California represented everything that is good
Since I was old enough to understand the concept of what a state was, California has represented everything that is good, fresh, growing, and beautiful. Everyone wanted to live here. Commerce grew in leaps and bounds since my childhood. Name an industry, it thrived. Our real estate was some of the most valuable dirt in the world. Regardless of business cycles it thrived, climbing to new heights after every temporary downturn. Population never stopped increasing. I realize how this all sounds, like a fantasy, but I lived it in real time from the 1950’s to now.
How dynamic was the growth? I’ll use my adopted hometown of San Diego to illustrate. As a proud 10th grade graduate I moved to San Diego from up interstate 5 in Orange County. I was 15, it was the beginning of summer 1967. The county’s population was roughly a million people. By 2005 or thereabout, the city limits was that much, and the county sported 3 million people. We went from a highly populated Mayberry, to OMG! we’re becoming like Orange County and L.A. To be accurate, San Diego merely mirrored most of the rest of the state. Business was almost always good to great. Real estate always went up over time, sometimes way up.
Then things began to change. More on that later.
Texas ain’t the Texas we all came to know and love
Texas, as many have discovered, ain’t the Texas we all came to know and love. You know, the cliché Texas. It’s now in pretty much every way how California used to be. It’s open, and free, and overflowing with real, not faux opportunity. Its employment base is now as diversified as any in the nation. No longer a one trick pony, completely reliant on oil, it now thrives on the dynamics of an unfettered market place, which rewards value, efficiency, and hard work. In other words, they’re now almost maximally diversified when it comes to employers.
Doing business there, I visit frequently. The atmosphere is one of ongoing, dynamic success. I say this several times weekly, but go to any Starbucks in a large Texas city. Swing a dead cat and you’ll hit a couple of venture capitalists. People, capital, and new or expanding businesses are no longer even news these days. The surprise is that the business, capital, and general investment isn’t just coming from other states, but from around the world.
My experience is a microcosm of this. A large minority of the competition for the product I covet comes from another continent. Everyone knows their capital and hard work are safe there. California? It’s been sad to watch.
What’s the core difference between the two states?
I think it can be illustrated by the classic tale of two fishing villages. Most of us have heard this story in one form or another. In a nutshell, one village believes those families with the poorest fishing skills are entitled to take fish from those who are relatively or highly successful. The other village believes it’s most skilled fishermen should take time to pass on their skills to those less talented — teach them to be self sufficient. Everyone keeps what they earn.
The former believes in equality of results. The latter prefers equality of opportunity.
Over time the most prosperous families in the first village end up leaving in order to live in the the second village. They grew tired of having the results of their hard work and honed skills, stolen from them. It troubled them further that the stolen fish went to families who fished little or not at all, knowing fish would be delivered to their doors anyway.
Taker Village vs. Teaching Village
Before long, the “Taker Village” discovered most of their best fishing families had disappeared, having fled to the village promising that they wouldn’t steal their fish. They were more than happy to share what they knew with those less proficient.
Before long, the “Teaching Village” had nearly doubled in size.
The “Taker Village?” California is broke.
They’re losing population for the first time in generations. Lousy fishermen from all over the country are moving there for the free fish, and have been for a generation, maybe two. They’re so desperate now that they’re attempting to tax the sale of fish from other villages around the land. This hasn’t been, um, well received.
The lesson being taught
The lesson being taught by the stark differences between the Texas and California economies is crucial to the country’s very survival, in my opinion. Where California believes it can steal fish from the most successful fishermen in perpetuity, Texas realizes that’s been a failed strategy since man made the first trade with another man and called it commerce. Eventually the producers get tired of having their wealth stolen, and they do the only thing they can — they leave — and take their skills and wealth with them.
Texas is showing the country how it’s done. Tell folks you won’t steal what they create through hard work, risk, and sacrifice, and it’s amazing how many people will run, not walk to your state, um, village.