Texas, the uber-America

There is a famous quote, "As California goes, so goes the nation". An engrossing, witty book by Erica Grieder -- Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas -- argues that it is Texas that epitomizes America.

 She reaches back to the history of the Republic of Texas (a short-lived stretch of time between when Anglo settlers declared Texas independent from Mexico and they successfully annexed themselves to the United States) to explain why Texas settled into the stable equilibrium of a low-tax, low-service government.  As a bonus, this is her go-to-thesis to explain everything from why Texas is little law and a lot of order to why after the BP oil spill, Texans supported the oil companies over the federal government.

Ultimately, she argues, Texas works because it is pro-Texas business (in other words, it is unashamedly protectionist, welcoming of entrepreneurs, pragmatic about which laws it enforces and it does whatever business wants).  If America were smart, she says, it would look to Texas for how to run a successful economy in spite of having awful politicians and terrible leadership. The secret is to make government so small that it is ineffective and ensure what government there is will be in hock to business! She is not being tongue-in-cheek here.  I am paraphrasing perhaps unfairly, but it is a very cogent argument.

This is a book that is definitely worth reading and thinking about.

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