HLRGazette Archives

Relive some of our best stories.

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Dash of Pepper

E-mail Print PDF

A Dash of Pepper

GTT Gone to Texas


The Gazette Staff

I once heard a friend use the term "GTT" and later asked my husband what it meant.

He said that in the mid 19th century there had been a large migration into the Republic of Texas from states such as Tennessee. When these people left their home, they would nail a note to their front door that simply said GTT and their friends would know they had "gone to Texas."

Some of these people left to escape their debts. Many others moved because land was plentiful and available in Texas. A similar phenomenon is happening today. About 20,000 people a month are moving into the Lone Star State but today's migrants are coming from points further north.

They are coming from places such as Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois. They are being drawn by the fact that Texas has no state income tax, fairly low property taxes, a friendly business climate and light regulation – not to mention a relatively brief and mild winter!

Most Texas real estate is affordable and the state largely escaped the recent real estate bubble. The overall cost of living is fairly low compared to other parts of the nation. Tort reform was put in place several years ago, so medical insurance is fairly inexpensive and there are plenty of doctors and nurses who have moved into the land of the longhorns. Texas' public employees do not have collective bargaining.

The states they are fleeing have high taxes, both on income and property and a climate that is not business-friendly. The people who are leaving are people these states can ill afford to lose because the very people who can afford to uproot and make the move are the most productive people – people with both higher skills and lower skills – all wanting to build a better life for themselves and their children.

The continuing influx of newcomers will put a strain on the Texas infrastructure, especially on roads and transportation in general. But this will be offset by the skills and ambitions the migrants are bringing with them.

What will happen to the northern 'welfare' states? It doesn't look good. Their cities have sizable populations dependent on government largesse. But the tax base that once supported that largesse is shrinking rapidly and these populations can't afford to move.

Even the old industrial heartland - Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin – is struggling. Their taxpayers are supporting immense public service unions and their Cadillac benefits. Other segments of their populations have become accustomed to fat agriculture subsidies.

As swaths of the population move to Texas, Florida, the southwest and even the mountain west, the composition of the U.S. Congress will be altered. Hopefully, the culture of debt and spending will change to a more fiscally responsible course and the federal government may begin to look more like the governments of Texas, Florida and Utah.

Don't hold your breath. Meanwhile, say a big "Howdy y'all" to our newly adopted Texans!