There are few states in the Union that love Jesus as much as Texas. And there is no state in the nation that loves rich people as much as Texas. But there’s always been a debate as to whether Texas loves Jesus or rich people more. As a subtheme to this debate, there is the vexing question of Jesus’s own pronunciamento that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle Texas Christians fasten, instead, to the parable of the talents as a more reasonable picture of Jesus’s own Texashood – for surely the point of the parable of the talents – that is the one in which the bad servant buries the money his master gave him before going on a trip instead of investing it – is that Jesus wants you to be rich. Jesus, wept – but that’s the problem with using a metaphor among a group of literalist monomaniacs.
In any case, the solution to the problem of what Texas loves most was recently solved in Dallas, where Judge Jean Boyd, one of God’s own Party, heard the case of Ethan Couch, a sixteen year old who, drunk on stolen beer, plowed into a car by the side of the road and killed four people, while injuring a handful of others. One of the killed was a youth minister. Now, we know a little about Texas justice: we know, for instance, that a black man or even a cracker from a broken household would not be allowed to run over and kill a man of God without condign punishment. But in Couch’s case, Judge Boyd faced a real dilemma: Couch was the son of a very wealthy man, Fred Couch, the owner of Cleburn Metal Works in Fort Worth. Thus you can see the knotty value problem: does Texas love the rich more than Jesus?
Well, in the end it was no contest. Harder it is to obey Jesus’s injunctions about the rich than it is for the savior to slip into an exlusive Fort Worth country club (Jesus, ahem, was a, ahem, Jew): Couch was punished, as the whole world knows now, by being sentenced to a resort/therapy center, with a cost of 450 thou a year.
He will not serve in a Texas jail because, as his lawyer pleaded, he had a case of affluenza – so wealthy are his parents and so spoiled is the child that he doesn’t understand how to be responsible.
“Affluenza” has quickly become a laugh word – but before it was a Dallas psychiatrist’s diagnosis, it was a term of art employed, in the nineties, to criticize the result of “selfish capitalism” – it was defined as a sort of keeping up with the Trump’s disease, which resulted in outbreaks of minimansions and SUVs. Couch’s psychiatrists and Judge Boyde, however, have troped this idea brilliantly by making being rich not only a condition better than any other on earth, but, as well, a get out of jail card to be employed whenever the rich get into trouble, since it proves they are abnormal. Indeed, they are – that is the whole meaning of being in the one percentile class.
However, the cause of this cause celebre, Ethan Couch, obviously has some good years ahead of him. He is already the stuff out of which successful private equity movers and shakers are made. There’s something Romneyesque about the lad, who will go far.