Essay: A son of the South, but no longer of the South

My great-great-grandfather owned slaves, and I now know there was no such thing as a good slaveholder. For many people who trace their heritage to the antebellum South, that statement is apostasy. For over 150 years, proud descendants of Confederate rebels have proclaimed that our ancestors were good to their slaves, and that President Abraham […]

Moves by Russia and China should give executives pause

Doing business with a dictatorial government is akin to letting a pet tiger sleep at the foot of your bed. Most nightsit’s OK. Until it isn’t. Foreign-owned businesses working in Russia and China have heard the sounds of a stomach grumbling in the darkness, reminding them that despite appearances, the rule of law in those […]

Houston’s economy too strong to draw Tesla

In 1928, the Chamber of Commerce in Marlin, Texas, wanted a modern hotel to serve the hundreds of people who bathed every week in the town’s famed mineral waters, so they asked Conrad Hilton if he’d consider investing in their community. Hilton replied with a proposal for a $375,000 high-rise with the largest ballroom in […]

Energy regulations should be left to experts and politicians, not voters

Democracy can be a really bad idea. The majority of voters cannot be trusted to make the best decision when it comes to emotional or complex topics, such as minority rights or industrial regulation. Deeply ingrained prejudices, personal profit motives and intentionally misleading propaganda often sway voters more than reason or science. That’s why referendums […]

Lawmakers need to stop the losses at Texas hospitals

The Texas health care system is hemorrhaging money. Emergency room doctors see critically ill poor people every day who waited too long to seek help because they lack health insurance. The ER doctors provide them with just enough care to responsibly send patients on their way, knowing full well that while the patients will likely […]

Failing students mean failing businesses

What do you expect from public school assessments? Should they determine how well the students are learning, or rank schools in comparison with others? Should the standards get tougher over time, or should they remain the same for generations? Lastly, should the assessments help schools self-evaluate, or allow taxpayers to demand accountability? As employers complain […]

Corporate responsibility paramount to make Mexican energy reforms work

The ink on Mexico’s new energy laws is finally dry, and the biggest names in the industry are exploring how they can revive our southern neighbor’s wilting oil and gas production. Let’s hope they don’t mess it up. The nine implementing laws signed last week by President Enrique Peña Nieto formalized the biggest overhaul of […]

Defect in U.S. tax law motivates companies’ overseas moves

A researcher trying to find ways to keep black bears away from humans once summed up the problem for me with a simple calculation: Animals are driven to obtain the maximum number of calories for the least amount of effort, and people leaving high-calorie food out attract the bears. The same drive applies to executives […]

Time for an overhaul, possible elimination, of state incentives

Is it a business incentive or corporate welfare, a tax break or a tax giveaway, an enterprise fund or a slush fund? The debate over spending taxpayer money to benefit private businesses is the subject of intense debate as cities, states and even countries compete for jobs and investment. Texas lawmakers have begun examining the […]

Texas Businesses Need Immigration Reform Now

The legal entanglements of 50,000 children entering the United States illegally this summer may have highlighted our broken immigration system, but Texas businesses are warning that Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reforms could create a bigger long-term economic crisis. Leaders in Houston’s manufacturing, construction and agriculture industries joined colleagues in 40 other cities across […]