Along with the general incivility of the recent election, there was an increasingly inappropriate and misguided theme of attacking California. Our nation’s largest state was portrayed as a far-left enclave with a faltering economy, whose residents were either homeless or leaving the state in droves.
I first noticed this hostility when Texas A&M played Cal-Berkeley in a bowl game 12 years ago. A&M’s Battalion, the student newspaper, editorialized that this was a great opportunity for good conservatives to defeat the liberal left and all the evils that California symbolized. They predicted a 77-0 slaughter for the school which represented conservative America.
A few years later, Texas Gov. Rick Perry publicized a trip to California where he was planning to lure California businesses that he believed were dying to come to Texas. The San Francisco Chronicle urged him to “Keep spending those advertising dollars in California,” referring to the mass media campaign which accompanied his visit. While a few companies did eventually relocate here, companies have left Texas as well. Whether Perry had anything to do with it is unknown.
Current Gov. Greg Abbott bashed California during the recent election; nevertheless, California is doing well. When Gov. Jerry Brown leaves office there, California will have a $6 billion surplus. Its agriculture, fishing and food industries triple that of Texas, and its University of California system, along with Stanford and Cal Tech, outshine Texas’ higher educational institutions. Its recent GDP growth was double the national average and even per-capita GDP beats Texas approximately $69,000 to $60,000. If that isn’t enough, even the Houston Chronicle last year conceded California is beating Texas in the economic challenge.
Another myth that needs debunking is Texas’ “low” taxes. Examine the numbers at the Tax Foundation. Our property taxes are among the highest in the country and — gasp! — higher than California’s. We can brag that we have no state income tax, but other states with no income tax, notably Washington, Florida, Nevada and Wyoming also tax property at lower rates than we do.
California is not totally liberal either. In this year’s elections for U.S. senator and governor, Republican candidates won more counties than did the Democrats; it’s just that the more populous counties have become Democratic. It wasn’t that many years ago that Orange and San Diego counties kept California Republican, while at that same time Texas was Democratic. Issues and politics change... and they can change back.
I’m proud to have lived all over Texas, and no big city can match the friendliness of El Paso. California has lots of coastline, but our beach towns such as Rockport can’t be matched in terms of cleanliness, low traffic and bargain prices.
I’m happy here, yet feel no need to brag or put down California or any other state. Internecine warfare is foolish and can backfire — as it did when Cal won that 2006 Holiday Bowl over Texas A&M, 45-10.
Both Texas and California should be proud that if they were separate countries, each would rank among the world’s top ten economies. Remember, we are all Americans. Let’s stick together.