Friday, February 20, 2009

Three Cheers for Ideology

Seemingly for the American Left, destroying economic freedom is their raison d'etre. As pretext for their invasion of our pocketbooks, they have fabricated weak evidence that allowing "too much" freedom is to blame for our current economic problems. The alleged failures of capitalism are everywhere.

One problem: The minor exception of Texas.

Ah Texas, without a single Democrat holding a statewide office in over a decade. Texas, with a Republican majority in both houses of the legislature. Texas, with 9 of 9 Republican state Supreme Court justices. Texas, with no income tax. Texas, with light regulation and lightly planned cities. Where else in America could the economic failures of free market ideology be on greater display?

Only Texas doesn't seem to cooperate with the presuppositions of Obama's new statism. I have written about the massive budget surplus here. I have written about Texas' FALLING home foreclosure rate here and here. And how Texas has the 2nd most free economy in the U.S. here.

Today, Tory Gattis at his blog HoustonStrategies links to an article here, and a list here, that demonstrates the results of free market ideology in Texas.

The first, is an article at EcoHome Magazine that lists the 15 healthiest housing markets in the United States:

1. Houston, TX
2. Austin, TX
3. Fort Worth, TX
4. San Antonio, TX
5. Dallas, TX

Wow, Texas takes the Gold, Silver, Bronze, Honorable Mention and the Participant ribbons. Surely light land regulation had nothing to do with this at all!

The second link is a list of #1 rankings given by various publications for Houston and Texas.
Some selections are below.


Best City to Live, Work and Play Kiplinger's Personal Finance — July 2008
Best U.S. City to Earn a Living — August 18, 2008
Best City for Recent College Grads — June 26, 2008
Fastest Job Growth (11/07 to 11/08) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment – January 4, 2009
Lowest Cost of Living Among Major Metro Areas ACCRA Cost of Living Index — Second Quarter 2008
Largest IT Service Economy Onforce, Inc. (VoIP Monitor) – December 5, 2008
Top U.S. Manufacturing Cities Manufacturers' News Inc. (as reported in the Houston Business Journal) — May 30, 2008


America's Top State for Business — July 2008
Most Favorable Business Climate in the Nation Development Counsellors International (DCI) — "Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing" — July 2008
Best State To Do Business Chief Executive Magazine — January 2008
[Most] Fortune 500 Headquarters Fortune Magazine - April 2008
U.S.'s Top Exporting State WISERTrade — February 2008

I'm sure this is all coincidence and probably due to some evil conspiracy by George W. Bush, but I'm willing to wager (literally) that Texas' unemployment rate will be lower than in California and New York for at least the next two years.


Hollis Miles said...

Great Article.

Digg it here...

Brian Shelley said...

Thanks, I try.

Anonymous said...

Brian: I don't mean to throw water on your theory, but there is a rather glaring logical fallacy in your blog entry.

You inferred that the relative good fortune Texas is currently experiencing is due to Republicanism. Your error lies in your extremely simplistic presumption of cause and effect.

If your cause and effect conclusion were true, then why haven't other states that have been under Republican control fared well? You did no inquiry into that question, yet it presents a gallingly obvious stumbling block to your theory.

Also, did you examine whether there may have been other factors which caused Texas to be doing well in the current economic downturn? No, you didn't examine that possibility either.

Here's what one website on logical fallacies has to say about the common error in reasoning that you made:

Fallacy: Confusing Cause and Effect

Also Known as: Questionable Cause

Confusing Cause and Effect is a fallacy that has the following general form:

A and B occured together.
Therefore A is the cause of B.

This fallacy makes the false presumption that there are not other factors which caused B.

This fallacy is committed when a person assumes that one event must cause another just because the events occur together. More formally, this fallacy involves drawing the conclusion that A is the cause of B simply because A and B are in regular conjunction. The mistake being made is that the causal conclusion is being drawn without adequate justification.

In some cases it will be evident that the fallacy is being committed. For example, a person might claim that an illness was caused by a person getting a fever. In this case, it would be quite clear that the fever was caused by illness and not the other way around. In other cases, the fallacy is not always evident.

One factor that makes causal reasoning quite difficult is that it is not always evident what is the cause and what is the effect. For example, a problem child might be the cause of the parents being short tempered or the short temper of the parents might be the cause of the child being problematic. The difficulty is increased by the fact that some situations might involve feedback.

For example, the parents' temper might cause the child to become problematic and the child's behavior could worsen the parents' temper. In such cases it could be rather difficult to sort out what caused what in the first place.

In order to determine that the fallacy has been committed, it must be shown that the causal conclusion has not been adequately supported and that the person committing the fallacy has confused the actual cause with the effect. Showing that the fallacy has been committed will typically involve determining the actual cause and the actual effect.

In some cases, as noted above, this can be quite easy. In other cases it will be difficult. In some cases, it might be almost impossible. Another thing that makes causal reasoning difficult is that people often have very different conceptions of cause and, in some cases, the issues are clouded by emotions and ideologies. For example, people often claim violence on TV and in movies must be censored because it causes people to like violence. Other people claim that there is violence on TV and in movies because people like violence. In this case, it is not obvious what the cause really is and the issue is clouded by the fact that emotions often run high on this issue.

While causal reasoning can be difficult, many errors can be avoided with due care and careful testing procedures. This is due to the fact that the fallacy arises because the conclusion is drawn without due care.

One way to avoid the fallacy is to pay careful attention to the temporal sequence of events. Since (outside of Star Trek), effects do not generally precede their causes, if A occurs after B, then A cannot be the cause of B. However, these methods go beyond the scope of this program.

All causal fallacies involve an error in causal reasoning. However, this fallacy differs from the other causal fallacies in terms of the error in reasoning being made. In the case of a Post Hoc fallacy, the error is that a person is accepting that A is the cause of B simply because A occurs before B.

In the case of the Fallacy of Ignoring a Common Cause A is taken to be the cause of B when there is, in fact, a third factor that is the cause of both A and B. For more information, see the relevant entries in this program.

Brian, I apologize for bursting your bubble, but your theory has no merit until (a) you examine the other possible causes and prove they are not the cause of the effect, and (b) until you provide data and proof which explains why so many other Republican-controlled states have fared so poorly in this recession (in other words, you must show why the cause in your theory not produce a similar effect in those other GOP-controlled states).

Good luck, my friend.

Spanish Mango Dancer Trapeze said...

Loving the blog. Clearly a lot of this has to do with Governor Perry and his leadership. Obviously, he only gets some of the credit (Combs and Craddick and a few others deserve props), but I wish people gave the Governor more credit for taking the sometimes unpopular positions he takes. He's the ant in the fable about the grasshoppers (who goof off during summer and starve in winter) and ants (who sacrifice and toil during summer and reap the benefits during the winter).

Governor Perry should be far more of a national conservative hero right now, but I think people may have Bush fatigue and thus discount him a bit. I love Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford and Haley Barbour, but Rick Perry is easily among the top 2 or 3 governors in America right now.

Great work on your blog, and GOD BLESS TEXAS!

Spanish Mango Dancer Trapeze said...

Anonymous actually has a good point in all of that lengthy text. I tend to think that ideas and courage more than party affiliation are what matters. In Texas, Republicans like the Governor and former Speaker actually had some courage. There were far fewer RINOs watering down the party. Thus, in Texas, we actually saw a lot of good ideas passed.

Anonymous said...

Brian: the link above may be able to explain to you more clearly the logical error in your theory.

Gig Em

Brian Shelley said...


My bubble is not burst. I am fully aware that my analysis is simplistic. At the same time, the whole "the free market has failed" cherry picks isolated information as well.

I am attacking a narrative with a narrative.

I love Mark Sanford more than Rick Perry, but South Carolina is not doing so hot. I suspect that Oklahoma has few land use regulations, yet their foreclosure rate has gotten to be quite high.

The correlation between economic success and mere Republican domination is going to be positive, but weak. Democrats don't have a monopoly on bad ideas, but I so rarely here anything but myopia and sentimentality that I have little problem calling myself a Republican.

However, if you read through some of my more serious posts you will see that Texas' avoidance of land use regulation easily explains why there were few boom/bust problems.