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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Don't Mess With Texas
Jonathan Pait
September 22, 2005

You see it proudly displayed on bumpers next to the Texas license plate.  It is the way for citizens of the big state of Texas to show their pride.  Now, the confident statement could be turned into a plea to hurricane Rita – “Don’t mess with Texas.”  Let’s change that to “Please, don’t mess with Texas.”

The first thing that comes to mind is concern for the multitudes of people who could be facing the same struggles the people of Mississippi and Louisiana just experienced.  Should the storm hit Galveston with level 4 intensity, it could send the flood surge over the seventeen foot high flood walls.  Let’s hope that the lessons of Katrina have prepared people so that while property may be lost or damaged, the loss of life will not be as great.

Still, for the whole country our plea should be “Don’t mess with Texas.”  How much more can we take?  $100 billion dollars is already being set as the minimum amount the federal government will send into the Gulf region because of hurricane Katrina.  Should Rita hit the Texas coast causing just a portion of the damage of the earlier storm, how many more dollars will be requested?

That is not to begrudge the help that is going into the area.  The money, if it is well spent, could indeed help bring that area back from the brink.  The concern is just how much more can we give?  Keep in mind that hurricane season doesn’t officially end until October 20.

Besides the massive amount of relief aid that our government will expend, there is the residual effect of actual damage and market fear due to yet another storm hitting our largest oil producing and refining zone.  Before the storm makes landfall we are already seeing the price for oil rise.  Even natural gas is climbing.  My gas provider announced a 42% increase for this coming month.  All this is happening with winter just around the corner.

On the bright side, this is causing us to stop and think through a lot of things.  Even the government is rethinking how it spends our money.  If the federal government is going to release billions of dollars for disaster relief, where is the money going to come from?  While some call for more taxes, others use this as an opportunity to point out the relative unimportance of much of the pork being dolled out by our elected officials.

We have to once again consider our dependence on oil and the fragile state of our refining mechanisms.  One drive through Houston makes you hope the winds don’t turn the miles upon miles of pipe into a jumbled mess.  For years our refining capacity has been held steady due to regulation and lack of investment.  Should that capacity shrink… no amount of oil from the Middle East will help bring prices down.

So, because of our pocket books and more importantly the lives and livelihoods of those in its path, we say to Rita.  “Please, don’t mess with Texas.”

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