Is the Future of America in Texas?

If such disparate sources as the Economist and the Nation agree on something, every thinking man and woman should listen closely to what they’re saying.

The Economist’s 2002 Christmas Issue featured a cowboy riding a champagne bottle, with the accompanying article, “The future is – Texas.”
Texas led the charge away from the Great Society (introduced by a Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson) to today's conservative Republicanism, with its enthusiasm for business, religion, rolling back the state, muscular nationalism and open borders.
Molly Ivins, herself a Texan, writes less favorably about her state’s brand of politics in the latest issue of the Nation.
We have an antiquated and regressive tax structure--high property, high sales, no income tax. We consistently rank near the bottom by every measure of social service, education and quality of life (leading to one of our state mottoes, "Thank God for Mississippi").

It is widely believed in Texas that the highest purpose of government is to create "a healthy bidness climate." The legislature is so dominated by special interests that the gallery where the lobbyists sit is called "the owners' box." The consequences of unregulated capitalism, of special interests being able to buy government through campaign contributions, are more evident here because Texas is "first and worst" in this area. That Enron was a Texas company is no accident: Texas was also Ground Zero in the savings-and-loan scandals, is continually the site of major ripoffs by the insurance industry and has a rich history of gigantic chicanery going way back. Leland Beatty, an agricultural consultant, calls Enron "Billie Sol Estes Goes to College." Economists call it "control fraud" when a corporation is rotten from the head down. I sometimes think Texas government is a case of control fraud too.

We are currently saddled with a right-wing ideologue sugar daddy, James Leininger out of San Antonio, who gives immense campaign contributions and wants school vouchers, abstinence education and the like in return. The result is a crew of breathtakingly right-wing legislators. This session, Representative Debbie Riddle of Houston said during a hearing, "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."
Listen up, friends. Bush and his cronies – all honorary Texans in my mind – are making a horrible mess of our country and our democracy. And don’t get me wrong. I grew up in Texas and still love the place and the people, it just angers me to see bad ideas get exported. By the way, some truths bear repeating: George Bush is the worst president in US history.