Bill Murchison

Pain, what pain? Doesn't government have the duty to pave over all the rough places in life? You get that impression from editorial pages like The New York Times' and political speeches of the sort at which Sen. Ted Kennedy is so practiced. This easy assumption has never been popular with Texans, which is why Texas liberals think of themselves as the nerds at the senior prom -- circling the dance floor in slack-jawed frustration while the jocks and homecoming queens have all the fun.

Another, much more urgent consequence of mistrusting government: Texas has no state income tax or any early prospect of one. The governmental institutions of Texas are set up to run as cheaply and unobtrusively as possible. A legislature constitutionally obligated to meet just five months out of every 24 isn't likely to get delusions about its duty to save humanity -- at the highest cost possible, natch. How unlike New York. How unlike California. How unlike, when you get down to it, Washington, D.C.

Congratulations of a reserved sort are due Texas' political leadership for a job of sausage making that affords the state a good chance of emerging quickly from economic hard times -- an easily better chance than all those tax-raising states and cities enjoy. This budget isn't a thing of beauty, but it's a joy for now.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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