Texas over California

William Voegeli compares California’s left-wing, high-tax/high-benefits model with Texas’s right-wing, moderate-tax/moderate-benefits model. People are leaving high-tax states for low-tax states:

One way to assess how Americans feel about the different tax and benefit packages the states offer is by examining internal U.S. migration patterns. Between April 1, 2000, and June 30, 2007, an average of 3,247 more people moved out of California than into it every week, according to the Census Bureau. Over the same period, Texas had a net weekly population increase of 1,544 as a result of people moving in from other states. During these years, more generally, 16 of the 17 states with the lowest tax levels had positive “net internal migration,” in the Census Bureau’s language, while 14 of the 17 states with the highest taxes had negative net internal migration.

Why are they leaving?  They aren’t getting their money’s worth.  Texas schools are now better than California’s; the average Texas student is two-and-a-half years ahead of the average California student.  Berkeley is still the finest public university in the country, but the University of Texas at Austin is in the top five.  Texas roads are better than California roads, and are also much less crowded.  The regulatory climate for business is much better in Texas.

John Hinderaker extends the point:

Texas, increasingly, is the economic and intellectual leader of the U.S. During the last 18 months before the current recession took hold, while the country as a whole was still creating jobs, more than half of those jobs were created in a single state: Texas.

The public sector unions have managed to use government revenues to enrich themselves without providing commensurate benefits for taxpayers.  Maybe a high-tax/high-benefit model can succeed—but only if institutional structures limit public employees’ success at rent-seeking.

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