I live in Texas. I travel the state extensively. I am very familiar with my state. I am not at all familiar with the Texas that Rick Perry is out there talking about in his campaign to become the Republican presidential nominee. If only it were as pretty as he paints it.
Harold Meyerson, columnist for The Washington Post, published a column today that everybody should read — most especially now that Governor Perry is beginning to show up on all the evening newscasts. I’ll get you started, but you’ll need to click on the title to read the whole column. I hope you do.
Rick Perry’s Texas is Ross Perot’s Mexico come north. Through a range of enticements we more commonly associate with Third World nations — low wages, no benefits, high rates of poverty, scant taxes, few regulations and generous corporate subsidies — the state has produced its own “giant sucking sound,” attracting businesses from other states to a place where workers come cheap.
Perry’s calling card in the presidential race is his state’s record of job creation at a time when the national economy floundered. Yes, Texas has created lots of jobs, though that’s partly a reflection of the surge in oil prices, which in turn created tens of thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industries. What Perry touts in his stump speech, however, isn’t the oil boom but, rather, the low-tax, low-reg, handouts-to-business climate that prevails in Texas. It’s the kind of spiel that businesses hear every day from leaders of developing nations — Mexico and, even more, China.
Consider the Texas that Perry holds up to the rest of the nation for admiration. It has the fourth-highest poverty rate of any state. It tied with Mississippi last year for the highest percentage of workers in minimum-wage jobs. It ranks first in adults without high school diplomas. Twenty-six percent of Texans have no health insurance — the highest percentage of medically uninsured residents of any state. It leads the nation in the percentage of children who lack medical insurance. Texas has an inordinate number of employers who provide no insurance to their workers, partly because insurance rates are high, thanks to an absence of regulations.
UPDATE #2: Hilarious — “Perry Points to ‘Idiotic’ U.S. Rule That Doesn’t Exist.”