What would happen if Texas went through with the idea Rick Perry likes to flirt with and actually seceded? NPR explored what that alternative reality would look like in an eight-minute story on All Things Considered Friday.
Austin-based correspondent John Burnett spoke to Tea Party members, academics, and political junkies to paint a picture of what a modern Republic of Texas would look like:
The former state has reinvented itself as a sort of Lone Star Singapore, with low taxes, free trade and minimal regulation. It enters the community of nations as the world’s 15th-largest economy, with vast oil and gas reserves, busy international ports, an independent power grid and a laissez-faire attitude about making money. …
Here’s our scenario: airports without the Transportation Security Administration; gun sales without the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; land development without the Endangered Species Act; new congressional districts without the Voting Rights Act; and a new guest-worker program without Washington gridlock over immigration reform. The new normal is a leaner government that bears little resemblance to the full-service nation it left behind.
Texas, in its second stab at independence, would not provide welfare or food stamps, some imagine. “There’s a safety net that’s always been out there. We don’t have that anymore. You will be a productive member of society and our environment doesn’t allow for people to not be productive,” Texas Tea Party member Katrina Pierson told Burnett.
But the government of a nation is, by necessity, more bloated than that of a state, according to Harvey Kronberg, editor and publisher of Quorum Report. “Consider all the new departments it would need to monitor things like foreign affairs, aviation and nuclear regulation. And then there are all the expenses Washington used to take care of — things like maintaining interstate highways, inspecting meat and checking passports,” Burnett explained.
There would, however, be new economic actors in the state: Maquiladoras would sprout up “on the south side of the Red River and on the Sabine” in this newly independent state, angering the American South, according to Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson.
In this new nation, Kinky Friedman would steer foreign policy as foreign affairs secretary. “I think the first thing we would do is go to the Third World countries and teach the women how to grow big hair and give the men Rick Perry wigs,” Friedman said. “I will keep us out of war with Oklahoma.”
The Texas District and County Attorneys Association came out in support of the idea on Twitter:
— TDCAA (@TDCAA) March 31, 2012
Obstructionist Husband, a resident of New Mexico, wondered on his LiveJournal if an independent Texas would have the agricultural diversity to not import any food. “I don’t think Texas produces everything they might want for a varied diet,” he mused.
At conservative leaning blog the American Culture, Mike D’Virgilio chided NPR for running the piece: “It would be comical if it wasn’t such a revealing picture of the perverse heart and mind of modern liberalism,” he wrote. “In the fevered liberal mind, NPR wasn’t actually liberating Texas, it was casting it into outer darkness, where the light and righteousness of out blessed federal government does not shine.”