May 2009 Issue

On the Cover

Texas Monthly Brainstorm

Build more schools, clone Willie Nelson, get everyone high-speed Internet, raise chickens, hold nonpartisan primaries, curb sprawl, and 76 other serious, inspiring, far-fetched, and provocative ideas about how to make Texas an even better place from some of the brightest bulbs we know.



Become the Knowledge Pioneer

Texans inherit a pioneering spirit nurtured by a sense that we should always be boldest and best. We can reaffirm this legacy with a vision to make lives better as the home for the top universities, health care, and research in the world. Texas is uniquely positioned in the


Improve the Colonias

We must improve our colonias, the residential areas along the border that may lack necessities such as potable water and sewer systems, electricity, paved roads, and safe housing. Currently the state gives grant monies to counties to improve the colonias. But if improvements are not done to the specifications


Protect Our Watersheds

Water will be the defining issue for Texas in the future. Virtually all our watersheds lie on privately owned lands. So we must now be bold and entrepreneurial—we should raise as much public and private capital as we can to purchase the development rights of private landowners. This will


Use Public Schools to Deliver State Services

State government should better utilize the infrastructure of public schools, especially elementary schools, to deliver state services to adults. Elementary schools are located in every community in the state, and the capital infrastructure (rooms, computers, phone lines) is way underutilized on weeknights and weekends. State services would be held


Build a National Energy Lab

Texas should create a national laboratory specializing in crosscutting technologies in oil and gas finding and drilling, renewable energy, batteries, other electricity storage technologies, smart-grid technology, and carbon-sequestration technology. Houston is the “energy capital,” but it is no longer the center of energy innovation. For Texas to continue to


Slash the Prison Population

Texas should dramatically slash its prison population and eliminate a majority of felony crimes. We have criminalized too many different activities: Texas has 2,324 separate felonies on the books, including 11 involving oysters. From 1978 to 2008, Texas’s population increased 80 percent, while the prison population increased 595 percent.


See the Future of Education

We need a twenty-first-century education system: national presenters who teach via video and occasional visits; local discussion facilitators; evaluators who create tests and diagnose local learning challenges; designers who craft curricula and adapt learning modules to individual students; and school leaders who coordinate the school day. Computers, classrooms, and


Support Independent Businesses

All Texans, rural and urban, should support independent businesses—little shops, eccentric family-run restaurants, small-scale hardware stores—and boycott big-box stores and chains for a week, a month, or a year. As much as possible. This would help the quickly disappearing independent network of shops that is the fabric of our


Prosecute Old Crimes

DNA testing has exonerated several citizens who were wrongfully convicted decades ago, and in many cases it has also identified the actual perpetrators. Yet the law prevents us from prosecuting the criminals because of the statute of limitations. We need to amend the statutes to allow us to prosecute


Curb Sprawl

A positive by-product of the recession could be the curtailment of sprawl. We must make sure to reinforce this trend by focusing on our downtowns. We should commit capital to mass transit between our city centers rather than to highways that encourage sprawl. We should incentivize “energy-saving rehabilitations” of


Learn Spanish and English

Dual-language education must be instituted in Texas from kindergarten through college. Texas is de facto a bilingual and bicultural state; it already owes a significant portion of its economic base to trade with Latin America. Texans must become national brokers and facilitators of north-south enterprise and exchange—in business, technology,


Get Back to Basics

The modern age we live in has us at the mercy of materialism. We’re living a rat race, where human connections are lost and families pay the price. Spending quality time with your loved ones without distractions can improve your state of mind. Breathing, meditation, and positive thinking help


Eliminate Teacher Tenure

I believe the most important change we could make would be to eliminate tenure. Judge educators based on their students’ ability to become employed, successful businesspersons and make significant contributions to the communities where they live and work. Pay-for-performance is the correct method to retain the best and brightest

Make Education Free for Everyone

It’s time to do for Texas what Charlie Wilson and George W. Bush said they wanted to do for Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s time for nation-building. It’s time to fix infrastructure and invest in human capital. It’s time to train for high-wage, long-term jobs, time to recognize that as


Keep Taxes Low

It’s time to create an incentive for being successful in this country, reward people who have good ideas and re-instill imagination among our citizens. My recommendations: (1) Immediately lower the federal personal tax rate to two brackets, 12 percent and 27.5 percent, (2) reduce the federal corporate tax rate


Encourage Innovation

We must develop international trade corridors with the countries of Central and South America to ensure that Texas, both through sharp elbows and smarts, is the hub of global trade. In order to spark innovation and reward pioneers, I would also establish the Texas Eureka Award—a grant of $1


Put Windmills on Utility Poles

While Texas is number one in U.S. wind production, wind power supplies only about one percent of the nation’s electricity. Partly this is because “big wind” farms with huge turbines need billions for new transmission lines. Enter the concept of “small wind”—tiny vertical-axis wind turbines placed on utility poles


Move the State Capital, Continually

Capitals are anachronistic—they hark back to a horse-and-buggy era, when politicians took days to reach the statehouse and cast their votes. We can wean ourselves from centralized government by rotating our capital—one month it can be in Houston, another in El Paso, and another (why not?) in Amarillo. While


Make Texans Hike the South Rim

You can’t really appreciate the great state of Texas until you’ve gazed at the mountain majesties of Big Bend. So how about making a South Rim hike a high school diploma prerequisite, or maybe an “I’m a real Texan” license plate designation? The dramatic scenery from this fourteen-mile loop


Start a State Venture Capital Fund

The diversification of Texas’s economy since the bloodbath of the eighties is the reason we have been relatively staunch amid the current recessionary environment. Big business has been fleeing “business hostile” states to move to “business friendly” Texas. Don’t change our business-friendly climate—keep ’em coming! One source of diversification


Train the Next Nobel Laureates

Scientists at the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, at the University of Texas at Dallas, have developed an artificial muscle that is lighter than air, stronger than stainless steel, and more elastic than rubber. I think it’s time to channel more resources to Texas’ scientific-research institutes like the Nano-Tech


Hold Nonpartisan Primaries

One of the most serious problems facing Texas, and the nation, is the increasing partisan polarization of the electorate and the resulting partisan polarization of our officeholders. Yet even as the public expresses its displeasure with this ever-worsening situation, the more pervasive it becomes. I suggest that we could


Let the Border Solve Its Own Problems

The Texas congressional delegation should seek an international treaty between Mexico and the United States that enables border states to enter into their own cross-border collaborative institutional arrangements to solve local policy issues. When something or someone crosses the border, it should not unavoidably become a federal matter, where


Never Be Satisfied

We need to teach children to work hard and have a positive attitude, to say, “My situation may not be good, but I can change that.” At our school I point them to the examples of people like George Washington Carver. He didn’t say, “I was a slave and


Honor Our Heritage

By preserving our culture and heritage, we create distinct destinations. This encourages tourism, which promotes education about our history and prompts economic growth and job creation. Texans are exposed early in life to the state’s historic places. But visiting the Alamo, the San Jacinto Monument, and the Texas Governor’s


Build With Adobe

The hundreds of thousands of Texans living in a desert or semitropical climate should stop building and buying wood- or steel-frame houses that will require expensive amendments. A better option is to dig the earth, toss it into a mixer with water and straw, mold it into forty-pound bricks,


Plunder California’s Universities

Spend $1 billion, rape and pillage California’s best universities, and set Texas up for one hundred years with the best academics around. Great universities drive economic success. Unfortunately we’re behind. Texas’s universities have 52 members in the National Academy of Sciences; California’s have 625. Of course, California also has


Make Texas the Global Green Leader

For instructions, read Green Star StateWebber is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at UT-Austin.The Next Big Idea »All 54 ideas from the magazine »And 28 more you’ll find only on the web »


Put a Solar Array on the Roof of Every Public High School

Paul Hobby What: A 25-kilowatt solar array on every Texas high school designed and installed by students (properly supervised, of course). Why: (1) to inspire interest in science, technology, and the math of sustainability, (2) to demonstrate that we know how to use


Identify New Leadership

Texas needs bold, inventive, clever, honest leadership. Our visionaries are often too insulated, unknown, or unconnected to the hubs of power, and the few who make it through the gauntlet are often transformed by a process that strips them of the luster that attracted us to them in the


Build a Green City

Build a town in Texas from the ground up without the use of fossil fuels. Start with an undeveloped section of land and use all the wind, water, and solar technology available to create the first truly green city. Design it so as not to require machinery that uses


Improve Mexico’s Schools

The Texas-Mexico border divides the countries with the most- and least-educated populations among OECD members. As long as this education disparity exists, there is zero probability that immigration or security policies can resolve problems of declining incomes and social integration in Texas. A major collaboration between Texas higher education


Cover More Children

Texas should expand access to Medicaid and SCHIP for low-income children. Better health insurance coverage will improve the long-term productivity of our population, relieve pressure on our struggling health care system, and lower private health insurance premiums. We must also demand accountability from health care providers on the value


Promote Household Conservation

In conjunction with utility companies, the state should establish water and power usage goals for every household in Texas. The goals could be based on number of people per square foot. Since most cities are faced with water and power shortages, for the benefit of the environment, families could


Improve Our Schools

Our goal should be the best K–12 education in the nation. That is a tall order, given our urban-rural expanse, our demographic mix, and the grinding poverty of so many school districts. For starters, Texas would fund a network of five hundred first-class, high-expectations magnet schools in every region.


Hire an Ex-Felon

How about not judging a man based on a mistake in his past? As an employer, when you see that a man has a felony on his record, don’t automatically disqualify him—bring him in for an interview and hear him out on how he’s changed. Chances are, that man


High-Speed Internet for Everyone

In 1935 FDR established the Rural Electrification Administration to provide electricity to rural America. With help from Lyndon B. Johnson, the REA went on to become one of the Great Depression’s best investments. Electricity, coupled with former governor Dolph Briscoe’s visionary system of farm-to-market roads, revolutionized rural Texas. Recently


Establish a Personal Income Tax

Texas prides itself on being a low-tax, low-spend state. Consequently we rank forty-eighth in the nation in per-pupil spending for public education and almost last in mental health. But whether we choose to spend a little or a lot, we have an “upside-down” revenue system with overreliance on indirect


Encourage Troublemaking

Let’s support artists who are society’s critics, even when—especially when—we don’t agree with them. Let’s enter a conversation with potentially dangerous art, especially when its themes are social justice. The National Endowment for the Arts has all sorts of safeguards to protect the public from artists who make people


Texas Will Be Better When . . .

Texas will be better when . . . we value the growing diversity of the state’s population as a strategic asset in the global and innovation-driven economy of the twenty-first century . . . we share a vision of Texas’s leadership role in western hemispheric economic integration . .


Embody Diversity

Texas should put more emphasis on highlighting its diversity. This state is a true melting pot of people from all ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Texas is considered by many as a place of refuge for individuals and businesses looking for a fresh start; we must ensure that our


Teach Kids About Sex

Texas—my Texas—boasts the unfortunate reputation as the number one state in the union when it comes to spending for abstinence-only programs. These programs do not work, as even Governor Sarah Palin’s daughter recently pronounced from Alaska, in the matter of her baby born out of wedlock. Texas now has


Develop Alternative Fuels

Texas, the energy capital of the world as well as the headquarters of three major airlines, should lead in the development of sustainable, second-generation alternative fuels. I don’t mean the kind that use food sources. Earlier this year Continental worked with Boeing, GE Aviation/CFM International, and Honeywell’s UOP to


Nip the Dropout Rate in the Bud

Make a statewide commitment to enlist community organizations, businesses, and religious congregations in providing volunteer classroom mentors for every child who fails the TAKS test in the third grade, with the goal of getting them back on track within a year. Studies show that third grade is critical; half


Make the Legislature Meet More Often

By 2040, Texas’s population will have doubled. Thirty-one years may seem like a long time, but that’s only fifteen legislative sessions, and since we only vote about four months each session, that gives us only five years of actual legislative time to deal with this incredible growth. In my


Tear Down Racial Barriers

My husband and I, raised thick in African American culture with our extended families in Wichita Falls and Houston’s Fifth Ward, are always amazed by how integrated our sons are. But if Texas is to be strong, it must continue to see racial barriers eliminated—this includes everything from an


Build a Transit System of Personal Pods

We need a personal rapid transit system offering private, on-demand, point-to-point travel. Imagine airport-style mini-trams on an elevated track or pods on overhead cables. No interference with normal transit. No routing system or schedule to learn. You walk to a stop, swipe your credit card, and request a two-,


Open Your Wallet

If just 270,000 of us Texans, out of 25 million, donated $75 to alleviate the current economic situation, we would raise $20,250,000 for the state of Texas. We, as individuals, would be participating directly in our own recovery. The donations would not be counted as a deduction for income


“Whiskey River” Forever!

Is it possible for us to somehow make Willie Nelson immortal?Hawke, a native of Austin, is a stage and film actor.The Next Big Idea »All 54 ideas from the magazine » And 28 more you’ll find only on the web »


Let El Paso Go

As an adopted El Pasoan I suffer from a nagging headache: Austin’s indifference. Solution: El Paso secedes from Texas and takes up with New Mexico. Instantly it becomes that state’s largest city, perhaps even the capital. The result: Kids won’t grow up with an inferiority complex and will learn


Create University-High School Partnerships

Our state’s demographic tsunami is waist deep and rising daily. If we don’t bring more historically underserved students into higher education, we will face a lower standard of living as we fall behind in economic competitiveness. Higher education needs to institutionalize the pathways to a college degree in our


Legalize Drugs

Change is needed in our drug laws. Prohibition of alcohol preceded the Great Depression and fed a criminal world with the proceeds of illegal alcohol and a culture of murder, intimidation, and violence. Drug prohibition and the war on drugs has preceded this great depression and brought violence and


Make a Difference

Making Texas a better place starts with each individual being a catalyst for change. We need to ask ourselves, “A hundred years from now, will it have made a difference that I lived? Did I wake up every day and give my best? Did I keep my heart of

The Dark Knight

Inside the fantastic rise and catastrophic fall of Sir Allen Stanford—that high-flying egomaniac with the offshore bank, gold helicopter, Caribbean island, and knack for disposing of other people’s money.

Holy Smoke

For photographer Wyatt McSpadden, the barbecue joints of Texas are soot-stained temples of meat and their pitmasters solemn keepers of an old-time religion.


Letter From Lubbock

High Plains Snifter

After 118 years, Lubbock finally appears ready to allow liquor stores inside the city limits—unless a shutter salesman and a handful of Baptists can turn back the clock.


Author Interview

SQUINT: My Journey With Leprosy

An interview with José P. Ramirez Jr.After being diagnosed in 1968 with Hansen’s disease—more commonly known as leprosy—at the age of twenty, Ramirez was taken from his hometown of Laredo to a leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, then the only such facility in North America. In SQUINT: MY JOURNEY WITH LEPROSY,

Book Review


One year before moving into a small cabin near Walden Pond, 26-year-old Henry David Thoreau accidentally started a fire in Concord Woods that destroyed nearly three hundred acres. In his debut novel, Woodsburner, Austinite John Pipkin identifies that 1844 conflagration as a likely catalyst for Thoreau’s retreat from

Book Review

Nobody Move

Having won the National Book Award for 2007’s fever-dreamed Tree of Smoke, former Texas State professor Denis Johnson does a 180 with Nobody Move, a slim but engaging caper novel. Where his previous effort was literarily complex and fraught with geopolitics, the current offering is straight-up crime fiction.

Artist Interview

Ryan Bingham

At first, it’s difficult to take the 28-year-old Bingham’s tales of traveling a long, hard road seriously. Yet the bull-rider-turned-country-rocker endured a tough West Texas upbringing and then spent many lean years on the rodeo circuit. His rough-hewn 2007 album, Mescalito, brought him much public acclaim, and he’s just released

Music Review

Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away . . .

He’s not exactly upbeat, but Slaid Cleaves is a natural talent who records all too infrequently. Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away . . . (Music Road) is his first collection of new material since his acclaimed 2004 release, Wishbones, which itself took four years to come

Music Review

Little White Lies

In the realm of harmony-rich pop, no one has ever come close to riding the Beatles’ wave of success. For a moment, though, Fastball looked as if it might. In a matter of months, the band moved from Austin dives to the Tonight Show; its breakout 1998 hit “The

Street Smarts

Tenth Street, McAllen

1. Barn WhiteIt’s white and it looks like a barn, so points for being clever. This gift store really scores, though, with the selection of glittery Christopher Radko seasonal ornaments, sigh-inducing Niven Morgan scented candles and soaps, mix-and-match Zutano baby clothes, and country-chic horn-handled Vagabond steak knives. And that’s just

Juan Muñoz, Sheriff’s Deputy

Muñoz is a native of El Paso who has been with the sheriff’s department for eight years.In the sheriff’s department you start out working in the jail, and then you take a test to come out on patrol. I’ve been a patrol officer since 2004. Back in January of last

The Horse's Mouth

Selling Vodka

Tito Beveridge on making vodka.

How to Make Peach Preserves

Before tossing a jar of name-brand preserves into your shopping cart, read its label. Made from fruit concentrate? High-fructose corn syrup a main ingredient? Canned in Alaska? “These days, people don’t generally make their own preserves,” says Lynette Gold, the co-owner of Stonewall-based Gold Orchards, which was established in 1940.

Tony Garza

“As Texas moves toward majority Hispanic status, the Republicans are going to have to do less shouting, less shorthand, and less sloganeering and court the Latino community in a way that’s relevant to Latino individuals—whether on education, taxes, or job creation.”

Music Review

Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

Early on, when he was still calling himself Smog, indie rocker Bill Callahan buried his baritone voice beneath chugging, repetitive beats. Since he began recording under his own name, his rock drive has dissipated somewhat, but the thing that has continually made Callahan’s recordings so fascinating—a complete abhorrence of


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In Treatment

Diversionary programs such as drug courts, which provide treatment-based alternatives for non-violent criminals to prisons, remain critically underfunded.


Rosemary Chicken

1 airline chicken breast 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/2 ounce oil blend 4 ounces roasted vegetables 2 ounces fingerling potato 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 pinch pepper 3 ounces chicken stock 2 lemon wedges 1 ounce butter 1/2 teaspoon truffle blend 1 pinch parsley, julienneSeason

Salmon With Roasted Squash and Sweet Onions Recipe

Salmon With Roasted Squash and Sweet Onions

1/2 ounce oil blend 6 ounces salmon filets, skin on 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/2 ounce oil blend 3 ounces caramelized onion 1 teaspoon garlic, minced 1 ounce spinach 1/2 ounce oil blend 3 ounces seasonal squash 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 pinch pepper 1 pinch parsley, julienneHeat oil


Sautéed Salmon in Macadamia Crust and Coconut Curry Sauce

1 small onion, diced 1 small stalk celery, diced 1 tablespoon butter 1 cup white wine 1 fourteen-ounce can coconut milk, unsweetened 2 ounces cream 1 teaspoon green curry paste zest from 2 limes 2 six-ounce salmon filets salt and pepper to taste 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, crushedSauté vegetables in


Crab Cakes With  Red Pepper Ginger Sauce

Crab Cakes1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons onion, diced 1/4 clove garlic 1 cup serrano pepper, diced 1 cup red pepper, diced 4 tablespoons flour 1/3 cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon grain mustard 1 tablespoon dry mustard 2 tablespoons chives, chopped 1 egg yolk 12 ounces crab meat 1 tablespoon lemon

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The Color of Sustainability

Green has always been associated with money (or that queasy feeling you get on a turbulent airplane ride). But only recently has it become known as a social movement unto itself. There has been such a strong push to “go green” that companies are doing everything they can to go

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Adopt a School

As a fifth-generation Texan, I know Texas is a great state! We would become greater if every business with one hundred employees or more adopted an underachieving public school. The businesses could (a) encourage and affirm the value of teachers, (b) meet the school’s material needs when possible, (c)

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Take Care of Our Animals

Let’s put the “wildlife” back in Texas Parks and Wildlife. Birds, mammals, and reptiles get harmed by collisions with boats, entanglement and ingestion of plastics (especially fishing tackle), pollution of our waters, dredging and alteration of habitats by development. Aiding these animals is left to volunteer organizations, which must

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Put Great Schools Where They’re Needed

Now that President Obama has made education a top national priority, a long-term investment by the Texas Legislature is needed: Establish new top-quality universities with professional schools where demographic growth decrees. Instead of skimping on K—16 education and lagging behind states with less resources and dimmer futures, Texas must

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Use Pneumatic Tubes for Urban Transport

Our thinking about urban transport is stuck in the early twentieth century (buses, trams, or light-rail). How about something new? I like the idea of cars and passengers propelled by pressure and vacuum in a pneumatic tube. The propelling “engines” (pumps) and “fuel” (electricity) would not be attached to

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Learn How to Drink Seawater

Texas has a water problem. Texas has a Gulf Coast. The state should develop inducements for desalinization plants.Kempner is a businessman and civic leader in Galveston.The Next Big Idea »All 54 ideas from the magazine » And 28 more you’ll find only on the web »

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Get Smart About Prosecutions

Get over criminalizing conduct among consenting adults. Stop wasting money on morality prosecutions for drug use, sex work, and polygamy and start taxing and regulating the conduct instead. Stop capital prosecutions, which are far more expensive than life without parole. Demilitarize the border, de-incarcerate nonviolent criminals, and reallocate criminal

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Let Kids Manage Their Own School Funding

Texas is the greatest state and could distance itself forever from the rest of them by doing the following: Place Texas public schools under a czar who would be hired with the express purpose of putting the following plan into place: Czar hires superintendent, superintendent hires principal, principal hires

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Close the Door and Teach!

I would love to go off on the testing system we have set up, but in all honesty, I think Texas’s greatest academic problems stem from the people we have leading our classrooms. As teachers, we should be driven by our passion for students and not bullied into teaching

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Build Global Partnerships

Texas’s future rests on sustainable development enriched by global information sharing. Because our eco-zones actually represent repeated human-environment relationships that exist throughout the world, a pattern book of related experience can be drawn. This captured wisdom, these “protoMetrics,” provides an applied framework, connecting, for example, our coastal problems to

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Rethink the Drug Laws

The U.S. government is militarizing our side of the Rio Grande because the Mexican cartels are warring for the right to sell dope on this side. The drug war is like the blind men and the elephant. Nobody understands that there are no sides. It’s one big elephant, and

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Invest in Brainpower

As other states freeze faculty salaries and even cut college enrollments, we might find the best buyer’s market for brainpower in more than a decade. So let’s capitalize on the strength of our fiscal situation. Texas has taken some positive steps to encourage the commercialization of new ideas through

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Stop Incarcerating Mentally Ill Youth

The Texas Youth Commission has become the statewide dumping ground for mentally ill youth. The state needs to adequately fund community-based mental-health services up front and avoid sending these youth to a less appropriate and more expensive long-term lockdown environment. The diversion of that population would allow the TYC

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Put Justice in the Hands of Communities

The crime rate of the future is in the hands of our children, and they are in our hands now. The most powerful way to affect crime is to strengthen the community. That can best be done through the emerging concept of restorative justice, which reflects the ancient understanding

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Give Everyone Health Insurance

Adopt universal health coverage for all Texans. Here’s how: Expand enrollment in existing programs, including Medicaid, SCHIP, the state’s high-risk pool, the state employees’ health plan, and private health insurance, and develop new programs such as TexHealth’s 3-share products. Require community rating for private health insurance plans. Mandate participation

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Smarten Up!

You want a big idea, Texas? Stop being so damn ignorant. Invest seriously in education: early childhood, community colleges, junior colleges, vocational institutes, universities. Our politicians are actually debating whether to make kindergarten mandatory. Kindergarten? Hell, we should start there and also allow any Texan to get two years

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Free Rides for Our Best Students

The University of California-Irvine’s brand-new law school is offering the best and the brightest a three-year free ride, a project underwritten by donations from law firms. What if the University of Texas at San Antonio did the same to promote energy sustainability by partnering with engineering and architecture firms

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Make UT-Dallas a Tier-One University

We should take advantage of the economic plights of California, Michigan, and the East Coast to recruit their best companies to relocate to Texas. We should also lure away from their universities the best and brightest to come make the University of Texas at Dallas a tier-one university and

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Abolish the TAKS Test

Save trees. Axe TAKS. Ban the drumroll moment. It’s simple: Implement an online basic skills test. Instead of stopping everything for testing, let students log on individually in a campus testing lab. Instead of an “all hands on deck” approach against cheating, make it the testing lab supervisor’s job.

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Establish a State Income Tax

We need a state personal income tax to meet the challenges ahead. The Texas constitution guarantees that income tax revenue can be spent only on cutting property taxes and funding education. It also guarantees voter control over income tax adoption and rate increases. Uncle Sam would pick up some

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Ensure More College Degrees for Our Kids

We should upgrade the current state standards and curriculum with a road map that will prepare all our children for success in higher education. In an era when a college degree is increasingly valuable (it correlates to $1 million more in lifetime career earnings), only 30 percent of our

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Make the Lone Star State Self-Supporting

Make Texas wholly self-sustaining with enough food, power, jobs, and global exports to support every Texan. Food: Use technology and Texas talent to produce enough food so that every Texan can buy and eat locally. Power: Put our land, sun, and wind to work to power every community. Jobs/Education:

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Foster Humility

The central principle of depth psychology: What you see is a compensation for what you don’t see. Loving this state, I remain perplexed as to why people think we are so complete. This, surely, is a compensation for insecurity from the reality that the world is far bigger, more

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Raise Chickens

The economic catastrophe is a great excuse for Texans to dive into backyard gardening. Producing and preparing more of your own food is a hedge against shortages, but there’s also philosophical and spiritual liberation to be found in the new agrarianism. We’re all going to have to live poorer,

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Mate, Create, and Innovate

Creative mating generates a bounty of benefits. Reproduction lies at one end of the mating continuum, shuffling the genes of two to produce an entirely novel one containing unique generative powers. But even brief encounters can produce flashes of insight that cascade to great benefit. One occurs when a

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Decriminalize Pot

Decriminalize possession and use of marijuana. Texans will then be able to regulate, tax, and control its distribution and sourcing. The result: Eliminate 50 percent from the bottom line of the murderous drug cartels, undermining their ability to destabilize Texas’s biggest trading partner and terrorize the citizens of the U.S./Mexico

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Know Your Gift

We must stand quietly, look as far off and as deep inside as the moment allows, listen for the hum of the earth until we see and hear between the ever-presence of Paradox. Be thankful for Blue Bell, bluebonnets, and Bob Buford. We all have a gift. Know yours,

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Foster Cutting-Edge Research

Sustainable prosperity gravitates to areas capturing “the next big thing.” Nanotechnology facilitates convergence of electronics, avionics, medicine/biosciences, energy, communications, and materials science. Texas must compete universally in these disciplines while cultivating the requisite skilled workforce, creative capacity, and infrastructure. To do this we must support: (1) superior educational outcomes

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Rethink Teacher Training

Imagine a Texas where the words “I am a public schoolteacher” immediately enlist an inner “wow” reaction, where “educator” becomes the most honored and highly sought-out professional title. We can do it. Let’s abolish our 160 Educator Preparation Programs and replace them with 10 prestigious programs across the state;


Grilled “Mongolian Style” Lamb Chops

Recipe courtesy of Five Sixty Restaurant by Wolfgang PuckCilantro-Mint Vinaigrette1 egg yolk 2 limes, juiced 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 medium garlic clove 1/4 cup rice vinegar 1/2 teaspoon Chinese chile sauce (Sambal recommended) 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped 6 sprigs of mint 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/2


Roar of the Crowd

Fashion Faux Pas

Eva Longoria? Jerry Hall? Seriously? As a Texas native, I was sad not to see Barbara Jordan and Stevie Ray Vaughan on your list of the thirty most stylish Texans in place of these two [“Styles and Styles of Texas,” March 2009].Tom DoodyRockville, MarylandYou missed a big one: Alvin

Editor's Letter

Get Smart

This month we’re pleased to bring you the Texas Monthly Brainstorm—a massive collection of ideas large and small, serious and quirky from a diverse group of big-thinking Texans on the topic of how we might improve our state. The notion to bring together all this brainpower came to us



Liz Lomax, Michael Webber, and The Texanist—a.k.a. assistant editor David Courtney.

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