by Billy F Trent
It’s been kind of fun, I tell you: a Florida Democratic congressman, one Alcee Hastings, calls Texas a “crazy state.” Texans — e.g., Rick Perry — joyfully, jubilantly acknowledged the craziness that has made our state (yes, I am one of the assorted bedlamites) foremost in the country for economic growth. How come Texas leads in job creation and in general economic wellbeing — the oil price free-fall notwithstanding? Because we’re all nuts down here? It’s a nice kind of nuttiness, if so.
Not that Texas — very much a part of our fallen, post-Edenic world — is without its modern challenges, including deficiencies in the public schools and the persistence of poverty amid plenty: the same challenges, come to think of it, facing Congressman Hastings’ Florida. To say nothing — in variant degree — of progressive paradises such as California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, where enlightened opinion would shut down quickly enough any crazy, Texas-like adventures in the spread of freedom.
The main difference between crazy Texas and the sane, rational world of the East and West coasts and upper Midwest is commitment to freedom. Texas has that commitment in what is, these days, extraordinary measure: high, hot, heavy. The other regions — shall we put it so, for the sake of politeness — could use a bit more of the same.
A commitment to freedom generally strikes the non-committed as, well, kind of odd. It’s dangerous to strike out for unexplored territory. What if the Indians get you? What if you just plain fail? In Texas history it happened a lot. The Comanches got their share of settler scalps. Economic reverses, sometimes intensified by bad weather and boll weevils, claimed their own share of victims. The adventurous kept a comin’, and still do, because in Texas there was — still is — the chance to put brains and dreams to work in remarkable ways.
The sane, rational states aren’t much on adventure. Sane, rational people rarely are. They favor security and protection; the comfortable, snoozy world of Frodo the Hobbit. Do our crazy Texans (who, in Eastern lore, would probably just as soon bag a Hobbit with a 12-gauge as give him a second look) despise warmth and comfort? Not in the least. Texans like to ally warmth and comfort with the adventure necessary much of the time to create and secure them.
Whereas the sane, rational states emphasize policies that protect through heavy government spending — financed by wealth-“sharing” — crazy Texas are likelier to emphasize the freedom to do and to be. To our very own wackos and nut cases we cannot fairly impute callous indifference to human suffering. Texas’ do-good network — highly informal — of charities and churches and hospitals is extensive: the more so, one is entitled to guess, due to the lighter, looser role of government around here, compared to government’s hyper-expensive role in the sane, rational states.
The benefits of freedom were once strongly attested to throughout a nation adventurous enough to assert its freedoms by fighting a world power. That was a couple of hundred years before much of the country settled into the comfortable habit of asking — often enough, demanding — to be taken care of. Ummmmm … another blanket, if you please. Thanks. Feels so good, so warm, so … zzzzz.
The habit is more deeply entrenched in Europe than in America. Government in Europe seems most of the time to resemble a welfare agency staffed by big-hearted nurses to every human affliction. The sane, rational states of America tend to look on in envy. If only they had as much money to pour into good works!
They would, but for the Lone Star loonies who go around advocating and, worst of all, practicing the freedom to take chances, risk their money, risk their livelihoods and friendships, maybe even their lives, to find out…
Find out what? That’s the thing you never know in a place unafraid to rate opportunity and expectation and personal achievement as great human goods. You have to be, it would seem on present evidence, stark raving nuts to live in such a place, that’s why I fit in!