In recent years, much has been made about the economic success of Texas and the decline of California. Many have pointed to California’s tax and regulatory burdens and the more business friendly policies of Texas as a primary reason. These certainly are a fundamental reason, and one statistic captures the essence of the difference between the nation’s two most populous states.

In California, there are 252 non-education government employees per 10,000 citizens. In Texas, that number is 22 percent lower: 196 per 10,000 citizens. The obvious impact of this is that Texans must pay far less of their income to support government workers. In California, it is $11,302 per person; in Texas, it is $7,756 per person (the national average is about $9,450). Less obvious is what these government workers are doing.

Certainly, many government workers are working in legitimate government functions: police, courts, and prisons. But what are the others doing? They are creating regulations, checking paperwork, inspecting businesses, and generally putting obstacles in the path of citizens living their lives and operating their businesses. California has substantially more people erecting these arbitrary barriers than Texas.

In short, California has more people snooping and prying into the lives of its citizens than Texas does. Not only are Texans freed from the financial burden of paying for these glorified babysitters, Texans are freer to go about their business. And since Texans have been leading the nation in job creation for more than a decade, it would appear that their business is business—producing the values that we want and need.

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Brian Phillips has been actively defending individual rights for the past twenty-five years. He has successfully helped defeat attempts to implement zoning in Houston, Texas, and Hobbs, New Mexico. His writing has appeared in The Freeman, Reason, The Orange County Register, The Houston Chronicle, The Objective Standard, Capitalism Magazine, and dozens of other publications. He is the author of Individual Rights and Government Wrongs

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