All the gold in California is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills in somebody else’s name. — Larry Gatlin
Within a week of each other, the Dallas Morning News and The Economist (a British weekly that enjoys a wide circulation in the USA) featured similar stories focusing on refugees.
Who are these refugees? No, they are not from Central America, the Middle East, or any place our President not so long ago likened to outdoor latrines. And they are not the “huddled masses” of that obnoxious inscription on the Statue of Liberty.
These refugees are from California. They are not poor, but they are tired. Tired of high taxes, stifling regulation, gridlocked roads, and rife homelessness (that has turned some parts of Los Angeles and San Francisco into literal outdoor privies). The gold in the Golden State is mostly pyrite— fool’s gold. What isn’t is indeed in somebody else’s name. Except that the place of gold has been taken by silicon (in the Valley), and tinsel (in those Hills) for the elites. Talk about economic inequality.
The Dallas newspaper (see link below) focused on one Marie Bailey, a real estate agent in North Texas who created a “move to Texas from California” Facebook pages that now has nearly 12,000 followers. Her theme caused some alarm, at least initially, among long-time locals who responded with a slogan “Don’t California My Texas.” According to Bailey, and those commenting on her Facebook page, most of these immigrants, including Bailey herself, are refugees whose politics lean right and are happy to escape the Progressive paradise. One quote, according to the News’ correspondent, extolled “country, freedom, family, gun rights, and barbeque” and that sentiment seems to characterize most of the commenting former Californians, now Texans.
The Economist’s feature, entitled “A Tale of Two States”(June 22, 2019 print edition Special Report, or on-line (cited below) ,compares the economies and cultures of the two states, observes that they each have radically different visions for the future of America:
Texas and California are the biggest, brashest, most important states in the union, each equally convinced that it is the future (see our Special report in this issue). For the past few decades they have been heading in opposite directions, creating an experiment that reveals whether America works better as a low-tax, low-regulation place in which government makes little provision for its citizens (Texas), or as a high-tax, highly regulated one in which it is the government’s role to tackle problems, such as climate change, that might ordinarily be considered the job of the federal government (California).
The writer asks: Which works better?
Well, given that migration from state to state is lopsided in favor of Texas, especially by middle-class families, it seems that the Texas model is favored. That being said, the Progressive movement’s appeal of free-stuff, even if it means less free-dom, remains strong among many. Even those seeking to escape from California’s high taxes and high-degree of regulation may be loathe to give up a lot of the free stuff. This attitude could change the Texas culture. But that is doubtful, at least in the short term.
Progressive schemes cost money. One reason for the success, albeit limited, of the national Progressive movement, was its enabling by the Constitution’s Sixteenth Amendment, which went into effect in 1913 and gave the Congress a potentially unlimited source of revenue to fund Progressive schemes and boondoggles. California has an income tax that takes 13.2% (as of now) of income from top earners (at least to the extent that they don’t earn enough to hire accountants and tax lawyers to take advantage of dodges. Texas is constitutionally forbidden to impose an income tax. Instead it relies on sales taxes, sin taxes, user fees, and local property taxes. All of these have their limits, which are much lower than income taxes.
For most of its history, the USA has been more about liberty than equality of result, especially in the economic sphere. That is the primary reason the country has produced so much for so many — liberty allows innovation. The three main Progressive hiccups — the Wilsonian movement, FDR’s New Deal, and LBJ’s Great Society — all increased government involvement in everyday lives, but were mitigated somewhat by subsequent reactions, and never completely stanched free enterprise. The Progressives disdain the income or wealth gap between the rich and the poor, or for that matter, the middle class. But forced equality doesn’t work, which many Californians are discovering. And those who give up liberty for more equality will soon have neither.
Welcome to Texas.