A Case Study in Economic Policy

California verses Texas

  • According to the US Census Bureau, between 2005-2007, the median family income for the state of Texas was $44,861; whereas the median family income for California was $55,864.
  • Texas also has 16.5% of its people (3.6 million) living below the poverty line (i.e., under $17,170 in annual income), compared to 12.5% of the US, and 12.7% in California.
  • California is working to move closer to universal health care, while Texas has the highest rate of uninsured citizens in the country; 25.2% of Texans are uninsured, verses California at 18.2%.[23]
  • From 2005-2008, California’s gross state product (GSP) grew steadily, from $1.61 trillion to $1.84 trillion. During the same timeframe, the Texas GSP has decreased from $1.22 trillion to $989 billion.[24]

These economic indicators make a convincing case that, in spite of a budget shortfall—partially a result of the Republicans’ anti-tax stance—liberal policies certainly correlate with strong economic performance. This particular example is by no means a scientific study, but it does offer an interesting and instructive comparison.

However, there is at least one area that Texas excels in numbers and efficiency: Execution of the death penalty.

  • Since 1976, Texas has executed 439 death row inmates, compared to California’s mere 13.[25] California spends a whopping $250 Million per execution.[26] In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years.[27] Texas leads the nation in executions, and they perform these executions at a bulk discount.

Results of Democratic Policies

What else can California show for all of its “irresponsible spending”?

  • California voters approved $10 billion in 2005 to make the Golden State the world center for embryonic stem cell research.[28]
  • In 2006: Legislators acted on infrastructure, the minimum wage, prescription drug costs, and the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.[29]
  • California has lead the way in mandating cuts in carbon emissions.
  • In 2008, a survey found that 23 out of the top 100 public schools in the nation were in California; the number of high school students taking advanced math and science courses has increased 53 percent since 2003.”[30]
  • In his 2007 State of the State address, Governor Schwarzenegger expressed some of the other outcomes of the state:
    • California has more Nobel Laureates, more scientists, more engineers, more researchers, [and] more high-Tech companies than any other state.
    • We are responsible for one of every four U.S. patents.
    • We account for one of every five U.S. technology jobs.
    • We attract almost half of all U.S. venture capital, which funds the ideas and industries of the future.
    • California leads the nation in biotechnology. We lead the nation in nanotechnology.
    • We lead the nation in medical technology.
    • We lead the nation in information technology.
    • And we will soon be recognized as the leader in clean technology.
    • According to The Economist magazine, California is home to three of the top six universities in the world…
    • Our innovation, our science, our knowledge, our creativity is un-equaled on the face of the earth…
    • This year [2007] California has the highest revenues in its history, the highest revenues in its history and the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years.[31]

California’s success can be partially attributed to liberal public policies. It is a good thing that conservative deregulation has not been able to significantly impact other non-energy sectors, such as education. If they had, the list of accomplishments would undoubtedly be much shorter. It is also important that liberal Democrats have stayed in control so that investments in the people of California could be made. One wonders how much better off California might be if their constitution allowed for a majority congressional vote, rather than a two-thirds vote to pass legislation.

Beyond state economic politics, on a national level, economic statistics can be demonstrated by comparing statistics over periods when each party was in power. By virtually every economic indicator, Democratic presidents have outperformed Republican presidents.[32] Conservatives may have cultural reasons for their ideology, but the numbers make justifying their economic policies very difficult.