When you think of economic freedom, you should think of Buc-ee’s
In Texas, we have our own holiday traditions, such as making a stop in our travels at a Buc-ee’s. If you’re among the unenlightened, Buc-ee’s is the chain of massive rest stops that combine the cleanest restrooms with some of the weirdest shopping experiences around.
Bon Appetit magazine named it the “Best Rest Stop in America,” calling it “the gold standard for road-trip junk food.” And it has pretty good gas prices.
Buc-ee’s is both a symbol and example of economic freedom, a freedom that two new reports say is at risk nationally and in Texas. Economic freedom includes a lot of things, such as taxes, government spending and regulations, and labor market freedom. It’s a good way to measure opportunity and economic hope in a state or nation; people only prosper when they’re free.
And certainly Buc-ee’s has prospered. A family-owned business, Buc-ee’s emerged from Lake Jackson with the goal of providing traveling families with clean restrooms, specialty gifts and a vast selection of food. Its signature snack is Beaver Nuggets (caramel-flavored corn puffs) but it also offers taffy, beef jerky and walls of fountain drink choices.
Its focus is on families; some of its locations don’t allow 18-wheelers.
Buc-ee’s is thriving in part due to economic policies that affect us all. Gas prices are down due to a combination of government policies and industry innovations (which, in turn, can be encouraged or discouraged by government policies). That means people travel more.
And 2017’s federal tax cuts mean that some people have more of their own money to spend, and companies like Buc-ee’s have more money to invest in workforce and expansion. The company is now opening locations outside of Texas.
That’s a sign that Buc-ee’s and all Americans are enjoying a high level of economic freedom. In fact, a recent Fraser Institute report notes that the U.S. has moved up to sixth place worldwide in economic freedom. That’s good news, though there’s more work to do.
Domestically, this year’s Economic Freedom of North America report by the Fraser Institute shows there are big differences between the states on economic freedom, and the resulting prosperity. Florida ranks No. 1 and Texas continues to rank near the top, while for the last decade California has ranked 47th or lower and New York dead last.