I posted that quote from Shaw in my May 27, 2020 blog-post “It’s Over, We’re Free!“ That was less than a year ago and following no less than two (2) deadly, major resurges of COVID-19 infections and widespread deaths across the U.S. and my bullheaded, reckless home state of Texas. Easter and Memorial Day weekends of defiant, indifferent crowds gathering in large numbers, not following required public safety measures were blamed for those two major spikes.
No less than two months later (post-July 4th holiday) the same results; another third spike for 2020 also due to defiant human behavior. Three (3) more major resurges would follow that—Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas holidays—with even MORE infections and needless deaths. The cause? Duh, impatient, defiant crowds recklessly abandoning required public-health safety measures while falsely believing or being told by politicians, not expert virologists or epidemiologists, that earlier declines in COVID19 infections meant freedom, that is was all over, or at least “under control“ by the White House and Administration. But it wasn’t. Not even close.
Fast forward to March 2, 2021 in Austin, Texas and Governor Greg Abbott’s press announcement:
Does it feel like we are listening to, watching a broken record stuck in a vicious, annoying cycle/recycle? If not, it damn sure should Texas because this is sheer stupidity and a deluded misconception of authoritative medical science and infectious diseases backed with a proven, known track-record just ONE YEAR AGO Gov. Abbott! This 100% relaxing and prematurely implying victory or “under control“ is idiocy and indeed “Neanderthal thinking“ as President Biden appropriately responded.
LEADING THE NATION FROM THE BASEMENT
Why must, why do Texans insist they are the #1 leader in the nation in many/most all social and economic standards and measurements over the last three decades or more? One answer? Because our last three governors and our majority party of Congress have led the nation in MANY categories, from the basement that is, and they never want to discuss that reality publicly! Much less admit it to Texans or Americans. Did you notice in the video-clip above the very proud, verbose arrogance of Gov. Abbott implying that Texas will be one of the first states of the Union to lift/remove all COVID-19 mandates upon businesses and the public?
That is the recurring mentality and poorly advised, poorly educated, medically inept leadership and state Congress regarding infectious diseases—and many other socioeconomic segments—that I am addressing here and deeply disturbed by repeated empty Republican boasting in Texas. For my global and out-of-state readers, that’s not just a 2020–2021 occurrence. The deluded Texas perceptions from one specific demographic here has been perpetual since 1995, at least in areas of government and corporate authorities.
In an April 2012 examination of the Texas Economic Model by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, reported that despite Texas leading the nation in “expanding, growing employment,” comparatively low housing costs, and abundant oil and gas resources leading to very low prices for consumers, the state’s economic model is far from exemplary:
[T]he fact that so many Texans have failed to benefit from them – with poverty, low-wage jobs and lack of health insurance all above the national average – makes Texas a less-than-desirable model to follow.McNichol and Johnson, “The Texas Economic Model: Hard for Other States to Follow and Not All It Seems,” (2012)- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, accessed March 3, 2021.
“Not All It Seems,“ as the report-title states, is spot-on. Although Texas loves to boast that it is The Lone Star State, or “Don’t Mess with Texas,” or “Don’t Tread On Me, Remember the Alamo,” and “Come and Take It“—a very popular Pro-gun slogan—the state actually bottoms out on many public well-being, socioeconomic measurements. Case and point, several metrics for Texas since 2018 to 2020 show my state ranks comparatively in the bottom half of almost every single quality-of-life category for the bulk of its citizens. A closer look and reminder follows Texas.
TEXAS IS SUBPAR AT BEST
Out of all 50 states in the Union, where does (and has) Texas rank? According to USNews Best States in 2019, in the following eight socioeconomic standards the Lone Star State is…
- #37 in Health Care — based on Access, Quality of Care, and the Public’s Health, a subcategory evaluated in six metrics: mortality rate, suicide rate, smoking rate, mental health, infant mortality rate and adult obesity rate.
- #34 in Education — barely 37% of Texans are college grads, a #32 ranking, and a #33 ranking of Pre-K to 12 educations, i.e. enrollment in pre-K, standardized test scores, and the public high school graduation rate.
- #15 in Economic condition — measures the state’s economic stability and potential. Oil and Natural Gas are Texas’ major driving resources.
- #33 in Infrastructure — measures the state’s renewable energy, transportation, and internet access.
- #39 in Success Opportunities — examines if states are granting citizens the tools needed to succeed in three subcategories of housing affordability, economic opportunities upward, and social-occupational, political, and legal equality.
- #12 in Fiscal Stability — measures the state’s short- and long-term fiscal health.
- #33 in Crime & Corrections — a state’s public safety and condition of prison/corrections as well as its justice systems.
- #40 in Natural Environment/Amenities — a state’s air and water quality, rate of pollution, protections and violations, and enforcement of those subcategories.
These eight 2019 metrics ranked Texas overall at #38 of 50 states according to the report. Subpar at best Texas and that’s being generous. To see the ranking methodology used for these metrics click here.
In a 2020 study from a panel of university and professional experts on WalletHub published the Best and Worst States to Raise A Family utilizing 52 key indicators for families. There are 1 or 2 crossovers, but Texas ranks #28 in four metrics valued for a quality family-life. Also and again, in the bottom half of the nation overall. The breakdown:
- 5th in Family Fun — with kids under 18, number of recreational attractions, Rec & Fitness Centers, Parks & Playgrounds, and other factors.
- 37th in Health & Safety — 17 different sub-metrics such as COVID-19 weekly rates, quality of public hospitals, number of Climate disasters in past decades, and Share of Children Aged 6 to 17 Who Go to Safe Schools, and more factors.
- 33rd in Education & Child-care — measures quality of public schools, graduation rates, daycare quality, and child-care costs, and more factors.
- 41st in Affordability/Cost-of-Living — measures cost of housing, median financial health of families, problems paying medical bills, and Median Annual Family Income and Health coverage, and more factors.
- 38th in Socio-economics — measures Separation & Divorce rates, median duration of marriages, wealth gaps, food stamps distributed, and Job Security and Satisfaction, and more factors.
Since 1995 (or longer) none of the above two ranking systems and their metrics have significantly changed for the better. In stark contrast, however, what has changed enormously for Texas is indeed its fiscal stability/growth over the last 35-years due to: 1) homebased, mega corporate revenues/profits, 2) sharp rises in K–12 charter and public school enrollments, and 3) the state’s famed “Rainy Day Fund“ (graph above) with a 2020 fiscal balance of $10.7 billion. The fund has never seen a traumatic downward fiscal turn since the 2000’s. They were short, minor turns. Yet, in the above two statistical rankings and tables for quality-of-life measurements it is irrefutable that Texas has never been better than subpar to inadequate for over 25-years. This is an odd dichotomy, a strange ongoing 10+ year enigma given the state’s outstanding fiscal stability.
LEADING THE WAY IN HIGHEST TEEN BIRTH RATES
In another metric/category regarding families and parenting, the CDC 2019 Teen Birth Rate ranking for females aged 15-19: Texas is #42 joining all 11 Southern states formerly of the Confederacy, and all eleven being among the highest Teen Birth-rates in the entire nation for decades. In 2018 and 2017 Texas ranked 44th both years. Going further back to 2005 Texas was ranked the worst/highest at 50th, dead last. All 11 former Confederate states are and have been the nation’s worst/highest Teen birth-rates going back to 2005.
WHY NOT LEAD THE NATION IN REPEATED COVID-19 SPIKES IN 2021
Now with the total lifting of all COVID-19 safety mandates by Gov. Greg Abbott and his Republican Administration and Congress, Texas is all but guaranteed to soon lead the U.S. once again in another 8th or 9th deadly spike of coronavirus infections and widespread hospitalizations by late March 2021. Mark my words. The stupidity here in GOP leadership and supporting it knows no bounds. Not in infectious diseases, public health and safety, higher education, or sheer psychiatric delusions of fact-based science.
Since Jan. 21, 2020, when the very first case of COVID-19 was reported inside the U.S., to date Texas has never been in the top 50 states with the fewest cases and deaths. Never. Always in the bottom-half or lower. But no worries, it is all over. We are free to return to normal Texas! Gov. Abbott and his cabinet say so…
…well, until that likely spike, resurge in Texas late this month or early April sends these defiant, clueless Texans back into quarantines, lock-downs, and public mandates… for a 7th or 8th time in just 15-months. Yes, Texas just has to be the nation’s leader in many metrics, including ignorance, self-centered defiance, and medically-scientifically uneducated. It seems for the last 25+ years we must be in the nation’s rear-end. Not being first—way up in the smelly hindquarters below—is clearly unacceptable for us Texas folk! 🤦♂️😖
March 5, 2021 Addition — Over the last several months I have very much appreciated various TV news outlets doing segments of ‘Remembering Those Lost to COVID-19’ segments to remind many of us insensitive, divisive, and defiant Americans how to be human, how to empathize with regular Americans dying way too prematurely, and NOT forget those who died needlessly. Here is one such segment below. There are over 520,000 stories just like these five dead people. The story of James Wong, a 45-year old American of Chinese descent and Zurina Rose, a 42-year old American of Filipino descent, resonated with me deeply because of their health-care and mental-health connections. Zurina’s story is particularly crushing. I too began to choak-up like Judy Woodruff does at the end. Please watch all of the 3-minute clip from PBS NewsHour:
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
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