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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 927 -- Texas Versus Other Top 20 States.

Texas Adds Jobs, Nobody Else Does-

The past few years have not been so good to the economy of the United States of America. Looking at the top twenty states in population, Texas is the only state to have more jobs today than it had five years ago:


Meanwhile, Texas is cleaning up the air faster than nearly any other state and its educational outcomes are outpacing the nation.

The Obama administration has Texas in its cross-hairs. We can't let them undermine the Texas success story.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Versus Michigan.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 29 March 2011 05:27 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 926 -- Detroit Versus Texas Suburbs.

Texas > Michigan-

The motor city is in a funk, despite the Chrysler television ads depicting a classic, gritty resilience in Detroit.

Detroit lost a quarter of its population over the past decade:

Detroit's population plunged 25% in the past decade to 713,777, the lowest count since 1910, four years before Henry Ford offered $5 a day to autoworkers, sparking a boom that quadrupled the Motor City's size in the first half of the 20th century.

The Motor City's 237,493-resident decline helped make Michigan the only state to experience a net population loss since 2000.

According to 2010 Census figures released Tuesday, the city lost, on average, one resident every 22 minutes between 2000 and 2010.


Fueled by the implosion of the domestic auto industry, the Motor City's 237,493-resident decline helped make Michigan the only state to experience a net population loss since 2000.

Overall, the state's population fell by about 54,000, a 0.6% decline at a time when the nation's population grew about 9.7%. Michigan's population in the decade peaked in 2006 and has been declining since, according to Census figures.

Here's what that population decline looks like, as people have moved out of union-and-liberal-dominated Detroit for greener pastures:


People in Detroit packed up and moved to places like Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas.

Contrast that with Williamson County, a suburban county bordering Travis County (Austin) in Texas:


While Detroit lost roughly 175 thousand people in the past decade, Williamson County, Texas grew 64.3%, adding roughly a quarter million people over the same time.

Williamson County is not unusual in Texas, either. Montgomery County (The Woodlands, North of Houston) grew 52.4%, adding more than a 150 thousand people. Denton County, just North of Fort Worth, added more than 200 thousand people, growing at a rate of 52.1%. Tarrant County (Fort Worth) itself grew by 23.8%, adding more than 300,000 people.

There's a reason Texas is gaining new Congressional seats and Michigan is losing them. There's a reason Texas is adding more jobs than any other state, especially Michigan. There's a reason Texas, not Michigan or California, is by far the top exporting state in America.

If you're actually sitting there wondering what the reason(s) might be, go peruse the WILLisms.com archives for a little while and report back.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Education-- Wisconsin Versus Texas.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 23 March 2011 10:14 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 925 -- Education.

With No Collective Bargaining, Texas Outperforms Wisconsin, Nation-

In recent weeks, the domestic political debate has turned to the relative performance of states, economically, educationally, and otherwise. If you've read WILLisms.com over the past few years, you know that conservative Republican Texas pretty well dominates in most economic categories, especially compared to the most liberal states such as Rhode Island and California.

Texas' dominance has sparked a hunkering down, if you will, from liberal commentators and activists. They are fighting to defend their failed left-wing policies, and Texas-- as the embodiment of all (justified) right-wing braggadocio-- is in their cross-hairs. For example, with Wisconsin stealing the headlines over the past month, you've seen a spirited defense of public sector unions and an attack on right to work policies, from the left.

Many on the left have resorted to essentially conceding that, yes, Texas is creating more jobs or whatever, but that doesn't translate to long-term success, because Texas is still filled with poor, uneducated people who are going nowhere in life because the mean Republicans are keeping them down.

Blogger Iowa Hawk really just laid the wood to Paul Krugman and all the other nattering nanny state naysayers on this one:

...white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade. Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohort in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8.

Perhaps the most striking thing in these numbers is the within-state gap between white and minority students. Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin. In other words, students are better off in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools - especially minority students.

Conclusion: instead of chanting slogans in Madison, maybe it's time for Wisconsin teachers to take refresher lessons from their non-union counterparts in the Lone Star State.

Some numbers and graphics to ruminate on:

2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

Fourth grade math scores, sorted by state:


Fourth grade math scores, sorted by race:



2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

Eighth grade math scores, sorted by state:


Eighth grade math scores, sorted by race:



2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

Fourth grade reading scores, sorted by state:


Fourth grade reading scores, sorted by race:



2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

Eighth grade reading scores, sorted by state:


Eighth grade reading scores, sorted by race:



2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

Fourth grade science scores, sorted by state:


Fourth grade science scores, sorted by race:



2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

Eighth grade science scores, sorted by state:


Eighth grade science scores, sorted by race:



The RAND Corporation studied this phenomenon, as well, and confirmed that Texas students outperform their national counterparts.

And while we're on the topic of education, don't miss the two latest television ads from a project I've been working on with Tyson Culver of New Media Wins and the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility crew, Protect The Classroom:

Administrator Decisions-

Science Lab Disaster-

There is ample funding going into our schools. America as a whole spends far more per primary school student than all but three other countries and more on secondary school students than all but two countries in the world. The United States spends far more per student than many of our emerging competitors in the global economy. Far more. It's not even close.

It's not that we need more funding. We need to be a lot smarter and more efficient about our funding. Indeed, it's doable; it's been done in at least one Texas school district:

Hurst-Euless-Bedford began preparing for the budget crisis in 2006....

The district padded its fund balance using energy-saving lights in buildings and private water wells to maintain its sports fields. It also began charging teachers $40 a year to cover the cost of running classroom refrigerators and staggered school start times to use fewer buses.


"We knew there would at some point be a reckoning," Buinger said. "The state was digging a deep hole."

Faith Waligora, president of the H-E-B Council of PTAs, said she and other parents were relieved that the district avoided layoffs.

"They have monitored money very closely and carefully," Waligora said. "The hope is most parents won't even notice the cuts."

It's not a pipe dream to trim budgets and still produce excellent results. And Texas has a lot of room to trim.

Cut the fat.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Is The Center Of The Universe.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 21 March 2011 09:54 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 924 -- There Is Still A Land Of Opportunity In America, And It's Called Texas.

Texas Still Number One For Net Migration, Net Job Gains, Exporting, Etcetera-

Texas will have a smaller state budget in the 2012-2013 biennium than it did in the 2010-2011 biennium. Because of this, the Associated Press posted a headline declaring that the Texas economic miracle is beginning to tarnish.

Let's set a couple of things straight.

The Texas economy is not independent from the nation's or the global economy. Yes, the Texas economy has slowed relative to the boom of about 2004-2008. We've known that for almost two years. There was nary a state in America that was entirely unfazed by what some believe to be the worst economic situation since the Great Depression (which may be an overblown statement, but that's another post entirely).

Yes, Texas has a "shortfall," but in 75 days or so, maybe a few more if there's a special session, there will be a balanced budget and that'll be that. People will yell and gnash teeth about "the children" and cuts and all of that for a little while. There will be grandstanding and heartfelt pleas about "the poor" and more about "the children."

And life will go on. I've written about this more extensively already-- we will be fine. The "shortfall" is immensely overblown in the short-term sense, and probably underblown in the longer-term when you look at the burgeoning costs associated with the state share of federal entitlement programs like Medicaid, not to mention state employee/retiree pension and health care costs.

At any rate, Texas' state government will spend a little less over the next two years-- still more than a few years ago. And the very Earth itself will not open up and swallow entire cities.

But, yeah, the economy is not as robust as it was a few years ago. Relatively speaking, however, Texas remains on top.

Indeed, with SXSW happening in Austin, Texas right now, it sometimes seems like Texas is the center of the universe. And maybe it is:


This map is a domestic migration map of the United States. Over at Forbes, it's more interactive. You can click on each county and see people moving in and people moving out. There's no place in America where people move exclusively in or out, but the black lines indicate that in Austin, Texas (and in most Texas cities), there are vastly more people moving in than out.

They're moving here for some reason, and I doubt it's just the bragging on WILLisms.com about Texas drawing them here.

Check out the contrast of Austin to Los Angeles County in California:


A beautiful city. "You're going to Hollywood." The City of Angels. Beaches.

And look at all of that red, indicating people moving out, especially to places like Texas and the Southeast.

Look, every state is having economic problems, even the better-performing states.

But this recent surge of liberal commentators, liberal politicians, liberal bloggers, liberal establishment journalists, and the like, all making the case that California and Texas are basically in the same boat, or that the Texas economic model is a myth or overblown, are kidding themselves and very likely intentionally deceiving their audiences.

Texas was recently named the top exporting state in the United States for the ninth straight year. Shouldn't that have been California, with its proximity to Asia, Silicon Valley, and natural deep water ports?

Texas still added more jobs in the past year than any other state, by far. It was one of the very last states into the recession, and it's one of the fastest and earliest out.

Texas remains the top dog on the block. It's just that the entire block is a bit run down these days. That's not new news.

So when someone says that Texas isn't really a good economic model, remind them that if not for Texas in the past decade, the United States wouldn't have created any net new jobs at all. Remind them that, relatively-speaking, there is still a land of opportunity in America, and it's called Texas.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Administrative Bloat.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 17 March 2011 08:41 AM · Comments (0)

Your SXSW Trailer Food Guide, From A Local Austinite.

Austin's South by Southwest, coinciding each year with the University of Texas' Spring Break, runs from March 11 to March 20 this year, and the official venues are scattered over a fairly robust amount of real estate.

There are plenty of great primers on South-by-Southwest out there, many of which are written by people who live in other states but have had great experiences in Austin in mid-March. There are survival guides for entrepreneurs, vegetarians and vegans, hip-hop fans, nerds, first-timers, attendee archetypes, and more.


This particular guide is all about street food, mobile food vendors, food carts, taco trucks, food trailers, trailer eateries, or whatever else you want to call them.

So let's get right into it, shall we?


Turf N Surf Po' Boy

My favorite overall spot is actually located at 2nd Street and Congress, very, very close to the Austin Convention Center. It's called Turf N Surf Po' Boy. I usually get the Kiss You Mama po' boy (bacon-and-jalapeño-wrapped shrimp) minus the slaw. I hear the slaw is great if you are into that sort of thing-- I am just not a big slaw guy. These guys have plenty of options (snapper, oysters, catfish, beef, etc.) blackened, fried, grilled, and you can get it on a taco as well if you'd prefer. They even have large breakfast tacos. Are you from some other land and don't know what a breakfast taco is? We'll get to that later.

View Larger Map

BONUS: If you for some reason aren't into Turf N Surf, you can also get Kebabalicious or Chi'lantro most days at the same food trailer cluster.


G'Raj Mahal

G'Raj Mahal is located in the Rainey Street District, which is a cool spot in a neighborhood adjacent to downtown. The food is good (even according to some of our Indian friends), but the atmosphere is just awesome. In front of the robust kitchen stands a large, serpentine art installation. It's basically a gigantic snake bike. And it's really just a cool, hip spot right next to downtown, yet off the beaten path a bit.

View Larger Map

BONUS: It's right next to El Naranjo (tacos), Cazamance (African), and the entire Rainey Street scene, which is pretty cool and unique.


Odd Duck Farm To Trailer

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer lives up to its name. It's sort of haute cuisine. French-ish, in the sense that it is creative and uses interesting ingredients. Just try it. It's good times.

View Larger Map

BONUS: Right next to Odd Duck is Gourdough's, which, with its big, fat donuts, is famous in its own right. You can sample the small places at Odd Duck, then sample some of the fare at Gourdough's. You're also really close to the Alamo Drafthouse for movies and The Highball for bowling and karaoke.


Lucky J's Chicken & Waffles

Lucky J's Chicken & Waffles on the East side of I-35, at 6th St. & Waller. Chicken for strength. Waffles for speed. This place was so good that someone actually stole the trailer just a couple of days before Christmas Eve last year. They're opening another store elsewhere, so I am not sure if they plan on staying at the 6th and Waller location, but they're there now.

View Larger Map

BONUS: You're also right next to the Old School BBQ Bus, which is literally an old school bus that cranks out BBQ goodness, as well as Me So Hungry, an Asian place. You're also in the vicinity of the Vegan Yacht, Ugly Banjos, Pueblo Viejo, the Local Yolk, Pig Vicious (where you can order a bacon shake, no joke), Bits and Druthers, and the No. 19 Bus. Lot of trailers in that general vicinity, in other words.


La Boite Cafe

La Boite is a converted shipping container on South Lamar that sells coffee, pastries, croissants, and all kinds of other goodness.

View Larger Map

BONUS: There are two, count 'em, two yoga studios within 50 yards.



This is a tough one. Tacos might actually be one of the more common "street food" items on the agenda at mobile vendors in Austin. I'm going to go with Torchy's at the Trailer Park Eatery on this one, although there are some vocal Torchy's haters out there.

View Larger Map

BONUS: If you like hot dogs, Man Bites Dog. If you like cake shakes and frozen hot chocolate, you've got Holy Cacao. There's also Izzoz Tacos very nearby, and some people prefer it to Torchy's. You can also walk to the convenience store across the street to pick up cold BYOB drinks.


South Congress

The Mighty Cone, Wurst Tex, Hey Cupcake!, and others, on South Congress. If you're really into cupcakes, don't go to Hey Cupcake. Instead, avoid the lines and just-okay cupcakes, and head over to 1st Street and pay a visit to the vastly superior Sugar Mama's.

View Larger Map

BONUS: You're in the South Congress scene, which means you're also close to the brick-and-mortar Home Slice Pizza, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, one of my favorite places, Perla's, and a host of other places you should try.

You might also hit up Lulu B's, the Jalopy, and the Peached Tortilla, for other trailers worth visiting. There's also Franklin Barbecue, which is one of the top BBQ places in Austin after a short time in existence, but it is becoming brick-and-mortar and possibly losing the trailer entirely.

You can find these top recommendations and check in at all of them on Gowalla.

I like to joke that the Austin economy, one of the more vibrant in the country, is based entirely on its 1600+ food trailers. In just the past six months, 386 new permits for mobile food vendors have been issued by the city, with 253 of those actually opening for business.

It's a creative city, Austin, and there are some creative food trailer creations. Mobile food is like social media relative to old media, but for food. The barriers to entry are much lower and lighter than opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, the overhead is lower, the flexibility is greater, and, generally speaking, Austin, like most places in Texas, is relatively laissez faire (compared to, say, California cities, or Chicago, or somewhere like that) about small businesses doing their thing and "keeping Austin Weird."

Have a favorite food trailer in Austin that I missed? Let me know, and I'll gladly check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 March 2011 06:30 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 923 -- Administrative Bloat In Education.

Bureaucrats Running Amok-

A few weeks ago, I posted on the growth of spending in education in Texas, and how it's outpacing the growth of enrollment and inflation put together. Spending per pupil has roughly doubled the rate of inflation over the past decade. Our problem is not so much the teachers unions (as in Wisconsin) as much as it is the administrative overhead just getting out of control in so many of these school districts around the state. The ratio of teachers to non-teachers on the payroll in our school systems is now 1:1. It's just goofy how much more we spend on education-- and how few of those dollars make it into the classroom.

ProtectTheClassroom.com is a project of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and it's a project I've been working on, including these 30 second ads (and more to come):



It's time to cut the bloat, and administrators who are firing teachers as the first resort, before trimming overhead and their own administration budgets outside the classroom, are really illustrating how most school districts got into this situation in the first place.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Oil Not The Only Thing Keeping Texas' Economy Outperforming Nation's.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 7 March 2011 11:57 AM · Comments (0)

Texas Social Media Awards 2011.


Along the lines of this other post about being named one of the best tweeters on politics in Texas by the Washington Post, feeling a little embarrassed talking about myself for winning awards, I hesitate to even post this, but, since it's essentially just an acknowledgment of the hard work I have indeed put in over the past couple of years, I am excited to announce that, out of hundreds of nominees, I am one of the winners of the Texas Social Media Awards, presented by the Austin American-Statesman.

I am among great company, including friends I know in real life. Melissa Clouthier, a.k.a. @MelissaTweets, is someone you should be following, if you aren't already (which is unlikely, since it seems like the entire world follows her on Twitter). I've gotten to know Melissa over the past couple of years, and it's exciting to see her recognized for her contributions to the public discourse. She not only tweets, her blog, podcasts, and YouTube interviews make her a vital player in the conservative movement and in shaping the debate in Texas and nationally. Plus, she throws one heck of a party.

Melissa posted about the Texas Social Media Awards, and I am honored (and, again, slightly embarrassed) to be on the receiving end of such high praise:

One of my good friends, Will Franklin, who ran social media for Governor Perry and consults with many private industry and political folks about social media, was nominated for the same award as me:the Austin Statesman Social Media awards. When informed by a Statesman editor that I was one of the 25 winners, my first response was, cool! My second was, oh crap, what if Will didn’t win? I’ll feel guilty because he’s so good at what he does.

Thankfully, we both won. Congratulations to Will. If you don’t know his work, please learn of it. If you’re looking for the best social media guy in politics, Will is your man.


Thanks again to the Statesman. Congrats, Will! You’re #Winning! If you want to follow someone who has mastered the art and science of social media, follow @WILLisms. He’s the best.

Thanks, Melissa!

Another friend of mine, Drew Thornley, former colleague at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, was also awarded for his BBQ blog, Man Up Texas BBQ, which has become the go-to source for all things BBQ, especially tips on new spots everyone ought to try out.

Of hundreds of nominees, and 25 winners, if I had to predict the overall winner, I'd guess it'll be the Qrank team. That game can be thoroughly addictive, and it's one of the first, best social media trivia games out there.

I believe you can still add yourself to the wait list for the event this Thursday, March 10, 2011, at the brand new Austin City Limits theater in the W Hotel in downtown Austin.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 March 2011 11:31 AM · Comments (0)

The Top Political Tweeters In Texas.

"He's more of a self-promoter than anything."

I hear that criticism often of certain folks who are in politics, especially young people who have carved out digital media niches for themselves.

With that in mind, I post this knowing some people may suddenly be saying that about me.

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, on his The Fix blog, named @WILLisms one of the best handful of political tweeters in Texas.


Is it warranted? Maybe so. Maybe not.

I can think of plenty of really great twitter feeds (not on their list) to follow that are far more consistent and engaging than mine. But it's still cool to be recognized. If you're on Twitter, follow me for the same great stuff you'd find at WILLisms.com, 140-characters at a time. If you're still not on Twitter, you're missing out on some of the best real-time political information and conversations out there.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 March 2011 01:23 PM · Comments (0)