California was the subject of both admiration and derision in the Intelligence Squared sponsored Oxford-style debate on the topic: For a Better Future, Live in a Red State. California’s former governor, Gray Davis, was one of the debaters defending blue states, while Chapman University professor and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt spoke up for red states. These Californians were joined by New America Founder Michael Lind on the blue side of the table, and Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore on the red.
Davis argued that blue states are better because they aim to give economic opportunity for everyone by investing in education and infrastructure, protecting the environment and providing a safety net. The former governor said if you look at the top ten states with the highest average income nine are blue states.
Hewitt countered that education in many blue states was subpar, pointing to California’s low ranking. He attributed that to red states’ innovation in education while blue states are in the grip of education special interests.
Statistics flew about the debate as both weapons and shields. There were plenty of comparisons between the economic leaders of the two categories, California and Texas.
Stephen Moore said while one million jobs have been lost in California, Texas has gained one million jobs over the same time period. Moore said the poverty rate in California was higher than Texas.
Yet, Lind argued that those moving to Texas were more likely low-income people undercutting the argument that high taxes chase out those with higher incomes.
Davis said that California leads in Fortune 500 company headquarters, manufacturing and agriculture and has more venture capital investment than all other states combined.
Citing the innovation of the Silicon Valley, Davis flatly stated: California is the future.
Moore was not convinced. There are no Republicans in Detroit he said. The city has been ruled by liberal Democrats for 50 years. Moore noted that red states are getting redder and that the blue states are getting bluer.
You can see the full debate on the Intelligence Squared site here.
An audience witnessed the debate and they were polled both before and after to see which side was most convincing. Take a look at the results here.