The Kindness Of Capitalism: How The Texas Economy Cares For The Community

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Liberals don’t like Texas. Whether they’re liberal Democrats or liberal Republicans, Texas inhabits a hard-scrabble mythology. Red dirt, rocks, heat. A tough landscape. A big sky. Openness. Hardness.

After living in California, New York and Michigan, I’m convinced environment shapes our view of the world more than we care to admit. The coasts, used to milder weather and milder expectations, don’t like the tough life inherent in living in oppressive heat, freezing cold and general discomfort.

Texas ain’t that pretty. It certainly isn’t lush. There’s space. Hard ground. Texas is big. Texas is not, however, soft. There are no rolling hills of heather. There are no natural lakes. And yet, the people come.

People have had to make Texas what they want it to be. They have wildly succeeded.

The government reflects the landscape: spare and open.

Want a life of government paid-for ease? Don’t move to Texas. Move to California, New York or Michigan–well, until they stop using debt to finance their lavish ways. They’re out of money.

So, on this backdrop, here’s a story about the kindness of capitalism in Texas.

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and thousands of exiles trekked to Texas. When the crisis hit, Governor Perry called mayors, business leaders, and probably most importantly, church leaders. [Aside: Governor Perry’s leadership through Hurricanes has been impressive and stellar. It’s difficult for outsiders to fathom the sheer magnitude of evacuating a city the size of Houston, for example. When the first evacuation showed logistical weakness, local and state leaders did a correction of errors and the next one was flawless.]

The church leaders sent the call out to the churches. The mega churches have huge charitable organizations. They coordinated the smaller churches and resources. They asked church and community members to help. And the local people responded. So enthusiastic was the response, that when I finally got to Target to buy supplies for folks (toothpaste, brushes, and all the rest) the shelves were empty. Nada. Picked clean.

Helping Hurricane Katrina victims was probably the single largest charitable outpouring in a concentrated time for that many people in American history.

This charity was, is, a result of capitalism. People had the extra resources to give because all their extra income wasn’t soaked up in taxes.

There is a palliative effect from this sort of action–both for those who are suffering and those who are relieving the suffering. The sufferers often got to meet who was helping them. They were prayed with and cared for and loved by individuals profoundly moved by their plight. The caregivers were blessed to see their actions making a direct difference in the lives of those in need. This was not some antiseptic government bureaucrat having a person check off a list in order to get a bar of soap and diapers. This was a friend helping a friend.

The government helped, too. But it took a while to get the government engine going. It always does. People got vouchers to find homes and apartments. The Houston public school was flooded with new, and woefully behind, students (an average of two years behind academically).

After six months of the transplanted New Orleans folks living off the kindness of strangers and the government dole, a Democratic Houston city councilwoman told the visitors, pointedly, “It’s time to get a job.”

At the time of her pronouncement, the unemployment rate was 4%. She rightly noted that no one had an excuse for not working. It was time to get to work and become a member of their new community or go home. And so, some people went back home. Some people stayed.

One woman who stayed is my favorite grocery checker at my local HEB. She got plunked in my community because her house was flooded and destroyed in New Orleans. She decided to make Texas home. When I asked her why, she said that she got a job, found a rental home in a neighborhood she really likes, the schools were great, her son was happy, New Orleans was violent and scary, and she was happy here. Mind you, she’s living happily and well in one of the best school districts in Texas as a single mother on a grocery checker’s wage.

Another woman, a nurse, moved here and stayed. She was thrilled with her pay (40% more than in New Orleans!) and the low cost of living (cheaper house!).

Capitalism, the Texas kind, is kind.

The free market here in Texas creates jobs. People with jobs have dignity.

But it’s not a living wage! liberal Democrats and Republicans cry. Really? In Texas, the cost of living is a fraction of what it costs in other states in the nation. I know this from personal experience having lived, and decently, on $2000 a month gross, with a baby. Mind you, that was without delux cable, smart phones, and home entertainment systems. It was eating Ramen noodles and sitting on the floor. Is that a horrible way to live? It’s a way a person starts. Where he ends is his choice.

But insurance! Texas has a high number of uninsured people. A good chunk of that is illegal immigration. I’m sorry, liberals, but I do not want to pay for someone else’s insurance. Still, Texas has programs for those who have difficulty. Lots of young Texans don’t want to pay for insurance. When we first started, we had no insurance. What’s the first thing we purchased when we had two nickels? Insurance. Many people choose not to make that expenditure. Fine. It’s a choice. With Obamacare, no one can be turned away from insurance. People make choices. Let them choose.

If they choose poorly, they end up at the free clinic where local doctors donate time. They get wonderful care. If they really get messed up, they end up an an emergency care center (Texas communities have lots of these) or the hospital. If they don’t have eye insurance (my family doesn’t), they go to Walmart (I do) and have a reasonable eye appointment and get low-cost glasses (which I have on my face right now). In a Texas hospital, you get damn good care. The problem with illegals overwhelming border hospitals is something that’s the Fed’s failing that’s become a state problem. Illegal immigration needs to stop. It’s sucking up resources.

Kindness according to big government types is some distant person making a decision for another person with other people’s money. It’s all very detached. It lacks personal warmth, connection and accountability.

Liberals want social services to not have any behavioral expectations. When a person is receiving help from a local charity or church, the organizations know the people. There’s an element of involvement and expectation. Isn’t that a good thing?

Wasn’t it a good thing that the city councilwoman loved the Hurricane Katrina folks enough to tell them to go get a job rather then subject themselves to the corrosive effects of living helplessly, waiting for the next check to come in? Isn’t it important for people to have to look those who are giving to them freely, from their own cupboards of food and necessities, in the eyes? Isn’t it important for those in need and those giving to be connected? That is the essence of community, is it not?

Many liberals find this sort of thing demeaning–both the charitable work and seeing those who need charity. It’s uncomfortable. They don’t think of the churches that built hospitals and homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers and pregnancy crisis centers. The intimacy scares them.

Capitalism, though, creates this intimacy. Both the consumer and supplier are connected. So too, are the needy and the charitable connected.

It is tougher. Just as a loving family will boot a kid out of the nest who needs to be on his own (or should), a loving society encourages its members to live as independently as possible. This is for the good of the individual and the good of the community.

From the outside, liberals see Texas and recoil. From the inside, Texans are quite content. Hard work, independence and autonomy are appreciated. And when community is needed, charity comes out of love and desire rather than force and coercion.

Is it a perfect system? No. But I’d point to the city of Detroit and to New Orleans as examples of entrenched corruption, excessive government services, and desperation among generations of inhabitants enslaved by an anything-but-loving liberal compassion.

I’ll take the kindness of capitalism any day. Given the choice between a job and independence and an unemployment check and dependency, the thousands of people moving to Texas every month agree: capitalism is kind. They’re counting on it.



Latest American Issues Project Column: “It’s The Government’s Money, You Just Earn It”

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Are we in a new America where the state runs the show and the citizens are bit players or are we still a government of, by and for the people? Judging by economic policy, I’d say we’re all servants of the state now. Here’s a snippet from my latest American Issues Project column where I elaborate:

Not to pick around the edges, but the most illustrative point of the Joe Biden interview, came for me when the subject of health care and paying for it came up. The Vice President crowed that the Medicare drug supplement only cost $40 Billion as opposed to the $72 Billion predicted.

Only?

That’s thinking like a politician, though. Taking money from the the taxpayer and feeling free to throw around terms like “only forty billion” is classic. It’s their money, you just earn it.

The last eight years reinforced one key point: politicians from both sides of the political sphere believe the government is a force for good. That is, both Democrats and Republicans are statists now. The question is how the government should be used not whether it should be involved at all.

Rather than setting up a right-left dichotomy, the real dichotomy is between those who value liberty, freedom and being left alone by the nanny state, and those within the government who like to nanny and the recipients of government largesse who like being cared for by the nannies. It’s this latter group that is concerning.

In a blog post before the election in November, I wondered how many people rely on the government for survival either as welfare recipients or as a government employee. And the next question is whether there can ever be a conservative, non-statist candidate win national election.

I’m not sure about the answer and that worries me.

Cross-posted at MelissaClouthier.com



“Resilience Vs. Anticipation”

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

“Resilience Vs. Anticipation”
Via Jay Rosen on Twitter



So Barack Obama Isn’t Just A Socialist In Word, But In Membership, Too

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Yesterday, a few readers protested because I said that the current candidates used socialist rhetoric. In the comments, I even pointed to socialist actions. That view was derided as being ignorant of the meaning of socialism. Given what Van Helsing reports today, my post seems even more restrained than it first appeared:

The DSA and its New Party were socialist in the same sense as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics — i.e., they were communists, reviled as extreme even by the Green Party. From American Thinker:

The New Party was a radical left organization, established in 1992, to amalgamate far left groups and push the United States into socialism by forcing the Democratic Party to the left. It was an attempt to regroup the forces on the left in a new strategy to take power, burrowing from within.
That sounds like the Obama/Ayers strategy, all right.

Now the New Party has joined the huge crowd under Obama’s bus. There are enough skeletons under there already to keep journalists busy for years, should they ever develop a sense of curiosity.

More at No Quarter, which also has a time line.

Here’s the thing: anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of Karl Marx or socialism, hears the language of a socialist every time Obama speaks. He was schooled in it and marinated in it while coming up through his political career. It is the language of discontent, of government solutions, of screwing the rich, of fairness, of egalitarianism. The fundamental belief, and Obama has this in spades, is that life is not fair and that government can make life fairer. America is unfair. There is also the belief The Greedy and Powerful keeps people down and The System needs to be used to balance this out.

Socialist language soothes in times of trouble. Socialists make promises they simply can’t keep, but when has that ever stopped any politician? Socialism also doesn’t work–well, it doesn’t work well, because it fundamentally ignores human nature. Thus, my joking about not paying my mortgage.

What the government pays for, it reinforces. When a hard working person can make the same amount of money if he doesn’t work, guess what the smart person does? If Barack Obama taxes small business owners, what will the small business owner do? They will STOP hiring or they will let employees go. In response, the socialist government will make laws making it harder to fire people. What will employers do? Stop hiring and start looking for cheaper work forces with less hassle. What will the socialist government do? Require businesses to stay in the country. Cost of goods will inflate. People will have less disposable income. The economy will stall. What will business owners do? CLOSE UP SHOP.

This cycle is so easy to predict because it happens every time it’s tried. And yet, Barack Obama looks across the Atlantic with admiration and Hope and CHANGE! The Germans know a socialist when they see one. One can only hope, Americans do, too.

Even more interesting to me: Why don’t the socialists ever pay more than their fair share? Why do Obama and the rest of his liberal ilk even hire an accountant? Whatever percentage of their hard earned dough they get, why don’t they send it to the Federal Government and earmark the money for the government program they believe is so underfunded? Liberals give far less in charity, mainly because they believe a social safety net should be part of the government not dependent on individuals giving charitably. So, they force people to pay taxes for questionable programs. So fund the programs yourself. Give more in taxes.

But no. Barack Obama, when he made his millions from his book, did what every greedy capitalist does–he bought a nice house in a nice neighborhood for his nice family. He ignores the fact that everyone is free to do the same thing.

He succeeded, but he’s ashamed. It’s not enough for him to privately help those who are in need. No, he wants to force everyone, because he believes everyone is as “selfish” as him, to pay. And yet, right now, he could put his money where his mouth is. He could give extra in taxes. Maybe he believes, like the rest of us looking at a mortgage and kids education, that he doesn’t make enough yet to be so generous. But see, those are evil capitalist thoughts.

With the money Obama has made with his campaign, he’s finally got enough money to be a socialist. The rest of us can’t afford his generosity.



WSJ: The Freedom Market In Athletic Achievement

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

I alluded to this last week, but it is interesting how athletic performance has increased as more people have been trained in America:

What accounts for this extraordinary international cross-pollination? The desire for excellence and achievement. In sports, as perhaps in no other productive activity, success in competition is defined immediately and broadcast widely. The sports market is not entirely free. Athletes must submit to immigration limitations, visa restrictions and the like. But it is freer than most labor markets, and the opportunities for substantial gains are obvious.

Freedom promotes excellence.



Car Companies About To Latch On To Government Teat

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Here. We. Go. Again. Every taxpayer should be pissed, if they aren’t already. I talked about this just a week ago. The car companies want to get their hands on your money. From the Wall Street Journal:

Detroit’s political calculation is plain: Having seen the way Washington has bowed to rescue the mortgage industry and Wall Street, why shouldn’t auto makers give it a try? Michigan is up for grabs in the election, so now is the time to strike with a goal of getting the Bush Administration and both Presidential candidates to agree.

The car makers can also claim with justification to have been hurt as badly as anyone by Washington’s policy blunders. The weak dollar has contributed to the spike in oil prices that has socked their most profitable vehicles. And the nonsensical way that fuel-economy standards force Detroit to subsidize cars that consumers won’t buy has helped put the Big Three in this hole.

Then again, the car makers saddled themselves with a cost structure in flush times that has proved unsustainable as their market share has eroded. They have made great strides of late in shedding legacy pension and health-care costs, but they took decades to do so. The fact that GM’s lending arm, now 51% owned by the owners of Chrysler, dipped its toes in mortgage lending hasn’t helped either.

So, stupid government and stupid business leadership and taxpayers have to pick up the slack. No. The solution is painful and more long term: change the laws that hamstring the manufacturers, break the unions, reduce corporate taxes, get the government out of debt so that the dollar strengthens, create energy independence. Is there anything else? Bottom line, taxpayers are not a freaking money tree.



Frosted Flakes: Breakfast of a Capitalist

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008


Forget the breakfast of Champions, Michael Phelps, by choosing to hawk Frosted Flakes, promotes the triumph of capitalism. Endorsements….they’re GRRRRRREAT! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I’m happy for Phelps and hope he makes a gazillion dollars. But some people are clucking about Phelps’ choice:

You better eat your . . . Frosted Flakes?
Olympic legend Michael Phelps will appear on boxes of the Kellogg’s brand sugar cereal, drawing sharp criticism from health experts worried about the message he’ll be sending to children across America.
“I would not consider Frosted Flakes the food of an Olympian,” said nutritionist Rebecca Solomon of Mount Sinai Medical Center.
“I would rather see him promoting Fiber One. I would rather see him promoting oatmeal. I would even rather see him promoting Cheerios.”
The announcement yesterday that Phelps, 23, winner of a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, would grace Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes boxes instead of the traditional athlete’s choice of Wheaties left many perplexed.
Frosted Flakes has three times the amount of sugar as Wheaties and 1/3rd the fiber.

Oh brother…had Wheaties or Fiber One offered Phelps an endorsement deal and if any human under the age of 50 ate those cereals and therefore were big sellers, I’m sure he would have chosen them. He got a Frosted Flakes deal because Frosted Flakes is a huge seller and so can have a huge marketing budget and pay guys like Michael Phelps the big bucks.

As for the empty calories that are Frosted Flakes. If the 50 million kids who eat the cereal get off their collective butts and get into a swimming pool to burn those empty calories, it will be worth it. Had Phelps endorsed Fiber 1, he’d be inspiring like two kids. His mug will be in every house in America and kids who heretofore thought about playing Nintendo might actually want to join the swim team. One can hope, anyway.

The endorsement is a win-win. Phelps makes lots of money. Lots of kids consider swimming. Sounds like a sweet deal.

Cross-posted at RightWingNews.com