Sizing up the Texas economy

How huge is the Texas economy? We checked a couple big ol' claims that came out of the recent round of secession hyperbole.

Secession petitions from all 50 states sprang up on the White House’s "We the People" website following the re-election of President Barack Obama in November 2012.

One asking the federal government to let Texas depart peacefully drew more than 100,000 signatures, though some were from locations outside the state. A counter-petition asked for Austin to secede from Texas and remain part of the U.S.

The size of Texas’ economy was, for some, a sign the state could stand on its own.

The Texas petition by "Micah H" said the state had "the 15th largest economy in the world." We compared gross domestic products and learned Texas would rank 14th or 15th. So that one’s True -- at least on paper. Becoming an independent country, were that even possible, would change so many economic factors that all such speculation is academic.

A New York Times story about the petition quoted pro-secession candidate Larry Kilgore of Arlington as saying Texas’ economy was about 30 percent larger than Australia’s. His statement, though, was based on outdated and mismatched numbers. An up-to-date comparison shows Australia’s GDP is about 12 percent bigger than Texas’, making Kilgore’s statement False.

A few more Texas tidbits:

The Metroplex outranks Greece

In 2010, PolitiFact rated as True a claim that the economy of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex was bigger than Greece’s. And it still is.

Texas doesn’t have right to secede

Gov. Rick Perry gave voice in 2009 to a Texas urban legend -- that the Lone Star retained a right to secede upon joining the U.S. in 1845. That’s not so, although the governor was closer to the mark with a related comment that Texas can split into five states. The 1845 resolution annexing Texas to the U.S. included that provision, which would have given the former Republic of Texas a bigger contingent in the U.S. Congress.

But it’s also False to say Perry’s 2009 remarks advocated secession, PolitiFact Texas found in 2010 and 2011. Perry said there was "absolutely no reason" to leave the U.S., we wrote in another 2010 fact-check. He’s made similar statements since the November 2012 petition to-do.

Texas can’t have its own navy, either

Earlier this year, PolitiFact Texas checked out another claim that went back to Texas’ entrance to the United States. A chain email said Texas reserved the right to have its own navy, which was far enough out to sea that we called it Pants on Fire.

Texas can and does have, however, a naval military force: the 230-member Maritime Regiment, created in 2006 as part of the Texas State Guard. The volunteers in this emergency force are trained in search and rescue, cadaver recovery and other crisis responses. But it’s not a navy, which would comprise full-time professional troops.

Be nice to the bluebonnets

Another cherished Texas myth goes by the wayside: It’s not illegal to pick bluebonnets, which are the state flower. But there are laws on damaging property and right-of-way, impeding traffic and trespassing on private land.

Keep it in mind. Spring is coming!



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