Number 5 in poverty! Go Texas!
Push has come to shove, and Megan McArdle is forced to tell the facts of life to her devoted followers. After a habitual swipe at a more famous blogger, McArdle gently attempts to deflate the expectations of the tea partiers hoping for another manly leader from Texas to take care of them.
The political-economy debate-du-jour is whether Texas under Rick Perry is a job-creating powerhouse, or a dystopian charnel house where low-skilled workers go to be chewed into spiritual mulch on an endless low-wage conveyor belt that only ever leads to another McJob.
It's not that she has a Manichean world view; she just likes to undermine her ideological enemies.
A post at the Political Math Blog does probably the best job of sorting out the competing claims. You really need to read the whole thing, but to pull out some of the more notable findings: Texas has created a lot of jobs, and its unemployment rate has risen largely because those jobs are attracting lots of people to move into the state. The jobs aren't particularly low-wage, and they aren't all in the energy sector. Democrats trying to push the line that the Texas economy isn't that great aren't going to get very far. It's pretty great (relative to the suckage in the rest of the country). That's why people are moving there.
Krugman and Democrats say that the Texas economy isn't great for some people. (From The Big Picture)
The question remains, however: can we really credit Perry? I'm skeptical, for a few reasons....
McArdle then distills what all the other bloggers are saying about the Texas economy; oil, mortgage regulation (which McArdle sniffs at and dismisses), and the relative lack of power allotted to Texas's governor.
I think that the Texan policies conservatives tout are probably contributing to growth, and not just in the form of beggar-thy-neighbor competition. Anyone who thinks that that's all there is to state-level tax policy needs to acquaint themselves with the concept of deadweight loss. Nor am I impressed with the much cited evidence that an unusually high percentage of Texans are uninsured: Hispanics and young workers are much more likely than other groups to lack insurance, and even most legal immigrants cannot qualify for Medicaid within five years of their arrival in this country, while with limited exceptions, illegal immigrants generally can't qualify at all (Obamacare doesn't much change this).
The airy dismissal of the fact that 22% of Texas's children have no health insurance is extremely distasteful, but one must give McArdle credit for repeating facts instead of nothing but invective. Pour encourager les autres, as McArdle always says.
Texas isn't really to my taste, but from the evidence of all the people voting with their feet, it seems to be a pretty good place to live.Ah, not so fast. It's a place to get a job. If you are poor, it's not a good place to live. As Krugman pointed out in his article.
But though I think the state has a pretty good policy environment, that's the beginning of the story, not the end of it. There are a lot of reasons for Texan growth, and very few of them can be laid at the feet of the governor. For which we should really thank God. If states really could be boosted into the stratosphere, or driven into the ground, merely by changing the occupant of the governor's office, we'd have to live with the constant risk that our fellow voters would elect an idiot, and destroy our lives. Thankfully, the government isn't quite that powerful.Yeah, god forbid we'd elect some moron--maybe even a "Texas" moron--who would destroy our lives.