Does socialism really create a just, peaceful and equitable society?

Join us for a fun discussion of the topic by famed author Dr. Joshua Muravchik and find out!

(Hint: Dr. Muravchik is a former socialist.)

Dr. Muravchik will discuss his great book “Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism” on Saturday, Feb. 8, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Millyard Museum in downtown Manchester.

If you want to know the true history of socialism, its failures and its tremendous cost, you can’t miss this event.

For more details and reservations, visit our Eventbrite page.

A bill to tax sales of electronics in New Hampshire made news this week, and the bemused media coverage it drew was justified. Yet New Hampshire Union Leader State House Bureau Chief Kevin Landrigan saw a different, and more important, angle.

Landrigan put the bill in context and showed that it was one of several attempts to raise tax revenue through broad-based taxation.

The bigger story was not that a lonely representative proposed a kooky sin tax on consumer electronics (House Bill 1492). It was that a few legislators are trying to lay the groundwork for the eventual imposition of broad-based sales and income taxes.

Rep. Robert Schamberg, D-Wilmot, is the sole sponsor of CACR 17, a constitutional amendment to mandate that any broad-based tax “be enacted solely for the purpose of reducing property taxes by the same amount of revenue as raised by such tax.”

Sen. Jeanne Dietsch, D-Peterborough, is the sole sponsor of Senate Bill 474, to rename the state’s interest and dividends tax the “income tax on interest and dividends.”

Technically, the interest and dividends tax is a tax on income. But a mere technical clarification is not the point of the bill. The point is to undermine resistance to direct state income taxation.

“We need to see ourselves as a state in which half the people do pay income tax, a third pay interest and dividends and about a fifth pay half a billion dollars of income tax a year to Massachusetts to help educate not New Hampshire’s children but others,” she told the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Each of these bills would serve the same common purpose, which is to lower resistance to broad-based taxes, making it easier to pass large-scale sales and income taxes in the future.

That there were only four sponsors among all three bills shows just how few legislators were willing to spend political capital on a doomed charge up a mountain. Still, the bills also show that hardcore support for sales and income taxes is alive and active in the Legislature.

Some legislators are particularly persistent. Sen. Dietsch last year introduced a payroll tax on income above $132,900 and helpfully clarified precisely what kind of tax it was.

“This is an income tax,” she said.

She gets full marks for determination and perseverance.

The persistence of these legislators raises another question. How would such bills fare were they not destined for the hands of a willing executioner?

The current governor has made clear he will veto a sales or income tax. That dampens enthusiasm in the Legislature for spending energy on such efforts. But one of his potential challengers announced last year that he would not take The Pledge.

The prospect of having an income or sales tax bill signed into law rather than immediately vetoed would be highly likely to change legislators’ calculus. This year, such bills are met with derision. That might not always be the case.

Nine days ago, you thought you woke up in a new year and a new decade. A fresh start! A chance to leave the past behind and venture into a bold new future of limitless possibilities!

Sorry, it’s Groundhog Day and you’re Bill Murray.

Welcome to Week 54 of 2019.

The Legislature opened its session on Wednesday by taking up bills that remain from the previous year, as is its custom. Even with hundreds of leftover bills awaiting disposal, a majority party can set the agenda and tone for a new year on the first days of a session.

The message coming from Concord this week was crystal clear: 2020 is going to be 2019 all over again.

The last legislative session was defined by its clashes between the governor and the Democratic majority in the Legislature over the imposition of new costs on employers and consumers, from business tax increases to energy price hikes to costly employer regulations such as mandatory paid leave and large minimum wage increases.

The House this week signaled that Democrats intend to make the 2020 elections about all of these same issues. They are determined to impose through the legislative process new financial burdens on employers and consumers.

Of course, they don’t view these issues this way. They would say they’re protecting Granite Staters from businesses that refuse to do the morally right thing. That philosophical difference drives these two competing agendas and will shape the 2020 state elections.

Last year, Gov. Chris Sununu famously vetoed 57 bills, including many of the Democrats’ top priorities. This week was a parade of zombie bills killed by the governor but reincarnated and sent staggering back out by legislators.

The House this week passed a mandatory paid family leave plan like the one Gov. Sununu vetoed last year. It was no accident that paid family leave was Senate Bill 1 in 2019 and a top item for the opening of the 2020 session.

Like last year’s plan, this one would create a government-run family leave program and pay for it by imposing a tax of 0.5% on wages. Also like last year, the Department of Employment Security estimated the cost to be $168.6 million a year.

Also returning from the dead was the minimum wage increase. But this time the zombie returned with new weaponry. The bill passed this week would more than double the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. The version that passed last year raised it to $12 an hour.

A representative who argued for letting the market decide wage rates was shouted down and the Speaker of the House had to restore order. The prevailing view was that greedy employers must be made to pay morally correct wages.

But the public sector pays less than $15 an hour too. The bill’s fiscal note states that 224 state employees currently earn less than $12 an hour, the minimum that would kick in this year were the bill to become law. By forcing government wages higher, the bill would put upward pressure on taxes.

The bill goes even further by allowing municipalities to establish minimums higher than the state’s. (Look out, Portsmouth and Hanover restaurants.) Naturally, no city could set a minimum lower than the one passed by the Legislature. So Berlin, Claremont, and Charlestown would have to find the money to pay all of their employees $15 an hour too. Those greedy plutocrats.

Imposing more employer costs that would be passed on to consumers, the House approved a plastic bag ban, also a zombie from last year, though not one vetoed by the governor. The bill’s summary states: “This bill requires businesses to charge customers for single-use bags.”

But it does more. It even regulates the composition of paper bags that might be offered in place of plastic ones. “Paper bags shall be made of recycled paper defined as 100 percent recyclable containing a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled materials,” the bill asserts. “The bag shall be visibly labeled as ‘made from recycled materials’ and ‘recyclable and reusable.’”

Legislators who made a big show of trying to subsidize New Hampshire’s forest products industry last year just passed a bill to reduce demand for paper bags made with fresh-cut trees. Politics is strange.

It’s 2020 (allegedly), and this is how the legislative session began, with zombie bills and rehashed debates from 2019. It’s not likely to change much between now and November. So cue up Old Town Road and put on your House Stark T-shirt. This session is going to feel like a remake no one asked for but studios just couldn’t resist forcing on everyone.

The Legislature opens its 2020 session on Wednesday, and among the bills recommended out of committee for passage that day is a proposal to protect Granite Staters from the cruel predations of… art therapists?

Really.

This urgent action wasn’t mentioned among the Legislature’s 2020 priorities, yet here is House Bill 546. Why?

Well, in every legislative session, a small group of art therapists comes to the Legislature with an urgent request: Please outlaw our competition.

They don’t put it quite that way, of course. The messaging is always about licensing being needed for insurance coverage, or the danger posed by poorly trained art therapists. Yet the bills always define art therapy as broadly as possible and include criminal penalties for its unlicensed practice. Classic rent seeking.

Usually, common sense prevails and the bill dies. Committee revisions to the latest version of this anti-competitive legislation might allow it to pass.

New Hampshire does not license art therapy as a separate therapeutic practice. In fact, only eight states do, according to the American Art Therapy Association. Art therapists who have advanced degrees, and sometimes licenses from another state, have for years argued that artists and therapists who blend art instruction with even a small dose of therapeutic practices are a danger to the public and must be stopped.

Never mind that art has been considered therapeutic since cave men started scratching on rocks, or that the practice known as art therapy was invented by an artist, not a licensed therapist.

Art therapists who hold advanced degrees and out-of-state licenses want the state to require that anyone who offers “art therapy” services… hold an advanced degree and a state license.

See how this works?

Currently, licensed therapists in New Hampshire can incorporate art into therapy sessions without having to spend several more years in school to obtain a separate art therapy degree.

For example, a child therapist might have a child express his or her feelings by drawing pictures. Children don’t have the biggest vocabularies, so this can be a great way to help children communicate complicated emotions.

Therapists are not alone in using art to help people deal with emotional or physical issues. Art instructors routinely help people express previously unarticulated emotions through the creation of art. Museums even offer programs that, while not conducted by licensed therapists, are therapeutic in nature.

For example, the Currier Museum of Art’s “Art of Hope” program “provides support for loved ones whose family members suffer from substance use disorder.”

Under House Bill 546, it would be illegal for anyone to offer “art therapy” services unless the instructor has “a masters or doctoral degree from an accredited college or university in a program in art therapy….”

The bill contains an exemption for art teachers who do not present themselves as therapists. But under the definitions in the bill, any presentation that an art instruction program is therapeutic in nature could be construed to run afoul of the law.

Included in the bill’s definitions of art therapy is:

“Using the process and products of art creation to facilitate clients’ exploration of inner fears, conflicts, and core issues with the goal of improving physical, mental, and emotional functioning and well-being.”

Art instructors have been doing this for centuries. Without a license. Suddenly, in 2020, it’s a danger to the public?

There’s no evidence that unlicensed art therapists are inflicting psychological damage on Granite Staters. In fact, as mentioned earlier, only eight states have a distinct art therapy license and only five cover the practice under another license.

But there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that the absence of an oppressive licensing regime has allowed many people to find services that have helped them through difficult times.

Though presented as a public health measure, this bill is simply an effort to restrict competition. It serves a small special interest, not the public interest.

Artificially reducing the supply of a valuable service by writing unnecessary restrictions into law would be an odd way to start this new decade.

The regional cap-and-tax scheme called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a bad deal for New Hampshire, the initiative organizers’ own projections show.

Modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the TCI would cap carbon emissions from transportation sources (vehicles) and force fuel distributors to buy carbon allowances. A declining cap would force distributors to buy more allowances annually. The hope is to compel a switch to non-fossil fuels or to discourage driving by making it uncomfortably expensive.

Naturally, the costs of buying the allowances would be passed on to consumers. In effect, the TCI imposes an additional fossil fuel tax on top of the state and federal gas taxes consumers already pay.

The cost to consumers would be enormous. On December 17th, the TCI organizers released the results of their own analysis of the program’s impact. They project that the carbon allowances would generate revenue of between $1.4 billion and $5.6 billion annually in the 12-state TCI region (plus the District of Columbia), which covers Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, including New Hampshire.

That would be a cost of between $14 billion and $56 billion over the decade spanning from 2022-2032.

But the TCI organizers’ own projections show that almost all of the carbon emissions reduction projected during that decade can be attributed to existing trends and not to the TCI scheme.

In August, they projected a baseline reduction in carbon emissions of “roughly 20 percent” without the TCI.

“Total gasoline and diesel consumption and CO2 emissions both fall by roughly 20% from 2022 through 2032 as a result of increased fuel economy in light and heavy-duty vehicles and increased LDV EV shares,” according to the organizers’ own analysis. (LDV EV = light duty vehicle electric vehicle.)

In a presentation released on December 17th, TCI organizers projected that the TCI would cause carbon emissions to fall by approximately 1-5 percentage points above the roughly 20 percent that will occur under existing policies.

The worst-case scenario projection was a 20 percent drop in carbon emissions from 2022-2032, which could be as little as a fraction of a percentage point above the baseline projection. The best-case scenario projection was a 25 percentage point reduction, which would be, at best, 6 percentage points above the baseline.

Understanding the baseline is critical because groups that support the TCI are already claiming it will produce up to a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions in the region. That is false. Roughly 4/5ths of that reduction will happen anyway, the TCI organizers’ own projections show.

At best, the TCI would reduce carbon emissions of a little more than 5 percent in 10 years — at a cost of $56 billion in that best-case scenario. Without the TCI, carbon emissions are projected to fall by roughy four times that amount. If the TCI’s worst-case scenario occurs, the cost would be $14 billion to achieve an emissions reduction roughly 1/20th the size of what would happen anyway.

The TCI organizers projected that their initiative would cause gas taxes to rise by 5-17 cents per gallon if distributors passed the costs on to consumers (which they would). That seemingly small figure would extract billions of dollars from the economy, giving it to governments to distribute to projects that they favor but that consumers might not. In fact, the whole point is to replace consumer and investor choices with those made by government officials.

The program’s assumed effectiveness relies heavily on the premise that government officials will spend billions of dollars in ways proven to be effective at generating additional carbon reductions. Not only would those projects have to be effective on their own, they would have to be more effective than the choices that otherwise would have been made by business, entrepreneurs and consumers in the absence of the TCI.

Rather than forcibly extract billions of dollars from consumers in yet another heavy-handed attempt to control people’s behavior, governments should scrap this carbon tax scheme and let the market continue to generate solutions.

A positive shift is happening in New Hampshire’s pro-housing movement. Gov. Chris Sununu helped highlight it on Wednesday.

Speaking at a housing forum organized by the Center for Ethics in Government at St. Anselm College, the governor criticized municipalities that use local regulatory powers to impose severe restrictions on housing development.

Bedford, the governor said, was an example of a town that has made it difficult for people to build lower-priced homes, particularly multi-family housing.

That comment made news and focused attention on local regulations that prevent developers from meeting New Hampshire’s high demand for new residential construction.

Taylor Caswell, commissioner of Business and Economic Affairs, called the situation a crisis, as did others at the conference.


New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority data support that description. The authority’s November Housing Market Report found that New Hampshire’s rental vacancy rate was a scant 0.75 percent. A healthy vacancy rate is closer to 5 percent.

As of October, only 44 percent of New Hampshire real estate listings were for homes priced below $300,000. The authority’s research shows that overall real estate listings have fallen 41 percent in the past five years. But to highlight the affordability problem, listings above $300,000 have fallen 8 percent while listings below $300,000 have fallen 60 percent.

Vacancy rates, listings, and prices signal a serious supply shortage.

In the past, much of the effort to address this ongoing problem has focused on state subsidies for affordable housing. But there’s an increasing recognition that subsidies will not solve the problem because a lack of incentive to build is not the cause of the shortage.

A poll conducted at the end of Wednesday’s conference reflected an increasing agreement that local government regulations are preventing developers from meeting the market demand for lower-priced homes.

State financial incentives did not poll as well as did proposals to educate the public about the issue and encourage citizens to loosen overly restrictive local regulations.

Developers we’ve spoken with about this issue say they want to build less costly homes, but local regulations often pose insurmountable obstacles. Zoning and planning rules can literally make it illegal to build small single-family homes on small lots or to construct multi-family dwellings in a way that keeps rental prices low.

There seems to be an increasing realization among housing activists and office holders that the market isn’t the problem, government interference in the market is. That understanding is the first step to fixing the problem.

For the second year in a row, all undergraduate campuses of the University System of New Hampshire were nationally recognized for their commitment to freedom of speech.

In its just-released “Speech Codes 2020” report, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) gave the University of New Hampshire, Plymouth State University and Keene state College “green light” ratings. A green light signifies “that the institution does not maintain any written policies that imperil free expression.”

By contrast, the state’s lone Ivy League institution, Dartmouth College, received a “red light” for having “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

Dartmouth received D grades on due process rights for students accused of misconduct, scoring in the mid-single digits on a 20-point scale.

Students at Dartmouth also are encouraged to report each other to the administration for “bias.” The college’s Office of Judicial Affairs tells students: “If you are the target of, witness to, or even simply hear about any form of bias happening to a Dartmouth student, you should submit a Bias Impact Report immediately.”

New Hampshire’s public colleges and universities have no similarly Orwellian instructions for students to act as secret speech police, nor do they have speech codes that violate students’ First Amendment rights.

As recently as 2017, Keene State College received a red light rating and the University of New Hampshire received yellow light from FIRE for having restrictive speech codes.

But in the spring of 2018, UNH revised all of its codes, and Keene State followed suit in the summer.

“Universities should be the first to embrace the free exchange of ideas and speech,” then-UNH President Mark Huddleston said. “The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses, and we’re pleased that FIRE has recognized our efforts.”

Upon his inauguration as UNH’s new president in 2018, Jim Dean also signaled his support for freedom of speech.

Granite Staters can be proud that their public university system has made its campuses into forums for the free exchange of ideas. And they can be thankful to FIRE for encouraging good behavior by monitoring campus speech policies and publishing these rankings.

(Note: FIRE’s reports do not include Granite State College, the University System of New Hampshire’s adult education college.)

Thanksgiving is a critically important American holiday. The reason is simple. The survival of the United States as an independent nation of free peoples depends upon gratitude.

If Americans do not remain forever grateful for the system we inherited, we will lose it.

If this sounds a bit dramatic, take it up with Abraham Lincoln.

Preserving America’s political institutions was an obsession of Lincoln’s.

His famous 1838 Lyceum Address, titled “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions,” marked the foundation of his political career.

“We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them–they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their’s was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.”

Gratitude was a theme of Lincoln’s throughout his life, which is why the word “posterity” appears so often in his speeches.

As he put it in his First Inaugural Address:

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Today, it would be a stretch to say that our politics are governed by the better angels of our nature. The nation Lincoln preserved is again strained by internal discord.

Forces that dwell deep within all of us — the desire to belong, to be a part of something larger than ourselves — are finding meaning in tribal affiliations that define themselves as apart from and in conflict with groups of other Americans.

For a people nurtured by rich instruction in our cultural inheritance, this would be little cause for worry. (It might not even exist.) But more and more American children are either not learning about their inheritance or are being taught to despise rather than treasure it.

The New Hampshire Historical Society warned two years ago that New Hampshire elementary students were showing an alarming decline in basic civics knowledge.

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be,” Jefferson wrote in 1816. “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”

The good news is that Americans generally are a grateful people. A Pew survey in 2015 found that 78% of Americans feel a profound sense of gratitude on a weekly basis.

But are they grateful for being raised in a country that flourished by embracing free enterprise, self-reliance, personal responsibility, decentralized political power, and strong communities?

A lot of evidence suggests that they are not.

If you were lucky enough to attend last year’s Libertas Award Dinner with columnist and author Jonah Goldberg, you’ll remember his reminder that before we debate the merits of this or that change to our political order, it’s crucial to first be grateful for what the dynamic duo of capitalism and limited government have created — namely the wealthiest and happiest people in all of human history.

Every political discussion has to start from that basic understanding.

If you are grateful for having inherited the greatest economic and political systems ever devised by human beings, then you have one tremendous civic obligation.

Teach your children to be grateful too.

A handful of Democratic politicians on Wednesday stood in the snow outside an obsolete power plant and reversed their party’s customary line of attack when an industrial facility closes. Instead of blaming greed or billionaires or out-of-state corporations or winged monkeys for the recent closure of two N.H. biomass power plants, they blamed the government.

Wait, what?

Yes.

Well, not the government in general, just Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. They objected to his having vetoed bills that would have forcibly taken money from average people and given it to large, out-of-state corporations.

Wait, what?

Yes.

These Democratic politicians were attacking a Republican for opposing corporate welfare.

Specifically, the vetoed legislation would have created new ratepayer subsidies for biomass power plants. The vetoes caused two of the six plants (ones owned by a private New Jersey corporation) to close, they alleged.

Never mind the plants that didn’t close (one of which did get new state subsidies).

Never mind that the governor doesn’t run the shuttered power plants, didn’t make the decision to close them, and didn’t prevent their parent company from investing in them more heavily.

Also ignore a 2018 study published by none other than the State of New Hampshire, which showed the state’s biomass power plants to be expensive and inefficient compared to rival power producers.

The Office of Strategic Initiatives study showed two unmistakable trends, both driven by consumer demand for lower energy prices:

The removal or reduction of artificial price supports over many years.
The innovation-driven drop in the cost of other fuel sources.

Supposedly, the state has to force all Granite State residents and businesses to subsidize biomass power plants because they buy and burn wood pulp, thus keeping New Hampshire’s tiny timber industry alive.

But the state doesn’t have similar subsidies for paper companies or home construction, which are more important for the timber industry. Biomass accounts for only 3 percent of the value of a timber harvest, but sawlogs account for 90 percent, according to New Hampshire Business Review.

The state’s report showed that biomass plants might not have become so reliant on subsidies if they had invested more cost-savings initiatives or experimented with new business models. To conclude that the governor alone, rather than company officers and directors, was responsible for the fate of 1/3 of New Hampshire’s biomass plants (just the ones that closed) is a rather interesting position to take.

The state’s report concluded that biomass plants would continue to struggle because they inefficiently produce expensive electricity while most competitors, even other renewable power generators, more efficiently produce cheaper electricity.

“As new projects are connected to the grid, predominantly wind and solar, biomass will cede its market share to other forms of generation. These more flexible resources will contribute to more volatile, but lower market prices, leaving biomass generation at a steeper competitive disadvantage. New Hampshire ratepayers would likely need to provide continuous subsidies at above market prices to sustain Class III biomass generation.”

In short, burning wood (at least with existing technologies) is not the way to power a 21st century economy. A March U.S. Energy Information Agency report on the future of U.S. power generation didn’t even mention biomass, concluding that “most of the electricity generating capacity additions installed in the United States through 2050 will be natural gas combined-cycle and solar photovoltaic (PV).”

Biomass power generation is dying a natural death. That’s why companies that own biomass plants are reluctant to sink any more money into them. Forcing ratepayers to make up the difference between what people are willing to pay for power and what biomass power costs is neither compassionate nor morally defensible. It is massively wasteful — of other people’s money.

Explaining the incredible prosperity of New England in the colonial era and early American republic, Alexis de Tocqueville noted first that the people were left largely alone by the government.

“It seemed as if New England was a region given up to the dreams of fancy and the unrestrained experiments of innovators.

“The English colonies (and this is one of the main causes of their prosperity) have always enjoyed more internal freedom and more political independence than the colonies of other nations; but this principle of liberty was nowhere more extensively applied than in the States of New England.”

Today, only one New England state retains that independent spirit, and we live in it. (Except for you poor suckers who subscribe to this newsletter across state lines.)

As we wrote last week, New Hampshire was just ranked the most economically free state by Canada’s Fraser Institute. That study is remarkable in that New Hampshire ranks No. 1 not just in the U.S. but in all of North America.

Our cultural attachment to low taxes and limited government has made us both free and prosperous. Crucially, it’s a choice we’ve been free to make for ourselves just as our countrymen in other states have been at liberty to create their own destinies.

Vermonters don’t want to be Granite Staters (and vice versa). Montanans don’t want to be New Yorkers. (Nobody really wants to be a Rhode Islander, but inertia is a powerful force.)

Federalism leaves us all free to govern ourselves.

Until it doesn’t anymore.

And that’s the real threat from the ideological movement that bills itself as “democratic socialism” these days.

Vermont and Colorado really, really, really wanted to create a single-payer health care system. After lengthy planning, both states abandoned the project. The price was so astronomically high that even in Vermont, a state with an actual Progressive Party and a “socialist” U.S. senator, people realized that socialist Utopian dreams can’t always come true.

But as Sen. Ted Cruz pointed out during Thursday night’s Libertas Award Dinner (what, you didn’t attend?), some politicians (including one from Vermont) want to impose this Utopian dream upon every resident of every American state, leaving no American with any hope of escape.

What is being called socialism is a dark, continent-wide cloud full of plans that require 100 percent compliance. Whatever the issue, there’s a plan, and that plan brooks no dissent. All must comply. All most obey.

Under such a national regime, there can be no more “unrestrained experiments of innovators.”

Our laboratories of democracy would be transformed into ministries of compliance.

From the dictates of the state, there would be no escape.

Sen. Cruz, who hails from Texas, loves to point out that the price of a moving van going from California into Texas is three to four times as expensive as one going the opposite direction. Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute has documented this.

There’s little demand for a moving truck traveling one-way from Houston to L.A., but a lot of Los Angelenos are desperate to escape to Houston.

That’s because our American system leaves the people of the various states free to run their own experiments in self government (as long as they don’t violate their neighbors’ constitutional rights).

This experimentation is the essence of American republicanism. It’s what economists call permission-less innovation. Instead of government telling people what they’re allowed to do, it leaves them free to innovate, to create, to craft the future that they choose rather than the one some prince or minister chooses for them.

If Americans don’t defend their right to create and innovate, to live their own “dreams of fancy,” they will find themselves one day living the dreams of others and wondering what happened.