Texas: If we let them build, they will come
The surest way to create opportunity and a better life for all is to build. There is simply no substitute. Whether that’s building companies, housing, new tech, energy projects, roads, factories- all of it leads to a better standard of living. It’s the economy stupid. And it’s tempting to focus on waging culture wars or target specific issues like homelessness or social mobility or the social safety net. Those are all worthy conversations to have but building helps solve all of those problems and more. A good job and an affordable place to live are cornerstones of a secure life and vastly improve everything else. The only way we can ensure those things is by building more. The surest way we can build more is by lowering the barriers to doing so, namely removing onerous regulation. Enter Texas.
Let’s start with something completely unintuitive but serves to show that building matters far more than paying lip service. Take climate change. My home state of California has billed itself as THE leader on this issue. Yet for all of chest thumping, why is it that Texas is about to blow our state out of the water with installed utility scale solar? It’s not because Texas wants to lead the fight against climate change. It’s simply because it is much easier to get projects approved in the state of Texas.
And why is it much easier to get projects approved in Texas? A low red tape and business friendly environment. Texans pride themselves on their limited government, hell their legislature is only in session six months every two years. I’m not saying regulation on the whole is bad. Good regulation is good and bad regulation is bad. But when student housing is blocked in Berkeley, CA on environmental grounds or it costs $2.5 billion per mile of subway track for NYC’s second avenue subway expansion- is it really a wonder why a state like Texas has appeal? Is it a wonder why Texas has added 471,000 residents, from July 2021 to July 2022, the most of any state. While California and New York have seen their populations decrease- in California's case the first time since the gold rush. Or that the cost of living is 7.5% below the national average, with housing costing 15% less- 56% cheaper than California. Or that from 2020 to February of 2023, at least 139 companies moved their headquarters to Texas- 40% of them moving from California. And is it any wonder why from February 2020 until the end of 2022, Texas gained 760,000 jobs, accounting for 35% of all new jobs across the entire country while accounting for less than nine percent of the population.
Love it or hate it, Texas is doing something right.
I love my home state of California, if only for the reason that it’s different. Different is good. Our federal system allows states to experiment with different policies and allows easy movement of our citizens from one state to another. This allows for competition. And when certain policies win, the people will follow. And when it’s clear certain policies work, other states should adopt them. California and New York, you beautiful bastions of the left, of culture, of innovation, of outside the box thinking- step up. Build. In doing so you'll create more opportunities for millions more. In the game of building, we all win.
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