There are few things in life more disorienting that finding out that one’s own state government is not comprised of the most insane spendthrifts and incompetents in the country. We get so used to seeing the ugly sausage-making reality of local government that we lose perspective on how the government performs relative to other places.
That’s why articles like this [h/t Instapundit] make me feel like I’ve put my foot down on the stair step that wasn’t there. Texas, once legendary for political incompetence, looks really good in comparison with other Sunbelt states. Like the states in the article, Texas has grown quickly. Texas has three of the ten fastest-growing cities in the country and unlike California, Texas has net positive immigration from other states. Americans are moving to Texas from other states.
Texas learned its lesson the hard way during the oil crash of ’84-’89. In the boom that preceded the bust, Texans at all levels of government went nuts with spending because they bought the idea that oil was always going to be in decreasing supply and thus very expensive. The bust proved wrenching for the state. While it was “morning in America” elsewhere, in Texas and its bordering states it was the, “good morning and here’s your kick in the groin” of a literal economic depression. The experience scarred an entire generation of Texans who could never again buy into the idea of a permanent boom.
Texas has been growing solidly for the past 18 years, but we’ve miraculously avoided failing into the trap of increasing spending just because we temporarily had the money to do so. If we can avoid Californication in the coming years we will keep sitting pretty.