Debating ideas is great fun. But, how do we evaluate the merits of opposing arguments?
Sometimes we respond to one side’s passionate intensity. Sometimes we are swayed by someone’s rhetorical skills or overall cleverness.
Surely, it would be better if we could evaluate an argument by what happens when it is put into action. Results matter. If we are trying to decide between different governing philosophies, wouldn’t it be good to find two states, each of which is following one or the other of the philosophies, and evaluate the results produced.
In America today, there are two different governing philosophies. Each philosophy is identified with a political party. As a nation we are divided into Democrats and Republicans. Give or take a few variants.
If the states are the laboratories where we try out different policies, then we should look to the states that most closely practice the different philosophies.
As Joel Kotkin wrote in Forbes today, those two states are California and Texas. Link here. Via Instapundit.
If I recall correctly, Kotkin is a Democrat. Yet, as he compares Texas with California, he discovers, unambiguously, that California is declining while Texas is ascending.
When he asks why this should be happening, he does not blame it on the climate, but on policy differences, on the way different governing philosophies have played themselves out in each state.
In his words: “Instead of a role model, California has become a cautionary tale of mismanagement of what by all rights should be the country’s most prosperous big state. Its poverty rate is at least two points above the national average; its unemployment rate nearly three points above the national average.”
Demographically, the comparison is stark: “Over the past decade nearly 1.5 million more people left California than stayed; only New York State lost more. In contrast, Texas gained over 800,000 new migrants. In California, foreign immigration–the one bright spot in its demography–has slowed, while that to Texas has increased markedly over the decade.”
As a California resident, Kotkin is unhappy to see that, in the most recent election, California doubled down on failure: “In contrast to other hard-hit states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada, which all opted for pro-business, fiscally responsible candidates, California voters decisively handed virtually total power to a motley coalition of Democratic-machine politicians, public employee unions, green activists and rent-seeking special interests.”
Unfortunately, it looks as though the rest of us are going to be paying the price for California's failure.