Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

21 July 2006

The Lone Star Nation

About two-thirds of Americans think our nation is on the wrong track.   There are many ideas for fixing it, but one hasn’t received much attention.   When a fruit is only partly rotten, you cut away the bad part.   Maybe we could do the same with our country.  

It wouldn’t be hard to figure out what part to cut away.   Just look at regional exports.  

Which state gave us the president who waged our only losing war (so far)?   Which state gave us the president that got us into our current bloody and interminable war, and did so on false pretenses?   Which state gave us a House leader now indicted for campaign finance violations and retired?   Texas’ exports of “human capital” haven’t done much for the rest of us.  

Before World War II, Texas was an asset of sorts.   It kept its cowboy philosophy within its borders and sent the rest of us lots of oil.   Now its oil has run out, and its exports have turned sour.   Today it exports cowboy diplomacy, Biblical literalism (with its cousins creationism and “intelligent design”), scandal and financial collapse (Enron), gerrymandering (DeLay), corruption (more DeLay) and mindless partisanship (still more DeLay, plus Bush and Rove).  

The CEO of a big Texas utility now intends to lead the world in building maximally polluting coal-fired power plants.   He wants to build eleven of them, and he wants to do it fast, before Congress can adopt new regulations to clean the air or reduce global warming.1  Think how much our international environmental reputation would improve if we could attribute this sort of enlightened business philosophy to a foreign country.  

As for the Republican party, it would gain much by expelling its Texas affiliate.   According to Kevin Phillips, the 2004 Republican party platform in Texas: (1) declared the United States “a Christian nation;” (2) bewailed “the myth of the separation of church and state;” and (3) called for abolishing the Department of Energy, the EPA, the IRS, the income, inheritance, gift, capital gains, payroll, and corporate income taxes, and state and local property taxes as well.2   (Apparently there wasn’t much discussion of how to balance the budget.)  Think how many moderates and independents might return to the GOP if it could dismiss Texas' Republicans as foreigners.  

Expelling Texas from the Union would not just reduce our negatives.   It would produce enormous positive effects as well.  

Committed oil men and women would migrate to Texas from all parts of our great nation and assume Texan citizenship.   After a decade or so, their hold on political power in our own country might decrease to the point where we could have a rational debate about national energy policy.   We could begin to think seriously about nuclear power, ethanol, solar and hydrogen before the century is half over.   Some furtive folk, in secret cabals, might even begin to discuss conservation, at least while out of the earshot of Texan spies.  

Then think of foreign policy.   Texas would be an independent, sovereign nation.   We could give it several nukes, one to ward off invasion from Mexico, and the rest for “wild cards.”   Then just let the crazies bluff and bluster.   “Want to wipe out Israel, Ahmadinejad?   You’ll have to deal with Texas.”

Let Kim Jong Il rattle his long-range missiles, trying to convince the rest of the world that he’s crazy enough to put nukes on them and launch them.   We’d just point to Texas and smile.   “We Americans are a peace-loving people, committed to diplomacy,” we’d say, “but we can’t predict what Texas will do."  

And if worse came to worst and someone let a missile fly?   Well, Texas is a big and sparsely populated place.   It’s much better able to withstand a nuclear strike than Israel, Iran, or North Korea, let alone Southern Lebanon or Gaza.  

With Texas as an ally, we would be immune from extortion.   No one would ever be able to intimidate us by sounding crazy.   Our chief task would be giving Texas enough trade incentives to discourage it from becoming a remote province of Saudi Arabia.  

An independent Texas would also help solve our immigration problem.   It would protect a huge part of our border.   It would have to deal with the Rio Grande.   Of course, Texas would handle illegal immigrants in its own inimitable way.   Posters would cry, “Wanted: Dead or Alive!”  The official policy would be “shoot first and ask questions later.”  We might have some difficulty getting Texans to give up their automatic weapons at our own border, but peace of mind about illegal immigration would be worth the trouble.  

The transition to separate, sovereign status for Texas might cause some temporary dislocation.   The state has lots of people of Hispanic descent.   Not all of them might want to stay.   We and Texas could establish a simple test.   Those who favor letting other Hispanics come in after them could come with us.   Those who want to pull up the ladder after them could stay in Texas, where they belong.  

Expelling Texas would improve lives on both sides of the new border.   Texans love extremism.   If confined to their side of the border, their extremism would be a big help in negotiating with crazies worldwide.   Travel agencies would have a field day arranging tours to Texas, and insurance companies in both countries could make millions writing hazard insurance for travelers to Texas.  

As for Texans’ own views on the matter, their self-love is legendary.   If their fundamentalism continues on its current course, they might consider separate sovereignty a Biblical calling, ordained by God.   Then no expulsion would be necessary.   We could divorce by mutual consent.   Viva the Lone Star Nation!

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1.  This bit is not humor.   See Rebecca Smith, "As Emission Restrictions Loom, Texas Utility Bets Big on Coal," Wall St. J. (July 21, 2006).

2.  Ditto.   See Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy, 233, 249 (Viking 2006).


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