Does Texas portend the future of the United States?

by on October 18, 2013 at 5:24 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Uncategorized | Permalink

I am pleased to have the cover story of this week’s Time magazine, please note that full story is gated.  Nonetheless here is one excerpt:

Jed Kolko, chief economist for San Francisco–based real estate website Trulia, says that from 2005 to 2011, 183 Californians moved to Texas for every 100 Texans who moved to California. “Home prices, more than any other factor, cause people to leave,” Kolko says.

…the federal government calculated the Texas poverty rate as 18.4% for 2010 and that of California as about 16%. That may sound bad for Texas, but once adjustments are made for the different costs of living across the two states, as the federal government does in its Supplemental Poverty Measure, Texas’ poverty rate drops to 16.5% and California’s spikes to a dismal 22.4%. Not surprisingly, it is the lower-income residents who are most likely to leave California.

On the flip side, Texas has a higher per capita income than California, adjusted for cost of living, and nearly catches up with New York by the same measure. Once you factor in state and local taxes, Texas pulls ahead of New York—by a wide margin. The website MoneyRates ranks states on the basis of average income, adjusting for tax rates and cost of living; once those factors are accounted for, Texas has the third highest average income (after Virginia and Washington State), while New York ranks 36th.

Here is a summary of some parts of the article, with numerous quotations from the piece.

Here is a good Timothy Noah piece on migration and real estate prices.  Here is another relevant piece.  Here is a good (AEA-gated) Ed Glaeser review of Enrico Moretti.

1 Cameron Mulder October 18, 2013 at 5:52 am

Another way to look at this is that, after adjusting for Cost of living, you basically have to pay people more to go live in Texas. It looks like people are willing to live with a lower amount of money in places like Califronia.

I live in Portland and it is pretty obvious that people don’t move here for income or even employment. You move here for other benefits that don’t show up in simplistic cost of living calculations.

I have lived in Texas, although briefly, and the quality of life (IMHO) was shockingly low. Public services were only adequate at best, the restaurants, coffee shops, and beer were all lacking as compared to what you would find on the west coast. Public safety was much more of a concern there than anywhere else I have lived with people actually telling me not to be out in my neighborhood after dark. Overall there is no way i would even consider living in TX without a very significant boost to my paycheck, and even then I would question if it was worth it.

2 dan1111 October 18, 2013 at 6:26 am

“You basically have to pay people more to go live in Texas” is not a legitimate interpretation of the evidence presented. To the extent that people’s preferences can be measured from these numbers, the relative migration statistics indicate a preference for living in Texas.

3 Millian October 18, 2013 at 7:37 am

It’s certainly true that you have to pay people more to live in North Dakota, and this causes inward migration. Does this mean people have a preference for living in North Dakota over other states? Probably not. From the economist’s perspective, we don’t care why they go for today’s policies. it only matters in so far as it helps us forecast future demand for North Dakota housing. Say if oil prices go south or non-oil real incomes rise, the North Dakota wage premium will fall and people may not want to live there as much. Maybe similar factors would cause people to pay the hypothetical California fun premium vis-a-vis Texas.

4 dan1111 October 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

My point was just about what the evidence allows us to say. The fact that Texas has higher income is not evidence that “you have to pay people more to live there”. Inward migration is evidence that people prefer to live there, though it is limited evidence, as you rightly point out.

5 Millian October 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

It suggests that “prefer” is a term with many confusing meanings, some contradictory. The microeconomic definition of a preference is independent of price, so it is of limited real-world use to say that people prefer a year in California to a year in Texas but the prices don’t allow it.

6 CBBB October 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

It is not evidence of any preference using any normal definition of the word ‘preference’ – I might prefer to eat fillet mignon every day but I can only afford plan rice, thus I “prefer” plain rice in your opinion? When you don’t have a choice it’s hard to talk about preferences – in fact for many of the people moving from California to Texas the proper comparison should be between Texas and Florida or Texas and North Dakota or Texas and Kansas or Texas and Idaho. Many probably can’t afford to continue to live in California so it’s not even an option.
The sky high cost of real estate in San Fransico or NYC doesn’t really support the idea that people are desperate to get out of these kind of areas does it?

7 CBBB October 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

Now of course Tyler’s point could be that he’s hinting exactly this – places like California will be priced so only the best can live there and Texas will be left for the unwashed masses of dregs and losers (90% of the popluation). Although I don’t plan on reading it I have a feeling this arguement is featured in Average is Over (one can easily predict the content of Tyler’s books if you read enough MR).

8 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 9:39 am

It is not evidence of any preference using any normal definition of the word ‘preference’

I think that both:

1) Assuming that the prices were equal, which one would I want?
2) Given prices as they are, which one do I want?

are legitimate and normal uses of the word preference.

Ignoring how busy it is, I might want to go to lunch at a good sandwich place at noon. But since I have a higher objection to crowds and a lower objection to eating at a different time than the average person, I have a preference for going to it at 11:30 or 1 pm and avoiding the lunch rush, given how the facts of the world actually are.

Are you saying that I can’t claim to “prefer eating there at 11:30 or 1 pm?”

9 Cliff October 18, 2013 at 9:41 am

Yes, obviously if you eat the rice that is a revealed preference for rice over filet mignon at their respective price points. Based on the objective evidence that you are eating the rice and without any other information, obviously you can’t say that you have to be paid more to eat the rice just because it costs less (although we know in fact that is likely to be the case, since we do have other information about rice and filet mignon).

10 CBBB October 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

No, both John Thacker and Cliff misunderstand.
In your scenario you do perfer to eat at 1. However in MY scenario the sandwich shop is so crowded at noon that even if you really wanted to go at that time there is no room and they won’t serve additional customers. I don’t see how then the word “preference” has any real meaning – you have no choice. Thus with California vs. Texas if you cannot afford (not don’t want to pay so much but really cannot actually afford for all practical purposes to live there) then we aren’t talking about preference so much in anying meaningful sense.

And as I mention this is probably what TC is ACTUALLY hinting at Texas and places like this are going to be the future dumping grounds for the vast majority of Americans who get pushed out of the more desirable locations.

11 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

I don’t see how then the word “preference” has any real meaning – you have no choice.

I don’t understand you at all. It’s simply not true that I have no choice. I can go at noon and wait for 20 minutes, or I can go at 1pm and there is no line. That’s a choice. Or I could take a toll road that is a shorter route and pay money, or take a longer but cheaper route.

It’s simply not true that there’s “no room.” Many of the people moving from California *could* continue to live there, they just moved elsewhere for a larger house and better standard of living by their lights. Some people value the added things offered by expensive areas in CA, but others don’t. It depends on your preferences, in the sense of how much you value things.

Some people value having unusual or high class restaurants around more than others. Ditto for any kind of living preference, from size of house, to number of bars, or arts or sports or other cultural attractions.

There’s a lot of things where I can say, “in the abstract, I prefer X to Y. But in reality, even though I’ll say that X is better than Y, 90% of people have a much stronger preference for X than Y that I’ll almost always end up going with Y.” In that case, yes, the preference I have for X over Y is nearly meaningless, if my preference for X over Y is relatively smaller than 90% of people making the choice. Effectively, I prefer Y, given reality.

12 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 10:04 am

I don’t see how then the word “preference” has any real meaning – you have no choice. Thus with California vs. Texas if you cannot afford (not don’t want to pay so much but really cannot actually afford for all practical purposes to live there) then we aren’t talking about preference so much in anying meaningful sense.

And the overwhelming statistics show that that’s simply not what’s going on. A huge number of the people moving out of California are middle class people who *could* afford to live there, but at the cost of a lower standard of living giving their preferences. It’s simply not the case that all poor people and only poor people are moving out of California. Especially when you account for people who are cash poor, but young and well educated who prefer living in poverty in a city to living somewhere cheaper, because they place a high value on a bar scene, or the arts, or meeting other young people.

13 CBBB October 18, 2013 at 10:11 am

Perhaps these low income people leaving California *could* continue to live there by making some extreme sacrafices, but as the costs of living in California (particularly the economic centres of the state) continue to rise the choice effectively becomes between Texas and other similar low-cost states (Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, etc.) It’s not actually a real choice between California and Texas, they’ve been effectively priced out of California.

14 dan1111 October 19, 2013 at 2:42 am

@CBBB, how do you define “preference” and at what difference in standard of living does a choice to move become a preference? No (legal) resident is forcibly removed from California, so at some level every choice to leave is voluntary. Yes, I understand that if someone had to choose between homelessness in California and a middle class life in Texas, it would not be much of a choice, but where is the cut-off point? If their purchasing power would be 10% lower in California, are they expressing a preference by leaving? What about 50% lower? It is easy to say “people don’t really have a choice”, but without a definition of a “real” choice, it is pretty meaningless. It simply becomes an unanswerable way to dismiss the evidence.

Beyond that, it is just speculation how many of these people are being forced to leave because of a drastic difference in standard of living. That is probably true of some, but not all.

15 american October 18, 2013 at 7:59 am

Do you realize how small natural resources are to Texas’s economy relative to everything else? Also, have you compared the natural resources between California and Texas? One state is exploiting its resources while the other is surrendering to environmentalists. I’ll let you guess which is which.

16 Dude October 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

I’m not very informed on this subject, but it appears to me that TX production is multiple times bigger than CA and taxes from oil & gas in TX provides about 5% of state govt revenue? The google didn’t help me answer the question of who is exploiting and who is surrendering.

17 Robert Nagle October 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

In Houston (where I live), a large percent of the economy is dependent on the fossil fuel industry — either directly (with drilling, pipelines etc) or indirectly (IT support, financial services related to energy futures). Many of these services relate specifically to oil and gas and don’t transfer that easily to renewable energy or any other industry. Anyway, the profitability of fossil fuels in Texas eclipses the opportunities presented by renewables. Houston tried to diversify after the oil bust in the 80s, but my personal experience is that it just shifted away from domestic drilling to global exploration & logistics.

18 An economist October 18, 2013 at 6:32 am

Are you even an economist, bro?

19 jizay October 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

I know you are. I can’t believe you post here!

20 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:14 am

LOL! Yes, you do have to pay people more to live in Texas than California. California is a natural paradise whereas Texas is basically a desert, so no surprise there. The point, though, is that Texas has enough money to pay people to live there (even though it requires more) and California doesn’t. That’s because the economic policy is so much better in Texas.

21 AD October 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

@KPres, although I agree that California is naturally more beautiful than Texas, the parts of Texas where most people live (San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas) are not deserts, far from it. In fact, they’re on the opposite extreme when it comes to humidity, which makes the hot weather even more unpleasant.

22 Pshrnk October 18, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Big Bend and the Guadalupes which are desert are quite beautiful also. Part of their beauty is the lack of people!

23 john personna October 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

I made millions in California, and you can too!

24 Urso October 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

To be fair, parts of CA are an ugly desert as well (and of course some parts of TX are nice). I’d be curious to know where the outmigration from CA is coming from — relatively undesirable places like Bakersfield and the Central Valley? Or San Diego and Silicon Valley?

The problem with talking about California and Texas as if they’re monolithic entities is that those places are so big they’re more like countries than states.

25 dearieme October 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Be fair, you basically have to pay people more to go live in the US.

26 dirk October 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm


27 Careless October 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm
28 Careless October 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Using my own source:

Essentially every part of Texas has positive net immigration from LA County. Almost all of Texas is positive with SD. All of Texas is positive with SF. Texas is positive with San Jose, but it’s closer to even. Orange County heavily for Texas.

The less desirable places are also migrating to Texas.

29 Scott Cunningham October 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

Another way of saying this is just to acknowledge that inter-state living and cost of living should be described by a Roy model.

30 Z October 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

Cameron may have accidentally stumbled upon the reason Texas works. While it is welcoming to entrepreneurs, families and so forth, it remains hostile to the hipster dufus. Most states that have maintained sane public policy were soon overrun by liberals from failed states. Virginia is being polluted with northern liberals working for the leviathan. New Hampshire was over run by people from Mass fleeing the mess they created there. Colorado was over run with wackos from California. Soon these new comers started voting in the same lunatics who destroyed their home state.

Maybe Texas has figured out a way around that problem. Perhaps in the next Constitution, coffee shops and craft beer stores will be banned.

31 Millian October 18, 2013 at 10:06 am

That doesn’t seem to agree with the facts. The US states that most strongly enact conservative policies are quite poor and not very urban, so maybe these local policies (a) don’t help growth much or (b) help growth, but only to enable convergence with richer states, which makes them situational but not universally meritorious, kind of like mercantilism. We don’t have enough evidence to say, but outside the USA, high-income jurisdictions favour left-wing economic policies and grow slowly while others favour right-wing policies and grow quickly, so maybe (b) has merit.

32 Z October 18, 2013 at 10:34 am

None of which has anything to with my post or reality for that matter. Observing that as societies age and enter decline they fill up with parasites feeding off the rest of society is not revelatory. It is the natural order, just as the body fills with disease as it ages and dies. But, utopians will always be with us and therefore the appeal of socialism will remain strong, particularly on the weak minded. “If only we arrange things just right we will live in plenty forever!”

33 Andrew' October 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

It’s actually just the cities themselves that vote blue on the county-level election maps, iirc.

Here is a model – as population density increases, people tolerate government arbitrators. But the government arbitrators also become their own separate entity unto themselves. Liberals tolerate this, conservatives tend not to.

34 economist October 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Endogenity fail. You don’t understand causality at all, huh?

35 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm

“The US states that most strongly enact conservative policies are quite poor”

In a nutshell: Conservativism is cheap, liberalism is expensive.

Liberalism works best the wealthier and whiter a place is (e.g., Vermont).

36 Sbard October 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Houston has one of the best ethnic dining scenes in the US and craft brewers are booming in TX nowadays.

37 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I went to Rice U., which is on Houston’s Main Street 3 miles southwest of downtown, from 1976-1980. At least during that oil boom, Houston had abundant ethnic restaurants, plenty of high culture, and a reasonable supply of edgy pop culture. But the number of Houstonians interested in proto-SWPL lifestyles, while large enough in absolute terms to support such things, weren’t all that high in relative terms.

Personally, I found this pleasant the relatively low demand and high supply meant that ticket prices for the latest bands were miniscule. In 1978, I saw Talking Heads for $2, Elvis Costello for $3, and in 1979 The Police for $3, all at a local beer hall that held maybe 500 people.

38 Dain Fitzgerald October 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Reality Bites was set in Houston.

39 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

For most of the last decade, Tyler has been reading Peter Schaeffer and myself point out to him that the crucial factor in comparing states is not income or cost of living but standard of living, and standard of living has to be seen in middle class terms: a house with a yard in a decent public school district. So, I’m glad he has this opportunity to enlighten more people.

Here’s my 2005 article comparing Texas and California:

“The Dirt Gap: The Fundamental Cause of Red vs. Blue States
A Tale of Two States: America’s Future Is Either Texas or California”

40 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Here’s a table I made up in 2005 of Standard of Living by state based on median income for a family of four divided by Acrra’s cost of living estimator. (Accra is oriented toward the lifestyles of middle class middle managers.) Highest standard of living was Minnesota, lowest was D.C. and then Hawaii. (Clearly, weather and scenery play a role.) California beat only Hawaii and D.C. while Texas was in the middle of the pack. (This was back before the latest oil boom.)

Median Income Family of 4 Cost of Living Index Standard of Living
Minnesota $77 100 $76
Illinois $72 99 $73
Wisconsin $69 95 $73
Colorado $72 101 $71
Delaware $73 103 $71
Missouri $64 91 $70
Kansas $64 92 $70
Virginia $72 103 $69
Ohio $66 95 $69
Indiana $65 94 $69
Iowa $64 94 $69
Pennsylvania $69 101 $68
Georgia $62 91 $68
Nebraska $64 93 $68
Connecticut $86 127 $68
Michigan $69 101 $68
Utah $62 92 $67
Washington $69 104 $67
Massachusetts $83 126 $66
Maryland $82 126 $65
New Jersey $87 134 $65
North Dakota $57 92 $62
South Dakota $59 95 $62
Tennessee $55 90 $62
Texas $55 89 $61
Alabama $55 93 $60
North Carolina $57 96 $59
South Carolina $56 95 $59
Florida $59 100 $58
Kentucky $53 91 $58
Oregon $62 107 $58
Vermont $66 114 $58
Idaho $53 94 $57
Arizona $58 103 $57
Oklahoma $50 89 $56
Nevada $63 112 $56
New York $69 124 $56
Alaska $72 129 $56
Arkansas $48 87 $56
Rhode Island $71 128 $56
Wyoming $56 102 $55
Louisiana $51 97 $52
Mississippi $47 91 $51
West Virginia $46 92 $50
Montana $49 98 $50
New Mexico $46 101 $45
California $68 151 $45
Hawaii $71 162 $44
District of Columbia $56 145 $39
Maine $60 NA
New Hampshire $79 NA

41 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Cameron Mulder lauds Portland:

“I live in Portland and it is pretty obvious that people don’t move here for income or even employment. You move here for other benefits that don’t show up in simplistic cost of living calculations.”

Portland is a whitopia. The urban core is the whitest of any sizable city in the U.S. (and Asians make up a sizable percentage of the rest of Portland’s population). In Jonathan Tilove’s 2003 book “On Martin Luther King Boulevard,” Portland had the only MLK Blvd. Tilove could find in America where white gentrifiers were pushing out blacks.

Texas is interesting because it seems to be (at present, an era of heavy investment in oil and gas), the least awful solution for the demographic transformation of America.

42 Rick Caird October 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Funny, having lived in Upstate New York, Texas, and Florida, I prefer the last two. I would never even consider moving to California because of the horrible tax structure and nanny government. The idea you would need an increase to move from California to Texas is absurd. Just by moving, you would get an enormous bump due to tax savings. The idea you should not go out at night is equally absurd. It is more dangerous to go to the local Walmart in Florida than going out in Dallas.

43 Floccina October 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Beer, ha! If you think that thee is a significant difference, I think you are being fooled. Try a few blind taste tests.

CA has the best weather in the USA Texas among the worst.

44 Axa October 18, 2013 at 6:27 am

Of course, you have to pay more to an oil engineer to work in Texas compared to Portland.

45 An economist October 18, 2013 at 6:35 am

Yes, because Portland doesn’t have oil. It would be a waste of money.

46 Ray Lopez October 18, 2013 at 6:50 am

Texas is such a wetback immigrant dream destination, and even outside of Mexico. I’ve talked to Eastern European (especially the “Stans”) immigrants in Greece who have relatives in Texas and dream of moving to Texas, and even in southeast Asia they dream of Texas (Vietnam in particular). Lol! Of course these people are ignorant and think the streets in America are paved with gold, but that’s another matter, similar to the dream job destination (soon to be disappointment) of every aspiring model and actress, namely Los Angeles or New York.

47 JD October 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Comments like this make me really wish MR had a downvote function.

48 Muds October 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Ray Lopez is allowed to say anything – he is legendary on these boards. And a self-made millionaire to boot! +1

49 CFG in IL October 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

Texas has low taxes, but it also has few or low quality public services (public education, medicaid) which the taxes are, after all, collected to pay for. Do the “per capita income” estimates take this into account? If they do not, the claims made above are way off base.

50 dan1111 October 18, 2013 at 7:15 am

Feel free to point to some evidence that Texans have higher medical expenses due to less medicaid coverage. If true, then certainly it would make sense to incorporate that into the adjusted income.

However, something like the quality of public education has nothing to do with the cost of living. While relevant to an overall discussion of which state is better, it is not relevant to this discussion of income at all.

51 albert magnus October 18, 2013 at 7:18 am

Texas has an above average education system once you correct for having lots of poor people. It also has one of the most affordable, high quality higher education systems.

52 Millian October 18, 2013 at 7:42 am

Africa has high income levels, once you “correct” for having lots of very poor people.

A lot of third world countries, actually, would look almost as good as Texas on this corrected scale.

53 dan1111 October 18, 2013 at 7:49 am

Come on, this is willfully obtuse. There is a well-established association between poverty and educational attainment, so one needs to control for this to avoid confounding when making a comparison of school system performance.

54 american October 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

Exactly correct. For a supposed economist, I’m quite disappointed in Millian.

55 Millian October 18, 2013 at 8:05 am

I agree that there is a well-established association – one may even call it a clear causation from poverty to education – so then what’s so bad about confounding? It’s not as if poverty is an immutable objective condition. Who cares about the efficiency of the process if you’ve spiked the vital inputs?

as for american, I don’t recall claiming to be an economist, but I know what a preference in microeconomics is.

56 dan1111 October 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

@Millian, sorry if I was a bit snarky. But I still don’t see why it is illegitimate to control for poverty levels when measuring education performance. This is not “spiking the vital inputs” but trying to separate the measuring of education from other factors. If one doesn’t do this, one can’t have a meaningful assessment of the quality of the education system. Because you might just be measuring income levels again.

57 Millian October 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

@dan, there is no need to apologise as you are one of the most reasonable commenters I have observed on MR, which is often a den of snark. I simply mean that we don’t value an education system for the quality of its processes alone, any more than we value books because they are nicely bound. 99% of us, at least, value education for the outputs. It’s not greatly relevant from the public policy perspective to advocate Texas schools if Texan policies also perpetuate poverty more than other states and if poverty matters more.

58 dan1111 October 19, 2013 at 3:20 am

@Millian, I agree that our ultimate concern for education is good outcomes, regardless of the challenges that may be faced in getting good outcomes. So we probably don’t want to say “Texas schools are great once you adjust for poverty” if the outcomes actually aren’t great in the absolute.

However, I still think adjusting for confounders like poverty is necessary to make a meaningful assessment of relative performance. Also, if you don’t adjust for poverty on the basis that “state policies perpetuate poverty” you are building an assumption about the answer to the question we are looking at into the design. It is not clear that Texas policies perpetuate poverty, and indeed, the comparison to California is evidence against that.

In this particular case, it appears not to matter, since there is apparently no measure that rates California’s schools higher than those of Texas.

59 Chip October 18, 2013 at 8:30 am

How many Californians are moving to Africa?

Make all the silly non-arguments you like. Protect your emotional impulses from logical intrusion.

But the reality is that people are moving to Texas in great numbers. Half of the US’s ten fastest growing cities are in the state.

Are they all misguided, unable to assess the costs and benefits for themselves?

60 Millian October 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

I’ve never been to California and I don’t think it differs all that much from Texas in the grand scale of things. LA has a bad rep. The point stands: Adjusting for poverty is not the correct way to judge policies that go hand-in-hand with the rate of poverty. I have never written that people should not move to Texas or that people should objectively prefer California. I have written that the evidence is conflicting, and that Texas may currently be popular for similar reasons to North Dakota, i.e. it is relatively cheap to live there, it’s not a better place per se. This was clear, so I do not think you are arguing in good faith.

61 jizay October 18, 2013 at 9:29 am

Willfully obtuse is correct. The “correction” that people are obviously talking about is demographic; Texas has a lot of Hispanic immigration with lower than average educational attainment. Compare Hispanic educational outcomes in Texas with other states, white with other states, etc. and Texas is an above-average state (and would destroy any third world country). Obviously, that suggests there isn’t a problem with educational policies in Texas.

62 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 9:44 am

Even Texas’s overall numbers, not adjusted for racial or ethnic groups, are above average on the NAEP, even given its low per capita spending. The demographic splits simply make Texas look absolutely fantastic, the best in the country.

I concede that they could be rigging the tests somehow.

63 Millian October 18, 2013 at 9:55 am

If you assume that Hispanics must necessarily be stupider than non-Hispanics, that correction is absolutely valid, but I imagine it to be a VERY difficult statement to prove.

64 Careless October 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

then you must be horrified by California’s dismal, expensive system, million. Any way you compare the two, Texas comes out ahead on k-12 education.

65 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

According to this right-wing rag, Texas ranked 31st on the SERI index, California ranks 34th.

So Texas wins again.

66 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

Furthermore, you can go here and see scores by racial demographic. When you look at each race individually, Texas scores near the top nationally (usually top-5), while California lags behind the national average in each.

Grade 4:

Grade 8:

67 Millian October 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

You will note from reading my posts that I didn’t make any claims about the quality of Texan education, except that it’s sensible not to adjust it for poverty rates, because I don’t know much about Texan education. So I’m not sure why you chose to respond to my post; I think there are other people you should have a beef with.

68 Millian October 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

Or maybe you didn’t and I miscounted? My apologies.

69 mobile October 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Here’s what albert magnus is getting at::

To summarize:
educational outcomes for students in WI are better than outcomes for students in TX
educational outcomes for white students in WI are worse than outcomes for white students in TX
educational outcomes for black students in WI are worse than outcomes for black students in TX
educational outcomes for hispanic students in WI are worse than outcomes for hispanic students in TX

70 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 9:42 am

Public education, as judged by NAEP scores, are fantastic in Texas. Texas not only is quite above average overall, but is the best in the country in 8th grade scores when broken down by blacks, Hispanics, people in homes in poverty, and so on.

By contrast, California has terrible scores but spends a lot. (Unlike Massachusetts, which spends a lot but has very good scores.)

Do you have good evidence that Texas’s scores are rigged? Otherwise, it seems like you’re confusing “amount of money spent on education” with “quality of public education.”

I mean, sure it’s possible that if Texas spent more that they would out pace every single state by absolutely enormous leaps and bounds, but I’m skeptical of that.

71 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Interestingly, Texas students outscored California students way back in 1960 on the federal government’s giant Project Talent test. This was a post-Sputnik test of a huge fraction of all the 15-year-olds int the country. It involved two full days of testing.

This was surprising to me because California had the more famous universities (e.g., Caltech) and more Nobel prize winners, but perhaps Texas had a stronger middle and upper middle class, while California was just better at the Louis and Fred Terman stratospheric level?

My guess would be that the oil industry in Texas, going back to 1901, attracted to Texas several generations of people with above-average brains. Oil is a complicated business.

Also, Texas’s pro-business climate attracted a lot of smart, ambitious people, especially from the stagnant Jim Crow South.

72 Sbard October 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm

School quality is largely unrelated to funding, and frankly if I were one intending to move to Texas, I’d care more about the quality of the specific schools my kids would be attending (which would likely be quite fine) more than the average performance of the state as a whole. Most of the new middle-class residents aren’t planning to send their kids to a poverty-stricken school in the Rio Grande Valley.

73 F. Lynx Pardinus October 18, 2013 at 7:16 am

As a serious question, why do these kind of articles always seems to choose Texas vs. California? I don’t think I’ve ever read a Tennessee vs. New Jersey article or some such.

74 CBBB October 18, 2013 at 7:22 am

I agree this article is silly.

75 american October 18, 2013 at 7:50 am

Probably because it’s a clear comparison between Democratic and Republican states.

76 dan1111 October 18, 2013 at 7:51 am

Also, they are both really big.

77 F. Lynx Pardinus October 18, 2013 at 8:31 am

There’s bluer states (the north half of the East Coast) than California and redder states (the west half of the Midwest) than Texas that would give a clearer comparison if that were the case.

78 economist October 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm

This is a fallacy. The demographics are completely different. Texas and California have more comparable demographics.

79 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:25 am

Texas and California have similar demographics, are both large states, and represent the polar opposite political affiliation.

80 F. Lynx Pardinus October 18, 2013 at 8:32 am

That a good explanation, thanks; it just get a little weird reading the same T vs. C analysis again and again.

81 boba October 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

Those factors may appear to be true, but are in truth illusory. On the most obvious, where in Texas do you have a population like LA – Orange – San Diego counties? You simply don’t have that density and variety in close proximity. Geographically Texas has much more “usable” land then California. The Sierra Nevada and California deserts occupy huge swaths of uninhabitable space. I would guess Texas has at minimum 50% more land that can be easily developed for human use beyond just passing through. And politics in California nearly the same. Remember they had Deukmejian(R), Wilson(R), Davis(D), and Schwarzeneger(R) as governors, and Wilson was the US Senator prior to governor. The urban centers of LA and SF counties skew the Congressional representation, go inland and California is quite rural and conservative (in traditional sense).
Texas and California are compared because the media are lazy and ignorant, no revelation there.

82 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 9:51 am

A state can elect Republicans, but have exclusionary zoning. Party affiliation is not the same thing as political affiliation. It’s lazy and ignorant to ignore that.

Virginia elects both Republicans and Democrats, but it’s the state that absolutely bans public employee unions (along with NC) in its state constitution, whereas plenty of Republican-leaning Midwestern states are union friendly.

Texas has urban areas, just as Illinois has rural areas. The question is which group consistently dominates state politics, and state politics have an effect. (In NC and KY, for example, Charlotte or Louisville politicians lose statewide elections, regardless of party label, just as Pittsburgh loses to Philly, regardless of party label, in PA.)

Geography plays a small role, but there are excellent studies by Ed Glaeser and other absolutely destroying the idea that it’s geography holding things back. For instance, one simple instrument is to compare the price of two similar houses on different size lots (with no zoning right to subdivide and build a second house on either lot) to the price of the an empty lot (with zoning right to build a house) of the size of the difference. The price of the empty lot is far, far greater in similar areas in CA, but not in TX. That extraordinarily high premium represents the cost of permitting and regulation, of zoning.

It is far, far higher in CA, with far, far higher of a contribution, than geography. It’s completely wrong to blame geography.

83 F. Lynx Pardinus October 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

I was rolling with your analysis, but when I hit the end “It’s completely wrong to blame geography,” you harshed my mellow. “Completely wrong”?

84 mpowell October 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

I’m sorry, but your argument is incomplete. If you could show that there was enough land for 3 times as many houses if lots could be split up, yeah, this cost differential would indicate that zoning was holding things back. But I’ve lived in SoCal. In the desirable areas, the lots are typically very small (for all but the most expensive homes). If you split lots could you build a few more houses? Sure, but I doubt it would be enough to signficantly drop the price of an empty lot. The increase in supply would barely make a dent in unmet demand. The cost of zoning is the difference between the value of that empty lot and what it would be without zoning. And what I am arguing is that if you got rid of the zoning restrictions in CA, the value of the empty lot would stay the same and the house on the 2x lot would just increase in price until the difference in the value of the house on the 1x lot and the 2x lot would approximate the value of the empty 1x lot.

85 Ed October 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

The current breakdown of support between Democrats vs Republicans works pretty much the same in both states, with the difference is that the Republicans do better in each demographic group and area in Texas than in California (and vice versa). The difference is most stark in comparing middle class suburbs of Los Angeles and San Francisco as opposed to similar suburbs of Houston and Dallas. Democrats do comparatively better with Latinos/ Hispanics in both states, but a higher percentage Californians of Mexican descent vote Democratic than do Texans of Mexican descent.

So you get deep blue areas in Texas and deep red areas in California but the overall perception is valid. There are consistently Republican precincts in New York City.

86 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Mitt Romney carried an astounding 76% of white Texan voters in 2012, versus 49% of the white vote in California (according to the Reuters-Ipsos panel of 40,000 voters nationwide.) The “national” exit poll of 25,000 wasn’t conducted in Texas, so the Reuters’ poll is our best source. Here are all states by ethnicity in 2012:

The gap among Hispanics was narrower in absolute terms: 37% for Romney in Texas versus 25% in California.

In general, the traditional Texas culture that is chauvinistically pro-Texan (“Don’t Mess with Texas”) has allowed whites to maintain the racial solidarity (76% for Romney) required to stay in charge of Texas politically.

Because Texas chauvinism isn’t racial — anybody can be a good Texan — it can continue to be a vehicle for white domination in an era when everybody, even in Texas, is aghast at the idea of white solidarity.

87 dave smith October 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm

This explains it pretty well, I think.

88 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Because they have 64 million residents between them?

89 Millian October 18, 2013 at 7:23 am

No, Texas portends the present of the United States. That is to say, it is currently popular. If a combination of fiscal consolidation and environmental changes leaves the USA with European-style gasoline prices, the Texan model will be less popular.

90 american October 18, 2013 at 7:51 am

Wrong. Only 10% of Texas’s economy depends on the natural resource sector.

91 Millian October 18, 2013 at 8:06 am

I mean that it will raise the cost of living in the sprawl, not that it will reduce incomes, though that will have some effect too. 10% is not exactly nothing.

92 jtf October 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

Maybe. I saw that statistic too, and it doesn’t include manufacturing that depends on the natural resource sector. Refining and chemicals are considered manufacturing.

93 Anon October 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

Well one positive will be that perhaps we can see Texas colored blue in an electoral map soon.

94 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:26 am

Then people will start fleeing Texas too.

95 F. Lynx Pardinus October 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

What states would they flee to? (As above, this is a serious question, not a talking point.)

96 Andao October 18, 2013 at 8:13 am

Isn’t the center of all this vibrancy the city of Austin? I know that’s where much of the tech industry is based, and it’s politics are much more Californian than what you’d consider “Texan”.

97 Scott Cunningham October 18, 2013 at 8:29 am

It’s probably Houston and Dallas moreso than Austin.

98 Andao October 18, 2013 at 9:13 am

According to Wiki, the trend seems to be in Austin (and San Antonio’s) favor.

Population figures:
Houston (2.1 million, +2.88 annual pop growth)
San Antonio (1.3 million, +4.18% growth)
Dallas (1.2 million, +3.62% growth)
Austin (842,000, +6.6% growth)

San Antonio’s county went 52/47 for Obama in 2012, and Austin’s went 60/36. Dallas went 57/42 and Houston barely squeaked by an Obama win.

Anyway, unless most new residents are moving to the middle of the desert, the lamentable California policies could be brought to bear in Texas soon. Nobody first moved to California thinking “boy i really like high housing prices and strict environmental regulation”. That all came as a result of the people living there, who now happen to be living in Texas.

99 albert magnus October 18, 2013 at 9:29 am

As Steve Sailer, who has been talking about this stuff for years, points out California has a beautiful coast line where everyone wants to live (and protect) and a lot of unpleasent desert. Texas on the other hand has a lot of boring, flat land and lots of water which is ideal for plopping down huge subdivisions of houses.

100 Urso October 18, 2013 at 10:53 am

2.88% of 2.1 million is more than 6.6% of 842,000.

I feel like people (educated, liberalish people) from outside of Texas have this bizarre Austin fetish. You always hear things like “oh Texas is an awful place to live — except for Austin, I could move there” from people who don’t really know what they’re talking about (to be fair, you, personally may well know exactly what you’re talking about.)

101 M1EK October 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

It’s not inaccurate.

Generalizing, people move to Houston and Dallas because they have to. And a lot of “have to” is economic. They get an offer they can’t refuse, and put up with a poor quality of life to get the big money from the oil industry or one of its ancillary industries. Resource extraction is directly or indirectly responsible for almost all of the growth in Houston and Dallas in the last decade; this has virtually nothing to do with business-friendly regulations compared to global oil prices (when oil went down, far fewer people drilled in Texas no matter what the regulations allowed).

Austin has virtually no contribution from the oil industry any more. People moving there are for high tech and the creative economy, and the things that support *that* – and it requires a lot more in the way of “I actually want to live here for more than just the job” to make that happen. The only “have to” jobs in Austin are state jobs, which is a much smaller fraction of the economy here than it was even ten years ago.

102 jeff fisher October 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I have heard that Austin is way better than most of Texas, including from several colleagues who grew up in Texas. Though one said that parts of Dallas are nice as well (its a big city, so that is not really surprising).

I think for economic performance for the last few years it is also important to remember that one very important reason Texas has done relatively well is that it had a major real estate finance crisis and collapse in the 90’s, and had retained unusually strong real estate related regulations which mitigated the results of the destruction of federal level finance regulation. Texas is doing well, in part, because it is *more* regulated than California in important ways.

Texas also has much higher and less bizarre property taxes than California (2.57% vs 0.68% in 2007 according to a nyt table I just googled us average=1.38%). Texas is actually highest in the nation, and California second lowest after Hawaii. I assert that high property tax rates mitigate real estate bubbles some, and that California’s bizarre prop 13 scheme exacerbates them by encouraging overextension.

In the area of real estate related financial crisis Texas is actually the “Left” and California the “Right” in critically important ways.

There is a myth that California is some kind of exemplar of “liberal” government, but this really has not been true since the late 70’s tax revolt. It is much more complicated than that with so many initiatives, bizarre property taxes, 2/3 majority requirements, etc. There are ways in which California is very ‘liberal’ and ways in which is it very ‘conservative’.

Texas also has a rather lavishly funded higher education system for the past few decades. Oil money mainly. I was considering graduate school in the sciences around 2000 and the Texas state universities graduate student stipends were almost 50% higher than average. The other place with really good funding was Alaska.

Californias ‘golden age’ was in the 50’s and 60’s, when it was still a major oil producer. Maybe states only fund their university systems at the ideal level when they are getting lots of “free money” from resource extraction? Suggestive anyway.

103 jeff fisher October 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Oh, also Texas is in the ‘isn’t this going swell!’ phase of building out suburban sprawl. California is in the ‘oh, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea…’ phase.

104 Urso October 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Well California needs a whole new Constitution, there is no doubt about that. There are serious structural issues to governance there that have nothing to do with left/right. Texas I don’t know much about.

105 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Austin has some hills, which means it has scenery. Dallas and especially Houston are flat, although the impressive skylines provide some artificial scenery. I lived in a highrise at Rice U., and the combination of spectacular sunsets and the downtown skyline were certainly pleasing, but, down on the ground, the relentless flatness of the place kind of wore me down.

106 Andao October 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm

I was speaking to the trend, not in absolute terms.

I have family and friends who work for IBM and Samsung in Austin and really like it. They are politically apathetic as far as i know, but they are all huge tech nerds. That seems to be a side of Texas you wouldn’t really expect. That, more than the politics, seems intriguing

107 Scott Cunningham October 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Somewhat. San Antonio by those numbers saw an increase of 54,340 and Austin had 55,572, but Houston was 60,480. So we were both right!

That said, the Democratic party isn’t very effective or impactful in Texas. Republicans win many races with very large margins, and haven’t had a Democratic governor at least since Ann Richards lost to W. in 1994. It’s optimistic, at best, to think that it’s turning blue. We also don’t know if the marginal person moving to Austin is blue just because the average citizen is blue. Just FWIW.

108 Benny Lava October 18, 2013 at 8:24 am

This is all well and good for Texas, but how exactly does it portend for the future of the US?

109 Ed October 18, 2013 at 8:32 am

Steve Sailer keeps pointing this out, but its a valid point and I’ll repeat it. One thing that Texas has that California doesn’t have is lots of land. Obviously in terms of square miles, the state has more land than any other except Alaska. But if you just stick to land that is not desert, mountain, or swamp, the part of Texas east of Fort Worth and Austin has more available land than coastal California, and compares well with the other big sunbelt state, Florida.

This translates into low real estate prices for businesses and people who want to relocate to the state. I think Texas will surpass California as the most populated state in twenty years. This has nothing to do with the culture of the two states or how they are governed, in fact it says something about the culture and government of Texas that this hasn’t happened already, given the state’s geographic advantage.

110 8 October 18, 2013 at 8:46 am

California is slowly turning into Mexico. Maybe Texas has the same problems, but I haven’t heard of it.

Pot farms in California: Too dangerous to intervene?
California: The Road Warrior Is Here
Latino Gang Leader Convicted in L.A. Ethnic Cleansing Campaign

111 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

LOL! Not quite. Condensed populations create more opportunity for trade and specialization, which is why more densely populated areas tend to have higher average incomes than sparsely populated rural areas.

112 John Thacker October 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

It is not geography. It is foolish and contradictory to all studies to blame in on geography. The difference in costs of permitting in CA (vs TX) in housing costs easily exceeds the costs of the unimproved land itself, by an order of magnitude or above.

113 mpowell October 18, 2013 at 11:48 am

It is more than that. There is plenty of empty land in CA, but it is all super crappy. And it’s isolated from the good land by mountains in most cases. And probably CA govt policy is better suited for the super expensive good areas. Anyways, TX has lots of mediocre land and because there is no super great land where all the tech/businesses/good jobs would tend to concentrate, you are less likely to get super expensive urban cores that require an hour commute to get to if you want a cheap house to live in.

114 Urso October 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm

California should definitely be split up into two states (or more?). People in the Central Valley, Sierras, etc, are dealing with a Legislature that has no idea that there is anyone who lives more than 10 miles inland. A $9 minimum wage works fine in Los Angeles or Orange County. It makes no sense in Georgetown or Barstow.

115 Finch October 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Three. LA and SF probably don’t belong in the same state either.

116 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

“There is plenty of empty land in CA, but it is all super crappy.”

Actually, there is a remarkable amount of almost empty land a long California’s coast between Santa Barbara and Hearst Castle.

117 Thomas Sewell October 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm

“There is plenty of empty land in CA, but it is all super crappy.”

I would rephrase this as “There is plenty of empty land in CA, but much of it is virtually impossible to develop to it’s best potential as a result of federal, state and local government regulations.”

I really don’t think most people are going to argue that land in Texas is simply inherently nicer than land in California. I lived the first half of my life there, and I’d love to live in many parts of California, but I can’t handle the anti-growth, anti-use regulations, so I refrain.

118 Ed October 18, 2013 at 8:34 am

There are obvious red state blue state aspects to the Texas vs California comparison, but I wouldn’t make too much of them. Until the 1980s, Texas was the more Democratic and California the more Republican of the two states. These things change.

119 KPres October 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

Yes, Texas used to be blue, and California red. That’s why people used to move to California. Things do change indeed.

120 Millian October 18, 2013 at 10:15 am

Or it could be that oil prices rose, or it could be that stagnant real incomes cause people to cut back on expensive real estate investments. There are multiple factors and it is not easy to say which cause which.

121 RPLong October 18, 2013 at 8:35 am

Texas is not a state, it is an idea. You either “get” Texas, or you don’t. The ones who don’t, don’t stay here very long. Those of us who do, love it here. What more can I say?

122 charlie October 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

Is this a codeword for speaking spanish?

I’d say more and more Henry Clay was right. The twin curses of slavery and stealing half of Mexico will be do the undoing of American in the 21st century.

123 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

“Don’t Mess with Texas” — that’s been a highly successful anti-littering campaign slogan since the 1980s.

In general, Texas has the strongest culture of loyalty to the state of any state in the country. This has done Texas a lot of good, but it intentionally gets on non-Texans’ nerves.

124 FUBAR007 October 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm

“Texas is not a state, it is an idea. You either “get” Texas, or you don’t.”

I grew up in Kansas and Colorado and knew Texas expats in both places. To a person, once you got them started talking about Texas and how wonderful it is, you couldn’t get them to stop.

I’ve always chalked it up to Texas having been an independent country before it became a state. It has a national origin story with the Alamo, Sam Houston, Santa Anna, and all that. It’s a nation in a way most other states are not.

125 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm

That’s a part of it. Another cause of Texas chauvinism is the nondescriptness of the place: Eastern Texas, where everybody lives, is a giant expanse of flat land. It would probably make more sense to break it up into multiple states, but Texas indoctrination prevents that.

126 jdm October 18, 2013 at 8:41 am

How accurate do we expect the kind of extrapolations that Tyler makes in his book to be? If Tyler had written his book in 1980, would he have gotten the big picture roughly right for 2013?

127 Bill October 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

+1 Or, had the analysis period not been during a recession, when energy prices were high and when Calif real estate crashed, along with the jobs associated with the real estate crisis.

128 jdm October 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Yeah. Books that predict the future can be very insightful about the period in which they were written. They invariably tend not to be such great predictors of the future…

129 Tom October 18, 2013 at 8:57 am

I can’t understand why someone, at least not from Mexico, would want to live in Texas. Aside from it’s bankruptcy laws, it’s a terrible state. California is not the correct comparison if your trying to say it’s the best place to live.

130 Andy October 18, 2013 at 10:23 am

Thanks for the illuminating comment that you think Texas is terrible! It really contributed to our understanding of interstate migration patterns.

131 Maurice de Sully October 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

If you live in Texas, the odds of running into the guy who whines about living in Texas- and all the inane baggage that guy tends to carry- are very small. Some people would argue this more than makes up for the horror of Texas humidity.

I’ve been to Houston in August, I’m not so sure.

132 Tom Noir October 18, 2013 at 9:59 am

Congrats on the cover, Tyler! Upstaging Benedict Cumberbatch, nice.

133 Spencer October 18, 2013 at 10:23 am

I would argue that Massachusetts, not Texas is the future of the US.

Mass has great jobs in IT, finance, healthcare for the well educated and the high pay in these areas offset the very high cost of housing. It also has numerous low paying jobs providing services for the
well off. It is the post-industrial economy.

But it has poor prospects for the middle level that have some education, but not enough to work in the high paying leading sectors. These are the people leaving Mass and migrating to place like Texas and Nevada.

That is the future the US. But Mass can exports its middle income population that has poor prospects and can not afford the expensive housing. But how does this scale to the entire US when the whole country can not export it middle level population?

134 CBBB October 18, 2013 at 10:25 am

They all get dumped in isolated gulags (exurbs) In Texas.

135 Finch October 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

I worry about this, too. Massachusetts is the nightmare scenario for places that don’t have a lot of poor immigration, much as California is the nightmare scenario for places that do have a lot of poor immigration.

I’d note that even the well educated with high pay jobs (*) in Massachusetts are pretty squeezed. It’s anecdotal, but I know a lot of people who’ve left for places like North Carolina so that they can live in a mansion in a nice school district for what they were paying for a run-down rental apartment in Cambridge. With knowledge jobs, the pay difference is usually far less than the cost of living difference.

(*) if you consider $120k/year high pay. Think 28 year-old engineer. Those folks can’t afford nice neighborhoods in Mass, if they’re a one income household. But hey, they’ve got the MBTA in a city they might visit very month or so, so that’s cool. And a public education system that turns the children of people who went to grad school into successful adults, clearly demonstrating its efficacy.

136 The Anti-Gnostic October 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Mass has great jobs in IT, finance, healthcare for the well educated and the high pay in these areas offset the very high cost of housing. It also has numerous low paying jobs providing services for the
well off. It is the post-industrial economy.

The future is surely bright: high-g executives helicoptering all over a squalid city and paying for kidnap insurance coverage for themselves and their family members.

137 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

“I would argue that Massachusetts, not Texas is the future of the US.”

Indeed. As American gets older and more crowded, it will tend to be more like old and crowded Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is a great place for people with very high IQs. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t have very high IQs.

138 Yancey Ward October 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

Shorter version of many of the above comments:

“This analysis has got to be bullshit- nobody I know wants to live in Texas.”

139 Andrew' October 18, 2013 at 10:38 am

As far as I can tell, the internet can go anywhere.

140 CMOT October 18, 2013 at 10:30 am

“Home prices, more than any other factor, cause people to leave,” Kolko says.

Aha, finally an explanation for the population explosion in Detroit.

141 BC October 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm

An example of, “Never reason from a price change?”

142 sherparick October 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

I would like to know where Texas ranks among the states as far as “median income.” Average income is somewhat misleading. As the joke goes, Bill Gates walks into a bar with 9 migrant laborers. The “average income of the 10 (assuming Bill makes One Billion a year) would be 100 million dollars.”

143 Yancey Ward October 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

I know Texas has a slightly lower Gini Coefficient than California. Does that tell you anything?

144 Jay October 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

When the average home price in TX is just over half that of CA, what would a median income comparison tell you (and yet you dismiss average income as misleading)?

145 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm

The weather is a lot nicer in California.

I went to college in Houston, and it was a nice place to go college because I got to go home to L.A. by May 15. Winters are short and mild, and springs and falls in Houston are very nice, and spring starts usually by late February. But summers …

146 Komori October 19, 2013 at 10:41 am

According to Wikipedia (, Texas is number 25 at $49,392, for 2011.

Per the Census Bureau (, Texas is currently 27 (including DC) at $50,591

So, right in the middle of the pack.

147 ChacoKevy October 18, 2013 at 10:42 am

Jezebel is not pleased with you making the cover:
TIME put Benedict Cumberbatch’s face upon their international edition. The United States version, however, featured a drawing of Texas made out of little tiny states, which is boring and notably not Benedict Cumberbatch. Understandably, the good people of the U.S. are losing their shit entirely.

148 prior_approval October 18, 2013 at 10:52 am

Wow – you mean that Texas isn’t anything but provincial on the world stage? Who would have guessed – apart from billions of people, that is?

149 mike October 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Texas and California are each bigger than most countries.

150 Trimegistus October 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

I’m afraid it’s too late to hope Texas portends the future of the US. Unless the Democrats’ corrupt political-media machine can be shut down, I’m afraid Detroit portends the future of the US.

The only question is whether Texas will allow itself to be looted to pay for Californian retirees’ pensions, or will decide to leave.

151 Brad October 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Texas also hides costs of some of its public services behind “gotchas” so they won’t show up in these measures. For example, someone I know in TX got pulled over recently. They had insurance but didn’t have their insurance card on them. They were able to get their ticket for this dismissed by showing evidence they were insured, but still ended up with a mandatory “driver responsibility fee” as a not-subject-to-challenge-or-review result of interacting with the police. This fee is to be paid over 3 years and totals nearly $1000. This isn’t a “tax” but it looks and smells like one – except it is extremely regressive and unpredictable. It also probably falls outside of calculations of “cost of living”, though it is one many residents will encounter.

152 Jay October 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I was born in Houston and have never heard of such a “fee” nor known anyone that has received it. One of the better reasons never to draw large conclusions from anecdotes.

153 Robert Nagle October 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Jay, you are an idiot. These Driver Responsibility fees resulted in a major scandal for a few years. About a 1/10 of adult’s driver’s licenses were suspended because they never paid their fees (causing the number of people who couldn’t obtain car insurance to soar). Even the Republicans were embarrassed by it and in 2012 (I think) they provided a sort of amnesty. Texas Tribune reports, “More than 60 percent of $1.8 billion DPS has billed in surcharges has gone uncollected. And some 1.2 million Texans have had their licenses suspended. Many continue driving anyway, without licenses and without auto insurance.” (source: )

154 mike October 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

To be fair, not having your insurance card on you means that if you get in an accident, you can’t give the other person your insurance information. It’s not exactly a technicality. In fact, it sounds like a good law for any state that has a large population of Mexican illegals who like to drive drunk, get in serious accidents, and then No Habla Ingles and drive away and slip back “into the shadows”.

155 quadrupole October 19, 2013 at 8:00 am

I was pulled over and ticketed for not having my insurance card on me about 7 years ago in Austin. I had to go to a courthouse and show a clerk my insurance card to clear up the ticket, but was not assessed a fine such as the one described above.

156 sherparick October 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Also, it is not just zoning rules and “silly” environmental restrictions that gives Texas an advantage with cheap housing. Texas simply has wide open areas of cheap, vacant (except for grazing cattle) land around its cities. California’s coastal areas quickly abuts mountains, Massachusetts is hemmed by both mountains and the ocean, and New York City is of course a bunch of islands and a peninsula (the Bronx), that can only grow “north, northeast, and west.” Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio can grow indefinitely outward at 360 degrees (or until gasoline reaches a price where it will be to expensive to commute). This ability to build cheap housing definitely lowers the cost of living. Texas has also benefited at being in epicenter of the fracking oil and gas boom. That technological innovation, along with a 10 year decline of the dollar since 2002 has helped its refinery industry become an export leader. Nevertheless, when one looks at median, as opposed to “average” household statistics, Texas ranks only 25th among the states, with Blue states dominating the top 10 for “medium” household income. That Texas now ranks 25th is not due to much income growth in Texas, but because so many other states have seen a decline in medium income since 2006. If Texas is the future, then it will be a future where the upper 1% is firehosed with money, while the remaining 99% will continue to have stagnant or declining real incomes.

157 Jay October 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Washington DC has the second highest average home price, higher than all the “confined by geography” states you mentioned yet it can grow in most directions nearly unimpeded. This seems to indicate that it is more complicated than mere geography and that zoning and new home construction regulation may have a hand in governing the direction of home prices for a given city. The fact that Texas has been able to keep its home prices relatively low during a period of enormous growth should be applauded while the Blue states you mentioned are losing congressmen but keeping their home prices nice and high.

I don’t think it really matters to you though, it seems you simply wanted to get in your bit about income inequality.

158 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Washington DC has the IRS.

159 Finch October 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Massachusetts is hemmed in by regulation and anti-growth policy. For example, commuting from northwest of Boston is severely impaired by the need to cross Cambridge which does everything it can to fight the car. Make Cambridge passable and you could greatly expand the number of people living in the suburbs and working in the city. Consider all the farms propped up by communities to keep houses from being built on the land, and housing prices high. Consider all the minimum lot-size laws, a town level anti-immigration keep-out-the-poor measure.

Fly over Massachusetts sometime in a small plane. It’s empty. There is an ocean on one side, but there are no mountains.

160 Finch October 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I’d further note that in the old days they used to make land in Boston from the ocean.

161 Skip Intro October 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm

The Berkshires?

162 Finch October 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Do you know where the Berkshires are? Do you think they are a significant constraint on Massachusetts real estate development?

Heck, do you think they actually count as mountains?

163 M1EK October 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

What a surprise that a libertarian economist tends to ignore anything not convenient to the libertarian worldview in extolling Texas.

Apart from Austin, most of the economic action happening in Texas for the last ten years has been resource recovery. Not due to a lack of regulation empowering actual knowledge economy stuff; just old moving dirt to get at oil, and all the ancillary stuff that has to happen for that to work.

And Austin is like Silicon Valley in the middle of Texas – both in terms of higher regulation than the libertarians claim to like, and in actual results being the opposite of what said libertarians would predict. Turns out that smart people don’t want to live next to oil refineries or the like. Who could have guessed?

164 Jay October 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm

“Apart from Austin, most of the economic action happening in Texas for the last ten years has been resource recovery. Not due to a lack of regulation empowering actual knowledge economy stuff; just old moving dirt to get at oil, and all the ancillary stuff that has to happen for that to work.”

Citation required, last time I checked California wasn’t natural resource starved nor were the companies moving to TX all “dirt movers” who just luckily liked the state with zero personal or corporate income tax. People might take you seriously if you wouldn’t do the exact thing you criticize Tyler for doing as you ignore every other growing city in TX but the one you are aligned with ideologically.

165 dirk October 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm

“Not due to a lack of regulation empowering actual knowledge economy stuff; just old moving dirt to get at oil, and all the ancillary stuff that has to happen for that to work.”

Yeah, designing technology to image the subsurface of the earth beneath layers of salt, calculated where exactly to drill and doing so five miles deep amid tremendous temperatures and pressure is “just old moving of dirt” and has nothing to do with the knowledge economy.

The oil industry is every bit as much the technology industry as Silicon Valley.

166 mobile October 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm

All that dirt and the oil has been in Texas for much longer than ten years. What is new is the knowledge — of how to make hydraulic fracking economically viable to extract it. And the story of how this knowledge was earned is every bit as impressive as, say, the story of inventing the touchscreen or Ruby on Rails.

167 dirk October 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm

It’s much more than fracking. Much of the technology needed to drill deep, for instance, in the new huge finds in Brazil, is developed in Houston. As well as much of the technology to keep the North Sea producing. Those things are much more complicated than putting a man on the moon.

168 Sbard October 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

There are plenty of smart people in Houston, they just tend to be chemists and petroleum engineers as opposed to software developers.

169 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Oil is a high tech business these days. In fact, it generally has been a high tech business that has attracted a lot of talent to Texas over the last 110 years.

One advantage Austin has in desirability is that it had more German-influence on its development. The only charming small towns in Texas are in the Texas Hill Country in the middle of the state, and that’s because they were developed by German farmers.

170 Robert Nagle October 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Steve, and therein lies the tragedy. In Texas most of the most talented engineers, MBA types and software geeks are snapped up to further the business goal of more oil exploration and drilling. Sure, it’s true that the crew that plugged the Deepwater well did something amazing, but wouldn’t their efforts have been better applied to medical research or agricultural innovation?

171 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I don’t know. I like reading at night, driving, being warm in winter, and cool in summer. The Houston-centered energy industry has been pretty good at providing me with those luxuries.

172 Robert Nagle October 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Steve, you are presuming that it is not possible to maintain that same quality of life without fossil fuels. As for me, I live entirely off renewable energy at my home in Houston and buy carbon offsets for my travel. The inconvenience for me has been minimal.

Here’s two entertaining videos by the Climate Crocks guy on the false choice you present: and

173 dirk October 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm


174 Sbard October 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Houston also has the largest medical center in the world and gets plenty medical research done. If you want agricultural innovation, Texas A&M where Norman Borlaug used to teach, is 1.5 hours down the road.

175 Larry October 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm
176 Jake Rosen October 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I don’t know if it is going to be a great thing for Texas to be taking in so many transplants, especially from California. Texas is already projected to become more “blue” due to demographics, so the transplants moving in will just speed up that process.

177 Robert Nagle October 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm

While you praise Texas, ponder this factoid from EIA:

Texas consumes more fossil fuels than any other state in the US. If Texas were a nation, it would be the 7th largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Electric plants in Texas (population 25 million) emit as much CO2 as electric plants in the COMBINED states of New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Oregon (population: 86 million)

(This data, taken from 2012 covers the best available data at the time — about 2009-2010. They stopped collecting this type of data in 2013 — according to an email to me from an EIA official, they stopped due to budget cuts).

178 mike October 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm

It’s a good thing carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant, then.

179 Chip October 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Another one late to the party.

Temperatures aren’t rising, sea level rise isn’t accelerating, the troposphere doesn’t have a hot spot and the IPCC’s models are almost universally wrong.

But if temperatures do start to rise again – in line with our recovery from the last ice age – be comforted. A warmer climate will increase global GDP by 1.5% at least until 2080.

180 Steve Sailer October 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Okay, so I read Time’s summary of the article, and I’m guessing Tyler is yanking everybody’s chain: he’s basically saying what I’ve been saying for years: Texas is the best you can get with a heavily Hispanic population, and that’s not very good, but that will come as a major surprise to liberals.

181 David. October 19, 2013 at 12:25 am

When I lived in Austin it was said to be the Berkeley of Texas and since I had previously lived in Berkeley, I thought that was not too far off. Austin was actually better in some ways, though not in others (better and more live music, worse weather, hotter girls, bigger cockroaches). San Antonio was probably better. Other parts of Texas, I don’t think so.
Someone may had said this, regrettably I didn’t read all 1,790 comments.

182 mulp October 19, 2013 at 5:52 am

The diversity of the Texas economy is a legacy of the Federal government and lots of pork.

Military/defense is the second largest sector in the Texas economy. California had a larger defense/military sector through the 60s, but Texas gained relative to California when the military budget was shrunk after the mid-70s. NASA’s large footprint in Texas was more pork than logic – its the Johnson Space Center for a reason. When Texas lost the funding for the SSC that marked the end of the era of promoting science in Texas – no politician was left in Texas who saw it as a goal to have Nobel prize winners in physics for work in Texas.

The history of the Texas oil industry is filled with lots of Washington political corruption, related to military especially.

183 chriss1519 October 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

“Portend” typically has a negative connotation: something bad is in the offing.

Not the best choice of words.

184 Steve Sailer October 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm

That’s Tyler’s point: Texas is as good as it’s going to get in Hispanicized America, and that’s not very good.

185 David C October 20, 2013 at 11:09 am

“The website MoneyRates ranks states on the basis of average income, adjusting for tax rates and cost of living; once those factors are accounted for, Texas has the third highest average income (after Virginia and Washington State), while New York ranks 36th.”

So MoneyRates is basically assuming that the only value of government services is provided through higher income rates or lower costs of living?

186 mobile October 21, 2013 at 1:12 am
187 Tom October 21, 2013 at 10:08 pm

This article does a good job shooting down this Texas hype, California bashing:

188 Ziad K Abdelnour October 29, 2013 at 6:38 am

It is an oft-repeated axiom that a person can learn a whole lot about
a society by how it treats its poor; but just as much may be learned
by looking at how that same society treats its rich. Indeed, the economic
future of the poor—and our nation—will be determined in the coming decades by how we treat the people in this country who create great wealth. It will be determined by our understanding of the
so-called rich and by our need to foster and protect this minority of
true wealth creators

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