The following are notes taken from a speech I delivered, viewable here, at The Texas Summit hosted by Teneo on November 5, 2020 in the Debate Chamber at the Old Parkland in Dallas.
All four of the cardinal virtues offer us wisdom to this day, but my favorite of the four – and one that’s largely absent in today’s society – is the virtue of courage. In progressive cities all over the country, in our universities, our companies, and our institutions, it takes a lot of courage to stand up for American values today.
Texans exude courage. One hundred and fifty years ago, the great-great-great-grandfathers of Texas couldn’t have dealt with the Comanches and the Texas wilderness without enormous courage. It’s core to the spirit of the place. It’s a welcoming place, it’s a friendly place, and it’s an independent place, but it’s also a courageous place. As an optimist, I’m focused on the future of Texas.
If we have courage, we’re going to have a very bright future. Every major problem in today’s society can be solved by the values that were core to the founding of Texas and core to the founding of America. All of these problems come down to people not understanding liberty, not understanding markets, and not understanding what a free society can accomplish.
If you look at our most regulated public systems, whether it’s education, whether it’s healthcare, or whether it’s the absurd housing costs plaguing the country, these problems all exist because systems are run top-down in bad ways rather than letting ideas compete and win. As people who believe in freedom, we must teach people the principles of free society, we must speak out about this, and we must not let our young people be taught incorrect far-left assumptions.
The number one thing that we need in public systems is for ideas to compete against one another. While a good politician will create programs that help people, a great politician will design systems that echo free society.
Free society works well because it works bottom-up. When individuals get to choose what to consume and produce, and to try different ideas and witness the effects, the best ideas will always win and the worst ideas will always lose. That’s the definition of progress. That’s why the economy grows year after year – because we have a constant competition of ideas in every area. And that’s why throughout our society, in America right now and throughout the world, we don’t have progress in the areas that don’t allow ideas to compete.
In public education, for example, there isn’t school choice and there’s minimal competition. With more competition and more bottom-up ideas, we would see a lot more progress. And I’m very optimistic for Texas over all, but health care is the most dangerous area in Texas right now. Texas health care costs have continued to grow six, seven, or eight percent a year, while legislators consistently guess that health care costs will only grow three or four percent. In this area, Texas can do much better.
Health care is a difficult issue for anyone who holds state power. It’s likely that many politicians purposefully guess wrong about costs because they don’t want to deal with the issue. In Texas, Republicans are in power, which means that they’re paid off by doctors and hospitals in the state to keep out competition. Doctors and hospitals aren’t bad (we need doctors and hospitals, of course), but we need competition in those areas if we’re going to make health care and state finances work.
So, the biggest issue in Texas – and one that I’m optimistic we will fix if we have the courage – is healthcare. We can’t keep stopping competition by putting in regulations that keep prices high. We need to let nurses perform to their fullest capacity. We need to allow telemedicine and emerging technologies to compete. And we need politicians who are courageous enough to fight these battles.
That said, I’m very glad to be a newcomer in Texas. I think it’s the most functional state in the country. The reason that I moved to Texas (and the reason that so many others have as well) is that I want to fight for our country. Progressive and far left politics are an imminent threat to free society because they create a zero-sum world, they rip down people who build, and they eliminate the progress. These ideals are spreading throughout California, spreading throughout Arizona, and spreading throughout our country.
Someone from the Arizona Board of Commerce recently reached out to ask if I would consider giving up on Texas and moving to Arizona instead. In response, I sent him a link to the extra surcharge tax they just passed on the wealthy and said “You guys are headed in the wrong direction.”
Texas is the last and best hope for freedom in America. It’s the best place to fight for our values. Not only is it the best right now, but if we fight to make it better, it will be an example of free society for the rest of the country. So, I’m proud to come to Texas, I’m proud to learn from the Texans who have built the state over the past decades, and I’m proud to join in the fight.
If Texas falls, America falls. It’s time to take a stand. I hope that we’re all inspired by the fact that the battle will take courage because I know that if we all stand up, if we all fight, there’s no way that they can beat us.