The Corner

More Texas

Hey Jonah, speaking of Texas, there a couple of things I couldn’t get into in my column. One is that it wasn’t hit as badly by the housing crisis as other places. Two, it is blessed with a legislature that meets only infrequently, as an e-mailer points out:

Hey Rich-

The comparison between California and Texas is particularly instructive since their unique size, diversity, and resources make governing them akin to governing a country. Texas’ government is structurally unusual among states: its legislature meets biannually [Corrected from semi-annually. Thanks to readers for pointing it out–RL], and it has no ballot initiative process. By contrast, California has a longer-than-average legislative calendar (see here), and its vigorous but expensive ballot initiative process results in even more power for unions. Paul Ryan and Arthur Brooks made an excellent point in their recent WSJ piece: the individual pieces of statism always sound noble and not-very-expensive: what’s a few million more for teacher’s pensions or to “save” some jobs in a flailing but connected industry? But when multiplied and added up, these decisions create a fiscal death by a thousand cuts. California’s legislative structure is uniquely suited to create this trauma, while Texas’ structure virtually forces Burkean restraint. Since there’s nothing for legislators to do in Sacramento but legislate, perhaps California’s final referendum should abolish referenda and move the Capitol to Santa Barbara?

Also, I really didn’t mean to offend Texans or slight the glorious defenders of the Alamo at the end of my column — sometimes you just need a throwaway line. But, believe me, I’ve been hearing about it. Maybe Cliff Lee’s performance last night was my karmic punishment.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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