Saturday, July 14, 2012

Texas: A Textbook Case for the Tenth Amendment

I have written about this before, but I was freshly reminded of the genius of the founding fathers by a recent interview of Texas Governor Rick Perry.  After giving a brief summation of Perry’s impressive career, Uncommon Knowledge host Peter Robinson started the interview with an interesting statistical anecdote:
Robinson:  U-Haul rates.  This is painful for me.  This is very painful for me.  I went on line and checked how much it would cost to rent a 26 foot U-Haul truck to drive from Palo Alto where I live, to Austin, Texas, where you live.And to go from California to Texas today would cost $1855.  To go from Austin to Palo Alto, $723
Perry:  We need to get those U-Haul trailers back to California.
Robinson:  That’s what makes it so hard.
Why?  The obvious answer is that more people want to move from California to Texas than vice-versa.  And why is that?  Texas is where the jobs are, the Texas economy is humming, and it is a much more pleasant place to live, despite the sweltering heat of a Texas summer.

How did Perry turn Texas into a magnet for business and people?  He explained it best himself:
You keep the taxes as low as you can on those job creators. You have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable and a legal system that does not allow for oversuing. And then you try to get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best.
Texas is a textbook case of the wisdom of the founding fathers to concentrate power not in the federal government, but in individual states and localities where people are free to pursue their own solutions, and where elected officials are closer to and more accountable to the people that elected them.  They envisioned a small federal government with limited enumerated powers, and left all other powers to states, localities and individuals, as is clearly and simply stated in the 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
This principle maximizes freedom on the one hand, and accountability of elected officials on the other.  It also creates a healthy competition between states.  If elected officials get power hungry and create an onerous environment for its people and commerce, the latter are more likely to vote them out of office.  And if they are unable to vote them out of office, they have the option of voting with their feet by moving to a friendlier environment.  And as people and businesses move out, they take with them lots of tax revenue, which is the very life blood of power hungry politicians and demagogues who would otherwise keep themselves in power by spending other people’s money.

This has happened not only in California, but in my home state of Maryland.  According to a recent Washington Times article:

Maryland lost the most residents in the mid-Atlantic between 2007 and 2010 — and many of them moved to Virginia, according to a study released Tuesday.Almost 40,000 Marylanders crossed the Potomac River for new homes in Virginia, taking $2.17 billion with them, according to the Internal Revenue Service data used in the study conducted by Change Maryland, a nonpartisan group advocating for less state spending and lower taxes.The high level of loss may reflect people’s dissatisfaction with Maryland’s tax policy, said Jim Pettit, spokesman for Change Maryland.“People vote with their feet,” he said, adding that tax policies “absolutely” are tied to the number of people leaving the state. Critics have said Maryland has less-friendly tax policies than Virginia, and new income-tax increases for the state’s highest earners went into effect Sunday.
(That means you can expect the exodus from Maryland to continue.)

The phenomena of exodus from one state to another is not just a proof of what policies work best, but also an expression of the founders’ desire for individual freedom.  There might actually be people whose personal preferences are to live in states like California or Maryland or Massachusetts, because they actually prefer to live in a high-tax state that provides cradle-to-grave care for its citizenry.  Fine!  Vive la difference!  Governor Perry himself noted in the interview.
Here’s the bigger issue for me.  It’s okay that you live in a liberal enclave.  That’s the beauty of America.  People move with their feet.  They vote with their feet.  And over the course of the last decade, people have voted with their feet. And they’ve come to the state of Texas.  And I would  suggest to you, if we will allow the states to be the arbiters of issues like health care, education, transportation infrastructure, the other issues that make your quality of life, we’ll get this all sorted out.  But if Washington, DC continues to try to make one size fit all.... then we will become a country that is even more separated from each other, there will be more turmoil, it will be more economic calamity, but if we will respect… you know there are people that want to have government do these things for them… then they can go live in New York.…. I think that’s the beauty of the 10th Amendment.

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