Rick Perry Slams New York

A blog about business and economics.
June 19 2013 12:28 PM

Rick Perry's Slam on New York Is Wrong, but Liberals Ignore Texas Growth at Their Peril

Texas Gov. Rick Perry waves before speaking during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center, May 3, 2013, in Houston.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry waves before speaking during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center, May 3, 2013, in Houston.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Rick Perry just unleashed a nuclear-strength TV ad aimed at recruiting businesses away from New York and toward his state:

Now I think Perry's basic thesis here is wrong. But when you understand what's wrong with it, you'll also see that the kind of dismissive liberal sneering Jon Chait directs at Texas is misguided. How do I know that Perry is wrong? It's simple. If New York was a terrible place to live, work, and do business, then it would be cheap to live in New York. But New York is not cheap. It's not Detroit. It's not even average. It's, in fact, hellishly expensive. If New York emulated Texas and eliminated its income tax, rich people would bid up the finite supply of New York City land at an even more furious rate—the city wouldn't see Houston or Dallas growth rates.

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But liberals should ponder these population figures:

population

Perry doesn't really need to get the specific causal dynamics of the Texas economic model correct. The American population is growing. And it's largely growing in Texas. The overall gestalt is very growth-friendly. There are a lot of different ins and outs to it, but the main thing I would say to the residents and politicians of liberal coastal areas is that the Texas gestalt is growth-friendly because, quite literally, it welcomes growth while coastal cities have become exceptionally small-c conservative and change averse. But if New York and New Jersey and California and Maryland and Massachusetts don't want to allow the construction of lots of housing units, then it won't matter that Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Palo Alto, Calif.; and Somerville, Mass.; are great places to live—people are going to live in Texas, where there are also great places to live, great places that actually welcome new residents and new building.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.