August 23, 2007
It’s hard for me to single out the most disgusting moments I’ve had as a parent. Nasty things that I never could have been prepared for. Most incidents of true yuck involved one of the boys being sick. I’ve been constantly amazed at how sickening a small sick child can be.And Liz has had to deal with, treat, and clean up after such illness all over the globe. On airplanes, in restaurants and stores, on the Eiffel Tower, and, of course, in virtually every part of the house.I humbly say Liz has dealt with it, because I’m the kind of guy that gags like a choking victim when I just hear one of the boys making retching noises. Basically, I’m a burden if I’m around. She actually prefers that I get out of the room. It’s too much hassle having a perfectly healthy, grown man making more noise than a very sick kid. At least I’m always brave about it. And I don’t whine.
Thanks to good, regular health care, our boys do well with both the usual and the unusual illnesses of childhood. They are able to be active and have every reason to expect the possibility of a healthy future. That hope, for a healthy future, is something that every child and parent should expect. Kids deserve to grow up knowing that while there are no guarantees, they at least have a fair shot at a good life. Well, you can’t have a good life without good health. Luckily, Texas has a program that does a remarkable job keeping kids healthy. And I’m going to spend Saturday making sure they and their parents know about it.It’s part of a terrific event called “CHIP-In with Kirk.” We’ll spend tomorrow at Parque Zaragoza in East Austin signing kids up for the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. It should be a great day. We’ll have live music, games, arts and crafts, treats, and pretty much whatever else you need for a fun day at the park. We’re even raffling off a 32″ plasma, high definition TV courtesy of Time Warner.Anyone who knows me knows how important I think this program is for Texas. But the truth is that you shouldn’t support CHIP just because it’s the right thing to do. And you shouldn’t support it just because it’s an important investment in the future of Texas and its people.No, you should support it because it means real money for Texas and our economy.
For every dollar that Texas spends on CHIP, the federal government gives us another $2.60.That’s $3.60, which gets spent on doctors, nurses, clinics, medical supplies, hospitals, and other health-related things in this vital part of the economy. Once all of the money finishes changing hands, the economic effect has doubled the value of that money to about $7.So our $1 investment has an economic impact of $7. A 700 percent return on our investment. Guaranteed. Now I’m all for economic incentives that are done right, but you’d be hard pressed to find any company that could yield as much economic development as a real commitment to keep our kids healthy. That doesn’t even include the benefits of healthy kids doing well in school, or parents being at work instead of staying home with a sick kid. I have no earthly idea why this is so tough to understand. Every legislative session, it’s a struggle to expand CHIP just so it covers as many kids as it did five years ago – let alone cover every Texas child, as Illinois and other states have done. And right now in Washington, President Bush is fighting to pare back this program even though it’s one of his best economic development tools.This goes beyond our constitutional responsibility to make sure all of our kids are prepared for the future. And it goes beyond the simple good sense of ensuring that the next generation of Texans is healthy enough to learn how to work good jobs and create new ones.This is, quite simply, the investment of a lifetime. We’d be nuts not to take advantage of it. You can start this weekend by telling your friends and family – whoever needs to know – about CHIP-In with Kirk. Come on down to Parque Zaragoza, 2608 Gonzales Street (near the corner of East Seventh and Pedernales) between 9 and 4 on Saturday.We’ll have fun. We’ll play games. We’ll keep our kids healthy. And we’ll even protect our state’s economy.That ought to be a pretty good day.
Another reason it will be a good day is because it will be the 18th anniversary of the birth of Preston McDaniel Watson. 18 years. Eighteen. Like, the age of adulthood. Voting and such.I can’t believe it’s been 18 years. Time has flown past.We’re very proud of that boy and happy for him.