Advertisement

Another Modest Proposal

They all hate us anyhow, so let’s drop the Big One now.

--Randy Newman

*

The Texans started it. They came out here to what they call, in their superior Texas way, the Left Coast and tried to woo away Taco Bell. This could not be tolerated. Move the brain trust of Taco Bell to Texas and surely the fragile California economy would crumble. So our great and bold leaders decided to make an example of Texas, to fight back as only they know how. They took out a newspaper ad.

Advertisement

Texas, declared the ad published a few weeks ago, “is telling tall tales about California.” Business executives would need “big boots to wade through all the promises.” The California advertisement went on to mention Texas hurricanes, Texas humidity, Texas mosquitoes. In response, Texas Gov. Ann Richards wrote a letter to Pete Wilson, telling him to grow up, pipe down or look out. At this report, the Californians remain in their bunker, contemplating their counteroffensive to this Texas counteroffensive.

And here, with apologies to Jonathan Swift, I’d like to make a modest proposal. I’d suggest we do more than ratchet up the rhetoric with Texas. We’ve let enough out-of-state buzzards pick on the California carcass, wallowed too long in self-pity. It’s time for something extreme, something like a good little war.

*

There is nothing wrong with California that could not be fixed by going to war with Texas. Peace has wrecked the California economy. Thousands of aerospace engineers have been shuffled off to arc-welding class. They need to be put back to work making weapons of mass destruction. It’s their God-given talent. It’s what California does best.

Advertisement

This would only begin the recovery process. Restart the defense industry, and engineers again would flock to California. There would be riveting jobs for new generations of Rosies. Paychecks would flow. Houses would be in demand. Suburbia would resume its long march into the California desert. Where date palms now wave in hot winds, strip malls would flourish. It would be heaven, full employment and a nail salon on every corner.

The potential spoils of this war are enormous. Subdue Texas, and the great pox of illegal immigration would be wiped away. No longer would we need to rely on a working underclass of Mexican volunteers. Texas prisoners could be brought west by the trainload to clean our cars, clip our lawns, pick our fruit, wash our dishes. Just like the good old days of the Okies! Yes, there would be language problems, but in time most Texans can be trained to speak a passably understandable English. In any case, California’s immigrant bashers would be pleased, if only because Texans do not look like they come from . . . somewhere else.

Also, Texas contains 266,697 square miles of nothingness, wide open country California could fill in a hurry. Reduced to essentials, there is but one public policy issue in our state--where to put things. California is so pretty the whole place ought to be a park. This makes it tough deciding where to install society’s more unpleasant necessities. Like prisons, of which we never can build enough. And trash. And nuclear waste. And trailer parks. Win the war, and the answer in every case would be simple: Stick it in Texas.

*

Advertisement

California politicians surely must sense the opportunity. They have spent the past decade straining to appear tough. Tough on criminals, tough on poor people, tough on any individual or cause stupid enough not to contribute freely, and preferably in cash, to their reelection campaigns. In fact, any hack pol would tell you, it’s getting tough anymore to find novel ways to get tough. All the easy targets have been taken. They need new red meat. They need Texans.

The common people of California, though, would receive the war’s biggest boost. Their morale has been shaken. They have turned mean. Everybody blames everybody else for everything. This war could be a great unifier. No more North vs. South. No more CEO vs. full-time temp. No more surf Nazi vs. Boogie boarder. We’d engage as one against a common enemy.

Of course, we might get whipped. Californians are famous for making weapons. Texans actually know how to shoot the damned things. Still, in war, it’s possible to win by losing. After surrender, the soldiers move on, the lawyers take the field and negotiations begin. We’ve got Shapiro. We’ll do fine.

Win or lose, it will be bloody. California vets will straggle home with stories of horror to tell: They kept screamin’ ‘Remember the Alamo!’ and ‘How ‘bout them Cowboys!’ It was pure hell. Maybe then Californians will comprehend, at last, the folly of their bellyaching. Maybe they will look back and realize how good they had it back in ’94, before the big Texas war. And so yes, all things considered, on to Texas. It’s a wonderful idea, so wonderful it scares me.

Advertisement


Advertisement