April 17, 2008
I want to throw a fit.
All year long, as part of one of those ridiculous New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been on a compulsive, obsessive, goal-oriented effort to drop some weight so that I can feel better running. I run to be fit – at least, as fit as a man my age and body-type can be.
I’m having limited success. The original goal involved dropping about 15 pounds. I shed five. But I’ve hit the proverbial “plateau.”
This unhappy problem is exacerbated by two bits of information I’ve received. Seeking advice, I talked to a guy who’s run a number of marathons. I asked him about weight and running a half-marathon. He looked at me and, without any concern for my fragile feelings, said, “You don’t have the body type to be doing that.”
He then told me there’s sort of a standard for running marathons or half-marathons. The formula: take your height in inches and double that number. That’s the ideal weight.
So my ideal weight requires me to be around seven-feet-tall. In reality, at my current height, I’d need to get down to about 135 pounds. (Go ahead. Figure out the algebra to know just how short I really am.) Trust me, I’ll never again see anything within 40 pounds of 135.
The other bit of devastating news is that some scientific “researcher” seems to think men with flabby bellies are more likely to have dementia. That’s brilliant. I’ve had that deal figured out for years. When I was growing up, the dad of one of my buddies had a big belly and seemed to forget stuff. Of course, his gut was a beer gut, and I drew my own conclusions.
Nature apparently didn’t intend for me to be physically ideal. But I think nature must own an interest in Slim-Fast.
Austin has lots of programs to help folks like me stay physically fit. Now, we’ve got a great one that focuses on fiscal fitness to assure hope, empowerment, and building a foundation for the future.
I’m talking about helping folks maintain a grip on credit, debt, and other personal financial issues that can be the key to finding a strong foothold to buy a house, send kids to college, or enjoy a secure retirement.
The good news is that Central Texas has an incredible range of services to help people take charge of their finances. If there’s a problem, it’s that too few people take advantage of these programs.
That’s why businesses, government agencies, community groups, and elected officials pulled together for Financial Fitness Week. All next week, dozens of seminars and workshops will be held on the value of savings, effective management of credit, identity fraud, and other topics.
A lot of these things may seem intuitive. For some folks, they probably are. But for most of us, it’s a challenge. It’s sort of like exercise: financial fitness takes not just focus and commitment, but also awareness about what works and what doesn’t.
The increasing economic troubles across this country speak to the difficulty of all this. More and more people are living paycheck-to-paycheck, fighting debt, or struggling to keep up their mortgage payments. There are a lot of reasons for that, many having to do with government’s failure to block irresponsible financial practices or to keep up with historical responsibilities in areas like higher education.
But it goes without saying that personal financial habits and strategies are at least as important – and frequently even more important – than the actions of government or anything else. That’s why the lessons of Financial Fitness Week are so empowering – they really can make a huge difference for folks. We’re hoping the events will reach as many as 1,500 Central Texans.
Please go to www.FinancialFitnessAustin.org for a list of activities, times and locations. And please support the Alliance for Economic Inclusion, the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, and everyone else that’s helped put this great event together.
We’re now a little more than halfway through the interim between the last legislative session and the next one. It’s been a surprisingly busy 10 months already, but things are about to pick up even more.
I’ve been named to the Senate Select Committee on Economic Development, which will look at all of Texas’ state and local economic development programs, review their costs and benefits, and compare them with what’s going on in other states. We’ll also study job creation programs, the state’s nanotechnology industry (I’m guessing it’s too small), and other initiatives.
I’ll also serve on the Business Tax Advisory Committee, which includes four legislators and more than a dozen business leaders and tax experts. This committee was created during the last legislative session to look at how Texas’ new franchise tax is affecting businesses and the economy. I’m hoping this group will make sure our new business tax is funding the state services it needs to pay for while also treating taxpayers fairly.
I’m also working on interim charges, a long list of Senate homework assignments from the Lieutenant Governor, as we prepare for the next session.
First, the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations is reviewing an issue I asked that they consider: the way emergency services are provided in rural areas near growing cities. The problem is that as some areas become more urban, the Emergency Services Districts that serve them aren’t getting any more money to pay for the additional demands. The effect, of course, is that the bigger these areas get, the fewer services these ESDs can provide.
Second, two Senate committees met jointly this week to discuss the impact that power plants are having on the air and water. The committees also debated how we can keep our electric supply reliable, affordable, and environmentally friendly.
This is exactly the sort of conversation I hoped to start with my bill that would have created a state energy plan. Unfortunately, the bill didn’t pass last year, but based on the talk at the Capitol this week, I’m hopeful we’ll have better luck this time.
Preston did great with his knee surgery. He’s home, feeling some pain as expected, but on the road to recovery.