The Ides of Texas Are Upon You (Sorry)

Full Disclosure: don’t submit this for serious publication anywhere, even in your local newspaper. These are all back of envelope calculation. The numbers are pretty crude and I haven’t revisited their sources. This is just more a kind of Saturday in Summer WTF meditation. Read at your own risk.

Ok. When I last checked, I figured that “defense spending” accounted for about 5 percent of Texas’ state product (just as a ratio). If we guessed a reasonable fiscal multiplier of 2, we might get this all the way up to 10 percent. That’s a pretty big number, given that the state product of Texas is around 1.7 trillion dollars (around 10 percent of US GDP, roughly, which is huge). Now, Texas’ “exports” are about 17 percent of Texas’ state product, and a third of them go to Mexico. So, we’re talking, what, 5 or 6 percent as a ratio, or more or less what defense spending adds up to. Again, very crudely, figure a similar multiplier. So, at a first pass, defense spending and exports to Mexico might account for 20 percent of income (production) in Texas. Again, that’s a lot.

Now here’s the thing, Texans are reputed to hate government. Hell, “government overreach” is nearly a four-letter word. And, believe me, so is Mexico (six, actually). To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never have so many owed so much to so little–especially to so little little they have so little regard for. An outsider (believe me, you can live in Texas for 30 years and still be an outsider) might be forgiven for thinking the locals are a little confused. And that’s being kind. An outsider from the evil Northeast (waving my hand) may be thinking there’s more than a little hypocrisy in the Lone Star State. We love the sin, but we hate the sinner. Not very Christian, is it?

In any event, there are bigger fish to fry. Texas, you may have noticed, is a red state. As in Trump Red State. I don’t want to make too much of this, but I had the impression that Donald Trump really didn’t understand (among other things) economic theory. Trump was one of the exports good, imports bad guys. A mercantilist, in other words. Now, that’s ok. The left of the Democratic party, which professed to detest Trump, has it’s share of mercantilists too. I never could quite understand why they and The Donald couldn’t get along. Except, apparently, in Texas, where the “natural” Democratic constituency of Hispanics, Latinos, whatever in South Texas, is called the Red Wave by some. It is, justifiably, considered a big problem. What’s wrong with these people. Don’t they know that “people of color” have this mystical abstract almost Louis Hartzian love of Liberalism? Ha. Tell them. They–imagine–may well keep Texas from turning Blue. Traitors. Why aren’t Texas Hispanics naturally Democrats? Funny you should ask.

When I worked for Barack Obama, I made a lot of phone calls. Because I will talk to anyone in almost any language I have a chance of speaking, I made a lot of calls to people of the Spanish-speak. Urging them to vote for my man Barack. Sure enough, some were sympathetic and pledged their vote. But, would you believe, some of these people had their own ideas about politics, and their vote wasn’t necessarily going to El Negrito. Oh, my. You never heard that phrase? That was Texas-Latino talk for Obama. I bet you can figure out what it meant. If not, call me. I’ll straighten you out.

That was my first inkling that those people down there along the border weren’t necessarily Democrats, People of Color they might be. Oh my. Republican Mexicans in the Valley. Nobody told the DNC about these people. Especially the people in Texas–with names like Castro or Cisneros–whom you would’ve expected to raise the alarm. No. They had careers to make, didn’t they?

Meanwhile, I watched, awestruck, as another Negrita went to Central America the other day to tell our brothers in Honduras, Guatemala, Salvador, who knows, “Don’t Come.” Except this wasn’t any negrita. This was the Vice-President of the United States. Was iot the right message? Of course it was. Was she the right messenger? Dude, unless your head is stuck in Wilmington or Delco, God forbid no. Imagine the GOP spots in 2022 with Mamala telling the bros “Go home.” That’s just brilliant isn’t it? And even if the people in the Valley are secretly in agreement, well, they can cluck and say “Those white Democrats aren’t our people.” Right. As if some Republican is? Never mind. We’re talking politics, not logic. And on this one, Biden screwed up big time. Really big time. And if you’re one of the people who has the ear of an ear of an ear, you might want to say something. Like, our expat in Texas says you screwed up. For what it’s worth.

Let’s try this again. Henry B Gonzalez, whom I liked and admired, and with whom I corresponded extensively, voted AGAINST NAFTA. Why, in a state, with such large connections to trade with Mexico, would he do such a thing? Economic theory, something else Democrats don’t much like, suggests an answer. People vote in their own interest. And if they’re going to lose by trade and immigration, then they will vote against it. Labor in America is the “scarce factor” and trade punishes the scarce factor. No kidding. Henry B’s people were going to compete directly with the goods (and people) that NAFTA brought into Texas. Of course he opposed it. Henry B may have been crazy, but he was no fool. Texas may be resource abundant, but in economic terms, it is labor scarce. Just because labor appears to be powerless changes nothing. This is Latin America, in case you didn’t know. A white oligarchy, not a popular democracy.

So now we wonder why “those people” in the Valley don’t vote on the basis of some mystical connection to the great community of People of Color? You mean money is thicker than blood? Imagine that, if you can. It takes far less than a PhD. Sometimes I think a PhD keeps otherwise intelligent people from getting it. Like many of my colleagues.

Meanwhile, I keep wondering why we can’t just get on with it and start by renaming Ft Hood “Ft Jesse Benavides”? And telling people that Joe Biden sends his greetings. And that there is plenty more where that came from if people are willing to listen. And they will listen if they have something other than abstract nonsense to sell them. It may work in Austin. It won’t work in Mission, TX.

Wake up. You’re going to lose the House in 2022 and the Presidency in 2024. You’ve been warned. Texas is sending you a message: beware the Ides of Texas.

Published by RJS El Tejano

I sarcastically call myself El Tejano because I'm from Philadelphia and live in South Texas. Not a great fit, but sometimes, economists notwithstanding, you don't get to choose. My passions are jazz, Mexican history and economics. Go figure

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