by Ryan Streeter on April 7, 2013. Follow Ryan on Twitter.
Texas’s low-cost, liberty-loving atmosphere has become an attractive alternative to California’s oppressive public sector and dysfunctional policy environment. No amount of heart-melting vistas, celebrity sightings, or traipses through wine country can make up for what almost appears a strategic attempt by one of the nation’s largest states to drive businesses and productive people away.
That’s from an AEIdeas post nearly three years ago, part of the “Texas vs. California” series I and a few others wrote about at the blog (which was called the Enterprise blog at the time).
This review today of Big, Hot, Cheap and Right at the NYT expands upon the point. These paragraphs are illustrative:
More recently, the state’s economic boom has been a mix of luck and good planning. Strict lending laws allowed Texas to dodge the worst of the housing collapse, while the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement was a boon to the state’s export sector.
But “the secret ingredient,” Ms. Grieder writes, has been the industrial policy of Gov. Rick Perry, offering a generous broth of subsidies and incentives that Texas has used to attract hundreds of businesses that have richly diversified its traditional energy-based economy. This has had the added benefit of insulating Texas from the ups and downs of oil prices.
“The Texas model isn’t an accident, in other words, even if the state Constitution does call for a very stark version of it,” Ms. Grieder says. “Texas has a long tradition of looking outside the government for support — and often finding it. That predates the Texas revolution and was reinforced by the rise of the cattle kingdom and the oil booms.”