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Thread: Texas

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Texas

    This thread is for discussing Texas. Plain and simple.

    I see and hear Texas being the butt of jokes, looked at as too conservative, focused entirely on wealth and the trappings of big money, maybe even considered "big country arrogant". To many it appears as a land of modern skyscrapers (zoning?), cowboy hats and boots, big oil, and endless scenes of cattle ranches.

    This Bear has never been to the state of Texas. I do find it very interesting. And, even though it is continually bashed, Texas is perhaps the best success story in the states. Spurred (get it? ) on by oil, Texas has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Did the recession even hit Houston? It is easy to predict that Texas' major cities and major metros will make significant jumps when census figures are released later this year. It's not just folks from south of the border who are going to the Lone Star State. Almost everyday here in the Great Lakes area we see and read of people and corporations heading for Dallas or Houston or Austin or San Antonio.

    The business and service climate in Texas is obviously a generator. Just to throw a few examples into the discussion......The Texas Transportation Institute, The Texas Medical Center, giant distribution and intermodal complexes, numerous Fortune 500 corporations, extensive alternative energy research.....and on and on. What are the other generators? What is making this oft-dissed state so dang nab successful?

    Y'all help me out here. Looking forward to comments, rants, and raves.

    Texas. Big. Successful. Why? What say you?

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I suppose "economic success" depends upon how you define it ... 1 Texan in 6 lives in poverty and the state ranks #8 in the poverty ranks ... between Kentucky and Alabama. 1 child in every 4 or 5 lives in poverty and the state ranks #9 in that stat right between Alabama and South Carolina.

    It ranks 31st in median household income.

    Poverty

    Child Poverty

    Median Household Income

  3. #3
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I suppose "economic success" depends upon how you define it ... 1 Texan in 6 lives in poverty and the state ranks #8 in the poverty ranks ... between Kentucky and Alabama. 1 child in every 4 or 5 lives in poverty and the state ranks #9 in that stat right between Alabama and South Carolina.

    It ranks 31st in median household income.

    Poverty

    Child Poverty

    Median Household Income
    Your own home state of New York doesn't rank too far better than Texas as far as poverty and child poverty percentages. And if you consider the pay-to-cost-of-living ratio, I can pretty much assure you Texas schools New York in that aspect. I would be interested to see a statistical breakdown of Texas broken up by the populations within the 4 big economic powerhouse metro areas (DFW, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin) and those in the more rural and less successful regions that share many of the same problems as other areas in the South and/or the Great Plains states (east Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, west Texas oil country, Panhandle).

    Anywho, I'm not too big on pro-Texas sentimentality, but I'm definitely anti- Anti-Texas. It's not for everybody, but nowhere is for everybody. People should go where they would like, for their own reasons. Some people go places based on culture, built environment, prestige, etc, others for economic reasons (I'm in the latter category, and I'd argue a majority of Texans are in my same boat). As former Texas Ranger and rancher Augustus McCrae tells Lorena Wood, a former prostitute trying to escape her past by travelling to her dream destination, San Francisco, in Lonesome Dove:
    "Lorie darlin', life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it's likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself."


    Some good things about Texas: taxes are low, there is economic opportunity aplenty in the major metro areas, and, when you actually find a job, you can usually afford to live somewhat comfortably because of the low cost of living, even if the cultural amenities and urban fabric fall behind places like NYC, San Francisco, and Chicago (and even then, aside from the urban fabric, the cultural amenities aren't all that bad, either). So long as all these thing remain true, which in Texas is largely left up to the market and may change eventually, people and businesses will continue to relocate here, continuing our good economic times.

    Oh, and P.S. to Bear: oil might have been the initial catalyst that propelled other businesses to Texas, much like water transport via the Erie Canal fed New York's rise, if/when the oil leaves the state or becomes economically irrelevant, Texas will survive just fine. Houston would be hurt worst in such a scenario, but even it would still be okay. Austin and San Antonio would barely be effected, as their economic bases are in different areas (high tech/government and tourism/military, respectively). DFW has an incredibly diverse economy (and has the largest concentration of corporate headquarters in the US) and would probably survive almost any specific market crash with aplomb.
    Last edited by TexanOkie; 16 May 2010 at 9:12 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Well said, TexanOkie. The one thing that you didn't address was the huge Texas immigrant population. Texas is seen as a land of opportunity by more than just those folks immediately south of the border. The influx of poor immigrants from all over the world seeking to improve their lives, in addition to resident rural and urban impoverished, has the effect of distorting the children in poverty numbers.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  5. #5
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I've never actually been to Texas so I probably have no idea what I'm talking about...

    The thing that grabs my attention about the state of Texas more than any other aspect is the geography and topography. Sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's just so big, but I really like the idea that you can have bayous, lakes, and forests in the east nearing the Louisiana border, great farming lands in the north, and then what seems like utter desolation in the west with land that is good for nothing but ranching goats and sheep. Anytime I see pictures of something in West Texas, it reminds me of the scenery described by Cormac McCarthy in many of his novels.

    I'm also really intrigued by places like Loving County, Texas with a population in 2009 of 45 residents and a 2008 per capita income of more than $140,000. I guess a few years ago. It's only about 675 square miles but it's the least densely populated county outside of Alaska. I guess it was also the site of a failed Libertarian takeover a few years ago. Interestingly, Loving County (whose population was only 67 in 2000 and estimated at 45 in 2009) have 79 votes cast in the 2008 presidential election.

    Among those who live in Texas, is there any territoriality or animosity among those from the big metropolises in the east towards those in West Texas?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I just don't see distinct territorial animosity down here. The rural cultures are very different between the different physical areas of the state but there is an overriding identification as Texans. As far as the major cities go, there isn't any reason for animosity towards West Texas. BTW, while the major cities may be to the east of West Texas, none of them would refer to themselves as being eastern cities in Texas.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Your own home state of New York doesn't rank too far better than Texas as far as poverty and child poverty percentages. And if you consider the pay-to-cost-of-living ratio, I can pretty much assure you Texas schools New York in that aspect. I would be interested to see a statistical breakdown of Texas broken up by the populations within the 4 big economic powerhouse metro areas (DFW, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin) and those in the more rural and less successful regions that share many of the same problems as other areas in the South and/or the Great Plains states (east Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, west Texas oil country, Panhandle).

    Anywho, I'm not too big on pro-Texas sentimentality, but I'm definitely anti- Anti-Texas. It's not for everybody, but nowhere is for everybody. People should go where they would like, for their own reasons. Some people go places based on culture, built environment, prestige, etc, others for economic reasons (I'm in the latter category, and I'd argue a majority of Texans are in my same boat). As former Texas Ranger and rancher Augustus McCrae tells Lorena Wood, a former prostitute trying to escape her past by travelling to her dream destination, San Francisco, in Lonesome Dove:


    Some good things about Texas: taxes are low, there is economic opportunity aplenty in the major metro areas, and, when you actually find a job, you can usually afford to live somewhat comfortably because of the low cost of living, even if the cultural amenities and urban fabric fall behind places like NYC, San Francisco, and Chicago (and even then, aside from the urban fabric, the cultural amenities aren't all that bad, either). So long as all these thing remain true, which in Texas is largely left up to the market and may change eventually, people and businesses will continue to relocate here, continuing our good economic times.

    Oh, and P.S. to Bear: oil might have been the initial catalyst that propelled other businesses to Texas, much like water transport via the Erie Canal fed New York's rise, if/when the oil leaves the state or becomes economically irrelevant, Texas will survive just fine. Houston would be hurt worst in such a scenario, but even it would still be okay. Austin and San Antonio would barely be effected, as their economic bases are in different areas (high tech/government and tourism/military, respectively). DFW has an incredibly diverse economy (and has the largest concentration of corporate headquarters in the US) and would probably survive almost any specific market crash with aplomb.
    The difference is that people aren't going around pointing out that New York is such an "economic success" as they are with Texas. Yeah, middle and upper class people with jobs in the big metros are doing well but that's true in many parts of the country outside of Texas. Texas really isn't any better at providing opportunity for the working poor to climb up the economic ladder than most other states, either, and it sure has no answer for rural poverty.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I grew up in Pennsylvania, raised by parents who were from Oklahoma and Texas. My aunt and uncle and one cousin still live there in the Dallas area. Growing up, I did not hear a lot of positive things about Texas. My parents left and never looked back at what they perceived as small-mindedness, conservative politics, and the crippling impact on personal freedoms and opportunity that comes with a tight-knit rural community (the "I didn't see you in church today" sort of pressure).

    Bear in mind that my parents grew up in the 1930s and 40s, so this is a different reality from what you find today. Still, that was the impression I had of Texas for most of my youth. Some of these sentiments were borne out by my experiences with cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. Some of them were just outwardly racist while others just very very conservative. And of course some that were neither of these things. Those that are still around are avid Tea Party members. Contrast that with my father's career that put him in direct daily contact with folks from all over the world (and all the differing worldviews that come with that), including...Jews!...which evidently made my grandmother uncomfortable and for which my father had limited patience (for his mom, not his Jewish colleagues...).

    All that being said, I eventually moved to Austin where I lived for three years (and where I met my wife - who is not a Texan, but is Jewish...) and now I live next door in New Mexico. We visit Texas at least once a year.

    Sure, I get tired of everything being "Texas-themed" Even the tailgates on pickups are sometimes stamped with the outline of the state (or get your Texas shaped corn chips, or really anything else you can think of). You don't see New Jersey promoting themselves by plastering their state outline everywhere. But then, its not as cool a shape, either. But Texas does have a way of promoting itself in a cock-sure way that says "hey, I'm awesome - you know, it I know it. But I still need to say it out loud." Bu that doesn't mean the individual residents feel the same way.

    Over time, I have come to love Texas in the same way I love America. I love it for the beautiful landscape and wonderful people. But also for the contradictions. The lingering bigotry, the hardscrabble rural living, the entirely Mexican or even historically Black towns scattered about the landscape. I love the formality and hospitality (drifting from the south into Texas) and the complex, largely unspoken but deep and abiding relationship some people have with the land. The enormity of the state alone is enticing. A place like Beaumont feels like the south. But then last year I visited the Big Bend area in west Texas and HOLY CRAP that was one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever visited!

    And so when I say I "love" that negative stuff, its not that I want people to continue to harbor prejudices, but simply that there is something about Texas (and I feel the same way about the country as a whole) that really embraces the "terrible beauty" of humanity. The good, the bad and the ugly, if you will. My wish is for that kind of ugliness to fade away entirely, but I also recognize that there is something about Texas that embraces all of this in a compelling way. Its got a good narrative going.

    For me, Texas is a lot like New Jersey. Not in the sense that they look like each other or the people are similar. But in the way that those nearby pick on them as the epitome of negative things they wish and hope their state will not become. Its hard to grow up in PA, for example, and not have a sizable list of anti-Jersey jokes at the ready. But, really, I have nothing against the state and, to quote my favorite bigoted phrase: Some of my best friends are from New Jersey!

    Same goes for Texas. Even though I think Rick Perry is a boob.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  9. #9
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    The difference is that people aren't going around pointing out that New York is such an "economic success" as they are with Texas. Yeah, middle and upper class people with jobs in the big metros are doing well but that's true in many parts of the country outside of Texas. Texas really isn't any better at providing opportunity for the working poor to climb up the economic ladder than most other states, either, and it sure has no answer for rural poverty.
    The bottom line is that Texas wasn't hit as hard as many other parts of the country in this recession so some people will point at it as an economic success. After 25 years down here, I can assure you that it has suffered more in other ones. The hyperbole that you associate with Texas is really no more reflective of reality than the constant barrage of New York City, Big Apple, I New York, etc. that the rest of the country has to endure.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  10. #10
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    The difference is that people aren't going around pointing out that New York is such an "economic success" as they are with Texas. Yeah, middle and upper class people with jobs in the big metros are doing well but that's true in many parts of the country outside of Texas. Texas really isn't any better at providing opportunity for the working poor to climb up the economic ladder than most other states, either, and it sure has no answer for rural poverty.
    I agree. My point was that Texas isn't really that much different than the rest of the country in such matters, and actually fares a little better than many of our regional neighbors. And, as you had pointed out, if you are going to define economic success as the ability to alleviate poverty and provide economic equality, then no. But, if you're talking about economic success in the sense that NYC or California is considered "economic successes", where they pull a lot of weight and influence in terms of world and national economics, GDP, entrepreneurial innovation, etc., then Texas is crazy successful. That combined with what ofos was talking about the present recession not hitting Texas near as hard as others in recent memory and you have the general premise of this thread.

    I'm not asking you to like Texas, nor to move here - just to not dislike it. It's not for everybody, but like I said earlier, nowhere is. While I'm sure I can think of some states I may not care to live in, I don't dislike them, and I understand that (for lack of a better phrase) it takes all kinds, especially in a country as large and (arguably) successful as ours.
    Last edited by TexanOkie; 17 May 2010 at 6:30 PM.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Nice post, Wahday.
    I was born and raised in Texas and have never lived anywhere else. I've gotten to travel some in my career, to places that have a higher tolerance for regulation than most communities here. And often the attractiveness of those environments reflects that.
    I wish Texas small towns had more of the community spirit and cohesiveness that you see in stereotypical small Minnesota or New England towns. It seems like the public space in most small towns in Texas (by small I mean 6,000 population or less) are run down and abandoned by the class of people who built them - the early 1900s version of the creative class.
    I wish the mid-sized cities like where I live (50k to 100k) would step up to taking more "risks" instead of looking to each other to take the first leap. By that I mean having the courage to do just some good, basic, textbook planning and visioning that isn't about attracting more call centers, Joe's Crab Shacks and mini power centers.
    It just seems like a lot of things that are supposed to be related to planning here are jokes: regional land use and transportation planning, environmental stuff, appreciation of good urban form. Maybe people in other states feel this way too and I just don't know about it.

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