Talking points may not be enough

Published 6:48 am Saturday, December 2, 2017

By Bobby Tingle


Discussions about establishing a hospital district have included talking points by those expressing views for and against. Talking points are generally catch phrases supporting an idea or desired outcome.

Politicians like to use talking points because they roll off the tongue and imbibe the ears of supporters.

But do talking points communicate?

Applause is generally music to a speaker’s ears, especially when it is given in a positive response to their stated opinion. Boos and ‘come on man’ are responses to be avoided.

But the most important thing in a debate of ideas is information. Cutting through the sound bites, emotional reactions and populist appeal is the path to reality and truth.

Lamar State College – Orange and KOGT radio sponsored the first town hall meeting to discuss the upcoming hospital district vote scheduled for December 19. It took place in the Cypress Center, a very nice, new addition to the Lamar campus.

Approximately 200 hundred folks attended. Many were vocal. Attendants seemed to be fairly well split with just about as many for as against and undecided voters.

Generally opponents expressed common sentiments such as; we are taxed enough already, a hospital district adds another layer of government bureaucracy and an aversion to using the ‘Pelosi’ approach of ‘pass it to find out what is in it’.

The truth is there are unknown details.

If the hospital district is passed, we will know the boundaries of the district, the maximum tax rate it can levy and who will appoint the directors.

The state of Texas has defined the process for establishing a hospital district. Orange County voters have no choice but to follow state law if it is to establish a district. The items we will vote on are those allowed by state law. The reality is, if passed, if a hospital district is established, the directors will have authority to proceed void of certain details.

But, they will be obligated to provide a certain level of service. For instance, the hospital district will assume responsibility for providing indigent health care, a service currently provided by Orange County taxpayers administered by Orange County Commissioners Court.

Establishing a hospital district in Orange County is a good idea. There are risks, no doubt.

The ultimate goal of establishing a hospital district is to provide local hospital service.

Why should we take the risk?

Health care is an important component of a healthy community. We need to improve the health of our community.

The health care industry is big. A hospital will pave the way for establishing a larger health care industry footprint in Orange County. A hospital will attract doctors, who need nurses, receptionists and services such as accounting and banking.

These are economic health components. These are job creation components.

A hospital district will attract private investment. A coalition of elected officials, private citizens and municipalities has been at work for several years to attract outside investors to establish hospital service in Orange County. Their efforts, according to several spokesmen of the group, led them to consider a hospital district. A hospital district is the common element sought by private investors. Private investors gain an economic advantage through a hospital district. Private investors must consider their risk. A hospital district provides cash flow benefits, which lower their risk.

I dislike taxes and taxing entities. I believe all federal taxes should be paid on a voluntary basis. You read that right; the federal government should operate like your local church or American Red Cross, dependent on your voluntary contributions. It’s a radical approach but I guarantee a lot of fluff and puff would be eliminated.

Paying taxes locally is far different. At the town hall meeting, at least two county and two city elected officials attended. They were in the same room, speaking in the same microphone, addressing the same audience as those who elected them. Taxpayers are at an advantage when access to tax spenders increases. Hospital district directors will be members of the community. You will have access to each. You can look each other in the eye and speak your mind. I like a high level of accountability.

Vote yes for a hospital district. If you get a chance, vote yes to making our federal government a charitable organization as well.


Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at