California (and the Chronicle) Vs. Texas

Last week, the Chronicle announced that California is winning in its rivalry with Texas. Over the past year, the paper reports, the Golden State has outperformed the Lone Star State. Wages grew faster, the economy grew more, and unemployment was lower in California. Perhaps, the article opines, it wouldn’t be so bad for Texas to become a little more like California.

Conveniently, the article focuses on a short time frame. It ignores the many years–almost two decades–that Texas outperformed nearly every state in the union. In ignoring this fact, the Chronicle is guilty of far worse than merely promoting Progressivism.

Objective reporting requires a consideration of the full context. Selectively reporting a few statistics ignores that context.

As one example, hidden among all of the praise for California is the fact that, when the cost of living is factored in, the poverty rate in the state is the highest in the nation. In other words, the statistics cited by the paper do not tell the entire story. Job growth and higher wages are certainly good, but that’s not much of a consolation when the cost of living is outrageously high.

The paper wants us to believe that the California model of high taxes, a lavish welfare system, and regulations on virtually every activity are the path to economic success. It praises California’s one year of success while ignoring the years of economic success enjoyed by the Texas model of low taxes and fewer regulations.

Consider the issue of context regarding a different subject. On the morning of June 6, the Houston Astros had won 11 straight games and had a winning percentage of .714 for the season. They had the best record in Major League Baseball and were on a pace to set an all-time record for most wins in a season. They lost their game the evening of June 6. If we looked at their performance on June 6, we could declare them losers. But that would be ignoring the full context and would be a gross misrepresentation of their season to date.

Context is only one part of objectivity.

Thinking in principles is another crucial component of objectivity. Principles allow us to project the future consequences of today’s actions, including policy decisions. But when one rejects principles, one cannot make such projections. One can only judge policies by the short-term results. California outperformed Texas for one brief period of time, and therefore, it is concluded that Texas should emulate California.

The Kansas City Royals beat the Houston Astros on June 6, and therefore, according to those who reject principles, the Royals are the better team. But one game does not a season make. Nor does one year indicate the validity of economic policies.

Those of us who do not reject principles can project the long-term consequences of California’s policies. We cannot predict what will happen this month or even this year. But we can predict that California is headed towards disaster. And that’s not something to emulate.

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