Everyone’s life is an example… it’s just that some serve as a bad example. That’s also true for states, and California might just be among the worst of examples. The Golden (gilded?) State provides Texans with a cautionary tale of how things can go wrong.

I was in the Sacramento area this past week and checked out their state capitol, where the murder of California’s once great economy was plotted and carried out.

Walking up to the California capitol, one finds even there the state’s ubiquitous “Proposition 65” warning that chemicals on the premise might cause cancer. Frankly, they should have bigger warnings about the threats posed by their lawmakers.

It wasn’t always so. California saw the first “tax and expenditure limit” enacted. It saw property tax reform. For crying out loud, California served as the launching pad for Ronald Reagan’s career in public service!

But along the way, things went off the rails. Not all at once. Just a series of increasingly bad decisions, big and small. It’s been death by a thousand cuts in the form of regulations, taxes and spending programs.

California’s economy is hemorrhaging as a result. Once a job-creating powerhouse, 155 people a day now leave the state, heading for places friendlier to entrepreneurs.

Sure, people still see the trappings of wealth in California. But the state is like the washed up TV star who had that one big hit show back in 1980s… and hasn’t done anything since. Yeah, residual checks from the re-runs keep coming, but they just don’t go as far anymore.

Texans should take note. Most Californians didn’t set out to destroy their state. They just allowed it happened through their electoral lethargy. Texans pride ourselves on being the strongest of the several states. Considering California could once lay a claim to that title, Texans shouldn’t be so haughty.

Being better than California isn’t a big deal, and it’s a bad measurement, anyway. We should strive to enact the best possible policies, not coast along on our reputation or settle for being “better.” Texans must demand that our legislators enact policies that expand the freeness of the markets and liberties of the individuals.

California failed Californians. Let’s learn from the example of their history, so that Texas’ Lone Star shines ever brighter into the future.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."