Galveston County cities such as La Marque, Dickinson, Hitchcock and Texas City that have devoted some of their economic development money to helping local businesses stay afloat during the COVID-19 recession should be commended.

Galveston, where the Industrial Development Corp. will consider the issue next week, should follow suit.

Those economic development funds were created through sales tax collections. When business owners hand their customers a sales receipt, part of the bottom-line cost is that tax.

It’s business owners, not the government, that bear the collection burden and suffer any ill will about the tax.

It’s their money as much as anyone’s.

Although it’s an appropriate use of the money, the hard truth is that none of the cities have enough of it to solve the problem or even measurably improve it for very long.

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated about as many numbers as it has infections, and many of those are tentative at best and just dubious at worst. The experts remind us every day that much is unknown about the pathology of the virus.

More certain is what the consequences of government actions have been on the U.S. economy and the ability of Americans to lead productive, independent lives.

The economy plunged by a record 32.9 percent annual rate last quarter, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

“The previous worst quarterly contraction — at 10 percent, less than a third of what was reported Thursday — occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration,” according to AP.

Meanwhile, about 30 million people, more than 18 percent of the 165 million or so people in the U.S. workforce, are receiving some form of jobless aid, and a supplemental $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits is expiring.

You can get a simpler, more compelling number from counting cars queued up for assistance from the county food bank.

And while we should be moved, concerned and willing to act on behalf of people sick with or at risk of COVID-19, we should be moved, concerned and willing to act on behalf of people who are out of work and struggling to survive.

To that end, members of the U.S. Congress from both parties need to stop the partisan carping and pass an aid bill that has been stalled for weeks, frequently over outlier provisions with nothing directly to do with helping Americans.

None of the independent voters who will go to the polls in November are going to be inclined to cast ballots as if they were Oscars for political theatrics.

Likewise, Texas lawmakers who are sitting on about $9 billion in the state’s “Rainy Day fund” should be planning come January at the latest to use some of that money to help people and businesses weather this storm.

To use the vernacular — If this ain’t rain, what is?

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206;


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(7) comments

Bailey Jones

Yes - the Rainy Day Fund. What is the state waiting for, an asteroid?

Carlos Ponce

The asteroid won't hit until 2029.

Jim Forsythe

A car-size asteroid hits the Earth on average at least once a year.

Chuck DiFalco

The Texas rainy day fund should be first used to cover the shortfall in sales tax revenues (earmarked for the state) to fund current state budgetary obligations. This will prevent drastic reductions in state services and/or state employee numbers, salaries, and benefits. Then Texas should use the fund top pay for direct costs on its own facilities and staff due to the pandemic. Then the legislature can debate what do to with the rest of the fund.

Chuck DiFalco

"More certain is what the consequences of government actions have been on the U.S. economy and the ability of Americans to lead productive, independent lives."

Thank you, Mr. Smith, in pointing out the direct effect of state, county, and city lockdowns by governors and local elected officials. "The virus did it" is a false narrative. Preventing American workers and businesses from being self sufficient is not sustainable.

Harvey Mueller


tom carpenter

The incredible line of cars that stretched around Alamo today, waiting their turn to receive food, made a sobering sight. Mr. Smith hammered the nail on the head: those other numbers mean nothing, abstract concepts too big to grasp; but that twisting line of cars stretching for blocks filled with our neighbors and friends seemed an ominous oracle of things to come, plain for all to see and understand.

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