Voting With Your Feet

How Texas Became a Magnet for Foot Voters

As a recent Washington Post article explains, the combination of low taxes, job opportunities, and few restrictions on building new housing are crucial to the state's success. Both major parties have much to learn from Texas' experience.

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Flag of Texas.

 

Over the last decade, Texas has been (along with Florida) one of the two leading states in attracting migrants from elsewhere in the country. It has also had an unusually large influx of immigrants from abroad. Both groups have greatly contributed to the states' impressive economic growth. Washington Post analyst David Byler has a good article summarizing the key reasons why Texas has been such a magnet for people voting with their feet:

The Texas growth machine has a few key components, each of which help the state economy expand.

There's the obvious: oil. Every good economy needs something of value to trade — and Texas has more oil than any other state….

But the Texas miracle isn't grounded only in oil, trade and transportation. The state has no individual income tax, has cultivated business-friendly policies and the overall tax burden on business is low. Just as important, land use laws are lax — businesses can site and build facilities quickly and developers can easily place big, cheap homes on tracts of empty land.

And, as the cities have grown, new industries have gained strength….

Pia Orrenius of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said, "We were basically oil, cotton and cattle in the 1980s, or I would say as far back as the 70s. We went, in 20 years, from oil, cotton and cattle to having a sizable high tech industry, a sizable telecom industry, a sizable manufacturing industry, a downstream energy industry. We've been able to diversify into a very broad range of industries. As these industries grow, we grow with them…."

As a result, Texas has become a magnet for migrants from inside America. The Lone Star State nets 100,000 people from other states almost every year.

Many are moving from big, blue states where homes are more expensive and taxes are higher.

As Byler points out, the oil industry alone, while significant, cannot explain Texas' success. Relatively low levels of taxes, regulation, and land-use restrictions have also been crucial. The comparatively low levels of zoning restrictions on housing construction are especially crucial. In many other states, exclusionary zoning is one of the main factors preventing people from migrating to places with greater job opportunities. Byler rightly emphasizes that low levels of taxation, regulation, and housing costs has enabled Texas to expand a variety of industries, leading to a gradual decline in the relative significance of oil, over time. Most other states with abundant extraction industries have not had anything like the same degree of success.

The Washington Post isn't generally known for its love of Texas' GOP-dominated state government. But in this case, they have captured the sources of its success well.

Texas' policies are by no means perfect. The state is no libertarian utopia (or any kind of utopia). But its relative success has important lessons for both major political parties.

Democrats, obviously, can learn from the value of low taxes, regulation, and land-use restrictions. These are among the key reasons why Texas offers greater opportunity for the poor and lower-middle class than many blue states do.

For their part, in the Trump era, many national Republicans have turned away from supporting a relatively free market in housing construction, and instead embraced NIMBYism—exactly the opposite of the approach that has worked for Texas. While the GOP may still support keeping taxes low, they have forgotten the fact that Texas' low taxation is in large part made possible by relatively low spending. Under Trump, the GOP ceased to even pretend to care about restraining spending,  even though spending restraint the key factor in limiting taxation on the long run.

It is also ironic that Republicans cheer Texas' success in attracting migrants from blue states, but seek to severely restrict the entry of immigrants from abroad, even though the latter are in large part attracted by the same differences in economic freedom as the former. Both internal migrants and international ones also make major contributions to economic growth in their new homes. Many conservative Republicans readily grasp this effect in the case of the former, but tend to ignore it when comes to the latter.

Many liberal democrats have the opposite bias. They welcome international migrants seeking freedom in the US and applaud their contributions to our economy. But they view internal foot voting with suspicion, and often oppose the kinds of policies that make states attractive to internal migrants (and, often, international migrants, as well). Texas' success should lead both parties to reconsider some of their positions.

To say that Texas has many good policies is not to applaud everything the state's government does. In recent years, many of its interventions in national politics have been problematic, at best. To take the most striking example, Texas Republicans led what Walter Olson of the Cato Institute called the "Texas Turkey" lawsuit, which advanced ridiculously specious rationales for overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election (the suit was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court).

But, whatever else can be said of Texas' state government, they have gotten some important things right. The rest of the nation should learn from that.

NEXT: Foreign Dictators in U.S. Court, Part II

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  1. “Just as important, land use laws are lax — businesses can site and build facilities quickly and developers can easily place big, cheap homes on tracts of empty land.”

    Correct test: “land use laws are just”

    1. Of course, test = text

      (this is a very award edit function)

      1. Texas and the US are land rich. That makes land cheap. Canada is even richer in land, but most of it is unlivable and cold. One feature of Texas is that it is run by Republicans, with American values. As more move in, they will replace those people with Democrats, and make Texas another California. California’s unlivability is a warning to Texas and to the nation. Ilya’s post is quite misleading and ill advised.

        1. Just a matter of time. When progressives capture TX it will be the final nail. Hope we get to a national divorce before this happens.

          1. KCar sounds ready for the “lamentations of their women” period of the American culture war.

        2. If Ilya wants credibility, he must support bringing in thousands of Indian law profs who would love to make $25000 a year. They would also end the churning stress at our law schools. If a Dem student gets sassy about being traumatized by any -ism, they will beat him with a stick for disrespecting the teacher. Ilya wants others, especially blacks, to suffer from immigration. He has to support immigration that will affect him. Then, I will gladly start to consider his proposals.

          1. This ridiculous coke-addled Cockatoo doesn’t get that Ilya is himself an immigrant.

            1. Ilya is a legal immigrant. Queenie, what is your salary?

              It is at least 50% lower than you deserve because you can easily be replaced by an immigrant. You are the biggest loser from immigration especially if you belong to a minority or to multiple minorities.

              1. The billionaire owners of the media and of the Dem Party got rid of Trump because he caused a labor shortage. It was on the verge of exploding wages, after stagnation of wages for 50 years, from Dem policies.

              2. “Ilya is a legal immigrant.”

                And wouldn’t your hypothetical Indian law professors be legal immigrants? How many illegal immigrants are there from India in the U.S.? Maybe native-born American law professors should be upset that Ilya Somin is taking a job that could have gone to a real American instead of dropping their salaries by “at least 50%”.

                1. Both legal and illegal immigrants powerfully suppress wages of everyone, from laborer to top professional.

                  Trump’s resulting labor shortage was about to explode wages, and but into tech billionaire profits, so they got rid of him.

                  1. Both legal and illegal immigrants powerfully suppress wages of everyone,

                    Nope. Stop playing economist.

      2. Do you mean lax land laws are just, or any arbitrarily heavy-handed land use law is just?

        1. As my old calculus teacher used to say. “the remainder is left as an exercise for the reader”.

    2. Selling cheap land in flood zones to the poor isn’t “just” by most measures. One downside to lax zoning is that developers can create downstream issues for other landowners with little to no oversight or repercussions. In economic terms, Texas has decided that external costs aren’t any of its business and if the people who pay those costs don’t like it (usually the poor), they can hire lawyers and sue.

      Meanwhile, the rest of the country will be asked to fund the cleanup for Texas’ avoidable and foreseeable mess.

      1. If only you coukd limit land use regulation to those kinds of issues, instead of also to immediate snooty NIMBY and other costly restrictions.

        Politiciqns deliberately seek these out, facetiously pretending the rule’s reasoning is the real issue, rather than kickbacks and other donations for blockage.

        1. Politicians aren’t doing this just for kicks. They do it in order to get elected. It’s a form of local populism.

          In San Francisco, this battle is raging back and forth and has a number of surprising twists. You have progressives fighting new housing of nearly any sort because it “gentrifies*” and liberals/neoliberals arguing for relaxed zoning for building along major transit corridors. A state law designed to override local zoning and make it easier to build housing was shot down recently. The politicians are responding to their voters and the voters are largely tied in opinion with the vast majority of them being Democrats on both sides.

          *Just a note here. This isn’t a “snooty” style NIMBY argument and it has some foundation in economics. There is a massive supply shortage driving up costs but meager supply increases won’t have much of an impact on prices. To get a real price reduction, you’d need massive supply increases and those have far more barriers than just NIMBYs and populists.

        2. In this particular case it would be simple: the federal government should just gradually phase out its subsidization of flood insurance, with a fairly fast process to stop subsidizing new developments. This would more correctly price the risk into the purchase of homes and businesses in these locations, and developers would have a much harder time taking profits with externalized costs that have to get paid down the road.

            1. I think that’s the right way to do it.

              Look, it isn’t as though it’s impossible to safely build on a flood plain. Drive along the ocean here in SC, and you’ll see houses all over the place in storm surge areas, up on stilts, or the first floor is just a garage, or they’ve even constructed a little hill.

              Insuring unsafe houses just discourages people from building in a safe manner.

              1. I can’t speak for everywhere, but along the North Carolina shore, state law now prevents the building of unsafe houses, in terms of safety from flooding. But if you are in a FEMA flood zone area, you still must purchase flood insurance, partially subsidized by FEMA, even if your house is constructed “safely.” In the case of many older houses built right on the ground, FEMA runs grant programs to raise those houses. An expensive job, but cheaper than paying out for flood damage constantly.

                So it isn’t really a matter of insurance. Ironically, given the thrust of the OP, it is a matter of zoning and construction restrictions and regulations.

          1. Yes. Let’s also stop subsidizing having children out of wedlock.

      2. No one is forcing the poor, or anyone else, to buy land in flood zones. Adults, including poor adults, can do their own calculus and decide if cheap land is offset by risk of floods, can the risk be mitigated with insurance, etc..
        If you need a nanny, by all means hire one.

        1. Sure, because the poor have just has many choices as the not-poor. In fact, why don’t they just choose not to be poor? amiright?

          1. Classic. Taking away their choices benefits the poor.

          2. It’s no fun being poor, in many aspects. And still, no one is forcing the poor, or anyone else, to buy land in flood zones. Adults, including poor adults, can do their own calculus and decide if cheap land is offset by risk of floods, can the risk be mitigated with insurance, etc..
            If you were really concerned with the poor, rathe than virtue signaling, you’d be arguing AGAINST heavy handed zoning rules, which almost uniformly result in higher housing prices, not lower.
            And incidentally, if you think the lands flooded in the Houston area by hurricane Harvey are populated by “poor people”, let me posit that you have no idea what you are talking about. here’s some reading materials to help you along :
            “Tropical Storm Harvey, on the other hand, wreaked havoc across Houston, battering poor and rich with similar ferocity. Piney Point Village, a city of 3,125 people in west Houston described as the richest in Texas, flooded. ”
            https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/us/hurricane-harvey-houston-homes-flooded.html

            1. “if you think the lands flooded in the Houston area by hurricane Harvey are populated by “poor people”, let me posit that you have no idea what you are talking about”

              Yes, of course, coastal areas nearly everywhere are highly desired and expensive.

      3. Selling cheap land in flood zones to the poor…

        When you’re using terms like “the poor” to describe people buying real estate, presumably for the purpose of building a home it’s time to reassess your propaganda skills. The term “cheap land” is a relative one, and even in TX it’s not just being given away.

  2. This is classic Somin.

    Take a nice Red State that perfectly demonstrates his example about “foot voting”….Texas.

    Now, normally this would lead to an in depth discussion of the exact policies in “Blue states” compared to Texas, a discussion about the relative GDP gains, and so on.

    Instead, we get a a perfunctory two sentence criticism of liberals, followed by two full paragraphs, full of links, how really it’s the GOP’s fault.

    1. The weakest member of the Volokh lineup for sure.

      1. They tolerate him solely to cling to that “often libertarian” claim.

      2. Really, him and Post are neck and neck.

        1. Post only posts occasionally, Somin posts on the same tired three subjects all the time. At great length!

          1. If there is anything a group of stale racists, superstitious gay-bashers, and disaffected clingers can’t abide, it’s some genuine libertarian content.

    2. And it ignores the way Texas demonstrates exactly what opponents of open borders are worried about: The influx of economic refugees from California has been pushing the state’s politics left, and seems almost certain to eventually kill the golden goose, not only for the immigrants, but also for the native Texans.

      So, in the end, being an attractive state with, perforce, open borders, will end Texas as an attractive state.

      1. It’s one of the biggest problems with “foot voting”.

        The voters put in place policies which they like in the short term, but in the long term they can cause deep structural harms, which require significant pain to fix.

        When the long term comes around, they leave and go somewhere else, to repeat the process.

      2. Unless you think this effect started in 2018, polling indicates this is false, Brett.

        https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2018/11/09/native-texans-voted-for-native-texan-beto-o-rourke-transplants-went-for-ted-cruz-exit-poll-shows/

        It’s the Texas migrants who keep Texas red.

        1. One poll. And an exit poll at that. L to the OL.

          But back to your fantasy land: In your heart of hearts you truly believe the Ds are ultimately slitting their own throats by trying so hard to bring in a flood of voters who they foolishly think are going to vote blue but are ultimately going to vote red?

          1. There are more conservative voters in California than there are total residents in many US states. What makes you think the people leaving California are liberals?

            1. Whatever that mix is, it’s dwarfed by the overall immigration #s. So an interesting academic question, but not really relevant here.

          2. That article says that exit polls aren’t super accurate on the day of the election and we shouldn’t over-index on the hot take, not that they’re inherently inaccurate. In fact, they’re generally better than normal codes because you can make sure that you’re adjusting the sample to match the actual outcome, which the article acknowledges.

            1. That article says that exit polls aren’t super accurate on the day of the election and we shouldn’t over-index on the hot take, not that they’re inherently inaccurate.

              Ah, yet another quote-free characterization. Here’s what the article actually says: “If we’re looking to reiterate our own prior convictions, the data is serviceable. But if we want actual information about voting behavior, exit polls are not very useful — and the early exit polls that haven’t even been weighted to the final vote count are even worse. “

              1. The article (including the snippet you extracted) does not support a contention that final, weighted exit polls are worse than normal polls, which is what you were originally suggesting.

                1. does not support a contention that final, weighted exit polls are worse than normal polls

                  Ah, so normal polls “are not very useful” either. Got it.

          3. LoB, it’s a well known phenomenon in Texas that the natives are a lot more chill than the new transplants.

            E.g. Blackman and his Texas-California civil war chortling.

            1. Ah, so a single exit poll, plus What Everybody Knows. Yup yup.

              Shockingly, you’re skirting the question. If immigrants are in fact red heavy rather than blue heavy, why in the world are Ds fighting so hard to continue that flood? They’re surely not that braindead, are they?

              1. It’s not the only poll.

                I see you’re doing the usual attacking actual evidence while bringing zero evidence yourself.

                Your governor agrees with me:
                https://www.thecentersquare.com/texas/gov-abbott-new-texas-voters-are-more-conservative-than-natives/article_8a250872-1c5a-11ea-9fc0-4303155b0d9d.html

                So does Texas Monthly.

                1. The sustained real-world behavior of a ton of people with a ton of actual skin in the game demonstrate a fundamentally different understanding than does your handful of cherries. They’re surely not that braindead, are they?

                  1. The enemy of Texas Republicans is not the immigrant wave . . .

                    It’s education.

                    And improving standards of American decency.

                    And the diminishing role of superstition in American society.

                    And . . . that sort of thing.

                    1. Kirkland, have you ever actually been to Texas? I live here, and can totally attest to the fact that you’re totally full of shit.

                      But like any bigot you deal in stereotypes and generalizations instead of actual facts.

                    2. I resided in Texas for one year.

                      It lived in Austin — a relatively vibrant, modern oasis surrounded by flat, brown, dry land and poorly educated, roundly intolerant, archaic people — but I had chances to see other parts of Texas.

                      When I was there, Austin was developing a technology industry and trying to distance itself from the oil-cattle-cotton-racism economy.

                      Austin also was the beneficiary of the University of Texas, which drew smart, ambitious young people from the lesser regions and — after they experienced a modern, successful, educated, tolerant, culturally competent community — did not send them back to Lubbock, McAllen, and the rest of the can’t-keep-up backwaters.

                      The Kruez Market was magnificent. Some of the music was great.

                    3. It lived in Austin

                      Freudian. Definitely Freudian.

                  2. The sustained real-world behavior of a ton of people with a ton of actual skin in the game demonstrate a fundamentally different understanding than does your handful of cherries. They’re surely not that braindead, are they?

                    I brought stats and analysis. You brought stereotypes and bluster.

                    You lose. Again.

                    1. I brought stats and analysis.

                      You are unhinged. You cited (1) a solitary exit poll; (2) some article about something Greg Abbott said; and (3) a vague reference to Texas Monthly.

                      When are you lying? When you’re typing.

                    2. You brought stereotypes and bluster.

                      ACKshully, I brought a really basic pragmatic question you’re too chickenshit to answer. Because you know it destroys your cute little narrative.

                    3. All those things are probative.

                      You’ve provided zero evidence for…whatever your theory is.

                      You talk shit, but bring nothing. And call me a liar when *I have sources*

                      This is your pattern. You’re too smart for being this lazy not to be shameful.

                      What question do you have?

        2. I’m not sure that shows what you think it does Sarcastro…

          When it comes to who is more Texan, “Beto” or Ted Cruz, it’s not necessarily clear.

          Ted Cruz moved to Texas when he was 3. Beto was born there. For all intents and purposes, they had the same cultural upbringing there.

          Ted went from all Texas law schools to Princeton in 1988, to Harvard, to Ohio/DC where he worked for Bush, until 2003, after which he returned to Texas.

          Beto only did 2 years in Texas High schools, until 1988, then returned to Texas in 1998, after screwing around in Manhattan for 5-6 years.

          1. Texasity is an odd metric to choose, as I and Brett were talking about political affiliation.

            1. Were you?

              “It’s the Texas migrants who keep Texas red”

              1. What do you think red means?

                Are you arguing the race between Beto and Cruz was nonpartisan in nature?

        3. Texas, as with other erstwhile “red” states, seems doomed to be subject to its urban electorate. This piece from 2018 suggests a primarily “urban v rural” divide, although that could certainly be a foreseeable consequence of an influx of transplants.
          https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-beto-orourke-shifted-the-map-in-texas/

          1. Urban vs. rurual divide is the dominant force on the political map right now, it’s not just Texas. To the extent that makes states “doomed” to be ruled by urban voters, that’s because more people live in cities. How terrible that the policy preferences of the majority end up winning in a democracy!

          2. ” Texas, as with other erstwhile “red” states, seems doomed to be subject to its urban electorate. ”

            Lamenting the diminishing influence of poorly educated, superstitious, roundly bigoted, backwater knuckle-draggers is so fitting at this blog.

  3. Does Ilya actually live in Texas? All the conversations around the water cooler tend to have a lot more nuance about immigration from other states, than Ilya’s take here.

    The people I know are happy to get more congressional seats and weight in the electoral college, but there is a lot of real concerns that many of the people moving here are just chasing jobs and affordable housing. They liked where they lived before they came to Texas. They liked the laws and policies of their home states, and if they’d been able to have the quality of life they can afford in Texas back home they’d never have left. For some it never occurs to them and for some it doesn’t matter as long as they get theirs, that the reason they couldn’t have this quality of life back home is because of the policies and laws they liked. They see no reason not to vote for the same things that made it impossible for them to have what they wanted back home.

    Moving for monetary reasons doesn’t cause people to switch policy preferences.

    1. I should also add. That changing environments can change people’s policy preferences to an extent. People are natural joiners, move to an environment where most people have a different policy preference, and most people will have a shift in at least how they prioritize their beliefs if not a small shift closer to their neighbors preferences. But this effect doesn’t change a Democrat socialist to a Republican libertarian. Its more Democrat Socialist to Democrat Neocon.

      1. Republican libertarian?

        Get an education. Start with standard English.

    2. And even setting that aside, characterizing as “ironic” the fact that Texans might feel there’s a different level of benefit to the state from people with education and high earning capacity “immigrating” from places like Sil Valley than from the stream of refugees from Central America feels… disingenuous.

    3. I don’t think a good job has been done here explaining how California’s high taxes are necessarily an issue. The state is still the fourth largest economy on the planet despite having fairly high taxes. According to several reports, the majority of Californians that relocated during the pandemic only did so to less expensive areas in California. In general, the media narrative of “mass exodus” has been largely hype. Even Elon Musk still resides here, despite his tweets. California has lots of cheap housing, provided you don’t want to live near the coast or any of the large coastal cities. Texas’ property tax rate is 1.69% while California’s is 0.79%. So for areas in California with cheaper housing, the difference for most middle class residents is probably not that great.

      1. This is a great point. I think the land use issues actually really dominate–housing is SO MUCH more expensive in the urban centers of California (particularly the Bay Area) than other places that even the difference between a 10% tax rate and 0% in Texas is likely to be a smaller difference than the changes in cost of living.

        Progressives need to get their act together and understand how damaging NIMBY polices are to the poor, since high housing costs hit poorer people disproportionately hard.

        1. I expect progressives will continue to do just fine in running America’s modern and successful communites, mostly without tips or help from conservatives.

      2. Bullshit. “58 percent of those considering leaving California said that high taxes were one reason—second only to the 71 percent pointing to the state’s astronomical housing costs”.
        https://www.city-journal.org/california-migration-politics

        1. How does a poll of people already leaving CA contradict shawn_dude’s point about how many people are leaving CA?

          1. The claim shawn_dude was making was that California’s high taxes are not a factor in the decision to leave. That is directly contradicted by the cited poll of the people are considering leaving.

            As to the numbers, you can juxtapose the delusion that ‘“mass exodus” has been largely hype’ with the inconvenient fact that for the first time in its history, California has lost a congressional seat.

            1. I think you have his thesis wrong. e.g. “majority of Californians that relocated during the pandemic only did so to less expensive areas in California. In general, the media narrative of “mass exodus” has been largely hype.”

              1. No, I just read a little more carefully than you do: “I don’t think a good job has been done here explaining how California’s high taxes are necessarily an issue.”
                And again you can juxtapose the delusion that ‘“mass exodus” has been largely hype’ with the inconvenient fact that for the first time in its history, California has lost a congressional seat. If indeed this just ‘hype” and relocations occurred mostly intrastate, that would not be the observed result.

                1. 1) You’re now changing your argument and pretending you are not .This is the first time the census came up.

                  2) You do know that the way seats work is not based on absolute population, but population relative to other states, right? You have not established people are leaving CA.

                  Like, I’m not sure I agree with shawn_dude’s take, but your comment was really orthogonal to his post until just now. And even then, it misunderstands the census.

                  1. I have not changed my argument at all, you perhaps misunderstood it the first time, as you are not reading carefully.
                    yes, I know seats work based on relative population. If you pull your head out of your ass, you might be able to see things like “The other statistic that’s really caught a lot of people’s attention was that last year, that same time frame from July 2019 to July 2020, 135,000 more people left the state than moved here”
                    https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2021/02/11/whats-driving-californias-exodus

      3. Texas’ property tax rate is 1.69% while California’s is 0.79%. So for areas in California with cheaper housing, the difference for most middle class residents is probably not that great.

        You think that compensates for the fact that those rates are levied against home values…which are very disparate between the two states…and that CA residents pay about 5% of their total wages as income tax, not to mention all of the other taxation differentials?

        1. If you believe this analysis:

          https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-highest-lowest-tax-burden/20494

          The total tax burden between the two states is not that significant. California is 9.32% versus Texas at 8.19%, so about 1% of income. Having said that, California’s taxes are generally more progressive so high earners will notice more of a difference.

          1. First off, 1% of total income is not insignificant, even when comparing identical incomes. But when you add in the fact that CA wages tend to be higher (due to the higher cost of living) the CA worker is paying even more in absolute terms. And that’s only the direct tax burden. It doesn’t take into account the impact on the cost of living of higher corporate and other business taxes being passed along to the consumer.

            A meaningful comparison of the two is a bit more involved than citing two numbers from that table.

    4. Illocust, zoning has been a big part of this discussion. If you take as a premise that folks migrating to Texas are at least partly leaving California because zoning there has made real estate too expensive for them, that does not show that it is irrational for them to want zoning in Texas.

      It could show that they understand that zoning works in the economic interests of early arrivals, and against later ones. As suburban pioneers in Texas, those erstwhile Californians can rationally hope to benefit economically by adding zoning to their new subdivisions.

  4. Team Blue has been waiting for Texas to flip to their side for the past 10 years at least. Hasn’t happened yet, but Virginia and now Georgia should be red flags for what happens when you get too many smurfs fleeing to your state.

    1. This comment is exemplary in showing what Ilya faces here. He’s trying to be a libertarian operating on a partisanly neutral principle, but the usuals here are just bog-standard conservative Republicans. Their only conceivable metric is: Red or Blue?

      1. bog-standard conservative Republicans. Their only conceivable metric is: Red or Blue?

        Perhaps you should complain to the Democrat movement that is pouring boat-loads of cash into their goal of “turning Texas blue”. They seem to think that’s a pretty damned important metric.

      2. Yawn. Try making a real argument some time. Like Nick, I live in NoVa, and can attest to the ways that the smurf influx has been disastrous to liberty here.

        1. So go to Texas?

    2. Ten years of waiting, so throw in the towel.

      It’s been nearly twice that since the cicadas showed up . . . are you skeptical there, too?

  5. So what you’re saying is that companies engage in regulatory arbitrage by playing off states against each other to minimise regulation and maximise subsidies, and when their employees then go where their employers go, that foot voting is… profit?

    1. And your problem is…?

      1. That I have a problem with crony capitalism.

        1. It’s not crony capitalism to decide that bang for tax buck is better in TX than CA.

          1. Michael P, it is crony capitalism to run a real estate scam where you negotiate promises of tax breaks for newly-arrived businesses (and not for other established local businesses), win concessions from local government, and then ransack the nation to recruit business clients to move, so they can get the promised tax breaks. And then you get paid a percentage of the tax money the client business saves when it moves.

    2. So what you are saying is that most people moving to TX are employees forced to follow their companies to keep a job? What percentage is this?

        1. “and when their employees then go where their employers go, that foot voting is”

          What are you saying?

          1. That supply and demand is a thing, in the labour market as much as anywhere else.

  6. Democrats, obviously, can learn from the value of low taxes, regulation, and land-use restrictions.

    I’m not sure they even can, let alone will.

    1. Can Republicans learn the value of reason, inclusiveness, education, modernity, science, tolerance, voting rights, and the reality-based world? Will they?

      1. Which definition of reason, inclusiveness, education, modernity, science, tolerance, voting rights, and reality? Yours or Dictionary?

      2. Hey, zealot. Got some bad news here. Democrats don’t believe in any of that shit you list there either. They’re arguably better on voting rights, but everything else in your list is as foreign to Team Blue as it is to Team Red.

        1. I would not even grant that they are better on voting rights. Certainly they are better for Democrats but not better for average American that values their votes integrity?

        2. “They’re arguably better on voting rights”

          Democrats are arguably better on voting rights. Republicans are arguably human, despite their stale, ugly clingery.

    2. I suppose for us Blue state liberals, we’d need to see why economically powerful states like California and New York are really failed states rather than real, live examples of how taxes aren’t automatically anathema to economic success.

      Your argument that we aren’t even capable of learning doesn’t square with the economic success of these states.

      1. I suppose for us Blue state liberals, we’d need to see why economically powerful states like California and New York are really failed states rather than real, live examples of how taxes aren’t automatically anathema to economic success

        Well, for starters, you could try to learn the difference between the size of an economy and how well the individual citizens of that economy are doing when adjusted population and cost of living. CA has the largest absolute GDP of any state, but it ranks 8th in terms of per-capita GDP. And the cost of living takes a big bite out of what that per-capita GDP does for the average Californian. China has the 2nd largest economy in the world, but their per-capita GDP ranks 56th, just below the island nation of Pulau. And if you measure by PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) they rank even lower at 70th place. So “big, powerful economy” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

        Then you could try pulling your heads out of your collective arse and take a look at the trends that have been taking shape for the past few years.

        1. Wow, was that lame. 8th in per capita GDP. Those poor Californians.

          1. Wow, was that lame.

            Your ignoring the entire post except for the one stat that you’re trying to pretend was the entire post? Yes, that’s certainly lame…and dumb as hell.

      2. New York? Take wall street which exists to the extent it does via the Fed’s printing press the last 40 years out and NY is dead…drive through Utica, Rome, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo…cities that were built by Irish, Italian, German immigrants into industrial and technology centers..all to be destroyed by wolk NYC bolsheviks…NY is dead and most folks want to leave as soon as they find a gig in Florida or Texas or Tennessee. Seriously…Carrier..gone, Xerox..gone, Kodak..gone..but Albany/govt is doing just fine…

  7. The issue with foot-voting is, of course, the high transaction costs. Think to your own life, and that of your friends. How often do you know someone who has moved unburdened by any concerns other than, “Where do I want to live?” For most people, this happens exactly once in their life, at most- retirement.

    More often than not, people move because of education (where the go to college or graduate school) or because of opportunity (where they are offered a job- which is increasingly easy in today’s economy with the internet allowing you to search nationwide). What rarely happens is people moving to a completely new place solely to move there because of, um, land use regulations, without a job or other opportunity lined up.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t strong correlations between a strong economy (and the factors that go into a strong economy) and “foot voting” – after all, people will go to places that they get jobs. But there are also very facile reasons- for example, AC. People “vote with their feet” depending on weather as well when they have a choice (for example, retirement) and it’s hardly a surprise that the Sunbelt became more popular as AC became widespread.

    1. In my “History of Nevada” course (required for Nevada university students), it was obvious that the invention of residential A/C in the 1950s led to the population increases in Las Vegas. Before A/C, the casinos and hotels were only open during the cooler months. The population growth chart of Las Vegas looks like a market penetration curve for A/C in the US Southwest.

      While Florida has some cheaper housing in the central and Northern counties, the property tax rate varies by county from roughly the national average to a bit over. In Hillsborough county, Tampa, the rate is higher than the national average. What most people aren’t prepared for is the cost of homeowner’s insurance. Somewhere in the ballpark of 60% of homeowners in Florida are forced onto the state-provided insurer of last resort which is mandated by law to not compete with private insurance (ie: charge more.) And every year, private insurers constantly tweak the requirements to qualify for their plans and have gradually reduced their exposure in the state. In my case, my insurance cost more than my property taxes and the two together were roughly 40% of my mortgage payment.

      It’s easy to compare tax rates but there are other costs to living in states with low regulation that residents are expected to carry as the price for living there. (See also: the concept of “sun pay” in Florida.) When I moved from Tampa to SF, my disposable income increased despite the increase in taxes and housing costs.

    2. People “vote with their feet” depending on weather as well when they have a choice (for example, retirement) and it’s hardly a surprise that the Sunbelt became more popular as AC became widespread.

      The mental gymnastics required to conclude that TX weather is a significant draw for people living in comparatively idyllic climate states like CA is some Olympics-worthy stuff. The fact that central A/C is a common thing here (and has been for at least 40 years now, so it’s not like that’s a new factor) doesn’t make the weather more attractive by comparison…or even remotely AS attractive. It only makes the climate a bit easier to put up with…like keeping it from killing you for a few months out of the year, for instance. There are a lot of things that brought…and are keeping…me here, but the weather sure as hell isn’t one of them.

      1. I actually don’t see loki comparing TX and CA, but rather making a more general, foundational point.

        1. I actually don’t see loki comparing TX and CA

          I doubt that you’re able to see much with your head so far up your own ass. His post was a direct response to a blog post about people and businesses relocating to TX “from big, blue states where homes are more expensive and taxes are higher”….y’know, like CA. And even if you expand that to other “big, blue states” you’re still left with the fact that the destination in question is TX, land of tornadoes, rainy springs and hellishly hot summers…and the additional fact that A/C being a common (even ubiquitous) residential feature long predates the steep increase in migration to TX from those “bug, blue states” over the past few years.

          1. y’know, like CA

            CA is not the only blue state. And since he mentioned weather being a motive…I think you’re wrong.

  8. Climate is a big factor. People move south, not north. Texas and Florida are the biggest southern states.

    1. That trend is likely to reverse as low-lying coastal cities in flat areas (most of the Gulf-front property) is going to experience higher tides and stronger storms. Florida is already seeing housing price adjustments in some low lying areas.

      1. When insurance rates and other charges reflect the costs associated with life along southern coasts as the planet warms, those areas will falter.

        Unless they submerge first.

        1. Insurance maps seem, in my prior experience as a Tampa resident, to be drawn in a way to average risk from ocean-front property out into the safer, higher areas with lower risk. As such, your middle and lower income residents subsidize the cost of a beach-front lifestyle for the wealthy. When the sea swallows those McMansions whole, the rich will just skip town and leave the average citizen holding the insurance burden and cleanup costs.

          1. shawn_dude, the averaging goes much farther than that. Coastal New England—construed very broadly by insurance companies—has seen home insurance rise sharply after hurricane losses in the South. That is true even in New England areas which have not seen a hurricane stronger than Category 1 in nearly 100 years. And it is true even for homes built high enough above sea level that they are rated as zero flood hazard areas.

            Best of all, about 20 years ago, insurance companies in New England announced sharp coverage reductions (mostly much higher deductibles) for damage incurred during, “named storms.” Which at the moment of the announcement, meant hurricanes and tropical storms which did not reach hurricane strength. A few months later, names started cropping up on every kind of storm imaginable—northeasters especially, but also snowstorms of other kinds, and freak wind events which had nothing to do with cyclonic weather.

            Most “coastal” real estate was forced onto the states’ last resort insurance roles, which created room to jack the rates on the remainder. Presumably that extra income for the insurance companies went at least in part to offset losses in the South, and thus also to subsidize reckless real estate practices there.

        2. Yesterdays forecast for my zip code missed todays high by 4 degrees
          Good to know the climate experts know the average temperature for the entire planet 20 years from now. Within a 1/2 degree C

      2. You should have told Obama this before he spent $12 million on a large coastal estate in Martha’s Vineyard with a mansion sitting at sea level.

        1. People who can afford to drop $12M on a house aren’t going to be bothered much by climate change; They’ll always be able to buy their way back to comfort.

        2. He also bought a seaside one in Hawaii.

          I think it is the “Magnum PI” estate but with a new, bigger house.

          1. Not only Obama, but Mr. Global Warming Will Kill Us All by 2020 Al Gore also bought a multi-million dollar seaside estate.

            It’s almost like climate change alarmism is a grift or something, but I’m sure to a large extent they believe the alarmism.

            1. And they are both themselves made of carbon. Interesting!

              You do realize individual consumption is not really the issue here.

              1. You do realize individual consumption is not really the issue here.

                The issue is whether or not those predicting disastrous outcomes actually believe their own predictions.

                  1. That assertion is not even supported as well as typical pop economic theories.

        3. M L, photographs show a very large coastal lot, with a mansion far back from the shore, and an upgrade from the shore to the mansion. Also, a distant barrier beach protects the shoreline at the lot against velocity hazards. Looks pretty secure for the foreseeable future.

          Twenty-foot-plus storm tides are conceivable at a few New England locations, but not on the south shore of the Vineyard. In general, islands get storm tides, but not high ones. Those come in bays along the mainland, where tidal pressure gets funneled and constricted toward the top of the bay.

          I have a specialty in coastal photography. Understanding elevation is a big part of getting the pictures right. To me, the Obama place looks about 15-feet above sea level at the foundation. For comparison, there is a near-sea-level marsh bordering the Obama property, and clearly notably below Obama’s foundation elevation. A shoreline at the edge of that marsh features an apparently dry home site which is well below the Obama site, but which might flood on a storm tide.

          You got a source for, “a mansion sitting at sea level?” Photography aside, that strikes me as highly unlikely. Coastal mansions abound in New England. Except for homes atop eroding bluffs, I don’t think I have ever seen one which was not securely situated. People with big money to spend get to pick their spots.

      3. The stronger storms thing is a bit of a fraud. There really isn’t any logical connection between global warming and stronger storms, storms are heat engines, and you don’t increase the power of a head engine by throwing a blanket over the radiator.

        Most of the ‘evidence’ for stronger storms rests on storm damage rising, which is actually a function of storm prone areas being built up, not the storms getting worse.

        The ocean IS rising, though. About a foot a CENTURY. Oh, the terror, how will we outrun the tide line moving inland?

        1. This is just wrong.
          https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/

          -Observed records of Atlantic hurricane activity show some correlation, on multi-year time-scales, between local tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and the Power Dissipation Index (PDI)

          – A new study finds an increase in the fraction of tropical cyclones reaching at least Category 3 intensity both globally and in the Atlantic basin, over the past four decades. (IOW your metric about storm damage being the metric is not what scientists use)

            1. Not the same study, chief.

              1. So? It is a article by a notable climatologist that contradicts what you claim.
                Are we supposed to assume that only the studies you post are to be believed?

    2. Well…

      The climate in Los Angeles isn’t too shabby.

      U-haul wants $935 for a 1-way rental of a 26 foot van from Austin TX to Los Angeles, CA, and $5085 for a rental the other way, with a reservation of July 1. Furthermore, when the website though they might have a customer for a 1-way trip from Austin to LA, it didn’t want to let me go without looking at a special discount [almost certainly a much lower rate if I would return a one-way from LA to Austin if I was willing to leave on a specific date].

      People are not desperately trying to escape the snow storms of LA for the also nice weather of Austin. There’s some other reason that U-haul is seeing an imbalance in their one-way rentals.

      -dk

      1. Yeah, the idea that people are leaving the sunny-and-mild (by comparison) CA weather for TX’s what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger weather is fanciful to say the least.

    3. And yet most of Texas’s migration lately has come from California. It’s not like they’re coming for Texas’s better climate and beautiful beaches.

  9. Democrats, obviously, can learn from the value of low taxes, regulation, and land-use restrictions. These are among the key reasons why Texas offers greater opportunity for the poor and lower-middle class than many blue states do.

    🙂

  10. I’ve always disliked the term “undocumented immigrant”, thankfully I can now switch to “foot voter from abroad.”

  11. As a Texan living in Austin, I think it’s adorable that commenters here think blue voters are going to have an effect on Texas politics. For that to occur, you’d have to have a functioning democracy in Texas. But anyone moving to one of our big thriving cities is unlikely to encounter that here. All the cities have been effectively gerrymandered so that liberal voters in large Texas cities have very little say in statewide or national politics.

    In Texas, politicians get to pick their voters. And as long as that’s the case, I’d guess all our “great” policies are safe.

    1. Also, taxes in Texas aren’t really low. They’re just regressive. Poor people pay a larger share of their income here, and rich people can pay much lower taxes than, say, in California. But the middle class pay about the same as they would in lots of blue states. You might not pay income tax, but you pay other kinds of taxes, such as sales and property taxes, that are higher here than some other places.

      1. Broad support for lower taxes is a good thing. ‘Regressive’ tax policy build community solidarity and brings people together.

      2. “Regressive” taxation is just what the left calls “not giving the poor a free ride”. Even flat rate taxes are a ripoff for the wealthy, who aren’t getting increased services proportional to the taxes they pay.

        1. Sure, sure, whatever you guys say. Poor people are getting a great deal here in Texas! Sounds like you should move your feet here!

          Just pointing out that Texans’ taxes aren’t “low,” they just shove the burden onto people with little or no political power. Which, again, is great if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

          1. Poor people are getting a great deal here in Texas!

            You should move to CA where you can enjoy the highest rate of poverty in the U.S.

            1. You think taxes cause poverty?

            2. Texas is the sixth highest. I’m not sure what your point is.

          2. Obviously being subsidized is a better deal than paying your fair share. But if Bill Gates and Joe Sixpack both walk into Burger King and get charged the same for a Whopper, that’s not “regressive” pricing, it’s just paying for what you get.

            Same with government. Fairness is, you get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get.

            1. Poor people in Texas pay a much larger share of their income than do the rich. Go on about fair share, but that’s not really what’s happening here. https://itep.org/whopays-map/

            2. But if Bill Gates and Joe Sixpack both walk into Burger King and get charged the same for a Whopper, that’s not “regressive” pricing, it’s just paying for what you get.

              Why not both?

      3. Sales tax in Texas are lower than CA, and sales tax impact the poor to a greater extent than property tax.

    2. All the cities have been effectively gerrymandered so that liberal voters in large Texas cities have very little say in statewide or national politics.

      Your more full of shit than the only port-a-potty on day 7 of a week-long four-alarm chili cookoff. Liberal voters have the amount of say they have because they’re a minority. Democrats haven’t won a state-wide office (as in elected by the total state popular vote, as in not determined by gerrymandering) since 1994. And that’s all TX Democrats, not just liberal ones. And take a look at how many D-held districts in the state are drawn (for instance, Shiela Jackson Lee’s) and get back to me about your gerrymandering whine.

      1. Is your point that gerrymandering is not occurring or that its effect is not to diminish Democratic voters’ power? Your point about statewide elections is true, and that’s part of the story. But there’s a reason Republicans draw the districts they do, and it’s to reduce the number of democrats in the statehouse and in congress. My point is that if blue voters are moving to the cities (and lots of them are) they aren’t gaining more political power.

        1. My point was well explained. I can only write it. I can’t make you understand it.

          How about that Shiela Jackson Lee district? Damn those Republicans.

  12. Low taxes. Because the rest of us have to step in and rescue them in case of electrical grid failure or hurricanes. This is called “free riding”.

    1. Low taxes. Because the rest of us have to step in and rescue them in case of electrical grid failure or hurricanes. This is called “free riding”.

      Congratulations on what is…at least so far…the dumbest post on VC today.

    2. Yeah because high tax states are never ever ever helped out by federal money in the case of a disaster.

      And their federal taxes are the same as yours, moron.

      1. What does their rate of federal taxes have to do with his comment? Does infrastructure spending only come from the federal treasury? Granted I’m a moron also, but I don’t get your point. Texas could raise state taxes and construct a more solid electrical grid, if they wished.

        1. He’s not talking about Texas raising taxes and spending more of their own money on their grid, he’s saying that “the rest of us (presumably people from states with tax burdens he believes to be reasonable)” have to “step in and rescue them” (people in low tax states) in case of electrical grid failure and hurricanes (i.e. disasters).

          So he’s complaining that taxpayers outside the states in question have to rescue taxpayers inside the states in question in the event of a catastrophe. That’s not state taxes – the feds do that. So he’s disparaging low tax states by complaining that taxpayers in the other 49 states help them out in case of emergency, ignoring the fact that the same thing happens to high tax states too.

          He doesn’t like spending federal money to help his neighbors. Not sure if he feels the same way in the case of helping high tax states, as he doesn’t say.

          1. ” He doesn’t like spending federal money to help his neighbors. ”

            Better to take the Ted Cruz approach, which is to deny disaster relief to other states and seek disaster relief for your state?

            But what should we expect of a “man” who responds to an attack on his wife by suckling the scrotum of the guy who called that wife a hideously ugly pig, repeatedly and publicly? (Other than having daughters who must have one seriously screwed-up view of how a father acts when someone attacks their mother?)

        2. Granted I’m a moron

          Congratulations on having finally achieved self-awareness.

    3. Unlike fires that seem to be intimately related to a closely-regulated electric utility company?

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