Since the 2008 crash, Texas has created over half the new jobs in the United States. Our unemployment rate is 1.5% below the national rate, even with a growing population. That makes an analytical, data-driven, examination of public policy in the state of Texas more timely than ever. Texans need to understand what we've been doing right, and other states would serve themselves well to follow our lead. In The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America, Chuck DeVore provides that data-driven analysis that will help both citizens and policymakers.
I first met Chuck DeVore a little over a year ago. Like me, Chuck DeVore is an economic refugee from a Blue State; unlike me, Chuck DeVore spent six years in the state legislature trying to save California from itself. Unfortunately, he failed to stop the slow motion economic suicide California has committed over the past 15 years.
The contrast between growing, prosperous Texas and big-spending, high-tax, California is a major theme of the book. Given the demographic and geographic similarities between the two states, Texas and California are the closest we will ever get to a laboratory comparison of public policy choices. The results speak for themselves. As of this writing, Texas' unemployment rate was 6.2% compared to 9.8% (officially) in California, despite the fact that Texas population is growing and California's is shrinking. Texas consistently beats other states in a wide array of economic and social indicators (*).
So what is the Texas model?!? According to Chuck DeVore:
Liberty, rightly understood, is the core principle of the Texas model; the benefit of the model is prosperity (4)....Texas spends less, taxes less, sues less, and secures for their people the liberty to earn a living, keep more of what they earn, and live where they want (128).In other words, Texas trusts Texans to manage their own affairs.
One point DeVore makes that deserves emphasis is that Texas isn't business friendly, we're competition friendly. As Devore explains: "In Texas, uncompetitive businesses get little sympathy from government; rather, they are likely advised to consult the bankruptcy code (78)." Texas understands that creative destruction is an essential component of capitalism.
Finally, DeVore spends considerable ink investigating Texas' cost of living. Cost of living is a frequently overlooked component of Texas' prosperity. Cost of living also demolishes the Leftist canard about 'low-wage jobs' in Texas. While it is true that personal income is a little lower in Texas than other states, the fact that Texas has the second lowest cost of living in America means that personal income goes a lot farther in Texas. As just one example, adjusted for cost of living, "the real poverty rate in Texas could be as much as 10 percent lower than it is in California (32)."
It's impossible to do a book like this justice in a seven paragraph review. From spending, to taxation, to tort reform, Chuck DeVore delivers an all-inclusive, data-driven, analysis of Texas' economic performance. My biggest problem with the book is that they didn't make the charts presented in the book available online, so I couldn't use them in this review. That being said, the data is in the book and it is indisputable. The Texas Model, by Chuck DeVore, is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why, while America stagnates, Texas continues to thrive.
* -- The first chart in the book clearly explains this, unfortunately I can't find that chart online.