Archive for the ‘Regulation’ Category

TPPF: Why the Texas Model Supports Prosperity

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

I could roll this up into the next California vs. Texas update, but I thought this Texas Public Policy Foundation paper by Vance Ginn on why Texas’ low tax, low regulation model generates prosperity was meaty enough to be worth a separate post.

The Texas model has been touted as an approach to governance that other states and Washington, D.C. would be wise to follow. This approach promotes individual freedom through lower taxes and spending, less regulation, fewer frivolous lawsuits, and reduced federal government interference. Does this Texas restatement of the unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” actually promote freedom, prosperity, and jobs when compared to the largest states and U.S. averages?

To answer this question, this paper (in most cases) compares various measures in California, Texas, New York, and Florida—the states with the largest populations and economic output—and U.S. averages during the last 15 years. Five fiscal measures of economic freedom and government intervention for these states show that Texas generally leads the pack as the most free with the least government intrusion. Eight measures of the labor market indicate that Texas provides the best opportunities to find a job. Five measures of income distribution and poverty show that Texas leads in most categories with a more equal income distribution and less poverty despite fewer redistributionary policies than these large states, particularly California and New York.

Though a mere 15 pages, the paper offers up an in-depth survey of various economic metrics and studies, where Texas repeatedly comes out on top, and New York and California repeatedly come in last and second-to-last.

A few more tidbits:

  • In a “Soft Tyranny Index” (measuring state government bureaucracy, state spending, income tax, and tax burden) “Texas ranks first with the least government intrusion, Florida 17th, California 49th, and New York 50th.”
  • “Texas outpaces the rest of the U.S. in nonfarm job creation since December 2007.”
  • “Texas’ distribution of income is more equal compared with other large states.”
  • Read the whole thing.

    Texas vs. California Update for October 1, 2015:

    Thursday, October 1st, 2015

    Ah, that October chill…is not evident yet here in Austin. It’s supposed to hit 94° today.

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • The joys of working in Los Angeles: a $30,000 tax bill on $500 worth of freelance income.
  • California nears passage of another trial lawyer full employment act.
  • Texas had five of the ten fastest growing metropolitan areas in 2014. Austin isn’t on this list, but Midland and San Angelo are numbers one and two. (San Jose, California’s lone entry, checks in at eight.)
  • 72% of Californians polled thinks the state has a pension crisis. Too bad this thinking doesn’t seem to influence their voting patterns yet… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • And yet a new bill would exempt some new hires from paying their fair share of pension costs. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • New pension accounting rules are about to show that a lot more California municipalities are insolvent.
  • “Instead of building freeways, expanding ports, restoring bridges and aqueducts, and constructing dams, desalination plants, and power stations, California’s taxpayers are pouring tens of billions each year into public sector pension funds.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy didn’t solve it’s pension crisis.
  • Texas had a net gain of 103,465 people in 2014, the largest number of which came from California.
  • San Francisco wants to keep housing affordable…by restricting supply. Looks like somebody failed Economics 101…
  • Pension reform initiative to be refiled?
  • Unions are trying to undo San Diego’s voter-approved pension reforms. Because of course they are.
  • Texas is like Australia with the handbrake off. There is no individual income tax and no corporate income tax, which explains the state’s rapid economic and population growth. A recent downturn has sparked some concern, however. Apparently Texas will only create another 150,000 jobs during 2015 – about the same number as Australia, from a population only a few million larger. In a good year, that number of jobs is easily generated by a single Texan city.” Also: IowaHawk’s illegal human organ trafficking!
  • Texas ranks 13th in budget transparency. California? Dead last.
  • Even some California Democrats balked at increasing the state’s already high gas prices.
  • As part of the bankruptcy of northwest supermarket chain Haggen (which bought a bunch of Albertson’s stores just six months ago), they’ll be closing all their California stores. And if you guessed that Haggen is unionized, you would be correct.
  • Jerry Brown revives the state’s redevelopment agency…and its potential for eminent domain abuse.
  • Reminder: Texas is enormous.
  • A scourge spreads out upon California. Crack gangs? Illegal aliens? Try “short term rentals.”
  • Historical note: 105 years ago today, three union guys bombed the Los Angeles Times, killing 21 people.
  • Tenth Planned Parenthood Video Drops

    Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

    Is it 10? I may have missed one or two along the way.

    Funny how Planned Parenthood’s defenders always speak as though it is a sacred charity, but when Planned Parenthood personnel don’t know they’re on camera, it’s “an industry.”

    Here’s the unedited version of the main talk for comparison:

    Texas vs. California Update for September 8, 2015

    Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Why Texas is awesome:

    First, there is no state income tax in Texas. Some people know this and some don’t—few really grasp what it means practically. It means that if you make decent money and decide to move here and rent something affordable, it’s essentially free to live in Texas. If you make $150,000 a year, your state income taxes in California are roughly $12,000 per year (in NYC it’s closer to $15,000). Or, you can put a thousand bucks a month toward your rent here. If you decide to buy, property taxes are high—but what you get for the money more than makes up for it. My editor at the Observer recently tried to cajole me into coming back to New York. Our house now—which has its own lake and is 29 minutes from the airport which never has lines—costs less than the rent we were paying for our lofted studio apartment in Midtown. Are you kidding?

    Also note the mention of walk-in gun safes…

    (Hat tip: Borepatch.)

  • 600,000 Californians have moved to Texas since 2009.
  • Another take on that data: “5 Million People Left California Over the Past Decade. Many Went to Texas.”
  • Austin and Houston are the top two relocation destinations in the country.
  • $15 billion for a fish tunnel?
  • “The average full-career California teacher receives a pension benefit equal to 105% of their final earnings. CalSTRS CEO says the plan isn’t generous enough.”
  • In 2012, Los Angeles passed some modest pension reforms for newly hired employees. Surprise! A new union contract undoes those reforms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California, like Texas, has a homestead exemption built into their bankruptcy laws. Unlike Texas, California’s exemption doesn’t actually protect debtors.
  • The FBI raided Palm Springs’ city hall as part of a corruption probe.
  • Mining company suspends operations at California mine because rare earths aren’t.
  • Chief of tiny California fire district to have his $241,000 pension cut. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Enviornmental idiocy and California’s drought.
  • Texas’ 2016 Fiscal Year started September 1st. “Several taxes that were eliminated on September 1 include the Inheritance Tax, Oil Regulation Tax, Sulphur Regulation Tax, Fireworks Tax, Controlled Substance Tax Certificates, and the Airline/Passenger Train Beverage Tax.”
  • Meanwhile, California’s legislature is trying to raise gas and tobacco taxes.
  • Elderly poverty in California.
  • Evidently California’s Democratic politicians stay up late at night devising ways they can make the state go broke even faster. The answer: Host the Olympics again.
  • Korean-owned businesses in LA consider relocating to El Paso. “Kim makes the case that El Paso, once home to plants for denim companies including Levi’s and Wrangler, has abundant skilled laborers, fewer regulations, much cheaper rent and direct flights from Los Angeles.”
  • A cartoon via IowaHawk’s twitter feed. That is all.
  • Let the Texas Racing Commission Die

    Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

    The Texas Racing Commission is tasked with overseeing and regulating horse and greyhound racing in Texas. In 2014, the commission decided to legalize “historical racing”.

    What’s historical racing, you ask? That’s where bettors use a machine to wager on already-run races whose distinguishing characteristics have been stripped out. In other words, betting real money on imaginary digitized horses, the horses on which they have are theoretically based being, in most likelihood, long dead.

    So what law passed by the legislature enabled them to legalize this entirely new form of gambling in Texas?

    None. They just made it up after the gambling lobby asked them to. Race tracks say that without historical racing they’ll have to close up shop.

    One tiny little problem: Not only has the legislature not approved historical racing machines, they say that the machines violate Texas laws against gambling machines. “‘These rules appear to be an attempt by the Racing Commission to circumvent the Legislature’s authority to decide what types of gambling are and are not legal,’ stated a letter sent at the time by [Texas Sen. Jane] Nelson, [Texas Sen. Craig] Estes and others in the Senate GOP Caucus. ‘This is not an appropriate decision for the Racing Commission.'”

    Indeed, they stripped funding from the Texas Racing Commission until such time as they were willing to obey the law.

    And the Legislative Budget Board is enforcing that decision.

    So how did the Texas Racing Commission respond to being told to obey the law? “Screw you, we’re legalizing historical racing anyway.”

    Personally, wearing my libertarian hat, I think more forms of gambling should be legal, regulated and taxed in Texas. However, at this point it’s become clear that the Texas Racing Commission has been captured by the very industry it was created to regulate. At this point it’s better for the LBB to let funding for the Texas Racing Commission lapse entirely. A short special session would be called creating a new agency to regulate horse racing and letting Governor Abbott choose commissioners who serve the interests of Texas citizens rather than the gambling lobby.

    And if Texas race tracks close (either temporarily or permanently), that’s acceptable collateral damage for a marginal industry that captured its own regulatory agency and pushed it into promulgating illegal regulations not authorized by the legislature.

    So focused has the Texas Racing Commission been on imposing historical racing, if I were Attorney General Ken Paxton, I’d take a serious look at investigating the possibility that current commissioners received payoffs from the gambling lobby to do so.

    But you know who would probably profit the most from letting historical racing and slots machines appear at Texas race tracks? Texas speaker Joe Straus, who stands to rake in millions due to his and his family’s connections to gambling interests.

    Edited to Add: Cahnman’s Musings notes that two of the commission members who voted for historical racing are holdovers that Gov. Abbott can replace at moment’s notice. Sounds like that should be the strategy going forward…

    WTO Trade Agreement Reached on IT Products

    Monday, July 27th, 2015

    A new trade agreement was struck at the World Trade Organization.

    A new global trade agreement that eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products should result in lower prices to technology buyers around the world as it is implemented over the next three years.

    The tentative deal, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, affects a wide variety of products ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. It covers US$1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today.

    This is one of those pieces of Snooze Inducing News that could very well turn out to be A Great Big Hairy Deal. Free trade is a win-win for the nations involved, so this could potentially help alleviate the real nasty recession that’s careening down the pike at us.

    A complete list of the products covered range from the excessively specific to the frustratingly general (“memories”). But a whole lot of them look related to semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment, an industry that American and Japanese companies dominate. (Almost makes me wish I hadn’t sold all my Applied Materials stock. Almost.)

    (Hat tip: Slashdot.)

    LinkSwarm for July 24, 2015

    Friday, July 24th, 2015

    Today will be full of Stuff. And Things. So enjoy a LinkSwarm!

  • Barack Obama, the MegaBanker’s friend. “Three top Democrats are accusing the Department of Housing and Urban Development of quietly removing a key clause in its requirements for taxpayer-guaranteed mortgage insurance in order to spare two banks recently convicted of federal crimes from being frozen out of the lucrative market.”
  • Companies that continue to fund Planned Parenthood. I believe the American Cancer Society should come in for a particularly hard time for sponsoring an event called “The Race For Life”…
  • And those same companies are scurrying for cover now that the lights have been flipped on.
  • On the New York Times running interference for Planned Parenthood. Which should surprise no one. Of course one branch of the Democratic Party will always defend another.
  • Five examples of that voting fraud Democrats swear doesn’t exist from 2015.
  • 93% unionized A&P supermarket chain files for bankruptcy. Again. Gee, what could be the cause?
  • Republicans chastise their extremists, Democrats pander to them.
  • Salman Rushdie says the world learned the wrong lesson from his fatwa. Namely to cower down in the face of jihad and really lick boot… (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Not just Israel: Border walls are going up all across the Middle East to help keep out jihadists. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • How Uber is taking on Bull De Blasio. Man, Democrats hate it when you threaten the profits of their favored entrenched monopolies.
  • Return to the joyous heydays of lesbian feminists collective. “Sitting in endless meetings, unable to reach agreements, and taking days to produce one leaflet because someone objected to the word seminal.” Can’t imagine why they didn’t take the world by storm…
  • All the people who should sue Gawker. It’s a lengthy list. Plus this: “Gawker is the kind of place where they hold up pictures of Sabrina Erdely and say: ‘Now this is how you do it!”
  • Guns don’t kill people, Austin policemen bumping off their 7-month pregnant girlfriends kill people. Allegedly.
  • Sorry Instapundit, but I read this piece and I instantly think Grizzly Man 2.
  • Texas vs. California Update for June 24, 2015

    Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

    It’s been a while since I did a Texas vs. California update, so this is going to be a meaty one:

  • The Texas Comptroller has released a 50 state overview of how Texas stacks up to other states. There’s a lot of information to mine there. A few nuggets”
    • Texas ranks first as the best state for business, while California ranks 50th.

    • Texas ranks as the best state for net migration; California ranks 49th.
    • There are area in need of improvement. Texas ranks 49th in states whose residents over 25 hold high school diplomas. California? 50th.
  • Texas has enjoyed 100 straight months of unemployment below the national average. (Now it’s 101 months, but I can’ find a link right at the moment.)
  • The previously mentioned California pension reform ballot initiative has been filed.
  • Can it help California voters avoid pension armageddon?
  • “Low Taxes And Economic Opportunity In Texas Lead To Youth Population Boom.”
  • I was unaware that CalPERS owns its own planned community in Mountain House, California, and which it’s invested more than $1 billion in. A community that in 2008 was the most underwater in terms of mortgages in the entire country, and which was estimated to be worth only $200 million at some point. And now their water is being cut off due to the drought. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Speaking of the drought, California is running on empty:

    We suffer in California from a particular form of progressive immorality predicated on insular selfishness. The water supplies of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are still for a year longer in good shape, despite the four-year drought. Neither area is self-sufficient in water; their aquifers are marginal and only supply a fraction of their daily needs. Instead these megalopolises depend on intricate and expensive water transfer systems — from Northern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from the Colorado River — that bring water and life to quite unnatural habitats and thereby allow a MGM or Facebook to thrive in an arid landscape that otherwise would not support such commerce and population. Without them, Atherton would look like Porterville.

    Quiet engineers in the shadows make it all work; the loud activists in the media seek to make it unwind. These transfers have sterling legal authority and first claims on mountain and northern state water. If Latinos in Lemon Cove are going without household water, Pyramid Lake on I-5 or Crystal Springs Reservoir on 280 are still full to the brim.

    Why then do those who have access to water delivered in a most unnatural way seek to curtail supplies to others? In a word, because they are either ignorant of where their own water comes from or they have not a shred of concern for others less blessed, or both. We will confirm this ethical schizophrenia should a fifth year of drought ensue. Then even the most sacrosanct rights of transferred water will not be sufficient to accommodate the San Francisco and Los Angeles basins. Mass panic and outrage will probably follow, and no one will care a bit about the delta smelt, or a few hundred salmon artificially planted into the San Joaquin River watershed, or a spotted toad that holds up construction of an urgently needed reservoir.

    The greens who pontificate about the need to return the San Joaquin watershed to its 19th-century ecosystem will become pariahs. When the taps run dry in Hillsborough and Bel-Air, very powerful people will demand water for their desert environs, which will in fact begin to return to the deserts that they always were as the thin veneer of civilization is scraped away.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Hey, remember how California’s are always saying “Sure, Texas has lower taxes, lower cost of living, and better job growth, but California’s awesomely moderate weather beats Texas’ summer heat hands down!”?

    Yeah, not so much this year… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • California legislature votes to reinstate Kelo-like seizure of private property for private development use. Shamefully, 12 Republicans joined Democrats to vote for eminent domain abuse.
  • “Pension payments are starving basic city services.”
  • A Marin County grand jury wants more openness about government employee salaries and pensions. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Of the four “minority majority” states, minorities in Texas are doing best.
  • California farm workers are suing to get the United Farm Workers out of their lives and pockets.
  • Among cities with high prices and stagnant wage growth, California has the nine worst, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Jose.
  • Because California homes just didn’t cost enough already, new energy regulations are going to make them even more expensive.
  • The San Bernardino sheriff’s department has used a “stingray” to capture cell phone communication over 300 times in the past year or so without a warrant.
  • Apple continues expanding in Austin.
  • Texas is one of the states General Electric might leave Connecticut for.
  • California-based retailer Anna’s Linens files for Chapter 11.
  • California holding company Premier Ventures uses yet another bankruptcy filing to prevent an Akron, Ohio mall from being sold at auction. (Previously.)
  • Not news: California bankruptcy filing. Still not news: From a fraud judgment. News: For a lawsuit first filed in 1989.
  • Texas Legalizes Medical Cannabis Oil

    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

    This was one small story in the tidal wave of session-ending bills, but Texas has now legalized medical cannabis oil.

    “Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation Monday legalizing low-THC cannabis oils as treatment for certain medical conditions.

    The Texas Compassionate Use Act from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, will legalize oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. The state will regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication.

    I’m a “legalize it, regulate it, tax it” sort of guy, but this is a good first step in reducing legitimate suffering without engaging in the farce that is California’s “medical” marijuana industry. “Yeah, I have a medical condition I’m suffering from! I’m not high right now!”

    Texas vs. California Update for May 21, 2015

    Thursday, May 21st, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • “March marked a phenomenal run of 99 consecutive months when Texas’ unemployment rate was at or below the national average.” Also: “Texas employs an impressive two and a half times more people since December 2007 than the rest of the nation combined.”
  • The Texas state legislature is on the verge of passing an actual conservative budget.
  • Will Franklin looks at local bond debt in Texas. It’s creeping up, partially due to big government advocates scheduling off-year bond elections when fewer people are voting. Even so, voters seem willing to reject big-ticket bond items.
  • San Bernardino’s bankruptcy plan: CalPERS gets theirs, bondholders get screwed.
  • And San Bernardino is planning to outsource their firefighting operations, not least of which because the fire department sucks up $7 million worth of overtime a year. And the fact their union stopped participating in bankruptcy talks didn’t help… (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • How a few wealthy California environmentalists give the illusion of a mass movement.
  • How retroactive pension increases destroyed California budgets. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California is a victim of repeated short-sighted thinking.
  • Los Angeles joins the minimum wage hike bandwagon. Expect another wave of small business closure stories over the next few months…
  • Why public employee unions are the elephant in the room for California’s debt crisis. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s majority Democrats shelve legislative transparency bill written by Republican. This is my shocked face.
  • Compton teachers get laid off, Do-Da, Do-Da…
  • “In another corporate exodus from Torrance, California, to North Texas, Kubota Tractor Corp. and Kubota Credit Corp. announced Thursday that they will move their headquarters to Grapevine from the Los Angeles area.”
  • “The number of young adults admitted to California hospital emergency rooms with heroin poisoning increased sixfold over the past decade.” (Hat tip: Cal WatchDog.)
  • The Weinstein Company hit with $130 million lawsuit. File under: Hollywood Accounting.