
  3. Religion is being transformed by globalism.
  4. Religion plays a role that government cannot and will not.
  5. Religion is being used to escalate tensions in many areas of worldwide conflict.
  6. The growing significance of religious freedom as a universal human right and the source of social stability.

“For God so loved the world” is still our call. The conference table of the 21st century has a chair marked for our participation.

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“A casino economy” this phrase has been used widely to denote the flagrant risk, greed and exploitation characterizing the recent economic meltdown. “Casino economy” practices go deeper into the American mainstream, however, than a one-time crisis. Greed and exploitation can find their way into almost any American venture replacing Biblical values of thrift, stewardship and shared prosperity. Just this week the following examples of deception and predatory practice emerge on Wall Street, Main Street and Online. Sadly, they are lost news because they can be replicated in almost any week.

Just business ? Sanctioned fraud masquerading as investment: The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Goldman Sachs for securities fraud on Friday, charging the bank with creating and selling mortgage-backed securities that were intended to fail. According to the complaint (pdf), Goldman let John Paulson, a prominent hedge fund manager, select mortgage bonds that he wanted to bet against because they were most likely to lose value and packaged those bonds into the “Abacus” investments, which were sold to investors like foreign banks and pension funds. As those securities plunged in value, the Paulson hedge fund made money on the negative bets, while the Goldman clients who bought the investments lost billions of dollars.

Just business ? Cheap, but you are supporting the criminally convicted: FLDS (the extreme Mormon sect in San Angelo) owns and operates a cement plant and building services business and will contract to build more cheaply than other local contractors offering San Angelo area residents low price contracts. The leader of this group, Levi Jeffs, plead no contest to sexual assault and bigamy charges of the 16 year old girl in question. He received two eight year prison sentences earlier this week. Jeffs is the fifth man to be found guilty in Texas on charges… based on evidence seized by authorities during an investigation at the ranch in April 2008. The other four FLDS defendants — among them the father of Jeffs’ victim — received sentences ranging in length from seven years to 75 years.”

Just business ? Financial service turned financial exploitation: As one example of hundreds of payday loan outlets (www.Nationalpayday.com) advertises their quick cash advances to help you in any situation. “If you need a quick cash advance or payday loan, let us help. We are the best quick solution for any cash flow problem. Our online payday loans and cash advances give you the emergency cash you need until your next payday. No matter what you need money for, our quick and easy check cashing service provides the assistance you’ve been looking for”… at 500% interest and above, is this help or an invitation into a cycle of debt?

Also from National Payday website: “The following table provides examples of the cost to obtain a payday loan or online cash advance. The APRs are based on example loan terms of one payment (“Check Amount”) due in 16, 14, and 7 days. (These figures do not include additional fees of up to $60 charged to each loan at many lenders)

Greed is classically regarded as one of the seven deadly sins because greed is so pervasive and harmful. Unlike ancient Rome, Americans have something to say about the laws which are supposed to enact justice in society. We vote for candidates who are charged with passing just laws. .. We are a people who overwhelmingly say that we are influenced by the biblical tradition which requires justice. We can’t very well plead innocence if the laws of society are unjust because we are the people who in a democratic society preside over the passage of these laws. Our laws are a reflection of who we really are as a society–not who we say we are–but who we really are.

And who are we?

Are we people who are willing to lament and raise our voices?  The prophetic witness of scripture including Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Christ began with sincere lament over the suffering and injustice.  A central calling for our Christian community is simple WITNESS. Speaking our values of thrift, stewardship and shared prosperity is an act of faithfulness. Will you consider voicing your concern over the expressions of greed and exploitation you see in your own workplace or community?   Will you join others in your city and state to control the growth of payday lenders and auto title loan sharks?

:: Resolution on Financial Stewardship (pdf)

Are we a people willing to act with consideration of the interest of others? There is no need to forgo our own interests to support the interests of others. Our country has passed through ages of unbridled greed before – and there has been a correction through law, advocacy, incentives and market forces. We need a correction to “casino economics” so that there is a balance of fiduciary responsibility to millions of investors and employees, as well as to shareholders. The impact of ethical practice is to build an ethical IDENTITY, not just a whenever- it’s-in-my-own-interest incidental ethical action.

Businesses go to great lengths and great expense to construct a public relations face to conceal predatory or exploitive practices. One particular troubling trend today is for businesses to create charitable foundations that give away relatively small amounts of money with great fanfare and flourish. Not that the charitable work they do is undesirable, but if the  charitable foundation is a public face masking  predatory and exploitive  business  models that harm consumers, employees and investors, then  the charity is merely a contrived device to perpetuate destructive greed.

This type of good face/bad practice trend is evident in many communities that embrace casinos in exchange for support for local nonprofit organizations.  It is evident in the TV and radio ads claiming the Texas Lottery supports education when the money raised by the Lottery only supplants General State Revenue that is Constitutionally committed to support education. “A Lottery dollar in is a General State Revenue dollar out.” No matter how much the Lottery makes, the education budget remains the same, but the public message directs you to believe that your Lottery ticket will add to Texas education.

As Susan Hamill, a former NY tax lawyer and professor at University of Alabama law school, remarked, “Some people say that Christians should focus on charity, and withdraw our voice from the economic marketplace. The Bible calls us to charity, but charity is not the same as justice. Charity involves voluntary generosity, but biblical justice requires systemic and structural righteousness for all people, and particularly for the most vulnerable people in society. Charity and justice are both pillars of righteousness, but an abundance of charity does not substitute for the absence of justice. An “A” in charity and “F” in justice do not average out to a “C” in righteousness.”

Although the marketplace and other media of commercial interface are changing rapidly, we are not yet a generation away from the values of thrift, stewardship and common prosperity. These little embers of economic ethics need to be fanned into brightness as we approach an eminent turning point in local and global economics. We build the structures, we buy the products, we buy the stock, we invest and we elect the officials. If there is a need to return to the values and thrift institutions envisioned by Ben Franklin, then it is a faithful presence and prophetic witness that can usher in balance.

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Recently I did research on a little family history from 1923. I read the front page news for 5 months in 4 daily Texas newspapers in the spring of 1923.  I found what I was looking for, but I was also struck by the daily headlines – they covered the beginning years of the Texas oil industry. Discord, risk and suspicion about the uncertainty of this speculative industry were major stories in the daily news circa 1923… policy fights in the legislature and business competition on the street.

Texans were used to relying on coal oil and whale oil and expecting very little from energy in their daily lives but pretty soon the oil glut began to affect ordinary Texans – at home, on the farm, transportation by land and sea, and motorized conveniences that were just imaginary 5 years prior.  All this new energy activity was taxed – By 1919, the revenue from the oil-production tax was more than $1 million; by 1929, it was almost $6 million. And who were these nutty wildcatters? Names like Sid Richardson, Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, Clint Murchison and Hugh Cullen were suspect…until 20 years later when they became the philanthropist millionaires of the 1940”s and 1950”s.

Texas remains at the forefront of the energy industry as the 21st century energy revolution eclipses our recent past. The total renewable energy “resources” in Texas, outstrip every other State. Energy from sunshine falling on a single acre of land in West Texas is capable of producing the energy equivalent of 800 barrels of oil – each year. Today, Texas in the midst of a revolution the echoes of 1923 are with us…

Pioneers and entrepreneurs are developing clean renewable energy – Like their 1920’s counterparts, wind wildcatters in west Texas have already proved Texas can be a leader in this industry; Thirty-five (35%) percent of the power Abilene Christian University purchases is generated from West Texas wind turbines-. Recent community college programs are offering all women workforce training in solar installation skills.

Energy moves in next door -  thank goodness today’s energy innovations don’t bring black oil gushers into the neighborhood, but Barnett Shale natural gas drilling is now in churchyards, in parking lots and returning handsomely in urban neighborhoods; encouraged by Economic Development Councils in Texas, wind energy equipment is now manufactured in at least 3 Texas towns…more to come. In towns where a rebate policy is an incentive, churches, homes and businesses are installing solar collectors – one church installed it’s panels in the form of a giant cross. A 10 percent goal for solar energy can make a significant difference as the US transitions to a diverse energy future.

Odd sounding ideas and speculative endeavors hold promise of new industries – oil production changed the barrel from wooden spokes to steel drums – unheard of at the time. Solar collector and battery innovation is taking on every shape imaginable including inflatables, film, fabric, tiles, roof shingles and myriad forms of tempered glass. Randy Hill is the owner of a company that manufactures equipment that dries agricultural products; he has turned his moneymaking attention to drying mesquite beans for biomass within the alternative energy industry.  Off shore towers that create energy from constant wave motion – tidal power – are a part of the energy portfolio in the North Sea.

Agricultural and urban Texas changes as energy changes – not every rancher or landowner of the 1920’s welcomed oil derricks, pumps and equipment. However, priorities in agriculture, forestry and energy research are yielding a productive focus on renewable energy. North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture are retraining and advising.  Resistance in the Texas Hill Country has been strong in response to a plan to put transmission lines across central Texas counties.  The fact remains that wind turbines in sparsely populated West Texas, can supply needed energy to Texas populated quadrants, but transmission is a necessity.

New energy will mean new policies, encouragement to new leaders, incentives and business models that track our Texas ingenuity and get ‘er done mentality. Agricultural and manufacturing opportunities are emerging and the world beyond our borders will once again look to a Lone Star for guidance. We have a chance to act in the interest of our future. Welcome to 1923? Wow! Does history ever repeat itself.

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