Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Do they really hate Houston that much in West Texas?

So, Rick Perry (Sorry, Daily Show clip would not embed correctly) thinks that Washington began to "go off the rails" about a century ago. He might be correct:
•1910--A group of Houston businessmen headed by the Houston Chamber of Commerce proposes to Congress--and Congress accepts--a novel plan to split ship channel development costs between Houston and the federal government.

Of course, the federal's government's role in the development of Houston's economy goes back more than a century and continues to this day, but Rick Perry is from West Texas and might not be aware of this.

Here in Louisiana, when I watched six candidates for the U.S. Senate take part in an election debate, I thought that they sounded like six ordinary, middle class guys. It was only when I thought about what they actually said that I realized that five of the candidates did not have fathers or grandfathers who first went to college or first bought a house with the help of the G.I. Bill -- none of their families needed any help from the federal government to achieve the American dream. Boy, I must have been listening to five blue-blooded patricians discuss politics and policy and I didn't even realize it.

Yes, I listened to Perry's interview and I know he was discussing the income tax. First off, I think that's crazy. Secondly, I was making a joke to help illustrate the fact that the "federal government bad/market good" bumper sticker that dominates American political debate is based on willful historical ignorance. This will all be discussed in greater detail in my soon to be published book: Hedgehog Nation: High Concept Politics and the Destruction of the American Middle Class.

Having grown up in Houston, I can say that it isn't like the rest of Texas. It is entirely possible for the rest of the state to be bashing it for any number of reasons - kinda like the rest of Louisiana tends to do with New Orleans, but the Texas-to-Houston relations getting this sour are much more recent.
Actually, my point was a little too oblique. I don't think Perry hates Houston; I was using the fact that Houston wouldn't be the major port that it is and also got a huge economic boost from NASA to make a point about Texas as the center of red state anti-Washington ideology.

But, now that you mention it, it wouldn't surprise to me that Houston was changing to the point where Houstonians and other Texans no longer identified with each other.
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