Thursday, April 16, 2009

Angry Talk From Texas: A Northerner Responds

Texans are good and mad, and they're not being very quiet about it. Some members of an audience at a "tea party" rally being addressed by Texas Governor Rick Perry peppered their applause with shouts of "Secede!!" The Dallas Morning News reported a press conference at which Governor Perry was rather tepid in his repudiation of some of his supporter's remarks. The Dallas Morning News reported as follows.

Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

Texans may be unique in many ways, but they are not alone in their frustration. There is widespread fear that the Obama administration is changing the role of the federal government in a manner that is far more domineering and usurpative of state authority than is even now the case.

There is the additional fear of many Americans that the government is printing money to cover shortfalls in tax revenues . The spectre of hyperinflation is of concern to many Americans. This is when a currency deteriorates to the point that it loses value by the hour. In places like Zimbabwe, Hungary after World War Two and Germany after World War One, the money needed to buy groceries sometimes weighed more than the groceries. Such economic maladies are not a mysterious plague but a predictable outcome of printing money with no backing.

There is also the fear that the wealthy are being hit with punitive taxes at a time when confidence should be restored in private investment. Even those who are not wealthy are plagued with the nagging suspicion that there is less incentive to become wealthy.

No one has answered the nagging question of why nothing has been done to encourage workers to become stockholders, to invest in companies that are trying to restructure and change with the changing times.

No one has explained why mortgages have not been rewritten to be more transparent in their legal terms and easier to pay over time. Foolishly and dishonestly extended mortgages artificially inflated real estate values and led to much of our current crisis. There seems to be no attempt to find causes of our current difficulties that are not tied to an attempt to point saddle political opponents with the blame for them.

Texas has even more reason to be angry than the rest of us. Border controls are a federal matter. The porous state of our borders is a national scandal. The disparity in income between the US and Mexico is the greatest of any two adjacent countries in the world. The means exist to seal our borders. The will is not there. Indeed, border agents who were dealing with presumably armed drug and fleeing drug smugglers got hard time for shooting at them, spending several years in prison before President Bush commuted their sentences. They bear the brunt of the wink given the federal government to illegal immigration. Indeed, a Democratic administration seems little inclined to stem the tide of immigrants who are likely to tilt Texas into the Democratic column if current trends continue.

Texas has followed fiscally conservative policies and a solid economic base But if our currency takes a thrashing, they will be saddled with the burden as well.

Texans have all of the reasons and more to be angry that the rest of us have about the course being taken by the Obama administration.

Despite this, secession is not the answer. The only precedent for secession is the Civil War, which had a grim and bloody outcome. It is highly unlikely that Texas secession would be met with a cake and a farewell party.

Texas did however win for itself the right to split into five states. It negotiated for itself this right in writing in 1845 when it joined the union. Such an arrangement would benefit conservatives far more than it would liberals. Although the House of Representatives would be affected minimally by such a move, eight new Senators would be sworn in as a result. This would probably result in a political trade off of Washington DC becoming a state. The net change in political balance would still benefit the political right and forces of fiscal conservatism.

Political conservatives living in blue states would be pleased by a split into five states. Even if Texas were to actually secede, this would tilt the political balance of the remaining 49 states dangerously to the left. Many conservatives living in blue states welcome the political strength of parts of the country that are further to the political right.

The feelings of angry Texans are not only a regional phenomenon. There is a list of principled disagreements on foreign and domestic issues that can and should revitalise an opposition political movement. Obama's election victory was not one of a coherent program but of a set of nebulous yet somehow stirring slogans. Government does not run on that. Hard nosed investors and international allies are not reassured by that. Our country needs far more reasoned remedies than fist fulls of freshly printed money being thrown at complex problems.

There are plenty of articulate spokesmen for conservative ideas in and out of the corridors of state and federal government. The substantial political muscle that Texas possesses with its special constitutional status could tip the political balance in our country and revitalise the Republican opposition.

This is not an issue of rich against poor or workers versus bosses. Even a network of generous social welfare programs must be fed by a healthy economy. Americans of all classes are concerned about basic economic vitality. Obama's first one hundred days are drawing to a close. The honeymoon is over and already the dishes are starting to fly. If this thing is gonna work, we need to sit down and talk. Sphere: Related Content

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