OPINION: Rick Perry helped me thwart regulation

By Tom Whitehurst Jr., Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 16--CORPUS CHRISTI -- One of the bonuses of living in Rick Perry'sTexas is supposed to be reasonable government regulation that doesn't interfere with good folks' good-faith efforts to make a living.

For the record, I am FOR that -- you know, doing what's necessary, and no more, to keep the insurance agents, embalmers and drillers honest and protect the environment, while letting insurers insure, embalmers embalm and drillers drill-baby-drill. You'll hear no Smurf-blue bombast from me about Perry allowing polluters to run amok.

So, there I was, trying to do my part to build a better Texas Tomorrow, arranging for my daughter to FINALLY (!) get her driver's license (she's 17) without me having to miss any work. Being a working father married to a working mother, I thought I'd just have my parents take their granddaughter in for her driving test.

It would have been the prudent, productive solution. It wouldn't interrupt my or my wife's work. Y'all already know how vital my work is to your mental, physical and spiritual health. You're feeling it right now. But in the grand scheme, it's no comparison to the importance of my wife's work, she tells me. She's a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Driscoll Children's Hospital emergency room, so y'all probably are nodding vigorously, even if you don't have children. Plus, she's the much bigger earner. I point this out to save her the trouble, so she can stay focused.

My parents, on the other hand, are avid retirees. They worked hard and were good at their jobs. But retirement appears to have been their true calling. It's not selfish of them. To the contrary, being retired has been an important part of their continuing role as parents.

It makes them available and useful to their hard-working son and daughter-in-law and gives them opportunities to visit and do things for their granddaughter. My mom has taken her to the dentist more often than I have.

So, it wasn't just convenient, but also sweet, that Mom and Dad were willing to accompany their granddaughter to that Mother of All Trips to the Dentist, the driver's license driving test.

Too bad government regulators wouldn't allow it. They require a parent or legal guardian to accompany a driver's license candidate younger than 18. A parent/legal guardian's parents and former legal guardians just won't do.

Why, pray tell? My parents wouldn't have been usurping my or my wife's parental authority, being there at our behest. And it's not as if my presence -- it ended up being me, not my wife -- made my daughter any better a driver. Those who know me and my driving rue that I might be her driving role model.

She passed. She even did better than zero on the parallel parking -- significant because she was driving a 2000 Suburban. My presence pacing on the sidewalk outside the waiting room had no bearing on her success. If such a thing were of any help, then more's the pity that my dad wasn't there instead. I'm still not his equal at impatience.

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So, all that the parent-or-guardian rule accomplished was to cost me, my employer and Rick Perry'sTexas nearly half a day of my work product. Considering how well-acquainted Perry is with the regulatory agency, the Texas Department of Public Safety, I'm doubly confused. The DPS is with Perry all the time, protecting him from thus-far nonexistent harm at our expense.

Also, the DPS is state, not federal like the regulators Perry and his likely successor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, are always vilifying and suing at our expense. When the target is "Obama's" Environmental Protection Agency, they like to say that Texas knows best how to protect its environment and prevent pollution while allowing industry to enterprise freely.

The point of the regulating that the DPS was doing on that afternoon was to make sure that my daughter was a safe enough driver to license. My presence was an unnecessary extra layer, not useful like a layer of sealant on an abandoned well.

Luckily Perry, who has proved himself useful to industry at getting around unnecessary regulation, came to my rescue. If you've read all the way to here, by now you should have figured out how he did it. But, just to make sure it doesn't slip by anyone -- writing about it put it back on my work clock.

Thanks, Governor, for helping make my unproductive time productive. I say this in all humility -- you couldn't have done it without me.


(c)2014 the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, Texas)

Visit the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, Texas) at www.caller.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services



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