Zoning and Miracles

Lots of discussion about the so-called Texas Miracle, in which Texas has evidently avoided the worst of the ongoing unemployment crisis.  This is the heart of Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign message.  I might go into some of the core arguments later, but right now, let’s talk about zoning!

Tyler Cowen writes:

Texas, it seems, doesn’t give nearly as much political power to its equivalent of the Mantua moms, for whatever reason (can anyone tell us why?).  That leads to cheaper land, cheaper housing, and inferior public school systems, not to mention better and cheaper food.  And poor people are voting with their feet to choose it.

Based on context, the “Mantua moms” appear to be a powerful local political group that pushes for tight zoning.  I have heard friends complain that the lack of zoning regulations in Houston makes for a very ugly and confusing city.

Do you want to live in ugly Houston with its low standard of living but inferior schools or beautiful Fairfax with its top-tier schools but high standard of living?  To each his own, I say.  This is a great example of competition in local government (recall the neighborhood association comparison).  There are different options for different kinds of people, and the states hold each other accountable in some sense.

So Texas is a state that appeals to people with certain preferences.  Does Rick Perry deserve credit for helping create that environment?  And even if he does, is that relevant to the President election?  The neighborhood association view does not really apply at the federal level.  For another day.

Rick Perry and “Almost Treason”

Lots of chatter about Rick Perry.  At the time of posting, Intrade has him at a 40% chance of winning the Republican nomination, compared to only 28% for Romney and 7% for Bachmann.  That translates into a 19% chance of him becoming your next president.

There may be some things to like about Perry, but this post from Matt Yglesias highlights not just a gaffe, but a laying bare of the Republican’s “kill the economy to kill Obama” strategy:

If this guy [Bernanke] prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.

So he opposes further monetary expansion, not because he thinks it will be economically destructive, but because he thinks it will be economically beneficial, and as such would help Pres. Obama’s reelection chances.  Therefore to avoid having an impact on the election (i.e. “playing politics”), he wants Bernanke to do things to damage the economy.  Short-term pain for long-term gain.  The gain here being getting a Republican in the White House.

Wow.  This reminds of the book I just finished reading.  Lots of short-term pain there, but oh, the long-term gain!

Update: Scott Sumner reacts to this soundbite by calling Rick Perry “truly evil“.

Why I Like Jon Stewart

This is why.  Because even though you know Stewart disagrees with him on a lot of things, you can tell Stewart still respects him.

HT: Mike Munger