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Friday night football – Econlib

Friday night football – Econlib


Friday night football is a tradition in the state of Texas, with high school games often drawing very large crowds. Today I came across a number of news stories suggesting that this cultural tradition indirectly influences government policy.

Bloomberg has a story about Governor Abbott’s effort to expand school choice in Texas. He faces predictable opposition from the Democratic Party, which tends to support teachers’ unions. But Democrats are outnumbered in Texas, and Abbott also faces opposition from rural Republicans:

The effort has met stiff opposition not only from the Democrats’ traditional allies of public education, but also from rural Republicans who fear more parents are taking their children out of local schools, cutting funding for institutions that serve as community centers. and a source of regional pride, will decimate. . An additional factor for many out-of-town GOP legislators is that their sparsely populated districts often lack private schools, limiting the usefulness of the [education saving] bills for those who do not want to homeschool their children.

Perhaps government monopolies seem less oppressive in smaller cities where citizens have more influence over public policy. For example, I suspect that school boards in rural Texas are less likely to impose a “wake up” approach to teaching. If the local football team is a “source of regional pride,” then school choice may seem less attractive than in a larger city like Dallas or Houston.

A message written by Matt Yglesias looked at a completely different industry, but came to a similar conclusion:

There is a very widespread misconception that the largest corporations have the most influence in politics, while highly fragmented industries such as car dealerships collectively have more influence. As a small example, when Congress was overhauling the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, Elizabeth Warren rolled up the entire financial services industry and created her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But to secure the congressional vote, she had to swallow an exemption from CFPB oversight of auto loans because the auto dealers had the power to demand it.

The key to the strength of a dealership is that there is one (or more) dealership owners in each district, and they are rooted in the local community, often involved in sponsoring sports teams, visible on local television news, and generally play an important role as a local influencer. . People feel sentimental about local businesses. Republicans like free markets, but theyLovebusinessmen, so if businessmen want to support anti-market policies, Republicans tend to agree. Democrats are more skeptical of business people but less enthusiastic about markets, so it lands in the same place.

In California, the Democratic Party is much more powerful than in Texas, so the prospects for education reform are much bleaker. Indeed, Abbott might eventually succeed despite rural opposition. But California is more market-friendly in terms of auto retail, with new manufacturers like Tesla able to sell directly to consumers. (This does not apply to manufacturers with existing dealer franchises.)

Many people on both the left and right assume that the US is a free market economy, although they may differ on whether that state of affairs is desirable. In fact, the auto retail business is quite typical; there are hundreds of similar examples. Most American industries are highly regulated, and regulation generally favors producers at the expense of consumers. We have a big pro-business political party and a big pro-bureaucratic political party. We have no significant pro-market political party.




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