“Texas is a mirror in which Americans see themselves reflected, not life-sized but…bigger than life.”
This was written by New Yorker author John Bainbridge in “The Super-Americans”, a book published in 1961 about the Lone Star state after Bainbridge spent about 9 months here. Recently, Texas has been in the news for other, also super-sized reasons: 2021 saw the state’s power grid fail in one of the most catastrophic and spectacular ways possible, causing 4.5 million households to go without power, half of all Texans losing access to clean drinking water, and dozens of Texans dying from freezing temperatures. And, in the last few months, the Texas Legislature has taken to passing laws instituting more stringent voting restrictions, constitutional (permitless) carry of firearms, and banning women from obtaining an abortion after they are more than six weeks pregnant. This all comes in addition to Texas’ governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the government take deliberate action to not act—whether it be in terms of providing unemployment assistance, blocking cities from passing eviction moratoriums, and taking legal action against lower government entities passing ordinances instituting face mask mandates and/or vaccine requirements.
All of these controversies have garnered national attention, and have dimmed the view of Texas as an economically successful, small government, pro-business state. Certainly, the Texas government has gone out of its way to take action to influence Texans’ lives in ways that it finds important. Texans overall, however, tend to be in favor of a more hands-off government according to opinion polls—and you, in this class, are no exception, as I demonstrated in the supplementary lecture video:
Whether you agree with the way Texas has handled the power grid crisis, the new laws, or its response to the COVID-19 pandemic or not is not the topic of this discussion post.
nstead, please read Chapter 1 Download Chapter 1, Chapter 2 Download Chapter 2, and Chapter 4 Download Chapter 4from Erica Grieder’s book, “Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn From the Strange Genius of Texas.” After reading the chapters from this book, please respond to the following questions:
- What does a “small government” state entail? What would you expect to see if you lived in an environment characterized by a philosophy of “small government”?
- What are the pros and cons of living in a state that has a government that takes a hands-off approach to governing? What are the pros and cons of a government that is more hands-on?
- In your opinion, has Texas done an effective job maintaining its reputation—and desire—as a state that has a government that stays out of people’s lives? Why, or why not? Name some examples.
Nuts and Bolts of the Assignment
- Respond specifically to all questions asked, using what you have read and what we have discussed in our group meetings as context for your responses. A paragraph or two is a good length for your responses to each question, and your answers must be supported by your reasons for that answer;
- Respond to at least one posted answer of a classmate for this discussion board. Your response should reflect not only agreement or disagreement with what your classmate has said, but the specific reasons for your response, in a paragraph or two;
- Post the responses in (1) and (2) above by the deadline, and use complete sentences with correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation (use a narrative style, as opposed to responding in bullet points). If you disagree with a classmate’s position, which is of course allowed, make sure that you write your response in an appropriate, respectful manner. Personal attacks of any kind are not acceptable in academic discourse.