Michael Barone

As economist Tyler Cowen points out in a Time magazine cover story, when you adjust incomes for tax rates and cost of living, Texas comes out ahead of California and New York and ranks behind only Virginia and Washington state (which, like Texas, has no state income tax).

Critics charge that Texas's growth depends on the oil and gas industries and is weighted toward low-wage jobs. But in fact, Texas's low-tax, light-regulation policies have produced a highly diversified economy that from 2002 to 2011 created nearly one-third of the nation's highest-paying jobs. In those years, its number of upper- and middle-income jobs grew 24 percent.

Liberals like Noah often decry income inequality. But the states with the most unequal incomes and highest poverty levels these days are California and New York. That's what happens when high taxes and housing costs squeeze out the middle class.

As Noah notes, "Few working-class people earn enough money to live anywhere near San Francisco."

This leaves a highly visible and articulate upper class willing, in line with their liberal beliefs, to shoulder high tax burdens and a very much larger lower class -- many of them immigrants -- available to serve them in restaurants, landscape their gardens and valet-park their cars.

There's nothing wrong with living in a high-rise, restaurant-studded, subway-served neighborhood (I do). It's great that America offers more such options than one and two generations ago.

But it's foolish to try to cram everyone into such surroundings, as the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development (as Terry Eastland reports in the Weekly Standard) and California Governor, Jerry Brown, are trying to do.

Noah notes correctly that fewer Americans have been moving recently. That's always true in times of economic distress (the Okies' trek along U.S. Route 66 to California's Central Valley in the 1930s was a memorable exception, not the rule).

But they continue to move to the low-tax states that are providing jobs and living space where they can pursue their dreams and escape places that burden them with high costs and provide few middle-class amenities in return.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM