The Ten Worst Things Texas Has Given to the Modern World
|If a horse can't eat it, Richie Allen doesn't want to play on it.|
Not the actual plaza itself, which remains a perfectly adequate example of landscaping for three highway ramps going under a railroad bridge. But we're speaking more of, you know, what happened there in 1963.
It was bad enough -- there's no way 58,000 Americans would have died in Vietnam under JFK's watch -- but the assassination triggered a decade of political violence and divisions that still affect us today.
"We're heading into nut country today," Kennedy said to his wife as they headed for Dallas. And indeed they were.
5. The Oil Depletion Allowance
Ah, the days when Texas was the center of the oil industry. All of a sudden unimaginable riches flowed into the hands of reactionary racists. These oilmen would have been content keeping the cash, but for one thing: the oil depletion allowance.
A somewhat obscure tax policy, put in place before the really vast Texas oilfields were discovered, it allowed the oilmen a gargantuan tax break. And they were determined to keep it. So they poured unprecedented amounts of cash into buying politicians who wouldn't touch it.
They bought politicos of all stripes, but they tended to especially help those who shared their neanderthal views on race and class and helping the less well-off. It was as if Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck had today's equivalent of billions to hand out to like-minded candidates.
Give the Astrodome people credit: They at least tried to put in real grass in the facility. But it required too many roof panels designed to let in the sun, roof panels which made it impossible for outfielders to track a fly ball through the air.
So Astroturf was invented, and for decades it was a scourge of sports. Hideous-looking plastic rugs gave a completely different feel to watching a baseball or football game, and it wasn't a good difference. Playing on it was bad enough -- especially, say, in Pittsburgh in 10-degree weather, where the "field" was a fraction of an inch of padding over concrete -- but watching it was also a pain.
They've developed fake turf that's been tweaked enough to look at least semi-natural on TV, so Astroturf isn't as bad as it once was. And the Dome's other offspring -- cookie-cutter baseball/football stadiums -- have all but faded from the scene too.
But it was a bad 30 or 40 years.