Comment of the Day: The Land of Opportunity

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY “I have lived in many cities overseas and in the USA and I can assure you that this is the freeest place to live work and play in the world. No one cares much who your father was, you can get an affordable house (in the burbs or in a few cheaper areas outside beltway 8 or east Houston) and there are jobs! You don’t have to kiss the ass of some corrupt moron zoning official to build something or contend with freakish Sierra Clubbers telling you what you can do with your property. You can be black, Hispanic, Asian, gay, libertarian or anything else and people mostly accept you here. Women succeeded here too. Try starting a business in Chicago or San Fran and see how far you get….the only weakness here is the schools and the weather but the people are awesome” [Mansquito, commenting on Headlines: Houston’s Unsustainable Growth; Last Call for SRO Sports Bar]

9 Comment

  • Two thumbs up!!!

  • Nice post. As much as I cry about the city slowing me down and being a hindrance with their red tag blaster armed prius warriors, it’s still much easier to do business here than most places.

  • This is absolutely right. I have colleagues from the northeast, Chicago, and California, and without exception they marvel at what a better job Houston’s culture and government do facilitating human creativity and innovation. Sadly, they all describe the experience of not realizing what a material and unnecessary burden they faced back home until they came here – like how you don’t realize how loud your car A/C is until you turn it down.

  • Good point about zoning. Houston is successful without zoning. We don’t need unelected government employees telling successful developers what they can or can’t do with their property.

  • The schools really aren’t so bad. Texas as a whole might rank low in education, but students from our better suburban high schools who go to Ivy League colleges do not feel a competitive disadvantage with other students. And from what I hear, HISD has become a national model of sorts for a successful urban school district.

  • I love Houston and will gladly defend Houston against the naysayers. But, there is a lot of mythology mixed in with the reality of Houston’s success. Houstonians are spending a larger share of their income on housing than people in other large cities according to the new report from Rice Univ ( In Houston, real estate is cheaper, but we make less. And the real estate market is surging, meaning that we are going to become less competitive in terms of cost of living in the near future.
    The City is very progressive when it comes to diversity, but head north or south of beltway 8 and things change very quickly.
    There are lots of jobs in Houston, but, as Mayor White pointed out in the Chron this morning, Texas is not doing what it should be doing to get more high skilled jobs and to make sure that Texans are ready for those jobs. California is a complete mess when it comes to taxes and regulations. But, 50% of the venture capital funds go to California, while only 5% go to Texas.
    Things are going well in Houston. But that doesn’t mean that continued prosperity is guaranteed, or that we are locked in to doing things the same way we always have. Houson is a dynamic place. Houston’s progress does not mean that its problems do not exist or should not be addressed.

  • @Mike, I’m glad to see somebody speaking up for Houston schools. The perception of HISD as a failure is very much a myth. There are very bad schools here but there are some very good ones, too. The problem, I think, is that with the open-enrollment policy and the magnet programs and the charters, etc, there is little incentive for parents to play the key role they must play in the life and success of a school. What’s the point, if you can just pull your child out of that school and enroll them elsewhere? The allure of school choice is a major obstacle to what really must be done to make schools as good as they can be.

  • So Bill White thinks Texas isn’t doing enough to get more high skilled jobs or making sure people are ready for high skilled jobs? What exactly is Texas supposed to do? Isn’t that what colleges are for? Aren’t colleges open to all? If a person recognizes that a certain job is in demand or is high paying isn’t up it to the individual to recognize that and pursue an education in that field. When Mr. White criticizes Texas I assume he is attacking Mr. Perry. Mr. Perry has been going to other states to convince companies to move here and he’s been successful at it. It’s not up to Texas, it’s up to individuals to prepare themselves for high skilled/high paying jobs. Successful people don’t wait around for government to provide for them.

  • I’d definitely agree that Houston is an easier place to do business than pretty much any of the other major American cities. There are some cities that give more incentives for companies to relocate. It happens all the time in north Texas, but I don’t see that as a redeeming quality about north Texas.

    OTOH, I’m now living in a “Communist” country (which shall not be named) that’s frankly just as free as the United States is, and moreso in some respects. Its so free that it verges on anarchic, wherein freedom is for sale. Really the only thing that holds back my “Communist” country is a lack of reliable due process…which itself is a CONSTRAINT on freedom.

    Its more widely accepted that there is corruption here; but it just seems like the corruption is less well hidden and more socially acceptable. There was corruption in the U.S. and in Texas too. Just because you didn’t hear about it very often didn’t mean that it wasn’t rampant.

    And then there’s the banking system, which forever seems to reward bad decisions. The U.S. would be such a better place to live and do business if it had a primitive banking system that made bad decisions because lenders were actually stupid rather than the current setup, wherein stupid behavior on the part of investors and consumers is INTENTIONALLY encouraged through sophisticated subsidy and regulatory schemes. In particular, homeownership is vastly overrated as a goal and should not be as accessible as it is to so many households. It is a financial arrangement, not a moral imperative.