Finally, I freed myself from explaining to some of my southern friends who Javier Arenas is and, above all, what the PER* is. Thank God, because those are not pleasant topics. These days, I've traveled to Texas, the state many Confederates approached at the end of the Civil War in search of a new future and that, unlike Catalonia or the Basque Country, actually was an independent nation at the beginning of its history. In fact, after heroically and unsuccessfully resisting at the Alamo the troops of General Santa Anna and crushing them in San Jacinto, the Texan insurgents created an independent nation for a decade but, at the end of the day, joined the Union.
At the Dallas airport, the city where Kennedy was assassinated, the Velies, a charming married couple that I've been friends with for years, has picked me up. As they take me to my accommodation, we fall into conversation about the situation of the state. They confirm that Texas is handling the economic crisis and barely notices it. Not surprising, because it is a robust economy that, in the case of Texas being an independent country, would rank among the top seven in the world.
I ask Dan about the reasons for this success through times of widespread anxiety. He certainly doesn't have to ponder long to respond. The first reason for Texas' prosperity is that it believes in a free market economy. The state tries not to intervene in the economy and, conversely, promotes the entrepreneurial spirit in the belief that it is the only behavior that ultimately will create wealth and employment. The second cause is the aversion of the Texans to trade unions. There’s a widespread belief that unions are machines that defend their own interests against those of the workers. The mere idea of having union representatives on the company's board of directors would make any decent Texan throw up. I'm tempted to ask Dan what he thinks of the 300,000 union delegates we pay in Spain with our taxes, but I prefer to keep quiet, afraid he would drive off the road. Finally, in Texas there is a strong view about taxes not being raised because such measures only suffocate businesses and consumers and, thus, strangle the economy.
Of course, to achieve that goal, they practice an extremely austere policy in public spending. For example, generally there are no official cars and the budget is drafted with strict cleanliness. Needless to say, for anyone who knows a bit of economics, it is more than clear why accounts in Texas balance while in Spain, which has a population slightly higher, accounts are upside down. I ask Dan if President Obama's policy does not affect them. "Obama is a thinly veiled socialist," he replies, "in other words, he seeks to take our money and destroy our freedom, which is typical of socialism. There hasn't been a president more unpopular in decades. Maybe I'm mistaken, but the setback that the Democrats are going to get in November during the legislative elections, is going to be huge." You cannot say that Texans don't know what they say.
*Editor's Note: PER stands for Plan de Empleo Rural, translated as Rural Employment Plan.