Texas gets a great deal of love from conservative America for its friendly economic policies. But in some of the largest cities in the state, taxpayers are on the hook for a large chunk of unfunded liability, a clear result of a big government policy that will eventually take its toll on the local economy.
Truth in Accounting, a Chicaco-based nonprofit that advocates for financial transparency, released a report on the financial health of America’s cities recently. What they found was that cities like Dallas, Houston, and Fort Worth all fared poorly due to the great amount of unfunded retiree benefits. What’s worse, residents might not even know their government owes so much.
As it stands, Fort Worth has $3.1 billion in unfunded debt, Houston $7.4, and Dallas $7.8 billion. That means that the average Fort Worth resident’s unfunded debt burden is $12,500, while each Houstonian’s debt burden is $11,300, and each Dallas resident’s burden is a whopping $24,000. A drop in a bucket considering the country’s most populous 75 cities hold $330 billion in unfunded debt as a whole. Still, an assessment that should prove alarming to some residents and migrants from other states who see Texas as a land of economic freedom.
Liberty Is Better Because It Requires Voluntary Participation
As one of the freest states when it comes to the economy according to CATO’s report, we often think of Texas as being somewhat immune to this type of scandal. But when we look closely at cities, we notice that not even red states are unaffected by big government policies. Unfortunately, city and state governments aren’t always open about their governments’ real debts, as many of the official reports fail to include unfunded retiree healthcare benefits.
Promises made by bureaucrats, TIA’s report shows, are seldom based on reality. Unfortunately, the ones who are stuck with the bill are taxpayers. It’s almost as if the mere fact government exists is enough to twist the incentives, putting us all in danger of having to deal with the consequences.
But whether you believe governments are justified in using their power to impose rules on people, it’s impossible to deny residents are in their right to feel resentment toward an institution that does not ask for their consent before making promises on their behalf.
In many cases, local and state policies hurt the poor, small businesses, and those who struggle the most. And what’s worse, because these people might be in the minority they have zero power to change anything through the democratic process.
Liberty, on the other hand, works because it requires people to volunteer their time and participation. It is the most democratic of approaches to politics because it doesn’t ignore the smallest minority in the world: the individual. Perhaps, Texans living in big cities with big unfunded liabilities will finally understand this reality as soon as local officials raise taxes to pay for their big promises.