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Championing the Low Road

Ed Kilgore is right about everything. In this case, he's right about Texas.

The truth is that state policies have little or no effect on short-term economic trends affecting their populations. Texas and California exist in national and global economies. Unemployment rates in Fresno or El Paso are largely controlled by forces affecting manufacturing exports and imports; prices for housing, oil and gas; and credit availability that have almost nothing to do with the policies of Arnold Schwarzenneger or Rick Perry. Republican-governed Florida is getting hammered, and Democratic-governed Iowa is doing well.

Governors and state legislators do have a big effect on how their constituents are affected by such external forces--on the distribution of wealth, if not its existence--and on that front, regressive Texas has nothing to brag about.

But Ross Douthat's identification of "low-road" economic development strategies as vindicated by the current recession is deeply flawed and dangerous. If the no-regulation regressive-tax approach really represented the keys to the kingdom, then Mississippi and Alabama would have long since become the economic dynamos and social showcases of America. That hasn't happened, and isn't happening, regardless of short-term growth and unemployment rates. With far more resources than its country cousins to the east, Texas has managed to create similar social conditions. Touting the Lone Star State as a lodestar state is a terrible mistake. And as a southerner, I'd have to say that it takes a conservative Yankee to celebrate so unreflectively the South's high ratio of private affluence to public squalor.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 4, 2009; 9:01 AM ET
 
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Comments

" If the no-regulation regressive-tax approach really represented the keys to the kingdom, then Mississippi and Alabama would have long since become the economic dynamos and social showcases of America."

Exactly, which is why I do not understand why Republican and Conservative Democrats are not asked this question every day--Where is a conservative success you can point to?

Never happens, and the answers are so obvious.

Posted by: PoliticalPragmatist | August 4, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

A good example of regressiveness would be Mississippi and Alabama tax groceries. Something that would not pass muster in New England,NY or CA.

Wise Democrats in the south ought to run against this. Gov. Reilly R-AL tried to do tax reform a few years back but was shot down by a Christian Conservatives and the Norquest crowd.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | August 4, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Alabama and Mississippi still suffer from their legacy social and racial feudalism...the finger can easily be point back at you by asking you to name a large socialist country or state that creates jobs, innovates, and (here is the kicker) allows for economic upward mobility for its citizens?

Posted by: letmapeoplego | August 6, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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