Today’s NY Times has a book review of Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas, by Erica Greider. Since Ed and I are Texans, we think the state has a lot to offer. The NY Times review argues that this book has a lot to offer, too, including analysis of an evolving political economy. Such as this:
I tend to look askance at an analysis that attributes a company’s or a state’s success to events two centuries ago, but Ms. Grieder’s history lessons are persuasive. Texas’s laissez-faire mix of weak government, low taxes and scant regulations is deeply rooted in its 1876 Constitution, which was an attempt to vehemently dismantle an oppressive post-Civil War government of radical reconstructionists. Texas business interests flourished after turn-of-the-century legislators passed an early antitrust law, which kept much of its oil and natural resources squarely under local control.
Systems and laws aside, Ms. Grieder emphasizes, the crucial component in the Texas boom has been its people, who tend — forget stereotypes — to be tolerant, optimistic and results-oriented.
As Ed and I argue in Madmen and on this site, to understand a society we need to understand both the people who live in it — their ideas, shared beliefs, opinions — and the institutions in which they operate.
All the better to see a book try to build our understanding of a people and their institutions.