Messing With Texas

As you’ve probably heard, Gov. Rick Perry’s race-to-the-bottom radio ads inviting California business to “come check out Texas” hasn’t gone over very well in the Golden State. Gov. Jerry Brown, noting how tiny ($24,000) Perry’s ad buy was, said: “It’s not a burp. It’s barely a fart.”

A better response was in this editorial from the Sacramento Bee:

Yes, come check out Texas. Check out a state that ranks dead last in the percent of its population with high school diplomas. Come check out a state that is last in mental health expenditures and workers’ compensation coverage. Come check out a state that ranks first in the number of executions, first in the number of uninsured, first in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and first in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water.

But the most important charge the Bee made about Perry’s idea of economic development was this one:

Perry can’t create jobs, he can only steal them from other states.

Rick Perry likes to sound all macho and likes to describe his state as some sort of wave of the future. But his basic approach to economic development is to lick the boots (and subsidize the wallets) of anyone willing to move operations to Texas to exploit its heavily cultivated social and economic weaknesses, and it’s about as “future-oriented” as the slavish southern response to defeat in the Civil War: So long as you let us keep holding the inferior races down, we’ll let you yankees maintain us as your own little economic colony.

The Bee appropriately quotes the late Molly Ivins in describing the deliberate backwardness of her state’s conservative leadership:

It’s a low-tax, low-service state – so shoot us. The only depressing part is that, unlike Mississippi, we can afford to do better. We just don’t.

And won’t, so long as people like Rick Perry are in charge, and can enlist the help of “job-creators” from other states in keeping his own people down.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.