Deep in the heart of Texas with Gail Collins

It’s always frustrating when a promising book turns out to be less than the sum of its parts. As Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda

Collins, in her 2012 book examines the wide-reaching impact of the Lone Star State on American politics, business and society. Thanks to its geographic size, population, wealth and political conservatism, for years Texas has helped shape the rest of the nation. According to Collins, its lax banking regulations led to both the savings and loan crises of the early 90s and the financial services fiasco of the recent Great Recession. The state has produced three American presidents, with all three responsible for America going to war. In education, the state gave birth to the No Child Left Behind Act and its love of Christian fundamentalist-friendly high school text books is helping dictate what students read across America. The state’s business model of low taxes and lax regulation is music to the ears of CEO everywhere.

Some parts of Collins’s book I found engaging and interesting, overall I found her book a tad uneven. While Collins does her share of skewering and exposing, what I admired the most about her book was her ability to make me think about other ways Texas impacts the rest of the United States. Compared to other states its size like New York and California, it severely under funds it’s higher education system. Therefore, when out-of-state college graduates move to Texas to work, it saves Texas from having to pay for their higher education. Because Texas refuses to adequately help subsidize healthcare for its citizens, chances are those citizens, if they move outside Texas, eventually become costly health burdens because their chronic conditions were left untreated. In a similar fashion, the state’s refusal to allow sex education and easy access to birth control has resulted in Texas having an astronomical teen pregnancy rate. Many of those mothers and their children will require expensive social services.  If they elect to move from Texas, someone else will be forced to pick up the tab.

In keeping with the belief there’s two sides to any issue, recently I noticed on Book TV’s website there’s already a new book that praises Texas as model for how things should be done. Erica Grieder’s Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas for obvious reasons looks like it would make an interesting follow-up read to Collins’ book. Needless to say, I can’t wait to read it. 

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4 Comments

Filed under Current Affairs

4 responses to “Deep in the heart of Texas with Gail Collins

  1. This book sounds fascinating. I’ve liked Collin’s in the past and think I’ll give it a try. I’ll come back and let you know what I think.

  2. I’m trying to think back to my review of this book… and I think I ended up not writing a very long one because I felt similarly, interesting in parts but a little uneven. It was hard for me to tell if her general dislike for Texas was coloring some of her conclusions, which is frustrating. But I did admire the same thing you did — the ability to think more about how Texas does impact the rest of us even if the state (and the rest of us) don’t want to admit it.

    • Thanks! Before I sat down to write my review I made a note to myself to be sure to post a link to your brief review – and then promptly forgot! DOH!! Next time I review a book that you also reviewed I will try to remember to post a link and maybe include a quote or two!!

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