Texas is at a crossroads. Demographic changes and migration from other parts of the United States and world are transforming the state, leading to both new challenges and new opportunities.
Incredible economic growth is attracting new residents, new businesses, and new industries. In many ways, we may be on the verge of a new Texas Golden Age of unprecedented prosperity and freedom. However, difficulties loom: high property taxes, poor public schools in our greatest cities, entrenched poverty in parts of the state, increasingly strained infrastructure, and a population at risk of forgetting the principles of freedom and limited government that have been the source of so much of the state’s success.
Here, the California example is worth considering. Within recent memory, the Golden State was also the Ronald Reagan-state. A land of vitality and freedom has been transformed into an experiment that tests the bounds of the worst aspects of progressivism: high taxes, out-of-control spending, incredibly powerful public sector interests, and a litany of stultifying mandates. This should serve as a cautionary tale for liberty-minded Texans confident that limited government and free market principles are ingrained in the Lone Star State, always and forevermore.
In the realm of ideas, as in politics, there are no permanent victories or defeats. The incredible power of markets to transform the lives of everyday people and the dangers of statism must be constantly communicated and defended. And it will not do to only speak to the country clubs and well-off: we must also reach out to those fellow citizens yearning to improve their lives and those of their children. If those of us who believe in liberty cannot or will not reach out to such citizens with clear and persuasive explanations of how to reform public policy, someone will – and history suggests that their solutions will be statist, restrictive of freedom, and economically stagnating.
The Lone Star Policy Institute will be a new voice in Texas public policy, offering analysis and innovative solutions to the most pressing issues facing the state. Drawing on Texas’s rich history of individualism and enterprising spirit, LSPI will also look forward to a 21st-century where Texas leads the nation in economic growth and serves as a model for what limited government responsive to the will of the people can accomplish. Specifically, LSPI will seek to provide solutions to problems faced by those in urban and suburban communities whose interests and fears must not be overlooked by conservatives seeking to affect positive change in Texas and around the United States: growing economies, low taxes, quality public schools, a constrained but effective public sector, affordable healthcare, and safe communities.
Initially, LSPI will host a series of social events, lectures, and debates that bring together like-minded individuals in North Texas interested in public policy. Eventually, LSPI will hire a full-time research staff that will analyze issues such as economic freedom, occupational licensing reform, criminal justice reform, poverty alleviation, corporate welfare, transportation, healthcare, taxes, public education, and public pension reform. This staff will publish original research that analyzes issues faced by local communities and the state government, and also publish commentary online and in newspapers directed towards the broader public in an attempt to shape public opinion. During the state legislative session, LSPI will publish papers, columns, and other media products that review and explain various proposals and laws from a pro-liberty perspective. Additionally, LSPI will track and offer commentary on issues facing local governments and communities in North Texas and across the state. Although not focused on national issues, LSPI will also produce content that analyzes how federal laws and regulations affects the quality of life and liberty of Texans. Likewise, LSPI will promote Texas laws and regulations that lead to economic growth and personal freedom that may be useful to other parts of the United States.
While maintaining the ideal of free citizens operating within a free economy, LSPI will not be absolutist or merely abstract: LSPI will take into account political realities that policymakers must grapple with in the state capital and in city halls, so that its ideals have the best chance of being translated into reality. LSPI intends to be a major force across Texas, but will be strictly nonpartisan, seeking only to promote and defend the principles of freedom and limited government. LSPI will never promote the interests of any party, company, industry, or individual.
Michael A. Wood, Director