As a record chill descended on our city last week, a chill of a different kind from almost a year ago came to mind. It’s the one that compelled me to run for city council this spring.
Ever since I started following politics, I’ve been drawn to the national scene. It’s easy to be. It’s in the news everywhere: from Victoria, Texas where I was born and raised, to Dallas where I spent most of the 1990s, to here, where I’ve been for all but a couple months of this century.
I’ve been fascinated by the effect the national government could have on society as a whole, and the economy in particular. If I wasn’t studying at UTSA’s graduate school, I was reading the writings of the Founding Fathers.
Some friends and family suggested back then that I run for office on the local level, but that wasn’t where my head was at.
Plus, I didn’t want to simply learn how to government, making a career out of politics. The self-serving nature of following such a path detracts from what public service should be about.
Instead, I turned to teaching. That was the kind of grassroots effort I could totally engage in, and feel like I was having an impact.
Then last year happened, and my perspective changed. It numbed me to see all the empty parking lots whenever I was on the road.
There’s no denying that the coronavirus threw everyone for a loop. State and local leaders could almost be forgiven for acting as forcefully as they did early on, trying to wrap their heads around the sudden shock.
But that inclination should have bounced away with the Easter Bunny a month later.
To strip the capacity of citizens to take responsibility for whether or not to peaceably gather, to any extent, is at the very least a highly questionable endeavor. To have the power to fine families for getting together is obscene.
We’re not children.
As I perused the city council’s recent agendas to see the extent to which these breaches were condoned, I stumbled onto some other questionable activities. The first one that grabbed my attention was the paid sick leave commission.
An effort should be made to amend the city’s charter to prevent any other such measure from becoming law.
This could be done by either increasing the threshold of voters’ signatures required to put an ordinance before the city council. Or, more preferably, inserting language to make clear that commandeering the resources of one party to redistribute to another is off-limits.
The seizure of the property of the minority should never be subject to the whims of the majority.
This proposed change to the charter stands opposite in nature to the ballot initiative recently passed by the council to “include affordable housing” as that which can be funded by bond borrowing.
One councilwoman implied that it’s more important for government to be in the housing industry than to fix roads. I respectfully disagree. Local governance is arguably more duty-bound to smooth out "dirt roads" than build houses.
The more government intrudes into private life, the more it impedes our ability to flourish. It rarely offers optimal products and services, and it gives consumers the illusion that this is as good as it gets.
The fact that the city wants to do this by shackling our kids with an ever-growing debt burden is especially disheartening.
I confess that when I started tuning into politics, I felt that as long as the federal government backed off from “doing something,” localities could take it from there. It was consistent with the system of federalism the Founding Fathers graced us with.
Since then, I’ve come to know better.
Settling in San Antonio over twenty years ago was almost like coming full circle. All the television stations were piped into Victoria when I was growing up, and I vividly remember Chris Marrou, Albert Flores and the legendary Dan Cook on KENS5’s nightly newscasts.
We also had friends and family here that we would visit, including my late uncle Jake Inselmann, who was city clerk in the 1960s and 1970s.
I pledge to do my best to facilitate the continued delivery of basic municipal services to the citizens of district six, and San Antonio overall. I will stand up however, against any and all proposals that essentially keep citizens under the thumb of dependency, preventing them from maximizing their ability to prosper.
See my "On The Issues" page to get a feel for what I believe, and how to help if you agree.
See my "About Me" page to get to know me a little better.
Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
I was born and raised in Victoria, TX, where I graduated as a Stingaree from Victoria High School in 1990. A couple years later I moved to the Dallas area. During that time I earned a bachelors in accounting from UT-Dallas and met the mother of my four beautiful, brainiac teenage/near-teen daughters. We moved to San Antonio in April 2000.
I worked for Tesoro Corporation (later Andeavor and Marathon) from 2000-2007, and then Pioneer Energy Services, where I have been since January 2008, handling the fixed assets systems on the financial side. During my time at Tesoro, I earned a masters in economics from UTSA in 2006.
After starting off in the spring semester of 2014 at my alma mater, I've been teaching economics during the evenings at Northwest Vista College (part of the Alamo Colleges District) since the fall of that year.
I am the lucky husband of a diligent, focused wife, to whom I've been married almost four years. My oldest daughter, the first assistant drum major in the Warrior band, is set to graduate Warren High School with honors in June. Her next oldest sister is a sophomore there, where she's on the varsity color guard squad.
She will be joined at Warren next year by her next youngest sister, who was recently recognized as the top 8th grade student at Jordan Middle School. And that is where the youngest of the bunch, currently a 5th grader at Raba Elementary, will matriculate next year to carry on the sibling legacy of academic excellence.
When I'm not hanging out with my wife and girls, or running them around to their various school-related activities or otherwise, I like to freelance write for various publications, most often RealClearMarkets, The American Spectator, Mises Institute/Wire and the San Antonio Express-News.
When I put my brain on total pause, I like to read, listen to heavy metal, watch the "Great British Baking Show" or play my bass guitar.
Over the years, I've written about many topics, many of which affect San Antonio. Below is a summary:
- Why I Am Running for City Council: ChrisBaecker.com.
- LGBTQ Rights: ChrisBaecker.com.
- Campaign Signs - Infringing on Constitutional Rights in the Name of Vanity: LP Mises Caucus.
- Elected Representation Shouldn't Be a Full-Time Career: RealClearMarkets.
- Differences between Councilwoman Havrda and Me: RealClearMarkets.
- "This Is the Most Important Election in ..." Blah Blah Blah - Rational Ignorance: ChrisBaecker.com.
- Needless Regulations Hold Us Back: RealClearMarkets.
- When Industry Gets in Bed with Govenment: ChrisBaecker.com
- Property Tax Reform - Starting the Process in Ideal Territory: RealClearMarkets.com.
- Partners in Crime - Income and Property Taxes: RealClearMarkets.com.
Pro-educational freedom: San Antonio Express-News, Intellectual Takeout, San Antonio Express-News, ChrisBaecker.com and San Antonio Express-News.
Pro-entrepreneurs: Mises Wire, San Antonio Express-News, ChrisBaecker.com and RealClearMarkets.
Anti-tax: RealClearMarkets, San Antonio Express-News.
Pro-worker: Foundation for Economic Education, The Federalist, San Antonio Express-News.
Anti-shutdowns: RealClearMarkets and ChrisBaecker.com.
Anti-government redistribution: San Antonio Express-News and Foundation for Economic Education.
Anti-government overreach: The American Spectator, San Antonio Express-News, RealClearMarkets and RealClearMarkets.
Anti-price controls: Mises Wire.
Pro-energy/environment: RealClearMarkets and RealClearMarkets.
Pro-2nd amendment: Intellectual Takeout.
Pro-freedom in housing: RealClearMarkets.
Civility in political debate: The American Spectator.
If these reflect your values and beliefs, please consider contributing to my campaign. As much as I wish you were allowed to freely express your support to the fullest, I can accept only $500 per person per campaign finance rules.
Along with your generous pledge, for reporting purposes, I will also need your name, address, occupation, and who you work for. You can donate via Venmo, @Chris-Baecker, or send a check to 9811 Gantry Court, San Antonio, TX, 78251.
Perhaps more importantly than monetary support, spread the word. Share this link with others who may be inclined to support me, or if they live in District 6, vote for me as well.
The other night, after my daughters arrived at their mom’s for the week, I texted to them “sorry if it seems boring over here.” After a couple of them told me it’s not, my oldest added “you’re just getting old.”
Such a sweetheart.
During the exchange, I wondered if part of this third phase of fatherhood/parenthood is that they entertain me more. “Tables turned,” she confirmed.
I define this final stage of their time under my roof as when they start to leave the nest. My oldest is in the middle of applying to, and fielding acceptances from various colleges and universities. Since her youngest sister is in the fifth grade, this phase will last seven more years.
The most important phase of parenthood however, is at the other end of the spectrum; the first one. This lasts roughly through the elementary school years, and is the one that requires the most diligence.
Obviously it starts with steering children clear of danger. Establishing certain standards and guidelines comes next.
Showing them right from wrong. Introducing them to a proper diet. Eschewing television for reading. Not being afraid to tell them “no” (learning to appreciate the comedic gold provided by subsequent temper tantrums makes this one an underrated joy).
Bridging phase one and two sees the introduction of hobbies, special interests, extracurricular activities, etc. All this can be put at risk in the event of a divorce, which happened to me.
I love my daughters dearly. They’re the most important part of my life. They’re also my best opportunity to improve society, my positive spillover if you will. I wasn’t going to let my divorce from their mother (the best one they could have) ruin that.
We learn about externalities/spillovers in my microeconomics classes. When a coal-fired power plant emits pollution, residents outside its service area bear some cost. Hence, a negative externality has occurred.
When a person avoids becoming infected by the coronavirus because people around her are successfully vaccinated, she’s the beneficiary of a positive spillover.
We see citizens fret all the time about the downfall of our society, whether it’s due to environmental concerns, abortion, racial strife, economic concerns, etc. We see them on T.V. at protests. They bark at each other, both directly and in the abstract, on social media.
I engage in some of it myself, but I try not to get too swept up. There’s only so much I can do. I teach. I try to make an informed, principled vote. The biggest effect I can have however, is talking to my daughters about whatever is going on.
The divorce is probably what spurred my obsession to make sure they were entertained. Now, at the dawn of phase three, they seem to be returning the favor.
This comes as no surprise though. Early on in phase one, I remember thinking that I didn’t need Comedy Central anymore. And that was before the goofiest, most spastic of the four was born!
Regardless, she’s as much proof as her sisters that our focus in phase one paid off. They are as respectful, disciplined, intelligent (all well within the top 10% of their respective classes) and problem-free as I could have hoped for. It’s made the transition from phase two to three a relative breeze.
Thanks to my oldest’s college application essays, a lesson from my macro class also came to mind. It’s a relatively mythical one that arguably exists only in Keynesian economists’ models: the multiplier effect. This has compounded the spillover effect.
The way she described her sisters, and what she’s learned from each of them, was nothing short of heartwarming. It’s rivaled only by her career goal, as a psychologist, of “destigmatizing and relieving mental and emotional disorders,” primarily amongst young people.
Given such a noble cause, I can’t help but want her to succeed, wildly. There is a small part of me however, that would count it as a mark of increased parenting success, if she eventually had to move up the age demographic of her clientele in order to stay busy.
More than a mere spillover, that would be a positively torrential deluge.
HM2: "Exhibit B: The Human Condition" Exodus
HM1: "The Dream Calls for Blood" Death Angel
10. "Aenima" Tool
9. "South of Heaven" Slayer
8. "Rainier Fog" Alice in Chains
7. "Back in Black" AC/DC
6. "Back for the Attack" Dokken
5. "La Gorgola" Chevelle
4. "Powerslave" Iron Maiden
3. "Rust in Peace" Megadeth
2. "For All Kings" Anthrax
1. "Master of Puppets" Metallica
Remember as a kid when you used to imagine what you’d do with a million dollars? Get a massive, Charlie-Benante-sized drum set. Buy a Lamborghini. Hire a chef to prepare whatever you want for every meal.
Well that was my wish-list anyway. Taxes never occurred to me. I’m guessing though, being a kid, I would have hired someone to take care of that as well, regardless of how much I owed. I’d be rich; what’s to worry about?
Michael Taylor addresses taxes from a similar angle. Except he’s an adult, and “Smart Money” columnist for the San Antonio Express-News.
His latest 2020 misfire comes while detailing democrat Joe Biden’s tax plans if elected president this week/month. The virtue-signaling, to borrow a recent catchphrase, lives loudly in him when he “promise(s) to not complain” about paying Mr. Biden’s 2% tax on wealth greater than $50 million. “I aspire … to be in a position to pay that tax” he gushes.
Silly me; I’d be happy just to have a few million in the bank. The “position” I envision that comes with handing over a piece of what I’ve earned under threat of imprisonment includes a barrel.
Mr. Taylor focuses on what he implies is not “earned income,” like what you and I get paid for our respective forty-hour gigs. But it’s not entirely accurate.
He’s certainly correct that the tax rate on the sale of financial assets – capital gains – is lower than a few of the marginal rates that apply to wage income. The intuitive aspect he and other tax proponents regularly omit is that the resources used to buy those financial assets were originally derived from wage income.
Moreover, given how much in financial assets is owned by the wealthier amongst us, it’s pretty likely that those wage earnings were taxed at some of those higher income rates.
With this double (or more) taxation in mind, one wonders exactly what “morals” Mr. Taylor has in mind. The “economic merits” of taxing such expendable wealth at low levels, considering prosperity and progress springs from it, are self-evident.
The same goes for inheritances, and it’s here that Mr. Taylor goes the extra mile into disingenuousness.
When discussing merely the “unity principles” struck by Mr. Biden and former rival, socialist Bernie Sanders, he cites the aim of reverting estate taxes to where they were in 2009.
Part of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts in the early 2000s was reducing that tax. It went from exempting all estates below $675 thousand from the 60% rate, to zero percent for all in 2010. Over the decade, the exemption went up, as the rate went down.
If “set(ting)” that 2009 rate at a lower 45% on a higher exemption of $3.5 million was “socialistic,” I’m curious how Mr. Taylor characterizes where it settled the next year.
Maybe he was just being coy. The targets for his tax “aspirations” can be the same way.
Some people I grew up with went on to own successful businesses. I once asked one that I graduated with for his take on the minimum wage, how did it affect his business? He demurred, saying “I just want to sell some chicken.”
I suspect people like him are proud of what they’ve built, the diligent work and frugal habits they have parlayed into productive endeavors. By nature, they quite possibly don’t appreciate being dictated to by bureaucrats who might not qualify to be in their private sector employ.
Being successful business people, they have public relations to be concerned with. They’re smart enough not to provide fodder for those who “aspire” to accumulate seven figures of wealth only to giddily hand over a significant chunk to a wasteful sinkhole like the government.
Before I found (hard) rock n roll, I listened to Casey Kasem's Top 40 every Sunday morning. That's actually where I heard Quiet Riot for the first time. Then I heard "Jump."
It was the first such song to both get a rise out of me AND hit #1. When it fell out of the top spot, I remember Casey saying the rankings were based on sales and airplay, so I immediately called KVIC to request it. "Since it was just played on the top 40, we have to wait a while to play it again" I was told.
Fine. I bought the single. Then I bought "I'll Wait," and "Panama," and "Hot for Teacher." From that point on, I was an album man.
Fast forward a couple years.
Trey Tagliabue (RIP) and I had a radio show in our tech class at Crain MS. I knew as soon as I heard the intro to "Good Enough," we had to play it.
These are my most acute VH memories. I wasn't a huge VH fan, but I had most of their albums. Even though I went on to faster, harder, more aggressive music, EVH was a once-in-a-lifetime guitarist in my larger world of rock n roll. He was like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, et al.
If there's a Mt. Rushmore of hard rock, I can't imagine anyone would dispute a place for EVH's bust there.
There's everyone else, and then there's Eddie Van Halen. RIP.
Every so often, I like to quip “every issue comes back to an episode of ‘South Park’.” My wife, daughters and sister usually roll their eyes: “yeah right, dad.”
Randy Marsh, father of one of the main characters, is frequently caught up in such lessons. The most jaw-dropping perhaps was when, as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune,” he incorrectly guessed, with a certain-to-win gusto, the final clue to be the n-word. This summer has reminded me of that episode.
My two oldest daughters (a senior and sophomore in high school) came home one Sunday in May asking what I thought about “white privilege.” It proved a rather lively discussion since it was the first newsy topic they’d ever asked about. As fate would have it, George Floyd was killed the next day in Minneapolis.
As time has passed, I’ve been as dismayed by the fallout as anyone. It’s been difficult for me to process, much less express my thoughts. There have been subsequent, sometimes contentious exchanges between my daughters on one side, and their mother and I on the other.
My wife on the other hand, has simply listened to them. That is something I have set out to do with my black friends, a characterization I have always loathed. My friends are my friends regardless of race, but the situation being what it is, I’ve reached out to them directly.
I’ve arrived at roughly the same place I’ve always been.
If John, for example, refuses to acknowledge that “black lives matter,” that’s his problem. It’s also a problem for society since there are other “***holes” (to quote a friend) who share his attitude.
However, let’s say Mary comes along and firmly acknowledges that “black lives matter,” but proceeds to add on that “red/brown/yellow/white lives also matter.” If there’s still a problem it doesn’t reside within Mary, but rather within the person, say Bob, who insists she stop after the “black lives” recognition.
Bob has exposed himself as a bully intent on shutting down the full expression of Mary’s beliefs, which is affirming what doesn’t matter: skin color.
At one point this summer, my sophomore expressed a desire to make the KKK illegal (President Trump recently proposed designating them as a terrorist organization), to which one of my buddies joked “yeah, their last 100 members and their 100 teeth.” Can we instead leave behind the Johns and Bobs? Just let them stew in their own miserable existence, preferably for all to see.
The rest of us should move forward.
By the end of that “South Park” episode, the white boys admit to their black friend that they can’t relate to his feelings when the n-word is muttered.
White people don’t know what it’s like to be a black person, who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a yellow person, who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a red person, etc. etc. The most I can tell my girls is to live by example, respect who their friends/peers are regardless of their race.
Given the discourse in our house over the summer, and a view of their friends, they absorbed that lesson a long time ago.
If they feel strongly though, and comfortable enough, they should speak out. Then we can address our collective problems that make the ground fertile for such tensions.
We need to liberate parents’ ability to choose their children’s education. We have to realize that ‘free’ college, or at least greater public aid isn’t actually costless, whether the result is useless degrees, a more worthless dollar or greater expense to the taxpayer.
And once our kids become productive adults, we need to stop allowing politicians and bureaucrats to loot them with all manner of property and income taxes. This serves no other purpose than to produce wards of the state, to which our alleged “public servants” hold the key.
Perhaps most importantly though, is that fathers need to step up. I can attest personally to the reality of a broken marriage. However, when we decided to have kids (or did what was necessary to make it possible … ahem), we became locked into a duty to both them, and society as a whole.
Shortcomings in all these areas contribute to resentment in one demographic or another.
This is not at all to let police reform off the hook, like addressing what’s known as “qualified immunity.” I simply tend to explore root causes rather than waiting for symptoms to fester.
The whole “____ lives matter” has produced silly offshoots anyway. “Blue Lives Matter” comes to mind. If that’s a thing, then I’m one of the “black” lives that matters due to how much black I wear. In that same vein, my “Red, White and Blue” life matters.
For Americans, the latter should arguably take primacy anyway.
Until disco came back to me at dance clubs and via the great “Boogie Nights” in the 1990s, I didn’t recall a whole lot from my childhood in the 1970s. Trying to build my own “Speed Racer” and being in awe of the rock group KISS stand out.
“Too many dollars chasing too few goods” was another. That was the catchphrase used to describe the inflationary times, and it would be the last time monetary issues/policy would make sense to me for many, many years.
It’s not my favorite topic to deal with in class. Explaining money on the other hand, is pretty straightforward.
Technically, we don’t need it to survive. We simply need to be able to produce a good or service of some value to others. Since trying to translate that into terms of what another person produces (bartering) tends to gum up the gears of commerce, we have money.
At various points in time, salt has been used as currency, as has tobacco. George Washington wrote about using wampum. Whatever is in steady supply at the time, and holds an agreed-upon value can be used as money. For much of our history, it was gold.
Rather than having to produce all that is necessary to survive, money allows us to specialize in just one or two tasks. We can then trade with others to get what we need, or possibly want.
Needless to say, the more productive we are, the more we can earn, and the stronger our currency, the more we can get with it. More importantly, a stable currency is conducive to investment, imperative even to the groundbreaking variety.
It’s no coincidence that was the order of the day before the link to gold was severed, and then in the booming 1980s and 1990s. Since then, policymakers have become seduced by a weak dollar, and we’ve paid the price.
We went from a housing bubble that was pushed to a bursting point under President Bush, to an oil and gas balloon he handed to, and that subsequently ruptured under President Obama. The oil market blew-up anew and crashed even harder in Obama’s second term, only to be outdone earlier this year.
And now we have “big-time … institutional investors” pouring capital into farmland. This is typical of what happens when the dollar deteriorates.
When such a trend takes hold, a currency is necessarily losing stability. This makes returns on investment more uncertain, and likely less thanks to the devaluation. Who would invest $1 now if odds are increasing that eventual gains will be less than that $1? Hence, investment tends to migrate in part, to already-established goods as a way to hold value.
A weak dollar is why a product that is generally in steady demand, for which there is a steady supply, sees its price soar from time to time. There is no reason the price of oil, or gas, should ever fluctuate much. But since it is priced in dollars, when their value dwindles, it takes more to buy it.
The seduction is so powerful that society views as an “investment” something so basic as the roof over our head.
Nevertheless, some, including President Trump, are smitten with the notion of a weak dollar due to the supposed trade benefits it confers. The weakening trend since he took office (or really since his candidacy started gaining steam in 2016), and particularly over the last couple years, is no surprise given his administration’s rhetoric and moves to raise trade barriers.
The theory goes that a devalued dollar increases exports by making them cheaper than foreign goods in international markets. There is truth to that, but there are also drawbacks.
First, workers will be paid in dollars that are worth less, offsetting gains possibly realized by exporting industries. Second, other countries could very well view this as currency manipulation with the aim of gaining such a trade advantage, and therefore move to weaken their own in response.
Perhaps just as importantly though, is the message it sends about how officials view their country’s past, its future, and its people.
When a government intervenes in the market to give its domestic industries a leg up, it is focusing on what is/has been. At best, it is attempting to forcibly solidify their position in the world. At worst, its efforts aid ailing companies.
In addition to the increased costs incurred by all of us for the benefit of a few, this comes at the increasing expense of a country’s future.
Since investors are repelled by a weak dollar, their money gravitates elsewhere, and our lead role paving the way to the future is eroded.
All this demonstrates a lack of faith in the capacity of people in existing industries to compete, in the ability of displaced workers to adjust, and an obliviousness to the fact that we’re kneecapping the ability of American innovators to access capital to push forward into new frontiers.
This tendency toward protectionism has shades of countries that go full-bore into state control. Rather than allow their people to flourish unimpeded, the former Soviet Union and Venezuela for example, cannibalized what they had up to that point in their respective history.
It’s ironic then, that President Trump has nominated for positions at the Federal Reserve, candidates who have spoken favorably about the gold standard, and by extension a strong dollar regime. It seems to work against his desire, and frankly that of most politicians, to manipulate markets.
Make no mistake. When those politicians use past association with the president as a pretext to oppose nominations like that of Judy Shelton, it’s nothing more than masking a fear of giving up control. The opportunity to ride to the rescue when bubbles of their inflation burst is too valuable to give up.
And it’s only going to get worse the more power modern monetary theorists (MMT) gain. Gone will be whatever last little bit of respect political busybodies had for the value of work as measured by the earnings which accrues to it. The printing press will go into overdrive while the dollar will cheapen to the level of the tissue you blow your nose into.
It’s reasons like this is why I look forward to the start of every school year, and the opportunity to implore students to “keep it simple” (KISs) when considering what we learn, or just in general. One of the first things I tell them is that I’m merely putting flesh on the bones of things they already know.
They know a night out with their friends is the (opportunity) cost of instead choosing to hang out with their family. They know the ultimate decision on how many chicken strips they’ll eat depends upon when they’re satisfied; their diminishing marginal utility.
Even my daughters know me cutting those strips in half wouldn’t mean the total quantity of food has doubled, yet that’s exactly how policymakers will try to snooker them as adults by manipulating our fiat currency.
I have worked in accounting for 25 years. I have taught economics to local college students since 2014. I am sending 4 wonderful daughters out into the world. I stay involved in local politics via InfuseSA, and have run for city council in 2021 and 2023. To see where my mind is at, check me out at RealClearMarkets, Mises Wire, The American Spectator, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the San Antonio Express-News, among other.