Families in some part of the state are paying less than $2 per gallon of gas — just in time for holiday travel. It may seem a small matter, but those are real savings for Texas families.
We ought to be thankful in the little things as well as the big things, in the unexpected and the overlooked blessings. As G.K. Chesterton said, “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
We at the Texas Public Policy Foundation know we have much to be thankful for this year – the big things and the small things.
We are thankful for the freedom we enjoy as Americans and as Texans. And it was freedom to explore, freedom to innovate and freedom to succeed – and even fail – that has resulted in those low gas prices. You see, the shale revolution that has led the U.S. to become an oil and gas exporter is a uniquely American story. In many nations, oil companies are nationally owned; this discourages innovation as surely as it encourages bureaucratic bloat.
But in the U.S., which recognizes private property rights in subsurface minerals and protects intellectual property, innovation is the inevitable result. Small and mid-size oil and gas companies, many based here in Texas, have led the way in solving the puzzle of recovering the oil and gas locked away in shale rock formations.
The result for Texas and the U.S. is an unparalleled economic boom. Cheap, reliable energy is fueling a manufacturing renaissance at home even as our exports change the energy dynamics abroad.
We’re thankful for President Donald Trump’s reform agenda that has also helped to stimulate this boom. His administration is working to eliminate excessive burdensome regulations, and that’s leading to a rise in real productivity.
Under previous administrations, we were told that we should expect less. Under the current administration, we’re told that we can achieve more.
At TPPF, we’re also thankful for the wisdom of our nation’s judiciary. In recent days, a state district judge protected the freedoms of workers and employers by striking down Austin’s unlawful mandatory paid sick leave ordinance.
That’s not just a win for businesses in Austin (and beyond), which should be free to negotiate compensation packages with their employees without government interference, it’s also a win for the rule of law. The mandate is unconstitutional, the judge ruled.
In Illinois, a homebuilder won a key victory against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The family-owned Gallagher & Henry was told it couldn’t continue to develop the subdivision it had begun because 13 acres of the site were declared to be wetlands – though the nearest waterway is 11 miles away.
A 12-year legal battle ended with an appellate judge’s ruling that said the government must have evidence in order to make such a finding. Again, the rule of law was restored.
And at TPPF we are thankful for progress that has been made on an issue very important to us – criminal justice reform. The U.S. House has passed the First Step Act, which will help deserving offenders learn the skills they need to become valuable members of their communities upon their release. There is nothing more worthy of our thanks – especially in this season – than the redemption of a human being and the restoration of a family.
Yet there remains more work to be done. A vote in the U.S. Senate before the end of the year is by no means a sure thing. We must continue to work to convince Senate leadership of the worthiness of this bill.
In all things, we should give thanks. As Chesterton pointed out, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
In this season of travel and traditions, calendars and kitsch, let’s be sure to pause to give thanks – for the big things and the small.
Kevin Roberts is executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank.