Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: The Texas Model, by Chuck DeVore

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.


  1. Even when comparing Texas' students SAT scores among other states with very similar SAT participation rates, Texas ranks VERY LOW or dead last. (Compare to California, Oregon, Washington, or Alaska to check my data).

    This man is either using "fuzzy math" or just plain lying to Texans. We MUST improve our education system to help our kids compete nationally for colleges and jobs!

    1. Jolyn, further from the Texas Education Agency site, http://www.tea.state.tx.us/news_release.aspx?id=2147486724, "Texas led the nation with largest increase in the number of public school students who took the SAT" with 123,154 graduating seniors taking the college admissions test in 2010. This is less than half of the students, unlike the NAEP, which virtually every student takes. Further, "Forty-three percent of the all Texas test takers reported that they will be the first in their families to go to college." Clearly, this impacts SAT results, but it shows that a greater percentage of Texans aim for college than is the case in California, a state with the nation's highest poverty rate according to new U.S. Census Bureau calculations.

  2. Jolyn, one must compare like-to-like and take into account race and ethnicity. Using a national standardized test, the NAEP, and comparing Texas to the 7 other big states looking at 4th and 8th grade math, science and reading, Texas places 1st in 11 of 24 categories for all students, white students, black students and Hispanic students. California places last in 15 of 24 categories. This is a federal test and is across-the-board, unlike the SAT, which is self-selecting.

    So no, I am not "lying" nor am I using "fuzzy math."

  3. BTW, Jolyn, I recommend you go to the federal website and see for yourself: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.

    The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas.

    1. Awesome, I meant to reply but haven't had time to look up the data!!!