Texas Triumphant

Actually what is triumphant is the economic model of low taxes, light regulation and economic liberty. As Michael Barone clarifies in yesterday’s (Weekend) Wall Street Journal (p. A13) no state has implemented these policies better than Texas. In “The Great Lone Star Migration,” Barone details the winners and losers by population since 1930. He breaks the period into two sub-periods: 1930-70 and 1970-2010.

He presents much data, and one statistic stands out: “Today one out of 12 Americans live in Texas – the same proportion that lived in New York City in 1930.” Other gainers by region are the Southeast and the Rocky Mountain states. The Plains and the interior South have also made gains. Regions that rose in the 1930-70 timeframe are now in relative decline due to bad policies in the states. The Pacific states are one example. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are two others.

No single measure measures the policy mix better than migration. People vote with their feet within and across nations. No one is going to Texas, or many of the other regional gainers, for the weather. They are going for the balance of economic opportunity, amenities and politics. Houston has an execrable climate, but is one of the most livable cities in the US.

As one who moved to Texas in the 1980s, none of this was obvious. Politics was still populist at the state level. Tort law was terrible.  Then the state experienced the oil bust, a real-estate bust and a banking crisis.  The Feds response was maladroit. It was by no means obvious that Texas would recover, much less prosper. But it did both. Throughout it kept low taxes and light regulation. One election, voters turned out all Democrat judges and replaced them with reforming Republicans. Two legislative reforms later, Texas Tort Law is a model. The state may move to a modified version of British law: loser pays.

About Gerald P. O'Driscoll 16 Articles

Affiliation: Cato Institute

Gerald O’Driscoll is a widely quoted expert on banking and monetary policy. Previously the director of the Center for International Trade and Economics at the Heritage Foundation, O’Driscoll was senior editor of the annual Index of Economic Freedom, co-published by Heritage and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as vice president and director of policy analysis at Citigroup, and vice president and economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He has also served as staff director of the Congressionally mandated Meltzer Commission on international financial institutions.

He is widely published widely in leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on national radio and television, including Fox Business News, CNBC and Bloomberg. With a dozen years experience as a university professor, O’Driscoll speaks regularly at academic conferences and universities.

O’Driscoll holds a B.A. in Economics from Fordham University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from UCLA.

Visit: Jerry O’Driscoll's Page

4 Comments on Texas Triumphant

  1. They have a $25 billion deficit! They have the most polluted city in the country in Houston. #1 in toxic chemical releases into the air. They have 8.2% unemployment rate! Texas has the highest rate of residents without medical insurance! And you celebrate TX? Try reading something before writing this drivel.

    • 1) Our State Comptroller doesn’t even know yet what the deficit is, and YOU do? And, if it is close to $25 Billion that is for a “two year” period. And, Texas has a $10 billion rainy day fund that can be used to offset that. Also, for several months now, the sales tax revenue has been increasing, so the deficit will not be as bad as some of the liberal Left Wing Ideologues are shouting from roof tops. And, if there is a deficit ,so What? It wouldn’t be the first time. The State of Texas will identify areas that can be cut, and the state expenses will be trimmed…there will be NO TAX INCREASE! That’s exactly the way a well run household operates…the head of the household has a wage reduction, the family just cuts expenses and makes do until the husband/wife’s wages are increased….Simple! Not much to get upset about! This is the proper way to handle an economy

      Yes, there may be an 8.2% unemployment rate, but that is after adding 4,000,000 new citizens (approximately 1,000,000 new workers) over the last 10 years…Pretty good huh, 1 million new workers, a lousy national economy and the unemployment rate only goes up to 8.2%! Texas has produced 75% of ALL new private industry jobs over the last 4 years in the USA…once again, not bad HUH?

      So, what if Texas has the highest rate of residents without medical insurance? No one suffers for medical care…I personally know at least 2 families (illegal aliens) who do not have medical insurance and has several kids…they do not want for medical care. There are many State and County Clinics available to those without insurance where they get medical care on a Pay-What-You-Can-Afford basis…No Feds in there mandating that they buy insurance, what kind of insurance to buy, what kind of coverage they have to have…just very low clinics available for the poor. And, in addition to the clinics, every emergency room is required to treat those that have no insurance. And, who is to know how many of those without insurance can afford insurance and just will not buy it? Stats indicate that a large percentage of young folk will not buy insurance if it is not offered through their job….they will buy a new Mustang, or a new wardrobe, dope, etc etc but will skip buying insurance.

      Houston may be #1 in toxic chemical releases into the air, but YOU get to enjoy the benefit by the use of the gasoline produced at the many plants in the area. And, that does not include all the other chemicals and medicines produced in Houston…So, YOUR desire to have any product produced by a chemical plant or refinery directly effects the air pollutants put into Houston air…I lived in Houston for 30 plus years and never developed sinus or allergy problems until I moved to Austin where there is very, very, very low air pollutants in the air because they do not have any chemical plants or refineries there. And, besides Houston provides one of the most affordable living scenarios of any city in the country…Houston has the greatest Medical Center (Texas Medical Center) in the world, world class opera, ballet, symphony,all major sports facilities and teams. Houston is a leader in medical research (some of the most important discoveries in cancel cures has been achieved by M D Anderson Cancer Center which for several years has been rated the BEST Cancer research and treatment hospital in the USA)…And, beside Houston is semi tropical with lush vegetation everywhere. And, you know what lush vegetation eats for lunch don’t you?….Air contaminants, that’s what.

      As a Texas native, I’m here to tell you that you are like most left wing liveral, wingnuts that hates conservatism and success stories….you are misguided, you do not even understand your stats, you really are commenting on a topic of which you have very little or no knowledge.

      I have lived in California and Colorado, and I have decided that Texas is the very best place for me, and if anyone living here feels differently, they should do what I did….Go somewhere else!

      • The standard “facts don’t matter” conservative squeal. As usual, the facts are not really important because anecdotal evidence and emotional fondness for a place outweigh reality. It’s the damn liberals, I tell ya!

        How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.

        Texas doesn’t seem particularly special: Its unemployment rate is below the national average, thanks in part to high oil prices, but it’s about the same as the unemployment rate in New York or Massachusetts.


        Or if you don’t like that analysis, you may be glad to hear that the liberal Obama stumulus saved TX from an even greater deficit:

        In the last biennial budget, the state was saved by a $12 million cash infusion from the Obama stimulus program. This time, there is no stimulus. Williamson is right to say Texas has a Rainy Day Fund (although it is projected at $8 billion not $10 billion, as Williamson asserts). But where Williamson gets the notion that the state’s deficit is only $11-15 billion escapes me. The state will be lucky if it is $18 billion, and most people say $22-25 billion. (The number depends on how high the comptroller forecasts sales tax revenues.) What’s more, that structural deficit is not going away.


        I know, I know, facts don’t matter.

        Let’s talk about them there conservative values: Texas has the highest teen birth rate in the nation (63 births per 1,000 females ages 15-19)

        As far as health goes, TX did pop into the #39!:

        Texas climbed out of the bottom 10 states in 2009, earning the #39 slot in the ranking of the healthiest states by the United Health Foundation. http://www.healthinsurance.org/texas

        One out of four people in Texas is uninsured – the worst in the nation.

        The only state with a larger uninsured population than New Mexico, a whopping 25.7 percent of Texans have no health insurance. Part of the reason for the high rates of uninsured people may be due to the fact that less than half of all Texas firms offer health insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (At the highest end of the spectrum, in Hawaii, nearly 90 percent of all firms offer health benefits.) Plus, Texas has only 96 doctors per 100,000 people.

        Yes, TX is a growing state and is now taking over as the pollution capital of the country. http://scorecard.goodguide.com/env-releases/cap/rank-states-emissions.tcl?how_many=100&pollutant=voc&edf_source_agg=total

        I apologize to Houston for calling it the most polluted, since it deserves better: Meanwhile, Houston-Baytown-Huntsville ranked No. 7 in ozone pollution, and No. 16 in year-round particle pollution.

        I’m not making this stuff up cowboy. Business friendly does not equate to people friendly. Third world countries like China have a booming economy in places, but they have some of the worst polluted areas in the world, they have few if any worker rights. If that’s what TX wants to be, then enjoy the ride.

        • That should read: In the last biennial budget, the state was saved by a $12 billion cash infusion from the Obama stimulus program. This time, there is no stimulus.

          And TX received over $26 billion from those devil liberals in DC: Total of Texas Recovery Act Funding – $26,582,464,075 http://www.window.state.tx.us/recovery/transparency/map/index.php

          Overall Texas has received about $12 billion in economic stimulus funds.
          Green cited a number of Houston-area projects financed in whole or part by the economic stimulus spending. http://blogs.chron.com/txpotomac/2010/08/post_317.html

          A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that federal stimulus dollars played a large role in allowing Texas lawmakers to balance their budget this year without tapping Rainy Day Funds.

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